A barbecue adventure, the saga unfolds.

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Sac Arrow, Jan 8, 2022.

  1. GaryM

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    So the Red White and Q competition didn't go as well for me as I'd hoped; actually finished lower than last year, though I thought my entries were pretty tasty! I drove two hours to the site Friday night, just in time for the cook's meeting, followed by setting up camp and kitchen in the dark. Temps dropped to a chilly 34 degrees overnight; I think I"m getting too old to be sleeping on the ground on nights like that. My wife, ever the smarter half of the team, drove down early the next morning.

    Entries were down a little this year, and last year's Grand Champion didn't return to defend. I only entered for Saturday; it's too much work in my opinion to do it all again on Sunday, but most of the teams do exactly that! I had the meats ready and the smokers coming up to temperature in time to slip away for the traditional 9:22 am shot that team members gather to drink at competitions. Then it was heads-down work right up to the 2:30 turn in for chicken and 3:00 turn in for ribs.

    There were a few flaws in the chicken turn-in box, and I'd gone a little over the target temperature; finishing 16th out of 24 perhaps wasn't a surprise. The ribs were just where I wanted them for degree of doneness, I liked the flavor profile, and I had the prettiest turn-in box I've ever assembled. They finished 20th... So I've got some work to do...

    @Matthew,when I have a chance I'll PM my recipes; I'd value your input on what I can do better.

    IMG_1136.jpg IMG_1147.jpg IMG_1153.jpg
     
  2. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Chicken looks pretty good. Not sure of your target temps but dark meat should probably go 180-200. 200 is a little too done for me, though. I aim for closer to 180. At last weekend’s contest I pulled the chicken when the largest piece hit 175 and they scored well for tenderness.

    The ribs could use a little more work on appearance. Sauce them, put them back into the smoker about 10 min and sauce again just before turning in.

    I’m kind of surprised at your turn in times: Normally, for a 4 meat contest the chicken goes in at noon and ribs at
    12:30.

    edit: thinking about it: a 4-meat contest would finish with brisket at 1:30. Your turn-in times make sense. Judges would have a few minutes to reset before the backyard contest starts.

    And don’t sleep on the ground. I use a camp cot. Most everyone else uses an RV, but I’m old school.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2022
  3. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Also, something to think about: 2 layers of 4 ribs instead of 1x6. It just looks better.

    You did what we did, except that a couple ribs didn’t cut through. So when I picked them up as a 6-piece unit I didn’t notice they weren’t cut.
     
  4. flyingcheesehead

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    9:22? What's the significance/story there? Is that at all competitions?
     
  5. GaryM

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    No one I've talked to seemed to know the story behind it (and a web search didn't clear it up either). @Matthew may know. It's always been part of the (few) BBQ competitions I've entered. From what I've read, some will pick a different time, and since it is usually hosted by one of the teams, the liquor choices may vary, but traditionally it's Jack Daniels or the host's favorite bourbon.

    It's a good excuse to get everyone together for a few minutes on what will soon devolve into a hectic day. 9:22 is usually convenient for most teams, as the Masters Teams will generally have all four meats on the smokers then, with prep for turn-in not yet underway, and the Backyard teams will have their two meats prepped and smokers ready, but nothing yet on the smokers.
     
  6. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    @GaryM @flyingcheesehead

    The morning shots have been around as long as I can remember. I don’t know when they started at 9:22, probably sometime after 9/11? At small contests it may be hosted by a single team. At large contests neighboring teams may do it with each other.
     
  7. flyingcheesehead

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    Just looked through the timeline of events on 9/11, and nothing significant happened at 9:22. The two planes had already crashed into the WTC, the other two were hijacked but not yet crashed, and the towers didn't start coming down until 9:59.

    This makes it sound like it's just tradition, with no particular significance: https://17bbq.com/blog/tradition-the-922-shot/
     
  8. GaryM

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    It's 9:22 somewhere.
     
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  9. Matthew

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    I don't know when it started being a "thing", and I've been in contests for a long time. Well before 9/11, but I don't remember it being around prior to then. There have always been morning good luck shots, but now it seem to be organized. But, like you found out, there doesn't seem to be any connection.

