Posts tagged ‘Smoke’

Annual Guy’s Dove Hunting Trip

…and some Smokey Pork Tenderloin Sliders

This past weekend, I headed down to our family’s ranch, The Dos Locos,  outside of Goliad, Texas for our annual Guy’s Dove Hunting Trip. Although this post does not really contain a recipe, I thought I’d share some pictures anyway (there is a link to the recipe for the  Smokey Pork Tenderloin Slider’s that I got from NibbleMeThis. You should really check out his blog.).

You may or may not know that I went to Baylor and am a huge fan. Hard to snap a picture while flying down I-35, but here’s the new stadium they are building right on the Brazos river. It will be sad to see Floyd Casey Stadium go, but its way past time that we got a new one. It should be ready for the 2014 season.

Baylor's New Football Stadium

Baylor’s New Football Stadium

The wife asked me to stop and get her a new Baylor shirt for the upcoming Homecoming game. While I was there, I spotted this. If anybody is looking for ideas for a Christmas present for me…

Chili Pot

Chili Pot

After hunting Thursday night (I got 2 dove, they weren’t really flying), it was time to pull out Old Faithful, my offset that retired down to the ranch after getting the Egg. On the menu was just some simple wings.

Old Faithful (Brinkman Pitmaster or something like that)

Ole Faithful (Brinkman Pitmaster or something like that)

It felt odd using charcoal briquettes. I haven’t used them since…ummm…I guess since the last time I was at the ranch. Felt good to fire the old lady up once again, though.

Chicken Wings indirect on the old offset with hickory for a touch of smoke.

Chicken Wings indirect on the old offset with hickory for a touch of smoke.

Maybe it was the ambiance, being down at the ranch all by myself, no distractions, just a cold bourbon and coke in one hand and a book (actually a Kindle) in the other, or maybe I did something right, but these were the best wings I have put out in a long time. It wasn’t the recipe as I did them the way I always do. Just plain ole Buffalo Wings. The skin came out extra crispy, yet they were till moist and tender on the inside. Might sound sacrilegious, but better than any I’ve done on the Egg in a long time. I really don’t have any excuse as to  why I forgot to take a final picture. You’ve seen wings before, though, so I’m sure you will forgive me. Regardless, it was a good, quiet first night before everybody was scheduled to come in on Friday.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon. I wanted to cook up something for lunch that would hold us through the evening hunt until we could get back, start a fire and grill steaks for dinner. Awhile back, I saw Chris of NibbleMeThis do some Smokey Pork Tenderloin Sliders on his blog and I knew it would be perfect (check out his blog for the full recipe). 

I started off with 4 yellow onions (he used Vidalia, but I couldn’t find them), sliced thin for carmelized onions. He did his on the grill and I was planning to as well, but at the last minute, just did them on the stove.

4 yellow onions, sliced and ready to be carmelized

4 yellow onions, sliced and ready to be carmelized

Next up was the tenderloins.

I added in an extra step that was not on the original recipe. A quick brine. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add in 1/2 cup of salt, 1/8 cup of suagar, 8-10 peppercorns, a tsp or two of the rub you will using, a dash of sriracha and a few by leaves. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add two cups of cold water and allow to cool. Place your tenderloins in a gallon Zip-lock bag and pour the brine in. Place in the refrigerator for 2 to 5 hours. Before smoking the tenderloins, drain the brine and rinse the tenderloins, before adding the rub. I used Salt Lick rub in lieu of what the orifginal recipe called for. Good, but it was a bit peppery. Would probably use a different rub next time.

Pork Tenderloins on the smoker

Pork Tenderloins on the smoker

He glazed his with a bacon honey mustard sauce. I was planning on doing that, but there was no honey to be found at the ranch, so mine got a glaze of bacon mustard sauce right at the end. Pulled at 140F. Sliced super thin, as thin as you can get it. Either use a really sharp knife, an electric knife or a kitchen slicer if you have access to one.

Slicing up the pork tenderloins.

Slicing up the pork tenderloins.

My plate up picture wasn’t the best, because I wasn’t sure I was even going to post anything about it, but at the last minute I figured what the hell. Served up on King’s Hawaiian Roll sliders, pork tenderloin, coleslaw, carmelized onions and bacon mustard sauce. This stuff was the bomb. Off the hook and the chain both. No, seriously…it was really freakin’ good.

Smokey Pork Tenderloins served up on the finest paper plates. Who wants to do dishes while on a hunting trip?

Smokey Pork Tenderloins served up on the finest paper plates. Who wants to do dishes while on a hunting trip?

