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Smokin Advice February 29, 2008

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We’re smoking meats here


We’re smoking meats here –I have included in this section of the FAQ several methods from different barbecuers for each major type of barbecue meat to show that there is more than one way to get good barbecueI want to barbecue some pork ribs. Can you tell me about the different kinds of ribs and how to barbecue them? Harry Jiles is a pig farmer and knows a thing or two about pork.

There are basically three types of pork ribs, these are: spare ribs; baby back ribs; and country style ribs. Let’s take a look at each type of rib. Spare ribs are the traditional slab of ribs. They come from the belly of the pig, behind the shoulder. They include 11 to 13 long bones. There is a covering of meat on top of the bones and between them. They are the most inexpensive cut of ribs. St. Louis style ribs are a variation of the full slab. They are trimmed and have the brisket bone removed. Kansas City style ribs are another variation. They are trimmed even more than the St. Louis style ribs and have the hard bone removed. Baby back ribs, sometimes called loin ribs, are cut from the loin section. They are shorter and smaller than spareribs. They have a covering of meat over the bones and also between them. Because they do come from the loin, they are leaner and meatier than spare ribs. They are also considerably more expensive and in shorter supply. Country style ribs are actually not ribs at all but are cut from the blade end of the loin, right behind the upper portion of the pork shoulder. They are more like fatty pork chops than ribs. While they have more fat per pound than any of the other styles of ribs, the fat is in layers and the meat between those layers is leaner and less marbled than most other ribs. They are the meatiest of all the ribs.

Now that you know what the different rib styles are, which are the best to barbecue? A good question, which has no good answer. First, country style ribs, because they are more like pork chops, are better for grilling than slow cooking, although they can be slow barbecued quite successfully if one keeps a close watch on them and gets them out of the smoker as soon as they are done. Spare ribs are inexpensive and full of flavor and are probably the best choice for novice barbecuers. You won’t feel near as bad if you mess up a rack of spare ribs as you will if you mess an expensive rack of baby backs. Some barbecuers, myself included, actually prefer spare ribs such as the St. Louis or Kansas City style over baby backs because they have more flavor, more meat and cost less. Because they are the leanest of the ribs, baby backs are less messy to eat than the other ribs. They are also easier to handle than spare ribs, because they are smaller. Some barbecuers will cook nothing but baby backs and there is no question that they are excellent eating when prepared to perfection. They have a naturally sweeter flavor than spare ribs. They are more expensive than spare ribs and because they are leaner, they can be more prone to be overcooked and therefore are somewhat less forgiving to the chef. You will have to make up your own mind if they are worth the extra cost.

Smoking ribs is not at all difficult. Following are some general guidelines for cooking ribs. 

If you choose spare ribs, get well trimmed ribs, such as the St. Louis style. Spare ribs also have a membrane on the bone side of the ribs. While it is not necessary to remove this membrane, the rendered fat will get away from the meat better if you remove it. The ribs will also absorb a rub or sauce better when it is removed. To remove it, carefully work the point of a blunt knife or a screwdriver under the membrane to loosen it and start to lift it from the bones. Once you have it started, you can work your fingers under it to completely separate it and tear it away. Season both sides of the ribs generously with your favorite dry rub. If you wish, you can also marinate your ribs with a variety of liquids before seasoning. This is purely a matter of taste, as ribs cooked correctly do not need a marinade to help tenderize them. Marinades can easily overpower the true taste of the pork.

Put the ribs bone side up on the smoker grates. You can really pile a lot of ribs in a smoker if you rotate them once in a while to make sure they receive an even amount of smoke and heat. Make sure there is no flame or burning wood or charcoal under the ribs. Indirect heat is the absolute best way to cook ribs.

Most racks of ribs of 3 pounds and under will be done in approximately 3.5 to 4 hours at 200 to 225F. If the ribs are extra plump and thick it can help to bump the temperature to 250F. Baby backs will take 30 to 45 minutes less. In any case, the ribs are done when the meat is tender and will easily pull away from the bone. When they reach that point, take them out immediately.

You can poke the ribs with a fork to see how tender they are or you can gently pull and/or twist on a couple of the bones in a slab. If the ribs are done, the bone will pull away from the meat easily. After a while, you will develop a feel for doneness and you will be able to tell by just poking them with a finger.

If you wish to baste your ribs with barbecue sauce, don’t do so until the last 30-40 minutes of cooking time, so the sauce does not burn on the meat. Turn the ribs over so the meat side is up and then baste with your favorite sauce. Again, this is a matter of taste, whether you want your ribs wet or dry.

As far as wood for smoking, use whatever suits your personal tastes. Hickory, oak, apple and maple are some of the commonly used woods for smoking ribs. Some like to use a combination of woods for additional flavor. I like to keep smoke on my ribs for the entire cooking period and that again, is a matter of personal taste.

Ribs are one of the traditional barbecue meats and probably on just about everybody’s short list of favorite foods. So don’t wait any longer. Fire up the smoker and put on some ribs. And put on a lot of ribs because all of your neighbors downwind of your smoker will probably be coming by to visit.

Harry, what’s the difference between a rack of ribs and a slab of ribs? I am not sure myself, but I think it is just a matter of terminology. I have always referred to the whole rib section of one side as a ‘slab’. I think ‘rack’ is a term that the restaurant industry came up with to refer to the trimmed slabs that they usually use. Therefore, a rack is something less than a slab and how much less depends on how well trimmed it is. It seems as the two terms are somewhat ambiguous and mean different things to different folks. I am not sure if there is any set-in-stone definition.

Danny Gaulden on ribs– Danny is the proprietor of a very successful eating establishment featuring BBQ in Carlsbad, NM and has been smoking meat for over 20 years. I tried to tell him that the meat don’t take that long to smoke, but Danny’s kind of set in his ways and he just keeps on smoking it!

Ah…Spare Ribs, definitely one of my favorites. A lot of argument has been posted on this list over the past year on ribs. Should one buy baby backs, spares, or what? I personally like spares; especially the St. Louis cut, which is hard to find. Got lucky for several months, and was able to get them, but it looks like that road has come to an end. What is a St. Louis cut? It is basically a 3 1/2 and down that has the ends trimmed off, the bone off the side, and very seldom much of a flap. A Great rib. The term ‘3 1/2 and down’ means that the slab of ribs will weigh 3 1/2 pounds or less. How do you pick a good slab of ribs? Well, it is sometimes hard to do, considering the way most grocery stores package them today. They can be all folded up with the “bad” parts hidden. Either go to a butcher shop that will let you hand pick your slab, or ask the butcher at your favorite grocery store to let you pick out some that are not already packaged. If he won’t allow you to do this, find another store. Pick a slab that is nice and thick, and has a little marbling on the meat side. After you get them home, do some work on them yourself. I cut off the side bone that runs length-wise near one end of the slab, and trim off the skin running along the top of the flap on the bone side. Simply take a knife, hold the flap up with one hand, and cut about 1/4 inch deep all the way across it to remove the skin. With bone side up, and slab placed flat on cutting board so that bones are running in a vertical position, take a good sharp knife and make vertical cuts in flap about every 1/2 inch. Cut from the top of flap down to where it connects to the main body of the rib. Sometimes you will get lucky, and there will be no side bone, and very little flap and skin. Why do this procedure to the ribs? Usually the flap area takes longer to cook than the main body of the ribs. This procedure reduces the cooking time of the flap, and lets it get done at the same time as the rest of the slab. I have seen a lot of people overcook their ribs waiting for the flap part to finish off. If they had done this procedure, that wouldn’t have happened. I do not remove the membrane on the bone side of the ribs. Never felt a need to. Maybe that’s necessary for judging, but for down-home eating, I haven’t found that to be the case.Next thing I do is apply a gentle rub. Now, not a lot, for ribs are not as massive as butts and briskets. A little rub goes a long ways. Don’t be afraid of it, but don’t over-do it. Then wrap’em up in a clear wrap, let sit in refrigerator over-night, and barbecue them the next day. If you can’t let them sit all night in the refrigerator, the world won’t come to an end.

Build your fire and let the ribs sit out of refrigerator while waiting for the fire to come up to temperature. I like to smoke my ribs at 225-235F, and it generally takes about 4 hours. Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. Just depends on the ribs.

Let me say a little about the differences in using the various styles of smoking pits. The big commercial pit in my restaurant has a rotating meat rack, like a miniature Ferris wheel inside. The meat is always turning. The temperature is quite uniform and in this situation. I always barbecue ribs with the meat side up and leave them like that until they’re done. You can do the same in a water smoker, where the water pan acts as a heat baffle to protect the meat from getting too hot on the bottom. In an off-set firebox pit, like my new Klose Backyard Chef, I’m finding that I have to do something different. In my Klose pit, the heat comes up from below the meat and if the ribs are not turned about once an hour, I find that the side facing down is over-done. So if you’re using an off-set firebox pit, like a NBBD or an SnP Pro, turn them ribs.

After the ribs have been in the pit for about an hour, I baste them with a little salad oil, then again after about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. This helps keep them moist since they have no fat cap, and I feel this in an important part of the cooking process. Use a good brand of vegetable oil. When the ribs draw up on the bone about 1/3 of an inch, and the meat between the bones becomes very fork tender, I pull them off the pit, and apply my finishing glaze immediately. By applying the glaze while the ribs are still piping hot, it will caramelize on them, and give a beautiful dark cherry-red color. They taste pretty good too!

If your fire gets out of hand and the temperature goes up to 250-275F, the ribs will draw up more on the bone, so always judge doneness by the tenderness of the meat, not draw up on bones. At cooler smoking temperatures the meat will draw up less. It’s that simple!

Danny’s Rib and Pork Finishing glaze:

Mix the following ingredients together: 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup yellow mustard, and 1/4 to 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar. Then heat in a sauce pan until it simmers and let it sit until the ribs are ready to baste.

The great thing about smoking ribs is that they don’t take all day to barbecue, are one of America’s favorite barbecue items, and look wonderful when sliced and stacked on a serving tray. Other quick and attractive things to go with your ribs and give a great presentation, are barbecued chicken halves or quarters, and a good sausage. Stack them all together on a large platter, serve with beans, slaw, potato salad, hot bread, and a few slices of onions and pickles. Boy, good things will start to happen to you!

