Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Slow Season-

I have the privilege of living in a part of the world that will permit outdoor cooking most of the year, in reasonable comfort. That being said, I have had a bit of a slow-down in grilling and barbecue.

We had some boned chicken breasts in the refrigerator, and I really did want to give them a nice smoking. I did three of them with Rudy's rub, purchased from Rudy's Barbecue when we were in Texas a few weeks back. The other two I did with my usual rub of seasoned salt, salt and black pepper.

I figured about an hour and a half for the cooking. I prepped the barbecue, got the fire going, heated the smoke chamber and laid out the meat. As usual I applied the thermometer probe in the piece furthest from the fire.

Generosity with fuel seems to be the key to good cooking time and a quality product with the Char-Broil Silver Smoker. Most of my cooking is with the vents wide open, keeping the smoke chamber at around 250 degrees. I have not needed to use a bellows since applying the rule of generosity.

My estimated time was about right. To finish this batch I raked the coals into a pile at the back of the fire box and put the fire box grill in place. I gave the pieces about two minutes per side of direct heat before taking them out and serving them.

My fuel was again Kingsford Mesquite charcoal. I applied no additional smoke chips. I prefer the Mesquite because I really like the more aggressive smoke flavor. I think it worked well for this batch. Juicy, and well balanced between spices, smoke and chicken flavors.

I am thinking about that Thanksgiving Turkey. Hmmmm. Maybe a test run in a week or two?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pork Shoulder Roast-

It was a relatively small Pork Shoulder Roast. It looked good. Nice balance of fat and lean, and just the right size for the remaining charcoal I had in stock. Cash was a bit short, so the six dollar price was good. I couldn't afford more charcoal, so what I had would have to do.

I rubbed the meat with olive oil and then added my spices. I am still working with the seasoned salt/salt/black pepper mix that has done so well in the past.

The charcoal was loaded into the starter chimney and fired up. The balance of the charcoal was divided between two coffee tubs. I find setting up my fuel in handy containers is, well, handy. I can just grab a tub of charcoal and pour some in whenever the fuel seems to need refreshing. Handy.

I set my thermometer for 165 degrees. I cleaned the heated grate and added the meat. I figured I had enough fuel for three hours. That seemed about right. The charcoal was the remains of my bag of Kingsford Hickory. I had no extra chips, but this charcoal has hickory bits in the charcoal itself, and proved adequate.

At the end of the three hours (adding charcoal every forty five minutes or so) I had used all of my fuel and the heat was declining. My temperature was 154 degrees inside the meat. I could see we weren't going to reach the target temperature, so I set my kitchen oven for 275 degrees and let the meat continue to cook in the barbecue until it preheated.

I transferred the meat to the oven and it reached temperature in fifteen minutes. The end product had a good smoke flavor and was quite juicy. It was very tasty, and quite satisfactory considering the price.

I think the combination of smoker and oven is a good choice when the supply of charcoal is not adequate, and might also be used to shorten the cooking time if you don't have as much time for slow cooking as you might like. I don't know the minimum amount of time necessary to establish a good smokey flavor using the smoker, but some seems to be better than none.

Pretty much just use what you have, and do the best you can with that. Try something new now and then, and learn from your mistakes. So far I haven't had many of those, and my meals have been surprisingly good.

Most important of all, I have had fun.