Saturday, 14 August 2010

Smokin' Again

Good morning. As I type this, it is just before 2 AM and I am working on my annual smokefest.

A number of years ago, one of my employees planned an employee recognition & team building event, and hauled some 40 people into a master barbeque class taught by Ron Shewchuk. Never heard of Ron? Maybe you have heard of Rockin' Ronnie & The Butt Shredders, his award winning BBQ team. Rockin' Ronnie is the author of several books, including Barbecue Secrets. Our day long class taught us how to smoke brisket, ribs, chicken and pork. It was a blast, and the food was great. The only problem is that it's kind of a time consuming pain, so can only be justified if you are cooking for a large group.

My current company hosts and annual BBQ for employees, and my boss and host had historically cooked up some brisket for the party. The first BBQ I came to, I volunteered to cook the brisket. Last year, I surprised everyone by cooking both brisket and pulled pork. And this year, I'm at it again, with the Q just chock full of protein. In fact, there's a little competition going, as someone else is also smokin' some butts. This is perfect: 45 folks and one heck of a lot of barbecue.

I do a low and slow overnight cook. Tonight, I lit the Q at 10:15, and the briskets went on at 10:30 PM. These are the biggest ones I have ever cooked, at 11 lbs and 10 lbs each. At this moment, I'm just about to prep the pork, which I'm planning on putting on at 4 AM. Here's how it comes from my local CoOp, with two bone-in butts in a cryovac pack.

I cook in my boss's Webber Smokey Mountain Cooker out on my back deck.

This device amazes me. I put in about 15 lbs of charcoal and light it, and once I have balanced the lower vents, the thing will hold a 225° cooking temp for literally 18 hrs. If it wasn't for me having to open it to (1) add the pork, (2) turn and baste a few times, I could probably go to bed right now and take perfectly cooked brisket and pork off it tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 PM.

That is not to say this is effortless and that anyone can do it first time every time. Year one the temp on the brisket stalled (stopped rising) some 30° short of target at 8 AM and hadn't budged by 3 PM, so I had to do some quick work to finish it. Last year, it poured rain for a few hours overnight, and I sat up babysitting it until 5 AM, worried the Q would lose temp (it didn't).

This year, I have added something to the mix by whipping up my own dipping sauce. I love brisket, but I remember from my days in Texas that it was always served with sauce of some kind. My last few briskets have been fantabulous but a bit dry. So the dipping sauce, which rocks with pork too, should be great. This year, I also picked up a remote reading thermometer (it's that wire leading out of the Q in the photo). I set the Q up so I can see the Q's temp from the kitchen window, and I do have a probe thermometer, but I have trouble reading it from inside. So my new remote reading device allows me to know the temp of the brisket anywhere inside the house. I'm planning on using the old probe one for the pork butts.

If you have never had real smoked pork or brisket, you gotta try it. In Calgary, I hit Palomino Smokehouse every month for a pulled pork sandwich. Big T's is also pretty good, across from McMahon Stadium on Crowchild. Folks, THIS is food.

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