I’ve heard that Memphis has some great BBQ ribs. Can you tell me how to do this style rib on my grill? Richard Young–Memphis Hogaholics Award-Winning RibsI used to live in Memphis and barbecue is real big there. This recipe is from the Memphis-In-May Barbecue Contest.What you need is: 2 slabs pork spare ribs, a dry rub, some basting sauce and a wet finishing sauce.Rub dry–rub mix onto both sides of skinned ribs. Place meat on the grill away from coals, bone side down. Cook ribs 1-1/2 to 2 hours, never turning, before using basting sauce. Cook slowly for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours, basting every 45 minutes to one hour. Serve with Wet Finishing sauce on the side, or (not recommended by purists) baste with the sauce during the last 1/2 hour of cooking.

Memphis Hogaholics Award-Winning Ribs Dry Rub

Amount
1
1
1
1
1
1
1/2
1/2
1/2
2
2

Measure
tablespoon
tablespoon
tablespoon
tablespoon
tablespoon
tablespoon
tablespoon
tablespoon
tablespoon
tablespoons
tablespoons

Ingredient — Preparation Method
lemon peel
garlic powder
onion powder
chili powder
paprika
MSG
black pepper
cayenne pepper
white pepper
salt
sugar

Mix together.

Amount
1
1
1/2
1
1-1/4
1/2
1/2

Measure
quart
pint
small can
cup
cup
stick
bottle

Ingredient — Preparation Method
vinegar
water
chili peppers
prepared mustard
brown sugar
butter
root beer

Combine first four ingredients in a saucepan and mix well. Cook very slowly for 1 hour. Add sugar, butter, and root beer to mixture and slow boil for 30 minutes. Recommended for pork and game.

Memphis Hogaholics Award-Winning Ribs Wet Finishing Sauce

Amount
5
24
5
12
1
11
1
1
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2
1/2

Measure
ounces
ounces
ounces
ounces
cup
cupteaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon

Ingredient — Preparation Method
dark soy sauce
tomato juice
Worcestershire sauce
catsup
apple cider vinegar
brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon
red pepper
black pepper
dry mustard
garlic powder
onion powder
oregano
allspice
ginger
basil

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 1 hour. Let sauce stand for 2 hours before serving on the side with barbecue.

The thing about this recipe is that it will depend on your smoker or grill and the size of your ribs. Memphis barbecue is over an extremely low fire so that the meat cooks very slowly. If you cannot do this on your grill, you’ll have to adjust your cooking time accordingly. This is the original recipe and the time to cook it in a smoker pit is approximately 6 hours. However, I cannot do this on my grill because it’s a gas grill and it’s too hot. This is what I do. I place the ribs on one side of the grill only, I turn the burner on the other half of the grill on low. I place a smoker box over the flame with wood chips. Using this method, I can stretch out the cooking time to about 2 hours max. But it’s worth the fuss. The ribs are so moist and falling apart on the inside with a nice crust on the outside.

One more piece of advice. If you have a small grill and are doing a lot of meat for a big gang, here is something I do in that situation. I cook everything in batches until nearly done, then transfer to baking pans and keep in warm oven while I start the next batch. Since the majority of cooking was done on the grill, the effect is the same. Also, seal the pans of ribs with foil when you put in the oven; grilled ribs dry out quickly in the oven.


What’s the best way to smoke beef or pork ribs on my electric water smoker? Jeff Lipsitt–
Smoking Beef And Pork Ribs On An Electric Water Bullet. I usually start this at 1 PM so we’re eating at 5 or 6 PM. Sometimes we’ll do a slab of each. Pinto beans and coleslaw are our favorite sides. Cut and remove the membrane from the bones as best you can. At least separate each rib so they’re being held together by meat, not the membrane. Make a dry rub out of paprika (Hungarian sweet), brown sugar, garlic powder, pepper, salt, chili powder and cayenne, about 1 tablespoon of each should do it.

Rub the ribs really well, put them into a plastic bag and refrigerate them overnight. Make Danny Gaulden’s Mustard Glaze (see Danny’s article in the Ribs section) at the same time and put it in the refrigerator, too. Then pour some Balsamic vinegar in a spray bottle.

An hour before smoking, let meat, glaze, and sauce come to room temperature. Also, start soaking hickory chips at that time.

Plug in the electric bullet. Put 3 inches of hot water in the water pan. Put the smoking wood chips in foil with big (nickel sized) holes and put them next to the electric element.

When you’ve got good smoke, put ribs on the grills, bone side down. Every 30 minutes put in new bag of chips for nice heavy smoke. After 2 hours, I spray the tops of the ribs with the Balsamic vinegar. Repeat every hour.

Total smoking time is 4 hours at about 200F.

Before taking the ribs off, I heat the glaze a bit in the microwave oven. Get out a huge platter and foil it. Move the ribs to the platter and immediately glaze them.

Cut the ribs up individually and pig out!

Can somebody tell me about pork shoulders and how to barbecue them? Harry Jiles–
The pork shoulder, which is the entire front leg and shoulder of the pig, is another of the traditional pork barbecue meats. The shoulder, or a portion of it, is usually used for pulled pork barbecue. Pulled pork is meat that is cooked so tender that the individual fibers of the meat can easily be pulled apart with your fingers.A pork shoulder is tailor made for barbecuing. Pork takes on smoke as readily as any meat there is, and there is enough fat in a shoulder to baste the meat and keep it moist during the long slow cooking process. Yet when the meat is done, almost all of the fat will have been rendered off, leaving wonderfully tender tasty pork. A whole shoulder usually weighs around 12-18 lbs. It might be difficult to find a whole shoulder in a supermarket. You might have to order one or go to a butcher or locker plant to find one. If you can’t find a whole shoulder, don’t despair. The shoulder is usually cut into two pieces, which are the Boston butt and the picnic. These can be easily found in supermarket coolers.The Boston butt is from the upper part of the pork shoulder and has the least bone. Yep, you heard right, a pork butt comes from the upper portion of the front leg of the pig. I know that doesn’t sound right, but that is the way it is. A butt usually weighs 6-8 lbs. A Boston butt is an excellent choice for pulled pork barbecue.The picnic is the bonier lower part of the shoulder. It, too, usually weighs about 6-8 lbs. It may have the bone in it or the bone removed and rolled and tied. Both are excellent for pulled pork barbecue, but there is an old saying that the meat nearest the bone is the sweetest, so many barbecuers prefer the bone in. The meat of the picnic has a slightly different flavor than the butt, more like ham.

Following are some general guidelines for smoking shoulders, butts or picnics.

Whole shoulders, butts and picnics can be barbecued “nekid” (no rub or mop) or using your favorite rub and/or mop. Your personal tastes and preferences will have to dictate whether you use a rub or mop or don’t mop. Experienced barbecuers can argue for hours about the best method and no one method is right or wrong. I would suggest trying all these methods, over time, and make your own choice about which you like best.

If you use a rub, apply it the night before or at least 8 hours before you plan to cook. Massage the rub into the meat well and place in a plastic bag suitable for food use and refrigerate. Take your meat out of the refrigerator an hour before you start cooking and pat it down with another coat of the rub.

Put the meat into your smoker and cook using indirect heat and a temperature of 200 to 225F. If you use a mopping sauce, mop the meat about every hour. Before cooking, sauces and marinades can be injected into the meat for flavor but they are not necessary for either tenderizing or maintaining moisture.

Use whatever wood you prefer to use. Hickory, oak, apple, maple and pecan are commonly used. Some cooks use a combination of woods for more flavor. The amount of time you keep smoke on your shoulders, butts and picnics is another topic of debate among barbecuers, but I would suggest you keep smoke on the meat for at least 6 hours.

Cook for approximately 1.5 hours per pound. Some barbecuers prefer to finish their meat by wrapping it in foil and putting it back in the smoker for a couple of hours and then unwrapping it. Poke holes in the bottom of the foil so fat and liquids can get away and finish for an hour to firm up the outside crust. Other barbecuers won’t ever use foil. Again, this is not necessary and is a matter of taste. Wrapping in foil can give you some added control of moisture, especially if you are cooking several different sized cuts of meat and want them to all come off the cooker at the same time. Be forewarned; when you unwrap a shoulder, butt, or picnic from the foil, the meat will usually be falling apart, so handle it carefully.

Shoulders, butts, and picnics are done when the meat is literally falling apart. Internal temperatures will be 170 to 180F. Very carefully remove your meat from the smoker and let sit 15-20 minutes and then pull it apart. Properly cooked shoulders, butts and picnics should never need a knife to cut up the meat. They should easily pull apart. Remove any remaining fat, gristle and bone.

The pulled meat can be eaten alone or put on a plain white bun and a finishing sauce applied to the meat, which is the traditional pulled pork barbecue method. There are many different finishing sauces and you should try as many of them that you can.

Properly prepared pulled pork barbecue is “to die for” and will win you many friends at a cook-out or reunion. Give it a try.

I’ve heard that many chefs are now serving pork pink. My mother always told me to cook pork until it is well done. What’s the story here? Harry Jiles–
This section answers questions and concerns that some persons have on internal temperatures for safely cooking pork. Many people still basically overcook their pork because of fears of trichinosis, so let’s get the facts straight on that matter first. It is highly unlikely that trichinae would be present in today’s commercially produced pork. Trichinae could be present in wild animals, but even with them, it is still a rarity. You have a higher probability of choking to death on a piece of commercially produced pork than you do of contracting trichinosis from it. Even in the highly unlikely event that trichinae were present in a piece of pork, they would be killed at an internal temperature of 137F. This is well below the recommended internal temperature of 160F from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).As I stated above, the NPPC recommends an internal temperature of 160F. Pork cooked to this temperature will still be pink inside and the juices will run clear if it is pierced with a fork. Do not be afraid of pork that is still pink. Pork that is still pink in the center will be much juicier and flavorful than overcooked pork. The 160F temperature is recommended to kill bacteria that might be present on the meat. Since almost all of any bacteria that might be present would be on the surface of the meat, if it is not ground meat, you actually do not always have to cook to 160F for safety and, in fact, some cooks only cook pork to around 140F. If the cut of meat has been properly handled and stored so that there is no excessive growth of bacteria on the meat, this practice is perfectly safe and acceptable and actually preferred by many people. Keep in mind that the internal temperatures that we are talking about above are mainly for naturally lean and tender cuts of pork, such as the loin and loin chops. These cuts do not really need the long slow barbecue cooking process to tenderize them and can actually suffer in quality if cooked as long as you would cook other traditional barbecue cuts of pork. They are best taken off as soon as they reach the above mentioned temperatures so they will not be too dry.

