Posts Tagged ‘Southwest Cheesy Tots’

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!

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