Spring Has Sprung – Time To Smoke

So Spring has finally sprung for 2018 and its way past time to burn some wood and smoke some meats.

So my wife is not a big fan of the swine – bacon excluded – but she loves the idea having plenty of pulled pork in the freezer. As far as she is concerned, it’s perfect for those long days when she lacks the motivation to prepare a meal. Since we have pretty much depleted our winter supply, it is time to restock the freezer. So it is time to smoke!

For my family, we don’t smoke everything. Pancakes and waffles take forever to cook and leave a mess on the grate. Hamburgers take a while to cook, but the smoke flavor added a new level of flavor that I personally like. But I digress.

What my family prefers is beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken, beef and pork ribs. This year will be no exception. So since this is the first smoke of the year, I got some pork tenderloins on the smoker. We/I prefer to use tenderloin over pork butt because, with the pork tenderloin you get all meat. I know that fat is flavor, but the way the wife preps our tenderloins and the smoke there is plenty of flavor without having to deal with the extra effort required by pork butt.

I still do not have my smoker completely figured out, so as you can see in the photo, I have to use the far end of the smoker, away from the firebox, to get the temperatures I need to cook. I got to do some research and experimenting to see if I can get this corrected so I can use the whole smoker.

Anyway, got 4 huge tenderloins going. Got the wife’s secret rub on them and we should have plenty of pulled pork in about 6 hours or so. As usual, I am smoking with oak and sugar maple and my mouth is watering just thinking about the results.

Smoked Meatloaf Anyone?

So I am experimenting with most everything I can think of. For this experiment I convinced my wife to mix me up one of her meatloafs (which I absolutely love and she totally hates) so I could put it in the smoker to see how it would turn out.

After some sweet-talking, she agreed and mixed me up enough for a couple of small loafs. As usual, because of all the oak wood I bought and needs to be used up, I am doing this cook with oak. So once the loafs are in the disposable aluminum pans, I get them going in the smoker. Since everything I smoke I cook low and slow so I am looking at cooking at around 225°. Because this is a first for me, I have no clue as to how long it will take to cook. It’s going to be trial and error.

Well, I got distracted and did not keep track of the time it took to finally get this meatloaf cooked properly, but I am thinking between 2 and 3 hours. Once I decided that the meatloaf should be done, I took it out of the smoker to let it rest for a spell before cutting it up and serving it.

After letting it rest for about half-an-hour, I cut it into slices for plating. Calling in my usual guinea pigs to try my newest creation, they fixed themselves a plate and chowed down. Based on their opinions, the meatloaf didn’t come out all that bad. In my opinion, I wasn’t all that thrilled with the results. I thought it lacked the smoke flavor I was expecting and top it all of, the bottom was burned. I hate that.

So in conclusion, if I decide to try this again, I think I am going to go with a lower temperature to see if that will allow more time for the meat to absorb more of the smoke. And maybe the lower cooking temperature will keep from burning the bottom of the meatloaf.

New Attempt At Smoked Pork Butts

Since this year has not been very productive for me as far as perfecting my smoking skills, the fact that I had the chance to try smoking pork butt is a golden opportunity for me. If you read my previous post, Experimenting With Offset Smoker, then you know that I tried my hand at cooking with only wood yesterday. You also read that it ended up turning into a raging inferno.

Once the smoker cooled down and the fire became manageable, my wife and I decided to try smoking a pork butt again. I have tried this once before and it didn’t turn out well. So I decided that since I had the chance, I would give it another try.

Earlier we bought a couple of pork butts when they were on sale so we thawed both and got them ready with my wife’s homemade rub. By this time the smoker had reached a manageable temp of around 225° – 250° and the butts went in to cook.

What you see here is what the pork shoulders looked like after about 4 hours in the smoker. Because pork shoulder needs to cook for a looooong time, like brisket, I decided to cook these pork butts the same way I now cook brisket. When I thought they had enough smoke, and I used mainly oak with some sugar maple this time, they got wrapped in foil and put into my electric smoker set at a very low heat to finish cooking overnight.

I must say, when I pulled the pork shoulders from the electric smoker and let them rest for a couple of hours, the end results were pretty much what I was expecting. The aroma of the pork butts filled the kitchen. When the foil was opened, the shoulders looked perfectly cooked and literally fell apart when We started to pull it apart. The pork butts came out just like briskets have and I know we will be enjoying this meat when the hankering for barbecue hits.

The one thing I have learned through my journey to perfecting my barbecue skills is that you can read everything you can on the Web, but you should only use it as a guide. If nothing else,I have learned that I just need to adapt what others preach as bbq gospel to suit me, my needs and my equipment. No where I read that the rules for getting good barbecue are etched in stone. The fun is experimenting and learning from your wins and failure.

I have also learned that my worst backyard bbq is better than no bbq at all! It may not be perfect, but it’s all good in the end.

More Of The Brisket Battle

Okay! So this time we’re doing a couple of small beef briskets and a couple of whole chickens. And I am hell bent on winning this battle. LOL

So . . .

If you have been following my posts, then I can tell you that I got things started the same way I did last time. Now if you haven’t been following my posts (shame on you!), then you need to read back over the past few post so that you are up to speed about this battle of which I speak – type actually.

This time I maintained a pretty steady supply of oak and maple wood on the charcoal which produced a nice supply of smoke. I was actually even able to maintain the cooking temperature pretty much between 225° and 250° throughout the cooking process. After about 3 hours and the whole chickens has reached 165°, I pulled them from the smoker and wrapped them in aluminum foil while they cooled.

I continued to smoke the small brisket until just before dark. At that time my wife and I wrapped the briskets in aluminium foil and moved them over to the electric smoker. I left them in the electric smoker overnight at a very low heat. Actually, I never even checked the temperature, but the controller was turned up just high enough to get the heating element to fire up the first time. So I am guess that maybe it was around 100° all night long.

When I got up the today and remembered that I had the beef brisket still cooking, we pulled them from the electric smoker and wrapped them in foil as well while they cooled. Since we had no plans on eating these briskets today, I decided to just them sit.

When we did cut into the briskets, the wife was tickled. She said it was done this time. She said it was tender, juicy and quite flavorful. Now! She is the brisket expert so if she is happy with it, then I did my job. Yea!

These beef briskets were suppose to get sliced up and run through the seal-a-meal and put in the freezer for those cold winter nights when we were hungry for good barbecue. Unfortunately, the briskets never even close to the seal-a-meal let alone all the way into the freezer. And you know, the wife was right! These briskets were so tender you could cut them with a butter knife. They were quite juicy. Both the beef briskets and the whole chickens actually had that dark, rich color that I have been chasing. The only thing it was lacking, in my opinion, was a heavier smoke flavor. I personally prefer a heavier smoke taste, but again, as long as the wife is happy, that’s all that matters when it comes to briskets anyway.

I just might be on to something here. Since I still need to get more brisket and pork done up to hold us through the winter, I will be doing more in the next few weeks and I will be using the same method – start to finish – just to confirm that this method is the one that works for me with this particular smoker.