    We've always done a good-luck shot in the morning with our neighboring teams. It helps that we've known each other for so long that it sort of came naturally. For smaller contests, there seems to be one team that does it and they go around either early in the morning or sometime Friday evening and invite everyone to come over.

    Of course, you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning, so Irish coffee, Bloody Mary's, and pretty much anything else is on the menu to help knock the cobwebs out. And if you need to get up at 3am, or 5am, or whenever, it's like you never quit. And that's all before the good luck shot.
     
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  10. Matthew

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    There are plenty of recipes for pork belly burnt ends, but I found this in my in-box yesterday.

    I always tell people, don't knock smoked hot dogs until you've tried them. This recipe saves the time of cooking the pork belly by using hotdogs instead.

    I didn't have any dogs, but I did have some Eckridge smoked sausage I was going to use for something else. This seemed like a good option. I lit the gas grill and turned off one burner and then dialed back the others to maintain 325. I added pellets to my smoke box and got them going, then followed this recipe. I didn't need to use up a foil pan since I wasn't fixing a large batch, so I folded up some aluminum foil several layers thick and created my own small pan that way.

    It was an outstanding snack.

    https://www.heathrilesbbq.com/blogs/favorite-recipes/hot-dog-burnt-ends
     
  11. TCABM

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  12. PPC1052

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    I saw a whole choice packer cut brisket at Kroger this morning for $32.00 ($65.00 off). I really thought hard about bringing it home, but my wife doesn't eat red meat, and I have no one to make it for. Plus, between the frozen turkey, the frozen turducken (a gift for the client) and the pork butt I am prepping for football tomorrow (as well as all of the other regular food items, I just didn't have space for it. Oh, well. I hope it goes to a nice home.
     
  13. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So I’m experimenting with the latest technology….
    41C9D26C-AFB3-4025-8B4B-6EA4F2F6F9CD.jpeg D6B68B0C-427A-4B8A-9C3E-A822220CCF95.png
     
  14. Sac Arrow

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    23F417B3-7288-43B6-BD9E-1503CCA03192.png 65083322-AAC8-4BD9-A7E0-378FF6CF95B8.png So far…
     
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  15. Sac Arrow

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  16. Sac Arrow

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  17. Sac Arrow

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  18. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nice!

    My buddy has the Meater 4 pack with the Bluetooth/wifi block.
     
  19. masloki

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  20. GaryM

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    We hosted a holiday party for my SCUBA club yesterday. We made it a pre-Thanksgiving dinner, and smoked the turkey, using both Zatarains Cajun injection and Zatarains Cajun rub on the bird. It was a 12 lb bird, smoked about 6 hours over apple and a bit of pecan wood. It turned out very nice, though a little salty since the only turkey I could find had been pre-injected with broth/table salt/sodium phosphate (most commercial turkeys are). I skipped the brine for that reason, but it would have been even better without the commercial pre-injection.

    I tried a new gravy recipe from the "Meathead--the science of great BBQ and grilling" cookbook, and we really liked it. You fill a pan with chicken broth, cut up onion, carrots, celery, lots of fresh and dried herbs, and the various bits trimmed from the turkey. The pan goes on the lower rack, the turkey above it, for four hours, to cook the pan contents and catch the turkey drippings. Then the broth gets filtered off, defatted, and boiled on the stove to concentrate it a bit. It's kept thin, so it can be lightly spooned over the turkey after it is carved and the meat soaks up the flavor and moisture. I'll be doing that again.
    Screen Shot 2022-11-13 at 6.38.01 PM.png upload_2022-11-13_18-53-46.jpeg
     

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    Last edited: Nov 13, 2022
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  21. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Oh my. That looks good. Smoked turkey is the best turkey I have ever had.
     
  22. Mahneuvers

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    I gave my UDS a face lift with left over paint from my son's UNC beer pong table project. We're hosting Thanksgiving so it's ready. Your turkey looks fantastic. I had given up smoking whole turkeys a while back as the dark meat
    was an unappealing pink. Maybe I'll take another run at it.
    upload_2022-11-13_19-18-51.png
     
  23. Matthew

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    Bone in turkey breasts smoke up very nicely.
     
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  24. GaryM

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    We've got friends visiting from North Carolina, and they asked if I'd BBQ something for them. They coincided with my daughter finding a used Masterbuilt bullet smoker that she plans to give her boyfriend for Christmas, and I'd promised to test it out, then show him how to use it at Christmas, so yesterday became the test run.

