Archive for the ‘Smoked’ Category

Legs And Ribs (With Gas)


I wanted some variety for dinner, so I decided to do some drumsticks and country style pork ribs. Why don’t I ever seem to do ribs still on the bone? Well, I have, I just haven’t documented it yet.

Anyway, there was no rub involved this time, but I did put both meats in foil pans with some Head Country marinade that I found on clearance at Walmart. It has similarities to Worcestershire, so it would probably work well with beef, too. Just be sure to shake it well before pouring, as it has spices in it that settle at the bottom of the bottle otherwise.

I also deviated from my normal routine this time by using my gas grill and smoker boxes instead of the barrel smoker.

I turned the meat over in their pans about half an hour in so they would cook evenly. Another half hour later I took them out of the pans and let indirect heat cook them. Of course, the drumsticks finished a lot sooner than the ribs, but that was okay because it gave us something to eat while we waited for the rest to be done. I kept the ribs on the top rack, dripping down into their pan to minimize the mess and keep some moisture in the air inside the grill.

Of course, the last half hour I mopped the ribs with my homemade sauce. I know, you really only have to do the last ten minutes or so, but I really like a good glaze of sauce soaking in at the end.

When it hit the plate, I served it up with baked beans and loaded potato salad.

Smoked BBQ Chicken

For a family campout at the lake, I decided to take the portable charcoal smoker and this time, chicken was on the menu. Once again, I turned to Kingsford’s Hickory briquettes in addition to actual hickory chunks to give the meat that irreplaceable smoky flavor.

Using four filleted chicken breast halves, I added the BBQ rub from Bud’s Custom Meats and let the flavor soak in while I started the charcoal and let the briquettes burn down to coals. Once they were ready and the water bowl in place, all I had to do was moved the pan to the upper grilling surface. It makes it so much easier when it comes to cleanup, and the heat and smoke still swirl all around the meat and get into it. Since it’s going to be finished in sauce, it doesn’t have to have the cosmetic touch of grill marks.

I let the meat sit on the smoke for two and a half hours, turning it over in the pan halfway through. After that it was time for the sauce. This time I chose to give the Sam’s Choice Sweet Rich BBQ Sauce a try. It’s a molasses sauce (I have yet to meet a molasses sauce I didn’t like) with, according to the label, “a hint of black pepper and a touch of heat.” And since there were some in our group who had never had the pleasure of experiencing the sweet southern pleasure of molasses sauce, it was a no-brainer.

2015-06-12 19.48.29Since we had six people, I cut the meat into large chunks and then smaller chunks before criss-crossing them with sauce and then slathering it all over with the baster. Another half hour with higher heat, to thicken the sauce (and wait for the baked beans to heat up), stirring occasionally, it was finished. I’ve never been much of a fan of fighting to get to the meat with bones, fat and skin on BBQ chicken, so this is the perfect alternative.

Bud's bbq rubI had a bite of the smoked meat itself before applying the sauce, and offered the same to everyone else at camp. Most accepted, all of whom loved it, as did I. It was juicy, smoky and perfectly seasoned. Bud’s BBQ rub has a sweet, smoky flavor without being too salty that’s as great for smoking chicken as it is on pork.

Sam's BBQ sauceThe Sam’s choice sauce was exactly as described: sweet and smoky with just a little bit of bite. I’d recommend it right along with any of my other favorites.

Country Style Pork Ribs

For today’s entry, there’s a new piece of equipment. For two upcoming camping trips, I want to be able to smoke something, anything, for dinner one night while we’re there, but all the campsites have are fire pits and those grills that are so wide open and shallow that you can only grill things on them fast and hot like burgers and hot dogs. But whatever goes has to be small and lightweight.

Enter the Brinkmann Smoke’N Grill portable charcoal smoker. I had considered one of the many DIY plans online for smokers using things like a Weber Smoky Joe kettle grill and a 32 qt. steamer pot, or a terra cotta pot and an electric hot plate, but one takes metal fab skills I haven’t used since 8th grade shop class and tools I don’t have and the other requires electricity where you should be at least roughing it a little bit. Not to mention both ended up costing more than the $50 of the Brinkmann because of all the parts and extras you have to buy. So I grabbed the last one The Home Depot had, some Kingsford hickory briquettes, lighter fluid and hickory chunks.

