Pork Butt for Friends

We’ve got some of Sarah’s best friends in town, and some of their family is coming over Sunday, so I’m busting out the smoker to feed everybody. Time for some pulled pork!

2030, Friday: salted the 15 lbs butt with 2.5 Tbsp salt. It’s in the fridge now until Saturday night, when I’ll put 1 cup rub on and start it smoking at 225℉.

2215, Saturday: put the butt on the smoker at 225℉, after putting the rub on.

0820, Sunday: temperatures are 166℉ (top) and 162℉.

1015: temperatures are 167℉ and 163℉. We’re deep in the stall now…

1100: turned up the smoker to 275℉.

1330: meat is at 190℉ and 181℉.

1500: meat is at 197℉ and 188℉. Pork butt really takes a long time.

1510: took the top one off at 198℉.

1700 or so: took the second off at 203℉.

It came out awesome! Note that 20 hours would not have been enough time without cranking the temperature. Next time, just plan on cranking the temperature.

Smoked Steaks

One of my best buddies got us some steaks for our wedding, and now it’s time to smoke a couple of them! Four of the steaks are half pound fillet mignons, so I’m smoking two. I’m wrapping two slices of applewood bacon around each steak, putting 1/4 tsp salt on each, and smoking them at 225℉. I’ll use the thermometers, smoking them to 130℉, then searing top and bottom on cast iron.

1645: Steaks on! Initial internal temperature, 60℉.

1710: Steak at 90℉.

1725: Steak at 114℉.

1745: Steak at 133℉, taking it off to get a sear.

The result is fantastic, buttery, delicious, medium rare, smoky. Next time I would leave Sarah’s on until medium well, this time I just microwaved it gently for her. Ideally, next time I would put it on the grill towards the end, to crisp the bacon like she likes it. Also, each fillet only needed one strip of bacon.

More Jerky!

Alright, time for more beef jerky. This time I found top round roast for $3.99 per pound. I’m using the same recipe as last time, but it’s 3.5 lbs so I multiplied the marinade by about 1.5. I sliced the meat more along the grain than last time, and also slightly thicker.

1530: Meat is in the marinade.

1020 Sunday: Meat is on the smoker, 175℉, vents half open this time cause why not, that’s what I normally do.

1430: I took all but the fatty pieces of jerky off, leaving those on with temperature increased to 225℉. They were glistening still, and I’d like them to dry out more before taking them off. I’m skeptical about the slightly thicker cuts. They’re definitely done, but will they stay good to eat as long as the thinner stuff did… Did they get dessicated enough to last? Some of the chunks are very much like smoked beef… We’ll see as time passes and I start to eat it… I’m thinking I’ll leave the fatty stuff for another hour.

1540: looks done enough… Taking off the last of it.

Fatty parts got much drier, but still not like the other pieces. I think next time I should start by cutting off all fat. This time I would’ve had to start by slicing the meat along the thin internal fat layer it had, then peeling of that fat. It would’ve left one thin layer of meat and one thick, but that would’ve been ok.

Smoking Salmon

Smoked salmon is one of my favorite foods. A luxury, truly. But, it’s much more reasonable when you can smoke it yourself. Salmon prices are at $8.99 a pound at Costco right now, which is a couple bucks more than I’m used to. Still worth it.

I’m using the same recipe I always use, with a bit over 5 lbs of salmon. This salmon was packed a couple days ago, unusually. Normally the Costco salmon on display is all packed the same day. It must sell out quickly, it is always beautiful. This fish still had a sell by day 4 days in the future, though. And it still looked beautiful. There was little liquid in the tray, the fillets were spotless… And they were $1 less per pound than the same day-packed stuff. Unpackaging the salmon, I sniffed for any unexpected scents, and looked for any defects with the fish. I found none.

2000: Fish went into brine.

0840: Fish began drying.

1120: Fish is on the smoker at 120℉.

1530: Took fish off the smoker. It was actually at between 150℉ and 165℉, so definitely hotter than I intended… I should check at less than an hour next time.

The fish tastes great, right now, despite the temperature going too high. Time will tell if it lasts in the freezer and fridge as well as cooler fish. Visually, it looks more cooked, with some of the edges being quite dark, compared to usual. Still, tastes great, and is as most as I’m used to. My guess is, this extra temperature didn’t harm the fish at all.

Trying Out Beef Jerky

My brother-in-law gave me a taste of some of his homemade beef jerky a couple weekends ago, and it was fantastic! Apparently it was also easy to make. Easy, delicious, I’m gonna try it! He used a dehydrator, but I plan to use a smoker to keep my wife’s dehydrator from getting strong flavors stuck in it.

Jason’s Recommended Starting Recipe

I got a 2.5 lbs bottom round steak, sliced it thin, then started it in the marinade below at 2130. I plan to marinade for over 12 hours, then smoke the slices at 175℉ for 4 hours or so.

1 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

I intended to use 1 Tbsp of paprika as in the recipe, and purposely left out the brown sugar for the first time.

1450: I dried the meat slices on paper towel, then put it on the smoker. The smoke holes are fully open to increase air flow and aid drying (not sure if this will really make a difference), the water pan is not even in the smoker, and the wood is hickory.

I’ll keep hickory in there for the first two hours, at least, then I suspect the meat will be as smoky as it can get. After that, I’m using the smoker like a low temperature oven.

That’s really why this method should be comprable to the recipe’s oven method. This is an electric smoker, and it can maintain temperatures up to 275℉, so 175℉ will not be a problem. Plus, the exhaust goes directly outside, so the house doesn’t smell like Worcestershire sauce for a week.

The meat took up all the smoker rack space except half of the bottom one. I’m pretty happy with how thin I got it.

1900: jerky is done! Final weight is only 11 oz! It is down to 27% of original weight.

I’ll freeze half.

The result should cost $1.59 per ounce, just in meat cost, since the original meat was $7 per pound. Normally jerky is $2.50 per ounce. While $1 per ounce is a good mark-up (and of course they aren’t buying their meat from the supermarket), it’s not preposterous. Meat seriously shrinks from water loss.

Changes for next time – maybe more flavorful if possible. Less spicy for sure (this is probably too spicy for Sarah). More spices though, and maybe a little salt. Same thickness cut I think – as thin as I could get it with the knife while being consistent.