So good, I’ll probably serve it at the next Eggfest I attend. Or tailgate party. Heck, there’s still a bit leftover and I’m having it for lunch today and I’m still excited about it.

And just in case you wanted some proof that we did do some hunting, here’s a few I got. Ended up only getting 8 total. I’m telling you, they really weren’t flying, but I did take my oldest and best friend and saw him shoot his first dove. He was super excited and now I think he is hooked so it was all worth it. That about wraps it up for another successful Annual Guy’s Dove Hunting trip.

Two of my hall. Look for them in an upcoming post.

Two of my haul. Look for them in an upcoming post.

Chicken Thighs with a Crabmeat Stuffing

Chicken Thighs with a Crabmeat Stuffing

Chicken Thighs with a Crabmeat Stuffing

     Wow!! It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything! I do believe that’s the longest I’ve ever gone and I’m sorry for that. We’ve been going through some trying stuff (close family and friends will know what I’m talking about) and cooking just hasn’t been much on my mind lately. Not that we haven’t been cooking, but its been stuff like burgers or fajitas or stuff that wasn’t really blog worthy. Or stuff we’ve already done here. Been doing quite a bit more cooking inside, more than is normal for us.  But we’re back!! And today we are bringing you these bundles of chicken with a crabmeat stuffing. And never fear…I’ve got about six cooks lined up that I am super excited about. So stay tuned and see what we’re cooking up.

     We’ve been trying to clear out the freezer a bit lately. I came across these chicken thighs and I didn’t want to just throw them on the Egg with a bit of rub or sauce. No…I wanted to do something else. We’ve all seen stuffed chicken breasts….why not thighs? Dark meat has more flavor than white meat and is less likely to dry out. Sounds like a winner to me, so I started looking around for recipes, found one I liked and modified it a bit to fit our tastes.

Applying the stuffing to the boneless chicken thighs.

Applying the stuffing to the boneless chicken thighs.

     Before we get started, if you can find boneless chicken thighs, do yourself a favor and buy them. Not that its hard to debone a thigh, it’s just a pain in the but. That’s what was in the freezer though, so that’s what I used. I’m keeping my eyes out for boneless from now on.

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, skin on
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced fine
  • 1 6oz can lump crabmeat, drained (if you can get fresh, go for it. Not kitchen tested as I couldn’t get any)
  • 2 tbsp white wine (we used Pinot Grigio as that was what Mrs. G was drinking)
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups bread cubes
  • your favorite bbq or chicken rub (We used Dizzy Pig’s Tsunami Spin, a rub with mid and far Eastern influences)
Layering the stuffing on is the easy part, wait till you get to rolling them up.

Layering the stuffing on is the easy part, wait till you get to rolling them up.

Directions

  1. Add the vegetable oil and butter to a large skillet and over medium heat.
  2. Add the celery and onion and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Sautee until soft, about five minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add poultry seasoning and pepper. Next, stir in crabmeat, bread cubes and wine. Allow to cool.
  4. Preheat your grill to 400F. If using an Egg or other ceramic cooker, set it up for a direct cook with raised grates. For other charcoal or gas grills, you want a 2 zone cooking set up with flame on one side and none on the other. (This will allow you a safe area to move chicken in case of flare ups.)
  5. Lay the chicken out skin side down and spread an even layer of the mixture over each one.
  6. Now the tricky part….roll the chicken up and secure with toothpicks. We didn’t get any pictures of this as we had nasty chicken stuff all over our hands and didn’t want tot get it on the camera. You understand, don’t you and forgive us? I knew you would.
  7. Once you’ve got them all rolled out, season the outside with your rub and place on the grill.
  8. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning every so often to ensure even cooking (I went about every 5 minutes)
  9. Cook until chicken hits about 165F. Sure, that’s high for chicken breasts, but the thighs can take that kind of heat without drying out.
Onto the Egg at 400F

Onto the Egg at 400F

     We’ve talked about wood and smoke before. Have you been paying attention? What kind of wood would pair well with chicken?

About 10 minutes in.

About 10 minutes in.

If you answered a light wood, possible a fruit wood such as apple or cherry, then you are correct! Give yourself 10 points. Not sure what you are going to do with them, but 10 points has to be better than none, right? Notice those two small pieces of chicken off to the side? Casualties of my poor deboning skills. I like to call them chef’s treats as I get to eat them while the chicken is cooking. ;)

Finished after 20 minutes.

Finished after 20 minutes.

Once the chicken is done, remove it from the grill and loosely cover with foil for about 5 minutes to rest. This gives you some time to make a salad or some other side dish.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Is your mouth watering yet?

