May 27, 2003

Experimental BBQ

The rainy weather finally let up in Northern California, and so I got my first chance in a long time to fire up my Bandera smoker for real. Gave it a good cleaning out first and coated the outside with a bit of oil -- you maintain a smoker like a cast iron skillet for the most part.

I tried a bunch of minor variations this time to get into the swing of things.

Instead of a whole packer-cut brisket I used a half or "point-off" one. These have the plus of going a bit quicker, but the minus of having less fat and therefore can dry out. They also tend toward the more expensive side. I smoked it as normal for four hours and then placed it in a quarter disposable hotel pan for the remaining time. So it was sort of smoked and then braised. Not true (tm) BBQ, but it did turn out quite well.

Instead of pork ribs, I did beef ribs. Smoked for four hours and then wrapped in foil (again, not something I do normally). I was mostly curious if doing this let me leave the ribs in the smoker while the brisket finished. It did, although the ribs were really well done. Next time, I'll probably also move them up away from the fire when doing this.

Both the brisket and the ribs had really major red smoke rings this time. I used a combination of black oak (which I don't care for, it's very dense and takes quite a bit of heat to get it to burn) and almond wood (which was great this time -- all rather smallish logs just perfect for the BBQ). Ran the smoker at between 240 and 270 for the whole time and it was fairly easy to keep it there. I think I'm improving at the entire fire management thing.

Another weird experiment was sticking the probe thermometers through potato halves to serve as a "base" for each one. It works out well, but I sort of wish I could come up with something a bit more reusable. Seems a shame to waste a perfectly good potato that way. Maybe balls of foil flattened out at the bottom. The world's first aluminum potato!

The final experiment was cooking pinto beans in the smoker. I've done beans lots of times before, but they are usually white beans. I'm happy to say that pintos also work out well. I put lots of cumin and coriander in the mix this time -- two flavors that I love and especially so with beans. The beans were in the smoker the entire time. About half of the time covered and half uncovered. They didn't overcook at all and could probably have even kept on cooking for even longer with no real downside to quality.

Total time for the "run" was just under eight hours.

Posted by dowdy at May 27, 2003 07:10 AM