Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First Burn of the Season and Sourdough Bread-

My first burn of the season was this last weekend. We had a 2.5 pound Tri-Tip Roast seemingly sufficiently thawed, and I had cleaned the Winter out of our Char-Broil Silver Smoker. Central Coast California Winters are not particularly cruel, but we get enough cold evenings and precipitation to prevent a lot of Winter outdoor cooking. This particular roast was already prepped in the package, so once thawed it was ready to go.

I got the fire going. This being the the first burn of the season I got a full chimney of charcoal going and ran the Smoker with the vents wide open to really cook out any nasties I hadn't gotten during cleaning. The thermometer read about 425 degrees at peak. I scrubbed down the hot grill and turned down the vents. I then tossed in about a dozen fresh charcoal briquettes. I was using Kingsford Charcoal, the kind with Mesquite bits in the briquettes.

Once the cooking chamber had cooled to the 200 degree range I introduced the meat. I placed a thermometer probe in the thickest part of the meat, which was in the center of the cooking chamber. I got an initial temperature reading of Lo, indicating that we were still below 40 degrees internal temperature. I planned on a cooking time of about two to three hours.

Every thirty minutes I checked the fire. Generally it needed a half-dozen briquettes to keep the heat up. I generally just place them on top of the hot coals, rather than do a fresh start in the starting chimney each time. I haven't found the Kingsford introducing off flavors when doing this, and so this has been a general practice.

At three hours the internal temperature was around 128 degrees, and had been there for about thirty minutes. It was past the anticipated dinner time for the family, so I decided to speed things up a bit. I had been running with nearly closed vents. I added a dozen briquettes to the fire and opened the vents all the way. About thirty five minutes later we reached 160 degrees internal temperature, and I declared the cooking finished.

Just before adding the extra heat at the end of the cooking I laid four strips of bacon onto the roast, to prevent excessive drying of the exposed surfaces. It seemed to work, and the bacon was done just right at the end. After resting the meat for fifteen minutes under a foil tent, I cut into it and found it to be just right. A good smoke-ring, and finished cuts from medium rare to medium depending on the thickness of the meat at the cut.

As to other cooking adventures, my daughter Beth purchased an Oster 2 Lb. Breadmaker. We have done four loaves so far. None in the express bake mode, however. One loaf of Raisin Bread, one loaf of  white bread, and the third and fourth were sourdough. It took a few days to create the sourdough starter. This last loaf came out quite nicely, since I used actual bread flour as the recipe directed. Prior loaves were a bit dense, since I used the flour from our kitchen canister. Beth did the first loaf, a raisin bread that came out quite nicely. Bread flour is apparently very important.

We have a fresh bag of whole wheat flour for the next bread bake. This thing is really easy to use. I just measure out everything in advance, and then pour the ingredients into the bread pan. Measurements and order of ingredients is important, and I follow them precisely. Then the pan goes into the baker, I hit the settings (which are almost light-switch easy) and wait. Three hours, plus a cooling time of fifteen minutes.

There are a number of recipes yet to try just with the ones in the manual. There are plenty more recipes on-line. Not bad at all.

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