To recap the proper temperatures for safety: Always cook ground pork to 160F to kill any bacteria in the meat. If you are concerned about bacteria in cuts of pork, cook to 160F. If you are grilling or smoking pork loin or loin chops, and you want them as juicy and flavorful as possible, and they have been stored and handled correctly so bacterial growth is not a concern, cook them to 140F.

Danny Gaulden– On smoking a pork butt. Pork butts are wonderful cuts of meat to barbecue, and one of my favorites. As so many on the list have said, “they are very forgiving”, and a great choice of meat for a novice at barbecue to start with. Why? Mainly because of the fat marbling they have, plus just plain great flavor. If you undercook one just a bit, it may be a little tough, but still eatable; if you over barbecue it, it will still be pretty darn good, and most likely still be moist. Not so with a brisket. Undercooked, it is tough as alligator hide, overcooked it is dry, crumbly, and tasteless. So a butt is a great piece of meat to barbecue in a larger cut. Plus it’s not very expensive. Choosing a butt is not that difficult. Most come in the 6 to 9 lb. range. I like ’em about 7 lbs. or so. A nice fat cap of about 1/4 to 1/3 inch is good, and try to pick one with some marbling in the meat itself. Sometimes butts can be too fat, so be careful. You want a fat cap and marbling, but not too much.I like to start it out the same as a brisket. Generously apply a rub on it, wrap in clear wrap, place in refrigerator overnight, and barbecue it the next day. Set the butt out of refrigerator about 30 minutes before putting it in the smoker, while you’re building the fire in your pit. Re-work the rub into butt while waiting for fire to get up to temperature. If you don’t want to use any additional seasonings at this point, fine. Most do, some don’t.

When the smoker temperature reaches 210 to 225F, place the butt in pit fat side up and smoke until extremely fork tender. Putting it fat side up lets the natural fat juices work over and through the meat and acts as a natural mop. As with smoking ribs, I have found that if I’m using an off-set firebox pit, I need to turn the meat. For a pork butt or picnic, turn and mop it every two hours. If you’re using a water smoker, you can leave it fat cap up all the time, just mop it every two hours. I like to smoke at 210 to 220F constantly. This generally takes about 70 minutes a pound, or 8 1/2 to 9 hours for a 7 1/2 pound butt.

The pork butt should come out of the pit when it is “fork tender”. Not long ago, I measured the internal temperature of a bunch of pork butts smoked in my commercial pit. Here’s is what I found:

For a sliceable pork roast, take it out at 180F.
For a sliceable and pullable roast, take it out at 185F.
For an easily pullable roast, take it out at 190F.

After you take it out of the pit, let it cool for 30 minutes or so. DO NOT fork the butt in the fat area to check for doneness. This will be misleading, for the fat will become tender way before the meat (muscle) around the bone area. Always check for doneness in the meat area under or around the bone. If you are not going to eat the butt within the first hour after barbecuing, double wrap it in foil, set it in a non-drafty area, or a small ice chest (no ice in chest), and let sit until it’s time for dinner. As long as the butt stays between 140 to 160F internally, it will not spoil. Check with a meat thermometer every once in awhile, or stick thermometer into meat after wrapping in foil so that you can periodically monitor the internal temperature.

Sometimes I like to apply a finishing glaze on the butt as soon as it comes off the pit. It is the same one I use on my ribs, and has become very popular with many folks on the list. As soon as the butt is off pit, baste it once with the glaze. Then let it stand a couple of minutes, and baste again. Then either let the pork sit a few minutes before preparing it for the table (you don’t want to cut it while it is too hot, for it will be difficult to handle, and turn brown), or store as stated above.

Smoking times will vary depending on how accurate a fire tender you are, how often you open your pit to take a peek, and the natural tenderness of the meat in the raw state. These times are just general guidelines and will most likely vary every time you barbecue.

Can you tell me some more about making authentic Eastern North Carolina Pulled Pork? Tom Solomon–
I’m originally from North Carolina but now live in Virginia; I grew up in Greensboro about a mile from Stamey’s Pit-Cooked Barbeque restaurant (Lexington style barbecue) but later in life became a convert to Eastern North Carolina style barbecue (apple cider vinegar and red pepper).While this is hardly definitive, this is how I do it.Tom’s Eastern North Carolina Style BarbecueFirst, get yourself some pork shoulders or Boston Butt roasts, as many as your smoker will hold comfortably. I use a Brinkmann SnP Pro. It has an off-set firebox, but you can do this with a vertical water smoker as well. The key is providing a moist, smoky, indirect heat for a long period of time.

What I do is put a bag of charcoal in the firebox, open the vents, light it, and let it burn down to coals. Then I add wood (generally oak, since hickory is scarce up here)–two parts wet (soaked) wood to one part dry–regulate the dampers, and put the shoulders or butts, fat side up, in the cooking chamber. Beneath the meat I put a drip pan half-filled with apple cider vinegar. You must keep the heat between 180-260F throughout the smoking process; the optimum range is 220-240F. Normally, I’ll add apple wood to the firebox as well, and I always add between 5-7 whole heads of garlic during the process. Keep the firebox fed and a good smoke going for between 8 to 10 hours. Do not open the cooking chamber to baste the meat–the only time you open the cooking chamber is when the temperature spikes above 260F, and you open it only long enough to bring the temperature back in the proper range. By the time the smoking period is finished, the outside of the pork will have a golden amber to dark-brown crust.

Now, take the meat and put it in a covered Dutch oven. If it’s too dark outside to continue, preheat your indoor oven to just under 300F; otherwise, just raise the temperature in the cooking chamber a like amount. Get a quart-sized Mason jar; fill it halfway with apple cider vinegar, add one (or more) teaspoons of red pepper flakes, and fill the rest of the jar with water. Dump this into the Dutch oven with the pork, cover, and cook until the meat falls from the bone, about 2 more hours or so.

When the meat is done, let it cool a bit. (If you’re too tired, you can stop here for the day–cover ’em up, put them in the fridge, and warm ’em up the next morning and continue the procedure.) While it’s cooling, fill some 16 ounce bottles with apple cider vinegar, adding about a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to each one (I use Grolsch beer bottles with those pull-down caps, any excuse for buying good beer…). When the pork has cooled enough to handle (I use latex gloves) pull it into thumb-sized chunks, discarding as much fat as possible. Pack roughly 3 pounds of barbecue into a large frying pan (I use a Number 10 size cast iron skillet). Dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt into 2 1/2 cups of warm water and pour it into the pan. Add about 12 ounces of your apple cider vinegar and red pepper sauce, turn the heat to medium, and let the liquid slowly simmer off, stirring frequently, until the sauce just barely oozes over the top of your spatula when you press down on the barbecue with it. Remove from heat, and congratulate yourself–you’ve just made a fine batch of Eastern North Carolina Style Barbecue.

I’m trying my first whole ham in the smoker over-night. Any thoughts on this? Danny Gaulden–
Cut off the skin (this lets the smoke penetrate more), but leave the fat. Put a basic rub on it. If you don’t have one handy, some salt, pepper, and a little garlic will work just fine. Cook slow at 220-225F, and keep the smoke going fairly often. I like to barbecue mine until the internal temperature reaches 175F or higher. Remember, this isn’t as lean as a pork loin, so you can go to a higher temperature. Makes it really tender if you bring it up easy. About 30 minutes before it’s done, baste a couple of times with my rib glaze.

I’ve toughened up many a pork chop over the past year. Can anyone tell me how to slow cook pork chops? Ed Pawlowski–
Pork chops are lean and that makes them touchy. A little too much heat and they are tough. I use chops at least 3/4″ thick, an inch or a little more is even better. Keep an eye on them and take them off as soon as the internal temperature is high enough for them to be cooked. I go no more than about 155 to 160F.

Harry Jiles–Thicker is definitely better for pork chops, especially loin chops. Ed is 100% correct about not over-cooking them. Pork chops are not forgiving about cooking a little longer than necessary. If you do as Ed says and monitor them closely as they approach getting done and take them off as soon as they are done you should get some great chops. Another trick you can try is to place them on a rack over a pan of water or other liquid. A broiler pan will work well for this. They will not take on as much smoke, but it will help keep them from drying out.Kurt Lucas–
A simple but VERY tasty way to do pork chops is to get 3/4″ thick chops and marinate them in olive oil, lots of sliced garlic and fresh thyme sprigs. Let them marinate for 24 to 48 hours. Remove from olive oil and wipe off the oil, thyme sprigs and garlic. Smoke at about 250-275F until just done (160F internal temperature). Once you try this you’ll never want to do it any other way. I promise.

Bill Wight–Try smoking a whole pork loin. Then just slice off a ‘chop’. Give the loin a good dry rub for pork (add a good amount of paprika for color). Wrap it in clear plastic wrap and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. Smoke it at 220-240F for about 3-4 hours. Use hickory chips for the smoke. I use a Polder digital thermometer and take the meat off when it reaches 145F internal temperature. At a temperature above 160F you’ve got yourself some dry pork. Put a clean drip pan under the meat as it cooks with some water or apple juice in it to catch the drippings use it to make gravy.

The Whole hog

[Where can I learn about smoking a whole hog? Rodney Leist–
Here is a Web site that tells how to do it.http://www.erc.msstate.edu/hawgs/hawgs.html

Bacon

How can I smoke bacon at home? Rick Thead has an excellent procedure with photos on his Web page for smoking your own bacon.http://www.azstarnet.com/~thead/bbq/

Can I smoke sausages in my pit? Rock McNelly–
After you make or buy sausages, not much better you can do to them but smoke ’em. Put them on the top grill at 220F and give them about 1 to 2 hours, or until the sausage starts to sweat and form little beads of juice on its surface. When the beads cover the surface, the sausages are done, and any more time will start to dry them out. Time will depend on fat content so you’ll have to experiment a little. Do them naked, or give them a pork dry rub. You can marinade them, or give them a mop of beer and fruit juice. You can use any kind of sausage–the sky’s the limit here. After you smoke the sausages, you can eat them right out of the smoker, or you can chop them up and put them in your barbecue beans. Chopped up and added to scrambled eggs and you got some kind of breakfast, fit even for a Texan.

