Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth of "Que-ly" Weekend Pt 2

I decided to go a bit old school and break out the old Brinkmann Offset smoker. Yeah I know, I "cheated on" the Big Green Egg, can ya believe it? I even used the first coal I ever used, Kingsford blue bag. Here it is set up out on the drive way, since I have an aversion to transferring hot coals on a wooded deck.
Two tips:
If you need extra capacity in your smoker, consider making a raised grid. The Naked Whiz tells you how to make one for a Big Green Egg or other round cooker here (scroll down to #45). I did basically the same thing but used a rectangular cooking grate.Fire control
With the Egg, I can cook 18 hours easily on one load of lump but in a less efficient cooker like the offset, it requires a bit more strategy, planning, and work to get even a 4-6 hour cook. Most smokers use the "Minion Method" to get a longer cook out of your first batch of fuel. You load your firebox with coal except leaving room for air intake (see left side of picture) and a gap where the hot coals will go (see the whole on the right).When you pour a chimney starter full of hot coals into the gap, they provide the initial heat and as they slowly burn out, the new coals start burning. This gives a nice slow, controlled burn. I got about 4 hours at 250f from this batch. You can read more about the Minion Method here.

There was just the four of us eating here yesterday night, so I made a rack of St. Louis trimmed spare ribs, a rack of baby backs, and some ABT's. I did one half of each using Billy Bones Original mixed with his XXX Cherry Rub. I did the other half trying out Chris Lilly's recipe for Memphis Dry Rub Ribs.

The ABT's were great, as always. We used Plumrose Peppered Maple Bacon which gets two thumbs up from me. Nice thick cuts and a nice blend of sweet and heat. I'd recommend this bacon.The dry ribs had great seasoning except I thought that they tasted a bit salty.The loin backs were "extra meaty" at 3 1/2 lbs (true baby backs are 1.75 lbs and under) and hmmmmm also a bit salty.The Billy Bones ribs came out good, I think in part due to the sweet glaze we used on them.Unfortunately it later dawned on me looking at pictures this morning that both packages of ribs were labeled "tender and juiciness improved with up to a 12% deep basted solution". That would explain the saltiness. (Then again, it also takes credit for the great smoke ring I got, to the bone....the brines are full of nitrates, which is what gives hot dogs their reddish color)Final Tip
The big duh: Avoid ribs with labels like that or "enhanced" or "brined". Sure, they are juicy but often end up salty and tasting more like ham than rib once cooked. It also means you are getting 12% less than you are paying for per pound. I knew this, but Alexis bought what was available at the store. Next time I'd pick something else instead of settling for these.