    These Masterbuilt's retail for about $75, so there wasn't much to be impressed by other than the price. No grate to keep the charcoal burning above the ash pit, and no bottom air vents so I struggled to get the temp above about 215F. Still, given more time than I'd planned on, it turned out some decent food...chicken legs in a Jamaican jerk dry rub, boneless skinless chicken thighs done in a different rub and some leftover competition sauce from last month, and the ever-popular jalapeño poppers. The chicken thighs were an accident, I thought I'd grabbed a pack of bone-in, skin-on thighs from the freezer, and realized too late that wasn't what I had.

    Screen Shot 2022-11-19 at 8.57.17 AM.png Screen Shot 2022-11-19 at 8.56.45 AM.png
     
  25. GaryM

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    I ran across a pretty cool video, done by Tuffy Stone at this year's Jack. The Jack Daniels Invitational is one of the top-tier competitions, and probably the hardest one for a team to score an invitation..



    Don't watch it when you're hungry, there is some very mouth-watering food being displayed.
     
  26. Matthew

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  27. Mahneuvers

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    Great story. I had no idea I was such an early adopter of the vertical can smoker. Mine has been going strong for ~15 years now which is not too far behind Snail. There were quite a few web sites on how to build one so his approach clearly took off.

    Funny story about building my UDS: My drum previously stored yellow highway paint so the burn out was rather intense. Once I had the fire going, the drum was belching extremely dense, choking, pitch black smoke like one of those Kuwaiti oil wells Iraq lit on fire during their retreat. It did this for a good 30 minutes. Of course, I chose a hot, humid, no wind day so the smoke rose 20-30 feet off the ground then spread laterally. The half mile or so all around me looked like a war zone. I'm still surprised none of my neighbors called the fire department :)
     
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  28. Matthew

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    I think I finished the last of the freezer bbq so it’s about time to cook up another 3-4 pork butts.

    This afternoon I was checking contests for next year, for judging and cooking. I’m already signed up to judge 4, but there are a lot that haven’t shown up on the 2023 schedule yet.
     
  29. masloki

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    Got any tips for pork butts? I’ve been doing slashes to get some more crispy flavor bombs to mix in the shreds. But still not where I want it and I end up using a lot sauce to add flavor in.
     
  30. Matthew

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    Pork butts are tricky, their meat to surface area ratio is pretty high so it isn’t easy to get a lot of seasoning inside. I don’t cross hatch or slash the fat cap. At 165 it’s very common to give it a nice coating of honey, brown sugar, and more rub, then wrap in foil and put back on to finish. For contests it’s normal to inject, too. I like this:
    https://www.heathrilesbbq.com/collections/everything-else/products/pork-injection-16-oz and use apple juice as a liquid instead of water.

    I normally trim in such a way to open up the muscle groups and get plenty of rub deep inside, then fold it back up tightly when it goes onto the smoker. I inject and season, then pack into a ziplock and refrigerate for 6-10 hrs before cooking. It becomes a glorious, sloppy mess before it goes onto the smoker.
     
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  31. Matthew

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    Ohh, baby…

    Pork butts on sale this week, so I picked up a 2-pack. Got 2 slabs of back ribs, too. Merry Christmas to me!


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  32. GaryM

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    This recipe didn't require a smoker, but it could have. I really like lox, but it's stupid expensive so I don't enjoy it often...but it turns out to be very easy to make. This came in at about 40% the cost of commercial lox. I used a composite of a couple of online recipes, but this one is a good example: Lox recipe. Smoked salmon often starts with a lox salt cure before going on the smoker at low temperature, but you want a dedicated smoker to smoke fish—you’ll never get the fish smell out of it, and it would distract from future briskets, ribs, etc.

    I started with 2.2 lbs of the freshest Atlantic salmon I could find, and prepared the cure with salt, sugar, white pepper, a bit of lemon zest, and a lot of fresh chopped dill. The salmon, cut into two pieces, was liberally coated on both sides, then wrapped tightly with plastic wrap.
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    To ensure good contact with the cure, the wrapped salmon is then pressed between two pans, with a convenient weight added to the top pan.