Can I smoke hot dogs on my BBQ?]Editor–
No problem. While you’re doing that brisket, pork shoulder, ribs or whatever, throw a few (or a lot) hot dogs on the top grill and give them about 30-60 minutes in the smoke (you’ll have to experiment a little in your pit to get the perfect time). These will be the very best tasting hot dogs you’ve ever eaten. Hebrew National brand hot dogs are a favorite in our family.

The Epicurious dictionary defines a brisket as:”Brisket ——————–[BRIHS-kiht] A cut of beef taken from the breast section under the first five ribs. Brisket is usually sold without the bone and is divided into two sections. The flat cut has minimal fat and is usually more expensive than the more flavorful point cut, which has more fat. Brisket requires long, slow cooking and is best when braised. Corned beef is made from brisket.”For Texas-Style barbecued brisket, we use the whole brisket, containing both the ‘flat’ and the ‘point’, untrimmed of fat. The typical full brisket weighs in at 8-12 pounds and is about 12-20 inches long and about 12 inches wide. The ‘point’ is the thicker end and the ‘flat’ is the thinner end. The deckle end is the ‘point’ end.

How do I BBQ a beef Brisket? Billy W. Maynard–
I think that beef brisket belongs to Texas like peanuts to Georgia and pulled pork to North Carolina. Did you know that until about forty years ago, brisket was considered a worthless cut of meat? Most folks would just discard it or grind into hamburger meat. But down in the hill country of Texas, ol’ brother Wolf was buying all the brisket he could get to make his chili with. Then about 1950, two German brothers, who had a meat market, begin cooking barbecue in their market to use up leftover meat. So one of them got the idea to smoke a brisket as he was smoking sausage one weekend. So he left the brisket all weekend in his smokehouse. Then on Monday, as they were serving their barbeque–pork, sausage and chicken–he cut a slice off the brisket and put some on each lunch plate. Everyone began telling him how good and tender it was. So with that they began to cook beef brisket for barbecue. So Texas owes the two German meat market brothers from the hills of Texas for our Beef Brisket Barbecue.Like lots of things, the briskets of today are so much improved over the time of the German brothers. The briskets of old were over half fat, but with the better cattle now, you get lots better beef brisket. But still the only way to make them good and tender is good slow cooking over good hardwood smoke. So here’s the way this ol’ Texan tries to cook a beef brisket.Smoking A Beef Brisket

1.                  Pick a well-marbled brisket–one where most of the fat is down in the meat and not all fat on the outside–but you do need a layer of fat on the outside too. Fat inside the meat will help keep it moist, so you still need some fat both on inside and outside, but remember selecting a good brisket is half the technique of good barbecue. Get one in a cry-o-vac package.

2.                  Size of your brisket–a real good size is a brisket from 6 to 10 pounds. The size, big or small, will be more of a personal choice. Just remember slow cooking for 1 1/2 to 2 hours per pound is a pretty fair timetable for cooking a brisket at 225F. But first, ya got to season it!

3.                  Seasoning your brisket–there are as many ideas on the best way to season a brisket as there are brisket cooks. No two will do it the same and very few will do it the same way two times in a row. You can marinate, dry rub or both or sprinkle it with spices or do all three. I myself do a little of it all.

Marinate–maybe store bought marinate or maybe your own. I use a mix of Beer, Dr. Pepper, and Willingham’s commercial marinade. Just cut a hole in the cry-o-vac package, pour in the marinade and seal the hole with some duct tape. I let the brisket marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Dry it off the next morning and let sit for about half an hour.

Dry Rub—I use a mix of Garlic powder, black pepper, salt, cumin, red pepper and a little brown sugar. Almost forgot the paprika; put some on as it gives the brisket a nice color. But there’s lots of good dry rubs out there on the market. Try them. So after the brisket sits for 30 minutes, warming up, I give it a good rub with the dry rub mixture. Rub it in good, don’t just sprinkle it on.

Fire–it don’t make a big difference on what or how you’re cooking as long as you have a good, low, long-time steady heat. It may be wood, electric or gas. I have for the last twenty-five years used a wood fire in everything from a barrel to wash pot to a high dollar pit. I still say you can cook good barbeque in anything, as long as you watch your fire. What you want is a good steady low fire with a temperature between 200/225F at the meat level.

Smoke-cooking the brisket–Put the brisket on the grill fat side up. I have found that I do better with my brisket if I cook it about an hour per pound on a good low fire of hardwood and then wrap it in foil and put it in a picnic cooler or Styrofoam dry ice chest for up to eight hours (wrap it in some towels for more insulation, so it keeps warm longer). If I slow cook my brisket for 18/20 hours in the smoker my briskets are always too dry for me. But remember, any ol’ boy can be like the blind dog and find a better way to do it. Good smoke will have a sweet flavor and that is what you want, not a bitter flavor. You will get a smoke ring of 1/32 to 1/2 inch most of the time. The presence or absence of a smoke ring don’t make a big difference in the taste of your brisket but do make a better looking brisket. Different seasonings will make a difference in the size of your smoke ring.

Slicing and Presentation. Last but not to be overlooked, is the presentation of your brisket. I don’t care if it just for your wife and kids or your mother-in-law or your boss or if you’re in a million dollar cook-off, a brisket that is half bad, will come out extra good if it is sliced and presented just right. Always slice your brisket across the grain of the meat. This is very important, as it will make a more palatable and tender slice of meat. Remember, a good barbecued brisket don’t need a sauce poured over it–serve it on the side. Now, that’s the way we do it up the Paluxy River in the hills of Texas. Talking about all this makes me want to go cook some BBQ. Beef that is.

OK. I haven’t got a ‘real’ barbecue smoking pit. Can I make good brisket on my electric water smoker? Jeff Lipsitt–
For sure. No question about it. Rub the brisket the night before (try a commercial rub called Mr. Brown’s). Wrap it up and sock it away in the fridge. Next morning, let the meat come to room temperature before putting it in the smoker (about an hour). I fill the water pan of my bullet smoker with HOT water, and bring the temperature up to 225F and throw chips/chunks on the heat source. When it starts to smoke, I put the brisket on a Pam-sprayed grill. Let the meat smoke for 1 1/2 hours (or more) per pound. Keep adding wood chips/chunks every hour or so when the smoke clears. During the last 2 hours, I put the meat in foil and bring up the sides to form a bowl. This catches the juices and the meat bathes in them. It’s really simple–don’t complicate things. In fact, some will say, just salt and pepper the brisket. The important thing is to smoke it LONG and SLOW. Try to keep the temperature in the cooker at 225F (at the level of the meat) or less–200F is preferable I think.(Editor–the reason for allowing the meat to come to room temperature is two-fold. It will get up to cooking temperature faster–less fuel required, and putting a cold piece of meat in the smoker can cause creosote to condense on it, making it taste bitter.)

Danny Gaulden–(Editor–Danny says he’s smoked over a hundred thousand briskets in the last 20 years. I tasted some and it was great–the best barbecued brisket I’ve ever had! The man knows his brisket.)The first thing one needs to know is how to pick out a good brisket. For home smoking, one in the 8 to 10 pound range works well, and doesn’t take as long to barbecue as an 11 to 12 pounder. Look for a brisket that has about 1/4 to 1/3 inch of fat across the top. This is generally called the “fat cap” by most barbecue folks. Don’t buy a pre-trimmed piece, for it will not cook as tender, and will be dry. With the brisket lying down and the fat side up, try to pick one that is thick all the way across the flat. This can be hard to do sometimes, for most are thick on one side, and taper down to become fairly thin on the other side. Try to find one that has a more rounded point, rather than a pointed point. Briskets with rounded points tend to be more meaty in this area. Briskets come in two grades, “choice or select”. Choice grading costs just a few cents per pound more than select, and generally has more marbling. Either will do well, but choice is usually a little better. After you have chosen your brisket, generously apply a good rub on it, wrap it in clear wrap, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. This will allow the seasoning to work its way into the meat a bit.

The next day, as you are building your fire, bring meat out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. You do not HAVE to apply a second fancy rub at this point. If you don’t have one, just use a little salt, pepper, and powdered garlic. You don’t have to use any kind of a rub if that is your desire, but I prefer to use one.

After your fire has settled down to around 225-2405F, put the brisket in the pit, fat side up and leave it like that the entire time if you’re using a pit like my Big Bertha with a Ferris wheel rack system or a water smoker. Now if you’re using an off-set firebox type pit, like a NBBD or a Klose, put the brisket on the rack fat side up and then turn it over and mop it every two hours so the bottom side doesn’t get too much heat and dry out. While it’s with the fat side up, the fat renders and penetrate in, over, and around the cooking meat. When brisket becomes fork tender in the flat, take it off the pit, let it cool for about 30 minutes, then slice and serve. Always check brisket for doneness in the FLAT, not the point. The point will generally become tender before the flat, and can deceive you. Continue to cook until the flat is tender. OK, a lot of folks on the BBQ List asked me what the internal temperature is when I take the brisket out of the pit after I figure they’re done. So I measured a bunch of them with a meat thermometer and almost all of them were right at 188F.

If you’re not ready to eat it as soon as it done, double wrap in foil, and set it in a non-drafty place or a small ice chest (no ice) until you are ready to serve it. Don’t leave it for too many hours, or you can risk food poisoning. As long as the internal temperature of the meat stays between 140 to 160F, it is safe.

How many hours does one smoke a brisket? This argument will go on till the end of time, and is hard to answer, for there are so many variables. Two people that think they smoked their briskets exactly the same will most likely come out with two totally different finishing times. I like to smoke mine for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours per pound. That would put me at about 10 to 12 1/2 hours for a 10 lb. brisket. No longer. I peg 230F as constantly as possible. Sure, one will have some temperature ups and downs, but I keep it at that temperature fairly well. I don’t go off and forget about the fire and I don’t open my pit every 10 minutes to “take a peek”. I choose a good piece of meat. All these things make a difference in how long the process will actually take. Another thing to take into consideration is the quality of the meat. All briskets are tough, but some are tougher than others. This will have an effect on the overall smoking time also. I have made a few boo-boos in my many years of smoking briskets, but not many. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, they are tender, juicy, smoky, and a piece of meat I am proud to serve to friends and customers.