Once I had it out of the box and assembled, I couldn’t wait for the next morning. Kind of like the reverse order of a kid with a Christmas present.

2015-05-30 17.28.03When I smoke meat it’s almost always pork butt. But since this was a new cooker whose personality I hadn’t yet learned, I decided to go with something smaller in case it didn’t come out right. So I settled on a small tray of country style pork ribs. They’re almost entirely deboned, so there’s more meat to one than some others, and already in individual pieces that you don’t have to break apart to fit on the grill surface or peel anything off of. The rub I chose to use this time was from Bud’s Custom Meats in Penngrove, CA, about an hour north of San Francisco. It’s a little sweeter than the Head Country rub I usually use, which is also a little spicier with more garlic and onion flavor.

2015-05-30 13.51.14After getting the charcoal lit, I applied the rub, which didn’t take long enough for the Kingsford to burn down to coals, but who’s in a hurry? There was plenty of time to enjoy the cool breeze of a rainy Arkansas day while visiting with a neighbor, who would be my guest, smoking chicken leg quarters on the lower grill surface. Once they had burned down enough, we added a few small, dry hickory chips at first just to get the smoke started, followed by some chunks that had been soaking for about half an hour. Finally, it was time to add the meat, close the lid and sit back for a 5 hour visit, occasionally stoking the fire adding more charcoal, adding more wood, and refilling a beverage, always careful not to let the smoke stop and keep the temperature in the “Ideal” range on the gauge.

2015-05-30 17.04.41Note to self: shop for inexpensive aftermarket temperature gauge that fits the same hole, but has numbers on it.

The final half hour or so, we removed the water pan to let the meat cook faster and all the way through. That was also the opportunity I took to turn the ribs,  slop some 2015-05-30 17.28.26sauce on them, and turn them again halfway through to get the other side. Nothing like a good cooked-on glaze. My choice this time was Head Country’s hickory flavored sauce.

You can point the finger of blame at me for forgetting to get baked beans when I was at the store the night before, so frozen tater tots were the best available candidate for a side. Leave it to my girlfriend to come up with something to step it up a notch. Some people would be satisfied with salt and/or ketchup.

Others go for cheese tots. She came up with a whole new creation: Ro-Tel (seasoned, diced tomatoes and diced green chilis) and Velveeta. So, is this a new twist on an old favorite that Sonic and other fast food places will eventually offer, “Southwest Cheesy Tots?” Or has moving to Arkansas turned her full redneck? You decide. I’ll say they were really good!

The ribs were a bit on the salty side, but I suspect it was the combination of the rub and the cooked on sauce. One or the other by itself would probably have been fine.

So this time around you not only got my account of smoking ribs, but a long winded story and a bonus recipe!

Dr. Pepper-Bourbon Brine

chicken and brine in a bagI’m trying a new brine tonight. I’ve cut two chicken breast fillets into skewer-size pieces and put them in a Ziploc bag. They’ll be in the refrigerator for about 48 hours, due to plans for dinner out tomorrow night, but the alcohol should keep any bacteria at bay.

In a mixing bowl I combined:

1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Dr. Pepper
1/4 cup bourbon (I used Evan Williams)
a few shakes of salt
a few shakes of black pepper
a few shakes of ground cloves

I stirred it all together with a fork, put the chicken in the bag and then poured in the brine. Looking back, it would’ve been easier if I’d used a large Pyrex measuring cup instead of a mixing bowl, or just poured all the brine ingredients into the bag, sealed it, mixed it by mashing it with my hands until blended and then added the meat. Oh, well. Next time.

The final product was tender and flavorful, but not overly juicy, so I may have just cooked them too long. First I got the grilling surface good and hot on both sides, with some hickory chips in the smoker boxes on the right. Then I turned them both down to medium and put on the skewers. They got a few minutes on one side, then the other, then back and forth one more time each. The second round is when they got basted with a good coat of the Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce. Some folks like a mustard-based sauce, some like vinegar. Others like sweet and smoky, or maybe even molasses or honey. I definitely fall in the sweet category. But still others prefer it hot and peppery. That was my impression of this sauce, and I couldn’t really tell that there was any Dr. Pepper flavor to it. So it made an okay glaze, but I definitely needed a refill on my iced tea before it was all said and done.