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.
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.
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.
I have to apologize for not posting as much as I would have liked this year. So far it has been one of those years with a lot of major changes going on with the home life.
But when it comes to barbecue, I do love the taste that wood imparts on the meats that I smoke. Earlier this year I found a couple of loads of oak and sugar maple wood for a really good price so I decided to try doing a smoke using nothing but wood. And I think I screwed something up real good.
I got the fire going so as to start building a bed of embers to do the cooking with. I played with the vents to get the air flow working and I ended up with a raging inferno. Not only was there flames in the firebox, but I had flames all the way through the smoker from the firebox to the exhaust chimney.
Once it all got going, the roar of the fire sounded like a rocket going off on my backyard deck. I could not believe all the fire I was getting from this thing. While it was way to hot to cook with, I guess that much fire sure cleaned out all the drippings and whatnot that had collected in the bottom of my smoker.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out that this kind of fire and heat just wasn’t going to work for low and slow. I worked the fire and to get it burn down so that I could smoke the butts I had planned for the day. And smoke the butts I did. My smoker was kicking out enough smoke that I am surprised the neighbors didn’t call the fire department. I personally like a heavier smoke take to my barbecue and the oak I used did just that.
My next post will cover the pork butts I smoked after the raging inferno died down.
Be sure to check it out.
In the mean time, get busy and enjoy creating your own amazing backyard barbecue!