     We kept it simple and just went with a wedge salad. We figured the bread crumbs in the stuffing already counted as carbs, so we didn’t need a potato or rice or couscous.

Dinner is served!!

Dinner is served!!

     The chicken turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Juicy, with a nice flavor from the rub and just the right amount of smoke. The first bite gave you that familiar stuffing taste with the bread and onions and celery and poultry seasoning, but then you noticed it was just a bit different from Thanksgiving stuffing. I’d really like to say that the crab meat stole the show, but in all honesty…it was kind of lost with all the other players. It didn’t jump out and you and say, “Hey!! There’s crab in here!!” Maybe fresh crab would give it that extra UMPH. I don’t know.

     I do know that it was fun writing a blog post again. Expect one again real soon. Like maybe tomorrow. Or Monday. And expect venison. :)

The Not So Perfect Prime Rib Cook

A message left for me from my Uncle David.

A message left for me from my Uncle David.

     Lord knows not all my cooks come out right. Well…maybe that might be a bit presumptuous. He probably doesn’t care how my cooks go. But my family and close friends know they don’t always go right or according to plan. This particular cook turned out fine fantastic if my family is to be believed. It just didn’t go quite as planned. Now don’t get me wrong. The prime rib turned out fine, it was my timing of the cook that was totally off, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

13.98lb bone in prime rib!

13.98lb bone in prime rib!

     For many, Christmas time is a time for family and friends to spend time together. To bask in the love of others we are so blessed to have in our life. And when you get people together, food is always an important part of it. Showing your love for others by feeding them (both physically and emotionally). At least that’s the way it is in our family. This year, I decided to step it up and take some of the burden off my Mom by volunteering to cook the main entrée. Nobody wants to be stuck in the kitchen all day on Christmas cooking. 

Mmmm...look at all that meaty goodness!

Mmmm…look at all that meaty goodness!

     This year we decided to do a prime rib. Seems like for more and more people, prime rib is the way to go for Christmas dinner. And of course, you know we had to do it on the Egg! Which involved a trip over to their house earlier in the week to get it there and all set up. Let me tell you, these things are HEAVY!

Were you aware that it snowed on Christmas Day in Dallas?

All set and ready to go at my parents house. Were you aware that it snowed on Christmas Day in Dallas?

     Before you get to thinking that I know everything about grilling and smoking and cooking in general, let me just clear that up for you. I don’t. Far from it. I have no culinary training, just a passion for making good food. And enough sense to know when I don’t know how to do something and when it is time to seek out some help. You see, I have only cooked one prime rib in my life. Last year. And it was smaller. And it was done in the oven. So this was new territory for me. So I asked and asked and asked on The Egghead Forum everything I could possibly ask. And then I asked some more until I figured I could stumble my way through this cook.

The prime rib all seasoned up and ready for the Egg.

The prime rib all seasoned up and ready for the Egg.

     For this cook, I kept it pretty simple. I wanted the meat to be the star and to shine through. That being said, there’s not a lot of surface area as compared to interior on a prime rib. So rubbed it down with some canola oil (to help the spices stick) and then sprinkled on some coarse Kosher salt, some fresh cracked black pepper, freshly chopped garlic and finished off with a light dusting of Dizzy Pig’s Cow Lick (which is a steak seasoning).

On to the Egg with the prime rib

On to the Egg with the prime rib

     The Egg was set up to cook at 250F using my new Adjustable Rig from the Ceramic Grill Store that my In-Laws had gotten me for Christmas. I just had to break in my new toy. If you don’t have an Adjustable Rig, you can use your place setter (legs up) and set your grate on top of that. If using another grill or smoker, set it up for an indirect cook just like you would for brisket, ribs or pork butts. I did toss in one hickory chunk, but for the most part wanted this to be pretty much a smokeless cook. I didn’t want heavy smoke to overpower the meat. (I may or may not have a post in the next week or so on what the Adjustable Rig is and what it’s for. Let me know if you are interested in that)

Mmmm....drool.

Mmmm….drool.

     From what I am told (and my limited experience), prime rib is not a difficult cut of meat to cook. Nothing like a brisket. You just need to make sure not to overcook it. It’s supposed to be on the medium rare side with lots of pink (although if you want to cook it further, feel free to do so). The only hard part about it is figuring out the cooking time.