Garry Howard and Ed Pawlowski–Red Caldwell is a freelance cook and food writer based in San Marcos, Texas. He is a fifteen-year veteran of competitive cooking–chili cookoffs, barbecue, and mountain oysters. His cookbook, “Pit, Pot, and Skillet”, has just been released by Corona Publishing of San Antonio, Texas.Red’s Barbecued Brisket10 pound beef brisket

Most barbecue in Texas revolves around beef, and more specifically, brisket. When you select your brisket, choose only “packer trimmed” briskets in the ten to twelve pound category. The smaller briskets don’t have enough fat to tenderize them, and the larger ones could have come off of a tough old range bull that no amount of cooking will ever tenderize. Avoid closely trimmed or “value packed” brisket pieces. The fat that was cut off to make ’em pretty is the very stuff that would have made them tender! All briskets have a fat cover on one side. Ignore this! Squeeze the thick end with both thumbs. When you’ve found the brisket with the smallest fat kernel, that’s the one for you. Take it home and build your fire. While your fire is getting going–I build mine out of a mixture of mesquite and oak–rub your brisket with a dry “rub.” (See Red’s Dry Rub recipe below) Make sure that the meat is thoroughly coated. This helps seal the meat, and adds a flavorful crust.

Thoroughly coat all surfaces of the brisket with lemon juice, and rub in well. Sprinkle dry rub generously all over the brisket, rubbing in well. Make sure that the brisket is entirely covered.

When the wood has burned down, move the coals to one side of the pit, place the meat away from the direct heat, fat side up (let gravity and nature do the basting), and close the pit. Some people add a pan of water near the coals to provide added moisture, but I don’t. Now, don’t touch the meat for 12 hours. Just drink a few beers, cook a pot of beans, and tend your fire.

You’d like to hold the cooking temperature around 210F in the brisket cooking area. Since “helpers” usually show up at the first whiff of smoke, you probably ought to put some of your leftover rub on a couple of racks of pork ribs and toss them on the pit, in the hotter end, and baste and turn ’em for four and five hours, just to keep the animals at bay. Meanwhile, see Red’s Prize Winnin’ Pintos recipe in the ‘side orders’ section of this FAQ to keep you busy.

Back at the pit, after the twelve hours are completed, generously slather the brisket with a basting sauce (not a barbecue sauce), wrap it tightly in aluminum foil, and return to the pit. (See Red’s Basting Sauce recipe below). Close off all of the air supplies to the fire, and allow the meat to sit in the pit for three or four hours. This really tenderizes the meat.

Serve your brisket with beans, coleslaw, Jalapenos, onions, pickles, and plenty of bread. Cold beer or iced tea are the traditional beverages of choice.

You’ll find that a ten-pound brisket will yield about 8-16 servings, depending on the individual brisket, and the size of the appetites of the guests.

Red’s Dry Rub

Amount
1
1
2
4
1/2

Measure
11 ounce can
tablespoon
tablespoons
tablespoons
cup

Ingredient — Preparation Method
chili powder — fine ground, light
cayenne pepper
black pepper
garlic powder
lemon juice

Thoroughly coat all surfaces of the meat with lemon juice, and rub it in well. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, and sprinkle generously all over the meat, rubbing in well. Make sure that the meat is entirely covered. Store leftover rub in a tightly sealed container in the ‘fridge.


Red’s Basting Sauce

Amount
2
1/2
1
2
5
1
1
1
4
1/4
2

Measure
tablespoons
teaspoons
pound
each
cloves
bunch
bottle
pint
each
cup

Ingredient — Preparation Method
chili powder
cayenne pepper
butter
onions — peeled/thick sliced
garlic — peeled and crushed
parsley sprigs — chopped
beer
vegetable oil
lemon — quartered
Worcestershire sauce
bay leaves

Melt the butter, add the onions and garlic, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes to soften. Add the beer, squeeze in the lemon juice, and add the lemon rinds to the pot. When the foam subsides, add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Keep baste warm, adding beer and oil as needed.

By the way, you’ll notice that there are no tomatoes, ketchup, or sugar in this recipe. All of these things caramelize and burn quickly, giving the meat a nasty taste.

OK, so now I’ve barbecued my brisket, how do I cut it? Jim McGrath–
The brisket you have contains two cuts of meat, the flat and the point. The grains of the two cuts run roughly perpendicular to each other. The flat starts at the thinner end and runs the whole length, dipping under the point, which is the thick fatty hump.After the brisket is cooked, you will not be able to determine which direction the grain of the flat runs. Cut off a slice of meat at the end of the flat, perpendicular to the grain. This will give you a mark for cutting after the brisket is cooked. Always carve perpendicular to the grain.Cook the brisket until the flat is fork tender. Trim off the point. Run a carving knife across the surface of the flat, dipping down under the point. There is a layer of fat separating the two cuts, so this is pretty easy to do by feel.You can now trim the fat off the point and chop up the point meat, or you can return the point to your smoker and continue smoking it for 4 to 6 more hours to render the fat. This will produce the very intensely smoke-flavored “burnt ends”.

Danny Gaulden–
Before serving brisket, divide it into three pieces. Here’s how you do it. Make sure you have a SHARP knife. Now, with lean side of brisket up, cut off the point (deckle end). The reason you want to do this with the lean side up is that it is much easier to see where the point and flat join. Now turn the brisket over with the fat side up and cut off the skirt, flap, whatever you want to call it. The reason for this is that the grain runs in a different direction than the flat and should be separated from it. With the skirt removed, trim the fat off of it, top and bottom and where it is connected to the flat. Don’t be surprised if there is a lot of fat–another reason to separate these pieces. Now turn the skirt so that you are cutting against the grain, and make the slices at about a 30 to 45 degree angle. Cut slices off of the point also, going against the grain, and do the same to the flat. Mix the different cuts together, and serve.

What are “burnt ends” from a brisket?]Jim McGrath and Danny Gaulden–
The burnt ends of a brisket come about two ways. As stated above, they can be made on purpose by returning the point to the smoker for another 4-6 hours and they can result from the thinner parts of the brisket’s flat getting overcooked during the smoking process. The burnt ends are usually rather dry and very smoky tasting. These can be served thinly sliced with lots of BBQ sauce or chopped up and used in dishes like chili, stews and soups.Jeff Lipsitt–
I asked Jake, at Jake’s Boss BBQ, certainly one of the best establishment Q’ers in New England, what was his definition of burnt ends.Here’s what he said:”Traditionally, in Texas, the first cut on the flat and the point were not considered good sandwich or serving pieces. Those pieces were put away until quite a few briskets had produced enough ‘first cuts’ to chop and mix with BBQ sauce. One day a week, the menu would then feature ‘burnt ends’. . . and the price was right!”

Then he went on to say: “Nowadays, because of the popularity of burnt ends, the whole brisket is used. Both the flat and point are roughly chopped and sizzled in a large pan over very high heat for a few minutes before adding BBQ sauce.”

I over-smoked my first brisket–problems with fire-control. It’s a little dry and too smoky in flavor. What can I do with it?

Danny Gaulden–
Now, what to do with that too-smoky brisket. Chop it into small (I mean small) pieces, and marinade it overnight in your favorite barbecue sauce. Of course you know to do this in the refrigerator, not left out overnight. Make sure you use plenty of sauce when mixing the meat with it. Don’t make it soupy, but don’t make it dry! After letting it rest overnight, take out of the refrigerator and warm up in microwave. Microwave ovens work best here, for they won’t burn the pot so to speak, like reheating in a pot can do with this kind of food on a fire. After warming, if the meat seems a little too dry, just add more of your sauce to it. Sometimes it can really soak up the sauce overnight while marinating. Now, just fill a bun with this stuff, and you’ll have a great sandwich. Actually an over-smoked brisket works well with this recipe, for the smoke flavor is diminished by the marinating process.

Is beef jerky better if it’s made in a smoker? Rick Thead–
I attended the school of hard knocks when it came to jerky on the smoker. I found that the key is to not try to completely dry the meat in the smoker. If you do, the meat will be so smoky that no one will be able to go near it.I like to spread out the meat, and smoke at just below 150F, rotating the meat strips as they smoke. I smoke it for around 3 hours, and then finish it in a dehydrator. Go light on the smoke.

Carey Starzinger–Beef Jerky – Timpson

Amount
5
1/4
1
1
1
11

Measure
pounds
cup
tablespoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoontablespoon

Ingredient — Preparation Method
Beef (roast)
Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Black pepper (cracked if possible)
Red pepper flakes — optional
Liquid Smoke

I make jerky by buying about 5 pounds of beef. Usually a roast. I then remove the fat. Cut thin strips of meat and place into marinade and let soak for about 24 hours. Remove from marinade and allow to air dry for at least one hour. If you have a meat smoker then omit the liquid smoke and smoke meat at a low temperature. Dry in dehydrator or oven set to lowest temperature setting, about 150F until dry.

Wiley Mixon–
I’ve been making beef jerky in my American Harvest food dehydrator for about 5 years. Through several experiments I finally got a finished product that I was proud of. That happened when I joined this list. A few days ago someone suggested to smoke the meat strips about 3 hours then finish it up in the dehydrator. Man, that made all the difference in the world. I started with a 10 pound trimmed brisket and cut it into strips. Bought a bottle of Red Creek Jerky Marinade and added 1/2 cup sugar, and to taste, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, and coarse ground black pepper. I marinated the meat strips overnight in the fridge. I then smoked them for 3 hours at 200F with mesquite. Finished it up in the dehydrator for 6 hours at 145F. Excellent. Best jerky I’ve ever made.

Dan M Sawyer
I would like to share a jerky making process that goes back a long way, before refrigerators, before electricity. To the best of my knowledge it has never been written down, just passed along from one old timer to the next – until now. Dan’s Smokehouse Jerky

The Meat:
Generally, the lean scraps from most venison (elk, deer, caribou, antelope and moose) work very good. Bear is greasy, as is pork. Buffalo is similar to beef and makes good jerky. The best cut of beef that will yield the most usable lean meat is the top round. If you like turkey, use large bone-in breasts and remove the bone. The meat should be reasonably aged, at least kept cool for a week or so after it’s dressed out and skinned. It is important to trim as much fat off as possible, even if you have to cut it out or scrape it off. The fat will not take salt very well when the meat brines, it will become rancid and grow mold quickly. Cut the meat with the grain, into strips as big around as your thumb (3/4-1″ square) and as long as possible.

