Ribs and Salmon

Time to try some ribs!  I’ll use this recipe with the Memphis Dust dry rub I used on the pork butts.  Also – we’re out of Salmon.  I’m going to do a double batch of the usual.  I’ll just do 6 pounds for four hours, then do 6 more for 4 more hours.

The inside of the smoker before starting.

I bought what I thought were 3 racks of ribs – 3 large vacuum-packed things of ribs from Costco.  About 30 lbs total.  What I didn’t realize is that each vacuum packed bag contains 3 racks of ribs…  So I’m going to do 9 racks of ribs.  This is stupid and I almost certainly don’t have enough room in the smoker, but it’ll all work out :-)

Nine racks of ribs on cutting boards.

1900, 5 May 2018: Started the smoker at 225℉ and started washing, salting and dry-rubbing the ribs.  I used 1/2 tsp salt per pound, although didn’t get it as evenly-distributed as I’d like.  I wish I had salted these earlier, but we don’t have the fridge space or the time.  I used up all the remaining dry rub from the earlier pork butts.

1950: Prep of the ribs is done, and they’re on the smoker.  The smoker is ridiculously full.  The ribs are leaning on each other.  This is silly…

2000: Beginning prep of salmon.

2040: Prep done, went and checked the ribs.  The smoker says the temperature is only 165℉…  That seems very unusual to me.  Typically, the smoker takes only a short time to return to temperature.  I tried to slide the racks away from the back wall, thinking that maybe something was in contact with the thermometer for the smoker.  I don’t believe that was the case.  I believe that the meat is restricting the flow of air too much.  I moved meat out from the back wall and opened the vent fully.  The smoker feels like it isn’t very hot…  The meat at the bottom though is quite warm.  There are two temperature probes in place.  One registers a meat temp of 120℉, and the other 75℉.  I think the former is in contact with bone, but it’s also likely that it’s the lower probe and the meat is actually hotter than the other meat.  This is going to cause a problem for me.  I don’t want some ribs to be much more done than the others.  I don’t want them to be cooked quickly.  I want slow cooked…  Hopefully the smoker airflow will work better and temperature will equalize, permitting the smoker element to turn off.  We’ll see.

2100: I opened the door again and used the other temperature probe on the meats.  The other probe, placed in meat on each level, registered between 133℉ and 140℉.  The probes in the meat registered 150℉ and 105℉.  I’m going to assume that the actual meat temp is 133℉ to 140℉, and that the probes are in parts of the meat that isn’t very representative of the correct temperature.  Most importantly – the meat is cooking at a somewhat consistent temperature throughout the smoker.

2200: I removed the bottom half of all the ribs – they were past the temperature I’d hoped to achieve, the smoker still hadn’t reached temperature, the lowest ribs looked like they were starting to burn.  Burn!  In a smoker.  Craziness.  I thought that by removing the bottom half I’d allow more smoke to circulate and bring the temperature up.  I tasted these ribs that were removed.  The ribs closest to the burner, and hottest, were tender and good.  They were almost what I’d hoped for.  The ribs slightly further away were tougher.  Still good, but not quite what I’d wanted.  I left the remaining half on for another hour, despite the other half already being at the desired temperature.

2300: I removed the other half of the ribs.  This second half seems to be as consistently tender as the hottest ribs in the bottom half.  This is what I’d hoped to achieve.  I’m happy, even if this did not go anywhere near plan.

0710, 6 May 2018: First 6 lbs of fish went into drying.

1126: Fish went on the smoker.  I didn’t clean the smoker at all – I dumped the water pan and refilled it.  This may impart some pork seasoning to the fish.  We’ll see.  I doubt it’ll be bad though.

1136: Second half of fish is drying now.  The smoker is definitely burning up some of that pork fat that was in there.  Hopefully that doesn’t impart a bad flavor to the fish.

1226: A lot less smoking from the pork remains, at this point.  I basted the fish – it’s clear that they cooked pretty hot for the first hour.  There is much more albumin than expected on them right now.  I’m not too worried though, it’s not too far off that second time I smoked salmon.  They might be done a little early.

1326: Turned temp up and basted.  Normal amount of albumin.

1426: Went out to turn the temperature up and baste the fish, and checked their temperatures on a lark.  The fish was done!  It was at the mid-high range of its intended temperature.  I brought it all in without basting it again.  I suspected that the smoker had been running a bit hot the entire time – especially at the beginning.  I think that beginning heat supercharged everything and the fish finished faster.  It tastes good…

1440: The rest of the fish is on.

1540: Lots of albumin again, it was probably burning hot again…

1740: Once again – right before I crank the heat to the top value, the fish is done.  Temperature is perfect, I pulled it off.  Tastes good.

Lessons Learned:

  1. It is possible to overfill a smoker.
  2. Clean some of the fat out of the smoker between goes so it doesn’t burn so hot.
  3. Sarah doesn’t like as smokey as the chicken got last time – this salmon may be too smokey for her, too.  Hopefully not.  Love that woman.