     From my research, it didn’t seem like there was a rule of thumb for how long it would take (like pork butts which should take an hour and half to two hours per pound). What I was told, or came to understand, was that it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours to cook at 250F. My plan was to cook it indirectly at that 250 until it reached an internal temperature of 115F. At that point, I would pull the prime rib off the Egg and wrap it in foil. Then, I would remove the adjustable rig, place the grate directly on the Egg, open the vents and raise the temperature to 500-550F. When it reached that temperature, I would unwrap the prime rib, return it to the Egg and sear it until the temperature hits 130. At this point, I was planning to remove the prime rib, loosely tent it in foil and let it rest for 30 minutes and the temperature would climb to 135.

Reverse searing the prime rib

Reverse searing the prime rib

     Everything seemed to be going according to plan. I cooked it until it hit 115. I pulled it and set the egg up to sear the prime rib. Schedule wise, we looked great. I started to sear the prime rib and this is where it started going wrong for us. Fat was dripping off the prime rib, smoke was pouring out the top of the Egg, if you opened it to check, flames would shoot up! But it was starting to look great. It was developing a nice outer bark, the color looked amazing, the smell was out of this world. I wasn’t quite sure how long it was supposed to sear, though. And that was my mistake. I never asked how long the sear was supposed to be. I began to get worried about overcooking the prime rib. I began to worry about burning the outside. I let it go as long as I dared, I think maybe 5 minutes and pulled it off, wrapped it in foil and began to let it rest. As we were waiting, I had a probe thermometer in it. It started to slowly creep up. 117…118…119. Oh no….this does not look good! This can’t be right! This is under done! I can’t serve it like this!

Pulled (for the second time) and resting.

Pulled (for the second time) and resting.

     I’m starting to get nervous, panic is creeping in, something has to be done. At least it wasn’t overcooked. So I sucked it up, bolstered up my nerves with a bit more bourbon (did I not mention I had a few already?), set the Egg back up for an indirect cook and threw that hunk of beef back on. And let it cook. When it finally hit 130, I pulled it off (yet again) and let it rest. Let me tell you, the natives were not happy and were growing restless. Dinner was supposed to be ready at 4:30…5 at the latest and here we were waiting on the meat. Meat that was on the counter and was as far as they knew ready to cut. 17 people! I did some talking, I did some explaining and tried to stretch it out and after 15 LONG minutes (it was 5:30 at this point), I gave in and began to carve, nervous as hell, hoping and praying I didn’t screw it up.

Sliced and to my relief not over done.

Sliced and to my relief not over done.

    I know the picture does not do it the justice it deserves. Not used to taking pictures in my Mom’s kitchen…with 17 hungry people breathing down my neck. It was pinker than it looks in the picture. Take my word for it…or don’t. We served it up with some au jus (see bottom of post), horseradish cream sauce, garlic-chive mashed taters, green bean casserole, the Pioneer Woman’s 9 hour mushrooms, broccoli and other stuff I can’t recall right now.

The feeding masses

The feeding masses

     If family can be believed, it was well worth the wait. Including me, there were 18 people and only one minor complaint. One of my uncles (and I’m not sure if he was kidding) said prime rib should be able to cut with just a fork. Of course, this is my uncle that won’t eat pink meat at all and took the end piece, so yeah, it may have been more done, but that’s the piece he picked and there’s no accounting for some people’s taste.

A personal message to me.

A personal message to me.

     Do you recall this picture from the beginning of the post? That was a note that was left for me from my Uncle David, stuck under the cutting board where the prime rib was resting. Think it was some type of hint? He drew that from scratch. I think I’ll be keeping that as a memento.

     So when all was said and done, family was well fed and happy and we got to spend a wonderful day together. I’ve relearned to never cook something new for a group for the first time. Always do a trial run, although if you can’t practice on family, who can you practice on? I’ve decided in the future, I will probably do boneless prime ribs. And after doing some more research, I learned that the sear should have taken anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes per side (20 minutes being the minimum). Live and learn, right?

     Even though it is late, from me and mine, I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas. I hope that everybody out there was able to spend time with family and loved ones and had a wonderful and safe holiday.

Simple Au Jus

Ingredients

  • 20 ounces of beef stock
  • 1 package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 3 Tbsp of butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp of dried rosemary
  • 1 or 2 tbsp of drippings from prime rib

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes
  3. Strain au jus and serve with prime rib
     

Slashed Chicken Quarters

Slashed Chicken Thighs

     The other week, I was at my brother’s house for dinner. As he was cooking, I noticed his copy of Weber’s Way to Grill that I got him for his birthday last year. It looked like it hadn’t even been opened! So I started paging through it, seeing if anything would catch my eye and decided to borrow it from him. Don’t worry, Michael, I’m almost done with it. You can have it back next time I see you.