The Brine:
This is a self-brining method and works in two stages, dehydration and rehydration. The ingredients needed are: kiln-dried medium salt. Most feed stores have 50# bags for about $3. which will make about eight thousand pounds of jerky. Medium salt is about the size of salt that comes on a pretzel. Molasses–I use Brer Rabbit light or Grandma’s. Brer Rabbit comes in pint bottles and have a small top that you can pour a nice ‘string’ from. Grandma’s comes in a large mouth bottle and it’s best if you transfer it to some sort of a squeeze top ketchup or pancake syrup bottle (1 pint = about 20 lbs. of meat). Black Pepper, medium grind or coarse – your choice. If you like it hot, use red pepper flakes instead; if you don’t like pepper, leave it out. This brine process goes easier and more quickly if you have a few extra happy hands joining in – the kids, the wife and myself usually make it a project and when it’s done everyone gets to pat each other on the back. Anyway, you will need a flat-bottomed non-corrosive container and lid–a Tupperware storage bin, a plastic bus tray or a stainless steam table pan will work well. The size depends on the amount of meat and the room in your refrigerator–the lids keep things out and are handy for stacking the containers. Salt the bottom of the pan evenly, making sure to get in the corners as well. This may not be as easy as it sounds. Put a few pounds of salt in a bowl, cup your fingers together and scoop out about a half a handful–not in your palm. Shake your hand back and forth across the top and about a foot above the top of the pan. As the salt starts to leave your hand, slowly open your fingers and let the salt run through evenly. Hand salting may require some practice. Practice salting the bottom of the pan until it becomes comfortable and the coverage is without gobs or streaks or voids. If this method becomes too frustrating, a shaker top jar works too–a mayonnaise jar with the metal lid poked full of holes by a 16 penny nail. The coverage amount should be between light coverage (barely covering) and full coverage (completely covering)–the only comparison I can think of is sugar on a pie crust or sugar on your cereal. You don’t want it too salty, so one might consider their first batch of jerky experimental and take it from there. String the molasses. Same kind of deal as the salt; hold the bottle about a foot above the pan, start moving it from side to side and pour. When the molasses starts running try to get a ‘string’ about the size of a pencil lead and let it crisscross the pan bottom over the salt. Once the strings are even in one direction, change directions (perpendicular) and string evenly across again. Don’t forget the corners. When it’s done, it will be an even grid about 1/2″ square covering the pan bottom. Good luck and don’t worry, 10-12 layers and you’ll be able to sign your name with it. The pepper will vary as to individual taste. One note though, pepper almost doubles its intensity as it soaks and it is easy to overpower the finished product. I would recommend that a light dusting would be sufficient for most people (about the way you would pepper a baked potato). Red pepper flakes, even more so. Again, hold the pepper can about a foot above, and dust it evenly–good, you remembered the corners. Layer the meat strips across the bottom of the pan one at a time. Starting on one side, place the strips next to each other without overlapping and with all of the strips running in the same direction. Work the meat across until the layer is complete, without voids. Pat the surface, edges and corners down smooth and flat. Salt, molasses and pepper the surface as was done to the bottom of the pan to start. The second layer of meat is done the same, but it is run perpendicular to the first layer. Pat smooth, salt, molasses and pepper. Run each additional layer perpendicular to the layer before it. Continue layering the meat until it reaches to a level about 2″ from the top of the pan. The last layer, or partial layer, gets the salt, molasses and pepper treatment as well. This brining method will cure the meat in two days. Place the pan(s) in the refrigerator, cover and let sit undisturbed for the first day (refrigeration is not necessary if prepared in a cool climate 35-45F). After about 24 hours the meat should be ‘turned’. Dig your hands in the pan and separate all of the strips, turning it over several times to get the meat redistributed into a random order. Mash the meat back down into the brining juices (at this point the juice will be thin and watery), cover, and let sit for another day. I usually taste the juice at this point–if it tastes too salty the meat can be rinsed with water, but it will not be as good. If the salt is right it will have a slightly sweet, peppery flavor. During this next day the meat will soak up the brine juices and when the meat is removed before smoking, it will have a ‘candied’ texture–sticky and pliable. There should be very little, if any, brine solution left in the pan. The meat will have soaked up the brine and be somewhat swelled up, as compared to the first turning.

Smokehousing the meat:
The smoking process will require a smokehouse or smoking unit that is capable of maintaining 80-90F. If there is a small volume, piping the smoke from an external source will provide a cooler smoke, and a hot plate or a few briquettes/lump charcoal could provide the heat source. In a medium size unit (refrigerator size), a cast iron frying pan with chips set on a hot plate will work–although it may be difficult to maintain a constant temperature. The more volume, the easier it is to control the temperature. I would recommend that a fire be built and maintained throughout the smoking process, which will take from 48 to 70 hours–depending upon the thickness of the meat. The smokehouse that I use is medium-large (350) cu.ft. unit. It will maintain a good smoky 80-100F with 2-3 half gallon milk-jug-sized pieces of wood burning. Use seasoned, barkless wood of your choice. I use red alder, apple, plum, cherry, oak, pear and some of the best I’ve ever done was with some 75 year old grape stumps. Citrus works good too. Get the smokehouse going and rack or hang the meat while the temperature stabilizes. If you rack the meat, place it *without* the pieces touching each other–just enough room to run a finger between the strips. Stainless 3/16″ rod sharpened on both ends works good for hanging–again, leave some space between the strips. As you place the strips, run them through your thumb and index finger to squeegee off any excess brine. Before placing the racks or skewers into the smokehouse, coarse black pepper or additional red pepper flakes may be added for those who like lotsa zip. Load the smokehouse and leave the door cracked open for the first couple hours, or until the surface of the meat has dried to the touch. Close the doors, poke the fire and keep an eye on the temperature for a couple of days. Don’t worry about the meat spoiling if the fire goes out. The meat is cured. It’s said that the old timers used to make their jerky while they traveled. When they made camp at night they would hang the jerky over the campfire until dawn, when they broke camp they simply packed up the jerky and continued smoking the next night. This process takes about 4-5 days and is worth every minute. Probably the two most important items would be too much salt and too much heat. If you decide to try this method, I garr-own-tee you’ll never find another piece of store bought jerky that even comes close.

I would like to try Dan’s jerky but I don’t have a smokehouse and I don’t think that my NBBD will do the trick. Can you make Dan’s Smokehouse Jerky in a regular barbecue pit?

Dave Crawford–
I made some of Dan’s jerky a few months ago in my Hondo. No real problem keeping the temperature down. I just burned 1 or 2 lumps of mesquite at a time and kept putting small lumps of flavor wood on top of the coals. I smoked it in the Hondo for about 32 hours, then moved it inside to the oven (set to low) to finish drying it. The jerky in the hotter end of the smoker dried and finished a bit before that in the other end. All was excellent.

Can you tell me how to smoke a whole ribeye or prime rib?

Danny Gaulden–
I bought a case of whole ribeyes for Q-Fest ’97 through one of my suppliers, but you can buy just one at almost any butcher shop. They average about 10 to 12 lbs. I like to rub them down (any good rub will work) the night before, and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator. Next morning, smoke over an indirect fire at about 225-230F. Take them off at desired doneness. I smoked ours to 160F internal temperature which is medium done, for I had to try and please a large crowd. Some wanted them rare, some well. This seemed to be a happy medium for doneness. As one said, a guy that likes a steak pink will usually eat one more done, but one that likes a steak well-done will hardly ever eat a rare one.I personally like my steaks nice and pink, which would be around 150F internal temperature on an accurate thermometer. Rare will be at 140F, and 160F is “just done” with no pink, but not at all dry. Make sure you stick the thermometer in the center of the meat, and in deep enough for a good accurate reading.It takes about 5 to 7 hours to smoke a whole ribeye, depending on doneness. Keep the smoke on it fairly heavy, for this is a thick cut of meat and smoke penetration only goes so far in a short cooking time such as this.

How about a recipe for smoking short ribs? Carey W. Starzinger–Smoked Short Ribs

Amount
4
10 1/2
3/4
1/4
2
1
2
1
1/2

Measure
pounds
ounce
cup
cup
tablespoon
tablespoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon

Ingredient — Preparation Method
Beef plate short ribs
Condensed tomato soup
Dry red wine
Finely chopped onion
Cooking oil
Prepared mustard
Chili powder
Paprika
Celery seed

Soak wood chips (Mesquite or Hickory) in enough water to cover starting about an hour before cooking time. Drain the chips. In covered grill, place SLOW coals on both sides of a drip pan. Sprinkle coals with some dampened wood chips. Place ribs bone side down on grill. Replace cover. Cook ribs until done, about 1 1/2-2 hours, adding more wood chips every half hour.

Meanwhile, in saucepan, mix tomato soup, wine, onion, cooking oil, mustard, chili powder, paprika, celery seed and 1/4 tsp. salt. Heat sauce at side of grill. Brush ribs with sauce. Grill, uncovered, about 20 minutes more; brush ribs frequently with sauce.

[I have a seven pound chuck roast. Can I BBQ it?]Dave Crawford–
A little while ago I got some chuck roasts on sale at Albertson’s for $.99/lb. I chose what I thought were the best 3 roasts in the case when I was there–each about 7 lbs, 3 inches thick, and fairly well marbled. I took one out of the freezer the day before early in the morning and let it thaw on the counter for a couple hours, just enough so the frost was gone off the top but the bottom was still hard as a rock. I moved the meat into a 2 gallon Ziploc bag, added most of a can of Dr. Pepper, most of a can of beer, and several healthy shakes of Tapatio hot sauce (my favorite all-round sauce, hotter than Tabasco with less vinegar, and cheap.) I let it marinate on the counter until mostly thawed, then moved it to the refrigerator overnight, turned it once in a while until I went to bed. Fired up the Hondo about 7:30 am with most of a chimney of mesquite lump charcoal. Took the meat out of the fridge as soon as the fire was lit. Dumped the chimney of charcoal into the firebox when it was hot and added a split log of ash-wood. Once it was burning I closed the firebox, made sure the dampers were open, waited for the grill temperature to come up to about 200F, and put on the meat. These roasts have plenty of fat through them, but no fat cap like a brisket or a butt so I put a layer of thick bacon on top. About 4:30 p.m. the meat was about 150F internal temperature. Sure takes a long time to get the meat up to 160F. I moved the roast into a Dutch oven in the kitchen with the oven set to a little over 250F for the last hour and a half. Took the meat out of the oven 5:45 p.m. and let it rest in the Dutch oven until 6:10. Then I cut it off the bone to serve. I’ve cooked plenty of beef on my smoker, always with mixed reviews. This is the first time I’ve used the Dutch Oven. My wife raved about this one. She rated it as one of my top 3 Q’s ever.