Brisket and Salmon

It’s a Saturday and I don’t have a ton of stuff to do, and we’re out of Salmon!  A terrible problem with one clear solution.  It’s time to smoke more meat.  We’ve eaten almost all of the chicken and pork now, so I can feel good doing another brisket.

Actually, I’ve been excited for the last two weeks to do another brisket.  Ok, I’ve been excited since the last time I did one, but in the last two weeks the excitement has come to a head.  It’s time to make more brisket sandwiches, more brisket dinners.  More brisket snacks.  Brisket in eggs.

It was really good last time and I’m looking forward to trying some small changes.  First, I got some in-meat temperature probes.  I ran their cables through the smoke hole.  Second, I have peach butcher paper now.  That should be an improvement over the foil stuck to the meat.  Third, I plan to trim off more fat than last time.

I got a 20.34 lbs whole brisket from Costco, at $3.49 per lb.  I got two beautiful salmon fillets, totaling about 5.5 lbs.  Cutting open the brisket I noticed a faint sulfur smell, which doesn’t make me feel great.  The internet thinks that cryovac meat smells like that sometimes, but that the smell should dissipate.  It did, so I’m rolling with it.

I’m using the same system and recipe as the previous times.

1213, 24 Mar: I set the smoke holes halfway, started the smoker at 225℉, and began trimming the brisket.

1300: Trimming done, unfortunately I cut myself a little. The pile of fat feels like about 4 lbs.  I’ve really eliminated a lot of the fat cap, and cut more fat out of the flat/point joining area, too.  It’s very clear how the flat and point join now, which is cool.

I covered the brisket with 5 1/3 Tbsp salt, 5 1/3 Tbsp pepper, and 3 Tbsp garlic powder.  This is a similar ratio to last time, scaled up for meat size.

1320: I started the brisket smoking.

1345: Fish brine started.  1/3 cup salt, 1 cup brown sugar, filled the rest of a quart bottle with cool water.  Sliced a filet into 6 pieces and dropped them into one bag with half the quart bottle.  Did the same with the other filet.  Then put them in the fridge in a glass calling dish in case of spills.

1355: Meat temps were 79℉ and 56℉.  Hopefully these will level out.

I need to smoke this until 165℉, then wrap them, then keep smoking until 202℉.  I should start the fish drying after at least 8 hours, maybe when I wrap the brisket.

1640: Meat temps 155℉ and 145℉.  145℉ is the one I believe, I suspect the other one is in a chunk of fat or something.

1830: Meat was 158℉ and 157℉.  Amazing that the temps caught up.

1930: Meat was 159℉ and 159℉.

2130: Meat was 158℉ and 158℉.

2230: Meat was 157℉ and 157℉.  Yeah, it has gone down 2 degrees.

0030, 25 Mar: Meat was 177℉ and 167℉.  I wrapped it, then started the fish drying.  Using paper towel as heat resistant gloves worked very well.

0100: Fish is drying. I should be good to sleep tonight 0600.

0600: Meat was 191℉ and 187℉.

0800: Meat was 196℉ and 190℉.

1100: Meat was 198℉ and 193℉.  I’m starting to think I should have wrapped it more tightly.  I’m not going to open the smoker and do it now, we’ll see how this turns out.

1300: Meat was 198℉ and 194℉.  Stall 2.0.  I cannot wait past 1500 to start the fish, so brisket is coming off at 1500, regardless of the temp it hits.

1430: Meat was 197℉ and 195℉.  I cranked the smoker to 275℉ and unwrapped the meat to let the bark develop for 30 more minutes.  We’ll see what the temp gets to at the end.

1500: Took brisket off, let it sit on the counter for about 40 minutes under some foil and a towel.

1510: After cleaning the smoker very little, dumping the agash and adding new wood, I closed the smoke holes to halfway and opened the door with the temp way up to get the wood cooking and the temp down.

1540: Fish is on now.  It needs to go 2 hours at 120℉, 1 at 140℉, then finish at 175℉ for about 1 more hour.  Final internal temp should be 130℉ to 140℉.  Baste with maple syrup every hour.

1940: Fish done!  Taste good.

For next time:

  • Wrap the brisket more tightly.  Maybe use a little masking tape to help.
  • Make sure to put the fat cap on top, just for consistency.  I have no idea whether I did that this time.  Keep track of it when wrapping, too…
  • Don’t cut so much fat off.  It was a little drier than I’d prefer, unfortunately.