     One thing that really piqued my interest was the recipe for Provencal Marinated Chicken Legs. OK….really the recipe did not interest me that much, but rather their illustrations of how to prep whole chicken legs. Cutting an opening between the drumstick and the thigh to expose that innermost meat and speed up the cooking time. I’d never heard of that before. And making slashes on the outside of the leg and thigh to allow the marinade to penetrate deeper? New to me as well, but it made sense. And with leg quarters running (no pun intended) about $0.99 a lb here, I felt this was something I could experiment with and not feel bad it if didn’t work out.

Chicken getting ready to take a swim in some marinade

     Digging around the pantry, I found this chicken marinade from Stubb’s. I don’t remember when I picked this up, but it sounded like a plan to me. The chicken got “slashed” yesterday morning and went into a Zip-lock bag around 6:00am right before I headed out the door to work. Yeah, I know, I get up way too early for work. I figured it would get about an 11 hour marinade, although the bottle says 2-6 hours.

Slashed Chicken Quarters going on the Egg

     I set up the Egg for a direct cook at 375F, using my Grill Extender to raise the cooking height further up and away from the coals to prevent it from burning (this is how I do most of my cooks with chicken). If you are using another type of grill, I would suggest cooking the chicken indirect or having two zones where you can move the chicken away from your heat source if it begins to have flare ups from the drippings. For smoke, I went with apple wood chips as I think it offers a more delicate flavor than some of the other woods like mesquite or hickory that can easily over power chicken.

Close up view of the slashes I made. Looks like Wolverine or Freddy got hold of my chicken.

     The marinade from the chicken was reserved and used to marinade the chicken throughout the cook. I know some people feel a little uneasy and squeamish about that, but I boiled the marinade for 5 minutes before using. Food borne bacteria die at or below 165 and a boil is way hotter than that, so I feel like it is a safe practice. And I haven’t gotten sick or died from it yet. The chicken took around 45 minutes to cook and was pulled around 170.

Chicken’s done

     Seeing as how my spatchcock chickens generally take about an hour to cook, I figured the slashes might have sped up the cooking process by about 15 minutes. Not really enough to consider a big difference.

Plated up with some corn

     The chicken came out pretty good. It was moist and flavorful. Maybe the slashes didn’t speed up the cooking much, but they really did make a difference with the marinade. Which makes sense. The more surface area exposed, the more flavor you are going to get with each bite. The marinade itself, it wasn’t mind blowing or stellar. It was average in my book. It did give the chicken a hint of sweetness, but I really wasn’t picking up on the citrus it claimed. Now that I’m looking at the bottle, I think what I couldn’t put my finger on was the sesame it claims.

     Would I do it again? Maybe, if the price was right. Come to think of it, I think I picked up the marinade because I had a coupon. I guess I’d pick it up again if I had another one.

     As for the slashes, if you can get past the fact that it looked like Wolverine got ahold of you chicken before it was tossed on the grill, it’s not a bad trick to have up your sleeve. More flavor per bite. But if you are into aesthetics, this might not be the way for you to go.

Texas Tri-Tip

Texas Tri-Tip

     Down here in Texas, we don’t stumble upon tri-tip very often. I’m not sure if it’s a conspiracy with the meat packing industry to ship all available tri-tips to California, or if our butchers just cut it up differently (often times it is ground up into hamburger or cubed up and sold as soup/stew meat from what I am reading on the Net). If you were wondering, tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin primal cut and has the meat classification NAMP 185D.

Tri-tip

     Over Memorial Day Weekend, we went camping with some friends. One of the guys, Tommy, was an old college roommate and from California. One night, as we were sitting by the fire, he went on and on about tri-tip and how great it was. He even went so far as to bad-mouth our beloved brisket! He might have even said us Texans don’t know good bbq, but the beer had been flowing, my recollection is a bit hazy, but I’m pretty sure if he had said that, there might have been some fighting involved. That last part might have been alcohol induced imagination.

     I was once asked on Facebook the best way to cook a brisket. Before I could even reply, this same Tommy told the person, “Take you brisket, rub it down generously with your rub, throw it in the trash and go buy a tri-tip.”

     So maybe it was fortuitous, maybe it was kismet (those are my two big words of the day, don’t expect anything more) that upon returning home from that trip, I spotted a bunch of tri-tip at the store. I knew I had to pick one up and try it again (I’ve only cooked tri-tip twice before in my life, that’s how hard it is to find here). And to top it off, I was going to try it out on an old buddy from Corpus, Jamin.