Wayne Scholtes–
Just did a boneless rump roast yesterday after putting Bear’s rub on it Saturday. It took 7 1/2 hours at a door thermometer reading of 215F to reach an internal temperature of 150F. The smoke boxes were filled with dry hickory chips surrounding one onion per box. Boy, did that smoke smell good! The meat was so good–nice smoke flavor, tender, and juicy. I’d say Bear is onto something with that rub. I do think that I’ll take the next roast out when it hits 145F, because I like it a bit less done than what it ended up this time. (I still ate half of it after that first warm slice.) I will definitely stock up on these the next time they’re on sale.

Belly–
My Boy, come sit at your ol’ father’s knee and let me tell a tale or two about barbecuing a chuck roast. First you may want to do a dry rub on it and maybe let him sit for up to 24 hours in the fridge. Then make your fire and let it burn down good, as you want to cook slow and long. If the roast is extra lean, you may want to lard it, or put a few slices of bacon on top of it for a while. Make you a good mop sauce and keep the roast wet. Cook him about an hour per pound, mopping about each 1/2 hour. Watch it, mop it and wait–it be well worth the time and work. When it’s done, chop it up and put it in a Dutch oven and put a good BBQ sauce over it and heat slowly and call me. I be right there. Here’s a good Texas rub: Take about a tablespoon each of: salt, black pepper, red pepper, garlic power, onion power, sugar and paprika. Mix ingredients and rub into meat well and let the meat sit until it is dry. Put the meat into your pit at 220F. Mop after it has cooked for about two hours and then every 1/2 hour. Here’s a good mop: into a sauce pan add 1/2 cup of your dry rub, then add 1 cup each of beer and Dr. Pepper. Heat to a low boil and add 1/2 cup cider vinegar (4 %), 1/2 cup vegetable oil, a sliced up lemon, a big cut up onion, 3 or 4 minced cloves of Garlic, a shot or two of Louisiana hot sauce, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Add water to make a total of about four cups and keep warm.

Give that roast the fork test for tenderness–it should go in easy. Takes 4-5 hours. Please don’t use a vinegar finishing sauce, try this:

Belly’s Chuck Roast Finishing Sauce

Amount
5
2
1
1/4
2/33
6
1/2

Measure
ounce
cups
dash
cup
cupteaspoon
ounce can
cup

Ingredient — Preparation Method
Worcestershire sauce
Dr. pepper
Tabasco sauce
brown sugar
good salad oil
salt to taste
garlic power
tomato paste
lemon juice

Mix all together and let it sit all the time you’re cooking the meat. Adjust sauce to your own taste–heat and salt.

I had some barbecued top round at a county fair and it had no smoke flavor. Why was this? Danny Gaulden–
I never like to barbecue top round, for it is so thick, the smoke just can’t penetrate it well. I do have a couple of churches that insist on this type of meat for they only have me smoke it, and they do their own slicing. That’s why they like it–little fat to trim, easy to slice on a slicer. Anyway, I always cut the big rounds into 3 smaller pieces so that the smoke will get in there and do a better job, but it still doesn’t start to compare to a good juicy brisket smoked right.

Does anybody know how to do Santa Maria style ‘Tri-Tips’?

Bill Wight–
Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip A guy who owns a BBQ joint east of Los Angeles was grilling this meat as a demonstration at the California BBQ Championships and he told me how to do it. Take a 2-3 lb. tri-tip roast and trim off the fat. Cut the meat into chunks the size of a small woman’s fist and rub with a mixture of salt, black pepper and garlic powder, in a 40:40:20 ratio. Let the meat sit in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag, for at least 4 hours. He grilled the meat over medium-hot mesquite coals. He was turning the chunks of meat constantly, moving them all around the grill. He pulled them off when the inside was medium-rare and the outside was well-done. Grilling time was about 20 minutes. This is a pretty tender piece of meat, so it doesn’t need long cooking. He chopped the chunks into bite-sized pieces and served it covered with salsa fresca. Fresh salsa is a must–don’t use the bottled stuff. Make your own or you can usually buy it in the deli section of most supermarkets, at least out West.

Bill’s Salsa Fresca

Amount
1
1/2
3
2
1/4
1/21

Measure
pound
pound
large
medium
bunch
mediumteaspoon

Ingredient — Preparation Method
Ripe red tomatoes
tomatillos or green tomatoes
sweet banana peppers, seeded
Hungarian wax peppers, seeded
cilantro
white or yellow onion
Jalapeno or Serrano pepper, seeded
adjust number for desired heat level
juice of 1 lime
salt (to taste)

By hand or in a food processor or salsa maker, chop everything into 1/4 to 1/8-inch pieces. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix in lime juice and salt to taste.

Can you tell me how to grill chicken breasts?]David Westebbe (EskWIRED)–
I usually use (gasp) Kraft Barbecue Sauce on chicken breasts. It’s got a good old-fashioned (as in “when I was a kid”) taste.This is how I do it:

Start the breasts with the skin side up–the coals are too hot at first to put the skin side down. Flip them over after about 15 minutes, and then again after another 15. If the skin is not yet crispy, cook them skin side down some more. You want good, crispy skin. Keep that fire low and don’t allow it to flare up.

When you have good skin, brown and bubbly, paint it THINLY with BBQ sauce. Continue to cook it with the skin up until the sauce dries on. Then flip them over and paint the bottom thinly as well. Cook long enough so that the BBQ sauce burns a little bit, and gets nice and caramelized. This will form a nice surface to really slop the sauce onto, so that lots of it soaks into the burned stuff. Continue cooking (skin/sauce side up) until it dries; it should be thick and sweet and gooey. Paint some more on, so that the breasts are shiny; put them on a platter and serve.

This may sound complicated, but it’s not. Just cook until the skin is crispy. Put on a thin coat of sauce, burn it, and then slop the sauce on. That’s all there is to it. Your guests will rave.

Please give me a good method for smoking chicken breasts. Q’n–
Here is my recipe for smoking spicy chicken breasts.Marinate 6 Chicken breasts in refrigerator 24 hours or longer.Chicken Marinade

Amount
3/4
1/2

Measure
cup
cup

Ingredient — Preparation Method
your favorite BBQ sauce.
Soy Sauce
Jalapeno sauce (6 Jalapenos in 1/4 cup vinegar
blended on liquefy)

Let the chicken marinate at least 4 hours.

Smoke at 200F for two hours (cooking time depends on your smoker and thickness of meat). After 2 hours transfer to grill and heat to 350F for 7 minutes turning the chicken at 3 1/2 minutes.

Bill Wight–
I take chicken breasts (bone in or boneless) and marinate them in Wishbone Italian salad dressing and let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, better overnight. Put them in the smoker at 220-240F. Use mesquite, grape vines or apple wood for the smoke. The boneless breasts take about 45 minutes and with the bone, about 1 1/2-2 hours. You’ll have to experiment a little as the thickness of the meat will make a big difference on the time required. This is so easy to do and the results are so good, you may never grill chicken again. Serve you favorite BBQ sauce on the side. Note: smoked chicken will be pink even when it is done. Go by internal temperature, not color. You can take them out at 160F.

Can I successfully smoke a turkey breast in my pit? Danny Gaulden–
Try this next time you do a turkey breast. Before you rub or season the breast, rub it all over with soft butter, shortening, etc. Then apply your favorite rub, and place it in the smoker. Two or three times while the turkey is smoking, brush on more butter. When the meat reaches 165F internal temperature, take it off, wrap it up, and that’s it. Promise it will turn out right.

Do your smoked turkey breasts have the skin on them? Danny Gaulden–
No, they are skinless, boneless, turkey breasts. However, sometimes I get “skin on” boneless turkey breast, and they barbecue great also. I smoke them at about 220-230F, and take them off at 160F. After they start to cook a little, brush a little lard, or butter on them two or three times during the cooking process, and it will help give them that golden color. Caution, don’t overcook them. They can dry out fast. Remember, smoked white turkey meat will take on a pink color from the smoke, so don’t worry–if it’s at temperature, it’s done, even if it’s pink.

Bill Wight–While you’re smoking something bigger, like a pork shoulder or a brisket at 220-240F, get a turkey leg or two and give them a dry poultry rub and throw them into the smoker off in a corner someplace. Take them out after about 3 hours and eat ’em for lunch–to go with that beer in your hand as you tend the pit. Makes the waiting and watching really worthwhile.

The few turkeys I have done (skin on) I have removed at 170F. Is 160F a “safe” temperature for a whole bird? Danny Gaulden–
Sorry for not making myself clear. I NEVER take a skin-on, bone-in turkey out of the smoker at 160F internal temperature, just the skinless, boneless breasts. The breasts are done to perfection (in my opinion) at a temperature of 160F. They are still juicy, but not raw or soft. Remember, the white meat will cook a lot quicker and requires a lower temperature for doneness than the thigh and other dark meat pieces next to thick bone. When I first started smoking whole turkeys (skin on, bone in), I would stick a meat thermometer in the thigh (don’t hit a bone, or the thermometer will not read correctly) and take the bird off at between 175-180F, depending on the turkey. (See below).

Can you tell me how best to smoke a whole turkey? Danny Gaulden–
Smoking turkeys can be one of the most challenging things to do for home barbecuers, for they are normally only cooked during the holiday season. Most folks on the list probably smoke a whole turkey only two or three times a year. First, what do you look for in a good turkey? There are mainly two kinds for retail sale:

Free-range turkey, which can be a little harder to find, is a turkey that was raised on the ground, in a pen, and actually had the freedom of walking, exercising, etc. like you would think of turkeys raised on an old-fashioned farm. They can tend to be a little tougher because they get to exercise and use their muscles more, but many consider them more flavorful. If slow-smoked properly, their meats can be turned into a tender, delicious morsel.

The most common brand of turkeys found in stores today are your name-brand, mass-produced birds. They are not free-range birds. Butterball and Honeysuckle are a couple of the most popular brands. This is the kind most people smoke for the holidays and can be quite delicious also.