    IMG_1420.jpg
    It stays like this for three days in the refrigerator, turning it, draining the liquid, and occasionally re-wrapping two times a day. Once unwrapped, it goes back into the fridge uncovered on a drying rack for half a day. That’s it, time to slice and enjoy! It freezes well for two or three months

    IMG_1453.jpg

    Stay tuned...I have an 8.5 lb pork belly curing right now. In about 9 more days, I'll hit it with light hickory smoke. Mmmmmmmmmm, bacon!
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2022
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  33. Sac Arrow

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    Looks good, looks good. I'm all for cured salmonfish.
     
  34. IK04

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    I just had some of this homemade goodness yesterday.

    My wife has been asking for a smoker, so who am I to refuse her? :rolleyes:
     
  35. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If your mom can have a skateboard, why can't your wife have a smoker, right?
     
  36. GaryM

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    My first attempt at making bacon turned out rather nicely! I followed this recipe: Bacon! It calls for a wet cure, and a low temp smoke. Purists may favor a dry cure, followed by cold smoke, but this is a more foolproof way to avoid food safety issues, and I'm not set up for cold smoking anyway.

    I started with an 8.5 lb pork belly from Costco, and cured with sugar, brown sugar, salt, and Prague Powder #1, which is the actual cure and weighed out carefully.

    IMG_1429.jpg

    Everything was dissolved in water and the belly, cut in half, was put in to soak in the fridge-weighted down with a heavy plate to keep everything submerged, and the belly halves were flipped and rotated every day for 10 days.

    IMG_1431.jpg

    At the end of 10 days, the belly was removed from the cure, rinsed, patted dry, then put back on drying racks in the fridge for 16 hours. Today I fired up the smoker with hickory smoke wood, lightly coated the top of the belly with maple syrup, and put it on a 190F for 4.5 hours until it hit an internal temperature of 145F--enough to kill any bacteria the cure missed, but not so hot as to render fat from the pork belly.

    IMG_1480.jpg

    IMG_1484.jpg

    The final product looks good, and a test slice I fried up tasted great. I'm planning on a bacon-heavy brunch tomorrow!

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    Mmmmm, Bacon!
     
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  37. Mahneuvers

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    Nice. How did you slice it? My slicer died after like the fourth batch of bacon, of course, out of warranty. Hand slicing 20lbs of bacon was no fun. I never replaced the slicer b/c bacon was the only thing I used it for, but, your post is making me reconsider :)
     
  38. GaryM

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    I'm hand slicing, which, as you note, is no fun! I'm not getting very regular slices either, but I tell myself that's part of the charm of homemade bacon.

    What little I've sliced so far has been thawed, but must of this is getting frozen in 1 lb blocks, and I understand it is much easier to slice when still semi-frozen.
     
  39. Mahneuvers

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    True, but it becomes increasingly difficult to cook evenly. You end up with burnt bacon and unrendered fat on the same slice. You really need a slicer if you make any kind of volume of bacon.

    Yep. Semi-frozen will help a lot. I use that technique when slicing jerky.
     
  40. GaryM

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    I ran the smoker one more time today before the holiday week ended for me--this time, beef ribs. I've tried smoking them before, and was always disappointed as the ribs I could find had very little meat on them. I finally found that Restaurant Depot is a good source of big plate ribs. The four-rib plates weigh almost 4 lbs.

    These were coated with a thin layer of tobasco sauce as a binder for the rub, followed by some kosher salt as a dry brine, then Mixon's short rib rub recipe, applied generously. I smoked them with oak (mostly) and a bit of mesquite. Once they go on, they don't require much attention, only in the last couple of hours did I mist them periodically with beef broth. Total cook time was 8 hours, with the smoker starting out at 225, and gradually increasing to about 310F.

    They turned out great, finally everything I wanted in a beef rib. And even after cooking, they're huge.

    IMG_1499.jpg IMG_1505.jpg IMG_1507.jpg

    Since I had the fire pit burning most of the day, I also tried something from the Playing with Fire cookbook I received for Christmas. I tossed a butternut squash directly on the coals. After turning it every 10 minutes for an hour, it was done, and while it was a charred blackened mess on the outside, the squash on the inside was wonderful. I scooped it out, mixed in a little butter and some freshly grated nutmeg, and it was a great, fire-roasted side dish.

    IMG_1472.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2023
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