Look at the price on that sucker!

     I decide to call this a Texas Tri-tip. Why, you may ask? Well, Santa Maria Tri-tip is usually cooked over red oak logs (didn’t have any, used pecan chunks), is cooked on a Santa Maria style grill (also didn’t have, used my Egg), is served with pinquito beans (what?) and basically cuz we’re here in Texas. I’m not sure exactly what goes into a Santa Maria rub for tri-tip. I looked up a few variations and it was common stuff like salt, black pepper and garlic powder. From there, some added paprika, maybe some kind of heat, maybe some rosemary, maybe some other things. I really couldn’t find any one true recipe, so I grabbed a rub that was given to me recently, developed for beef in particular. Ingredients looked similar to what I had been reading and I really wanted to try it out, so I rubbed it down with some Cluck and Squeal Beef Specific BBQ Rub.

Cluck and Squeal Beef Specific Seasoning and BBQ Rub

     To cook my Texas Tri-tip, I decided to go with a reverse sear method. This is where you bring your meat up to a certain temperature over a lower, indirect method and then quickly sear it to finish it off. I went this route, rather than searing over a high heat and then  finishing indirect over a lower heat, because due to the heat retention of an Egg, it is much easier to heat it up at the end, than it is to sear it a high heat and then try to bring the temperature down. Either method works well, just depends on your equipment. So I set up my Egg at 400F indirect to start the cook.

Baked taters (started 30 minutes prior) and tri-tip on the Egg

     You’ll notice I have a probe stuck into my tri-tip. My goal was to measure the temp as it slowly came up and to pull it at 110F. Then, I would remove the placesetter (giving me direct heat) and raise the temp of the Egg up to 600F to sear the tri-tip.

Some corn was added after about 15 minutes

     After we had hit 110F, we pulled the tri-tip off, and loosely covered it with foil as we began to raise the temperature of the Egg. While the Egg was heating up, the tri-tip kept climbing until it finally reached 125F. In hindsight, if I had known it would climb this high, I might have pulled it at 100 or 105F.

Getting the final sear

     The tri-tip got a sear on the side with no fat for 1 minute. I was planning on searing fat side for a minute as well, but when I flipped it and the fat began to melt off, the temperature of the Egg rapidly jumped to 850F!! So it only got about 30 seconds.

When slicing, make sure to cut across the grain

     After allowing it to rest about 10 minutes, we began to slice it up and found it to be pink on the inside. I don’t know if you want to call that medium or medium-rare, which is what we were shooting for.

All sliced up

     At first glance, I thought we might have overshot it, but one bite was all it took to determine it was done just right. The rub had a wonderful flavor that complimented the tri-tip well, not to spicy, but you could taste the peppers and garlic in it. The meat was moist and flavorful, somewhat between a steak and a roast. My buddy Jamin kept saying how great it was and that it really had a lot of flavor. Mrs. G liked it as well and suggested maybe adding a chimichurri sauce to it next time.

     Me? I thought it was good. Was it a brisket? No, but its a totally different cut of meat. It’s like comparing apples to oranges, two totally different things. They both have their pros and cons. Does it take 15+ hours to cook? No, which makes it a great weeknight cook. Does it get all that smokey goodness that a brisket does? No. To me, it seems more like grilling than BBQ, nothing wrong with that. But at $5.99 a pound….I think I’ll grab a ribeye next time. Or if I got the time, a brisket. To me, nothing says BBQ quite like brisket. Sorry Tommy….brisket wins.

Overnight Pork Butt With Auber Instruments Pit Controller

Pork Butt

     Last week, we decided that it had been too long since we have done a pork butt. It just seems like we have been too busy lately to do an overnight cook. Either we’re out of town, or I’m working a weekend or something else comes up. As much as we like to do them, it just hasn’t fit in with our schedules. This past weekend, or I should say Thursday night as I had Friday off, was the perfect time.

     Not sure how much this butt weighed. Quite frequently, you will find two butt together in a cryovacced package. You might not notice there are two unless you look closely. Together, these two weighed about 19.5lbs. One went into the freezer, either for sausage down the road or pulled pork at a later date. The other one got slathered with mustard and rubbed down with Dizzy Pig Dizzy Dust (Coarse).

Pork Butt going on the Egg

     One thing I was really excited about was that this was going to be my first time to try out my Auber Instruments Pit Controller on an overnight cook. If you aren’t familiar with pit controllers, they have a temperature sensor that you place near the meat in your smoker. The pit controller then monitors the temperature inside. If it begins to fall below your programmed temperature, it turns a fan on that blows air over the coals in your smoker, thereby raising the temperature. As it nears the desired temperature, the fan begins to cycle between on and off. Once the temperature has been reached, the fan turns off. It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the easy, condensed version that I can understand.