To defrost a turkey properly, it should be done in the refrigerator. Depending on the size of the bird and temperature of your refrigerator, it could take anywhere between three to five days to thaw. After it is thawed, the bird will keep several days in the refrigerator before spoiling.

OK, we are going to discuss the foundations of good, basic, slow-smoking here. Some people brine their turkeys, inject their turkeys, and rub seasonings under the skin. I’m not going to deal with that. After you learn the basics of good slow-smoking, you can experiment with variations.

Early in the morning of the big “turkey” day, take the thawed turkey out of wrapper, remove neck, gizzard, and liver from cavity of turkey and set aside. You would be surprised how many barbecuers have forgotten and left this inside the bird! Wash the bird thoroughly with cold water and pat dry. Remove plastic pop-up thermometer if installed as they don’t work. Never trust a pop-up thermometer when smoking a turkey. It will “pop-up” before the bird is done, and get you into trouble.

I like to rub turkey all over with a good olive oil, or liquid vegetable oil. Then, I like to use a good rub which I hand-rub all over the turkey. I prefer to use white pepper vs. black in my turkey rub for black pepper on fowl can appear to look dirty when bird is smoked. Next, fire up the smoker, and when internal temperature in the pit is around 225F place bird on the pit, breast-side up.

I aim for a cooking temperature range of 225-240F during the entire smoking process. Every hour or two, take a basting brush and reapply some oil. This helps to keep the skin from becoming dry and tough, plus promotes a nice golden color.

The most difficult part for people who don’t smoke a lot of turkeys, is knowing when they are done. For me, this is easy for I have done thousands. On the average, a 12-15 pound bird takes about 6 hours, a 16-20 pound bird can take up to 8 hours. There are no set number of hours per pound for turkeys, for they are not like all other whole meats. Some are just more tender than others even before they are cooked. Here’s how I know when my birds are done. I never use a thermometer. I simply “shake-hands” with the drum stick. When it shakes easily and is loose all the way into the thigh-joint, I know it’s done. I can also feel the thigh with my hands and can tell when the bird is ready to take off. It will be very soft and tender. I realize this is very challenging for most of you, but once you learn this technique, it is a sure-fire way of knowing when your bird is done. Knowing that this will take practice, I recommend you use a thermometer until you have mastered this technique.

During last year’s turkey smoking season, I purposely used a thermometer a few times to give the guys on the list an idea of what temperature I was taking my birds off using my “shake-hands” method. With the thermometer applied deep into the thigh, it was generally reading about 180F. Caution must be taken when using a thermometer. You CANNOT hit a bone or gristle with the tip of thermometer for it will not give you a true reading. Don’t use a thick-stemmed meat thermometer that you find in most grocery stores. I used a long, skinny-stemmed thermometer that reads from 0-220F (Editor–like the probe on a Polder or Sunbeam digital thermometer). This type of thermometer is much easier to use when trying to probe a turkey, plus some can be calibrated. After the bird is done, remove it from smoker, let cool a bit, slice and enjoy.

How about some tips on hot smoking fish on my smoker? Dave Frary–
Fish should be soaked in a salt water brine for a few hours before smoking. It prevents the meat from getting mushy during the cooking. Cooking times are relatively short with fish.This recipe will work with Mackerel, Bluefish, Salmon, and even Cod.If you catch the fish yourself, cut through their throat to bleed them while they’re still alive. Put them head down in a bucket so they’ll pump out as much blood as possible. Wash and chill the whole fish until you can fillet them. Early in the morning of the day you’re going to smoke, wash 4 to 6 fillets and place them in a brine made from: Brine For Fish Smoking

Amount
1
1/3
1/4
1

Measure
quart
cup
cup
teaspoon

Ingredient — Preparation Method
cold water
Kosher salt
sugar
black, red or other peppers to taste

    • Mix this together in a glass or enamel bowl; add the fish and submerge the fillets with a weight to hold them under the brine. Brine the fillets in the refrigerator from 2 to 4 hours (longer makes the fish saltier).
    • Remove the fillets and wipe dry with paper towels. Place them, skin side down, on several thicknesses of dry paper towels and let them air dry for several hours. The surface is dry enough when your finger sticks to the flesh.
    • Hot smoke over a 250F wood fire for about 2 hours or until the fillets are firm to the touch (like medium rare steak).
    • Peel off the skin and serve.


    • Here’s a great grilled fish recipe:Grilled Fish

Amount
1
��
1
1/4
2
2
1
1/4
1
1/4
1 1/2

Measure
small
tablespoon
cup
tablespoons
tablespoons
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
pounds

Ingredient — Preparation Method
Onion, chopped
Brown sugar
Cider vinegar
Catsup
Dry mustard
Worcestershire sauce
Ground cloves
Chili powder
Cayenne pepper
Firm whitefish fillets such as
Red Snapper or Halibut

    • Combine all sauce ingredients in a pot, place over medium heat and boil until reduced to a thin syrup. Pour the syrup through a strainer, discard the onion in the strainer and chill the syrup. Place fish steaks or fillets in a baking dish and spoon some syrup over them. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Cook the fish on a hot grill, basting with a teaspoon of barbecue syrup on each side.


    • [Anyone got recipes for grilling and smoking salmon?]Dave Frary–
      Smoked Salmon Marinade from Backwoods FrankSalmon Marinade No. 1 – (Enough brine for two large Salmon fillets)

Amount
1/2
1/2
1-1/2
3
3
1/2
1

Measure
gallon
cup
cup
tablespoons
tablespoons
cup
tablespoon

Ingredient — Preparation Method
HOT water
Kosher salt
brown sugar
garlic powder
coarse ground black pepper
soy sauce
bay leaves, crushed

    • Add ingredients to hot water and stir until dissolved. Allow brine to cool. Add salmon fillets, soak covered for 3 hours in refrigerator. Remove fillets and air dry for at least 1 hour. Smoke in a single layer for about 2 hours at 250F or until firm and golden.


    • Salmon Marinade No. 2 – (Enough brine for two large Salmon fillets.)

Amount
3
1
1/3
1/3
1/3
1/2
1/2
1/2

Measure
cups
cup
cup
cup
cup
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon

Ingredient — Preparation Method
water
soy sauce
brown sugar
white sugar
Kosher salt
onion powder
garlic powder
pepper

    • Stir until ingredients are dissolved. Marinate fillets overnight. Air dry fillets and smoke as usual.


Amount
1
1/4
1
1
1
4
1/3

Measure
teaspoon
cup
tablespoon
teaspoon
pinchcup

Ingredient — Preparation Method
Grated lime rind
Lime juice
Vegetable oil
Dijon mustard
Pepper
Salmon steaks — 1-inch thick
Toasted sesame seed (opt.)

    • In shallow dish, combine lime rind and juice, oil, mustard and pepper; add fish, turning to coat. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
    • Reserving marinade, remove fish; sprinkle with sesame seed. Place on greased grill directly over medium heat. Add soaked wood chips. Cover and cook, turning and basting with marinade halfway through, for 16-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork.


    • Bear’s Smoked Salmon

Amount
1
1
1/4
1

Measure
cup
cup
cup
large

Ingredient — Preparation Method
brown sugar
salt
lemon pepper
whole salmon, cut into steaks

    • Mix all the dry items for rub.
    • Lay out a piece of plastic wrap long enough to wrap both filets well. Lay a filet scales down 5 inches up from the bottom of the wrap (lengthwise so the ends are left open). Pack all the “rub” on top of the filet. Lay the other side face down into the “rubbed” fish. You should now have the semblance of a sugar stuffed fishy.
    • Flip the bottom of the wrap up over the top of the fish and wrap it tightly (leaving the ends open).
    • Put on a cookie rack (or some such) in a baking dish and in the refrigerator. Let sit for 24 hours. Brown water will roll out of the ends that you left open.
    • Remove from wrap and scrape off excess rub. Let stand and air dry for 3 hours.
    • Smoke at 160F for 2-4 hours (when it starts to flake apart with a fork, it’s done). I like to use cherry wood this.


    • Bob’s Grilled Salmon

Amount
4
3
1
1
1/4
1/4
1/4
1

Measuretablespoons
tablespoon
tablespoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
teaspoon
dash

Ingredient — Preparation Method
4-6 oz. salmon steaks
Melted butter
Lemon juice
White wine vinegar
Grated lemon peel
Garlic salt
Salt
Hot pepper sauce — (optional)

    • Combine the sauce ingredients stirring thoroughly. Generously brush both sides of the salmon steaks with mixture.
    • Grill on a well-oiled grill over hot coals. Make a tent of foil or use barbecue cover and place over salmon. Grill 6-8 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your steaks. Baste frequently. Turn once, brushing with sauce. Steaks should flake easily when tested with a fork.


    • Grilled Cedar Plank SalmonRecipe By: Ryan Hamilton

Amount
2
22
2

Measurelots
tablespoons
tablespoons

Ingredient — Preparation Method
salmon fillets
thin untreated cedar planks
ginger — chopped
lime or lemon zest — chopped fine
orange zest — chopped fine
salt and pepper
Cajun or Creole spice mix
olive oil

    • I tried this recipe last weekend, and it was amazing. This is a variant of a signature dish of Emeril Lagasse (of the TVFN fame). The original recipe used horseradish and trout instead of ginger and salmon.
    • I had a hard time finding thin cedar planks (shingles) sold singly in the local hardware store, they seemed to only sell them in bunches of 40. I did however find untreated cedar shims that I was able to make do with.
    • So anyway, here’s what you do. Preheat your grill and oil up one side of the cedar with your olive oil. Sprinkle a bit of the Cajun seasoning on the plank, and lay the filet of salmon on top. Season the filet with salt, pepper, and the spice mix. Cover the filet completely with the ginger and zest — this adds flavor and helps the fish retain all of its moisture. Put the whole thing directly on the grill over the coals (cedar plank side down), close the lid, and stand back! The thing will smoke like crazy for a while. Check on the salmon after 15 minutes. If the plank catches on fire before the salmon is done, simply spray it with some water (I had to do this a couple times).
    • When the salmon is done, you can either serve the whole thing with the cedar flaming around the edges, or remove it from the cedar plank and serve. You may wish to remove most of the crushed ginger topping as it is a bit overpowering.
    • A nice sauce to accompany this can be made with soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil. I don’t know the measurements, I just winged it!!!
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