     For this butt, I ran the Egg at 250F, placesetter legs up (wrapped in aluminum foil for easy clean up later), no drip pan, and used a few pecan chunks and some hickory chips.  One problem I have had since getting my Egg, is that long cooks (like butts and briskets) just don’t seem to get the smoke and the black, meteorite-like bark that I used to get with my old offset. So I tried something a little different this time. For the first 4 hours, on the hour, I would lift up the placesetter and throw a couple more pecan chunks and a handfull of hickory chips on top of the coals.

3 hours in

     After about 4 hours in (around 2 am), I decided to call it a night. As this butt didn’t need to be ready until dinner Friday night, I turned down my pit controller to 225 and hit the sack with nary a worry in my head about the fire going out or spiking in the middle of the night.

8 AM, 10 hours later

     Friday morning, I woke up a lil before 8 and went to check on the butt and the above picture is what I saw. The temperature of the Egg was at 223 F….2 degree difference from what I set it at after being left alone for 6 hours. Not too shabby!!

2:30 PM, 16.5 hours later

     Around 2:30 Pm, 16.5 hours after I had started, it was finally done. I know what some of you maybe thinking. “You burnt the hell out of it!”

Another view

     And some are thinking “16.5 hours!! I can do that in less time in my crokcpott!”  Uh-huh…I’m sure you can.

Bone slid out clean

     One way to tell when your butt is done is if the bone slides out clean with no resistance. Or you can just shoot for around a temp of 200. Once this butt was done, it was wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in a small cooler filled with towels to await Mrs. G’s return home from work. At this point, your butt can safely rest for around 4 hours without any worries. After 4 hours, the meat will still be piping hot and will hurt your hands to pull it by hand.

     And for those who can do their pork butt in a crockpott in less time….does it come out looking as good as this?

Hand-shreddable porky goodness!!

After 4 hours resting in a cooler, this butt was still almost too hot to pull with gloves on, but I persevered!!

All pulled

     To go along with the pulled pork, I made a North Carolina-style Vinegar Sauce and some coleslaw from a recipe in Steve Raichlen’s BBQ USA. I’m not claiming this is authentic for that region, so don’t get all up in arms against me if its wrong. I’m just a good ole Texas boy who’s more familiar with brisket than butts. I was just going along with a recipe I found that tastes pretty good to me.

Chow Time!

     This was some smokey porky goodness!! Maybe one of the best butts I have ever done. Adding chunks and chips throughout the beginning of the cook, while a bit of a pain, really helped me to achieve that bark that I had been shooting for. And having the pit controller really eased my mind and allowed me to get some needed shut eye after having an 11 day straight run at work. Was it needed? Probably not, but boys and their toys. It was nice to just kick back and let it do all the work for me.

    9 lbs of pulled pork is a lot of food for just two people. What the hell are we going to do with all those leftovers?

Texas Hot Links

Texas Hot Links

     When I think barbecue, I think brisket and beans and potato salad and of course sausage!! To me, a barbecue just isn’t a barbecue unless some type of sausage is involved. Last year, I decided that I was going to embark on a journey. A journey to start making my own sausage. I’ve been reading books on the topic, scouring the internet and trying to learn all I can, but before this weekend, the only sausage I’ve made was a Kasewurst. This past weekend, I decided that we were going to try to make some more sausage (actually two kinds, you’ll have to stay tuned for the second one).

Two Pork Butts

The base for most sausage is pork butt. It tends to have the ideal meat to fat ratio, so you don’t have to mess around with adding more fat to get a juicy sausage. For our sausage, I got 16lbs of butt, figuring that after deboning, the meat should weigh in at about 15lbs. Not sure if my math was correct, but it seemed like a good idea to me.

Grinding

After the meat has been removed from the bone and cubed up into pieces that will fit into your grinder, it is time to grind….well, almost. Heat is your enemy when it comes to making sausage. The fat begins to melt and there are problems feeding the pork into the grinder. So actually, the next step is to take your meat and all the metal parts of your grinder and place them into the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Then, it is time to grind.

Grinding the meat

The grinder I use is a Kitchener #12 which can be found at Northern Tools. Its a great little start up grinder and I have no complaints with it at all. If I ever get into making bigger batches of sausage, I might upgrade, but it made quick work of the two pork butts. Wanna see what two pork butts all ground up look like?

That’s alot of ground up pork!!

I guess at this point I should go ahead and give you recipe I followed.  I had decided for my second batch of sausage, I wanted something with a little more kick….and something that said Texas. After looking around the internet for a while, I kept coming across Texas Hot Links by Kevin Taylor, the BBQ Guru. Sounded like as good a place as any to start.

Texas Hot Links
From the kitchen of Kevin Taylor, the BBQ Guru

1 (6 pound) pork butt
1 bottle beer
2 tablespoons black pepper, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons red pepper, crushed
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons kosher (coarse) salt
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1/4 cup garlic, minced
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon MSG (optional)
1 teaspoon Tender Quick
1 teaspoon bay leaves , ground
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon thyme, dried

Mix all spices with beer.
Grind pork for sausage.
Mix beer/spices thoroughly into the meat.
Form into sausage links and grill or smoke.

Spices

Above, you’ll see all the spices measured out. The beer is needed for the sausage, the Jack was needed for the cook. :) After mixing up the spices, and test frying a bit in a skillet to test (and adjust if needed), the sausage mixute goes into the refrigerator overnight for the spices and the tender quick to do its work.

Stuffed

 

Linked!

Ready to be smoked!

One thing I was worried about with this sausage was smoking it. That’s right smoking it, not grilling it. And not just smoking it like you would a normal brisket or butt at around 250. No, we planned on doing this one really low. Like 130F low!  I was worried about starting a fire that low and being able to maintain it on the Egg. See, Eggs tend to like to hover around 250F, or at least mine does. Any lower, and it tends to go out. But I had a plan. I got 3 good size chunks of lump charcoal and lit them directly on my patio. Then, using tongs, I transferred them into the Egg, put in my placesetter (legs up) and then my grate. Next I plugged in my Auber Instruments Pit Controller and set it for 130. If I couldn’t maintain the temperature with that, I figured I was up a creek. But luckily, it worked out.

Egg stabilized at 130, ready to start smoking.

For the first hour, I did not use any smoke. Just straight heat. I will admit, the Egg was wanting to creep up, but I was able to keep it under 135F for one hour.

1 hour in

Maybe this was going to work out. Maybe I was worried for nothing.

Close up

After one hour, I increased the temp to 140 and added a few pecan chunks (that I had pre-lit. I was afraid that they would not start to smoke on their own with such a low temperature and such a small bed of coals) and some apple wood chunks. Once again, I was not able to keep my temperature stable at 140, and it slowly started to creep up. At the end of the second hour, we were already approaching 150. 

Now here is where my plans changed. After 2 hours, I was going to increase it to 150 for an hour, and then 160 for another hour. But my fire took longer to get started than I anticipated (and let’s be honest, I took longer to get started than anticipated), so plans had to be adapted. At the end of 2 hours, I bumped the temp to 175F. 30 minutes later I bumped it to 200. Now we were really facing a deadline. We had made plans to go over to some friends house for dinner and we were running out of time. At the end of 3 hours, I bumped it to 250. Not what I had planned on, but oh well.

Smoking away

Coming up on 3 hours and 30 minutes, I had to take a reading. The last thing I wanted to do was to pierce the casing of the sausage and let the juice run out, but I needed to know and I wanted to be safe. So I chose a link on the end that wasn’t very pretty anyway.

Testing the temp

The sausage ended up taking 3hours and 40minutes to reach 160F (and I figured it would continue to increase in temp until hitting a minimum of 165 after I pulled it). We had done it, not according to the original plan, but we hit our target temp and would still be able to make it for dinner in time.

6 lbs of Texas Hot Links smoked and done in 3 hours and 40 minutes!

Since we were heading over to our friends house for a cookout, I decided that we should at least take some of the sausage with us to share….and have them be our taste testing guinea pigs. Let me just say, this was some HOT SAUSAGE!! Not like an overwhelming burn where you couldn’t taste anything else.  More of a back of the throat burn then lighting your tongue on fire. I could definitely taste the garlic as well as the notes the herbs gave it. WE like spicy food, but Mrs. G thought we needed to tone it down on the heat. Maybe all the black pepper, red pepper and cayenne pepper was just a bit too much. Mr. and Mrs. A, also agreed that is was good, but the heat could be toned down a tad. So next time, and there will be a next time, we’ll bring the heat level down a bit, but for a second attempt at sausage, not too bad. And we have plenty left over, vacuum sealed and frozen for later use.

Stay tuned…in the next day or so, we’ll share with you how we turned the other 10 lbs of pork into Hot Italian Sausage!

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