Smokin’ Chicken (and Salmon too)

Here’s today’s recipe!  Based on a couple things:

  1. The recipe my mom sent me called Amway Grand Plaza Grilled Chicken Midwest – in my Google Docs Recipes folder
  2. https://ohsweetbasil.com/how-to-smoke-chicken/

Other great info and ideas at these links – at some point I’d like to try the brine/minimal method:

  1. http://www.smokegrillbbq.com/brine-smoked-chicken-recipe.html
  2. https://www.traegergrills.com/recipes/poultry/whole-smoked-chicken

Anyway – here’s the plan today.  Make a marinade of the ingredients below, divide this among four butterflied (spatchcocked?  silly name) chickens in plastic bags, marinade overnight.  Then, smoke for four hours at 220℉, with the goal of getting internal temp on the breasts to 160℉-165℉.  Let the chicken rest, then carve it up.

Marinade – this is a simplified tripled version of the recipe (almost as the recipe suggests to do):

  • 3 cups apple juice
  • 3 cups oil
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1.5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp peppercorns (I’m gonna grind black pepper here)
  • 3 dashes Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf per chicken

I was able to find four approximately 4 lbs chickens at Costco for $.99 a pound.  While there, though, I decided to also grab the salmon…  It looked really nice, so I figured I might as well – save myself a little effort next weekend.

1820, 10 Feb: Finished prepping the chicken – they’re marinating in bags in the fridge.  I need to get better ziploc bags next time – actual ziploc ones.

1850, 10 Feb: Finished prepping the salmon, and it’s in the fridge brining.

0315, 11 Feb: Birds went on.  I added wood at 0530.

0715: Birds were 157℉.  I decided to leave them on until 0745 – then I realized that I forgot to begin the fish drying, so…

0730: Fish began drying.  I’m going to shorten the drying time by 30 min…

0750: Took the chicken off.  It had only risen to about 159℉ in that time – I really need a thermometer that stays in the meat, and is readable with the door shut.

0840: The chicken is delicious – I had a little right off the smoker and it just all comes apart easily.  In this time, I’ve cleaned the smoker a bit, and restarted it at 170℉.  The fish looks ready to go on, despite shortened dry time, so I’ll turn the temp down, open the smoke holes all the way like I thought about doing last time, and put it on at 0900, then carve up the chicken.

1300: Took the fish off.  It was at 147℉, which is hotter than desired…  Everything seems fine with it though – it stayed moist and didn’t give up much.  The flavor seems a little stronger, initially – smokier.  I like it, but time will tell if this is better.  The temperature seemed to be running a little hotter each time I checked it, this time, compared to others.

For next time:

  • Get in-meat thermometer, butcher paper, and knife sharpener.
  • If I end up liking this fish better, keep the vent holes half-open next time.  But – try to take the fish off a little earlier.

Now, I’m a little tired.

Third Smoking – Pork Butts and Salmon

I began prep on Sunday night with 16 lbs of pork butt split into three parts, and 5.5 pounds of salmon. I used the typical salmon recipe, this time I did one quart of brine and still separated things into 4 bags. I used this pulled pork recipe, and this dry rub recipe per Ben’s recommendation. The pulled pork recipe looked to be a reasonable beginner’s complexity, too… I considered this pork butt set to be just three of the one used in the recipe, so I had 1 cup of dry rub that I used on the three.

21 Jan 2018, 2020: Began prep of salmon and pork. Salmon was typical. I trimmed the pork, separated it pork and tied when necessary, then applied 3 Tbsp salt, dropped each in a gallon ziploc, and put them in the fridge overnight. I finished prep at around 2100.

22 Jan 2018, 1230: Prepped the dry rub, which made 2 or 3 cups. I used 1 cup of it over the three butt segments. To get the rub into a shaker, I used a sheet of paper from some junk mail as a funnel.

1315: Put butts in smoker at 225℉.

1345: Began fish drying.

1745: Butts have been on for 4.5 hours now at 225℉, time to check the temp! I want them to get to 203℉. Temp was 165℉. Unfortunately, Sarah and I need to eat sometime tonight, so I turned the temp up to 275℉.

1845: Butts are at 170℉. (Well, one of them, the other two were like 165℉).

2115: One butt was at 195℉, the other two were at 180℉. I removed the hotter one and we ate part of it – delicious. Very tender, but could probably be better.

2225: Two remaining butts are at 185℉.

23 Jan 2018, 0020: Removed the butts – one was at 195℉, the other 200℉. The 200℉ was extremely tender, next time I will go for the 203℉ temp.

0335: Put the fish on at 120℉. Just 1 or 2 min before putting them in, I cranked the temp to max to get smoke going. Next time I should give 5 to 10 min instead.

0740: In the intervening hours, I basted and modified the temp as per the recipe. I had little albumin – everything went beautifully. I took the fish off at 0740, one filet was at 135℉ and another at 142℉. Close enough – tastes good so far.

For the future:

  1. Plan for the butts to take 10 hours. They may even take longer.
  2. Dry rub was good, I think. Maybe leave a bit more fat on the butts next time – this time I tried to take it off, thinking of the brisket…
  3. A probe thermometer that can sit outside would be great… Multiple heads would help with the case where one butt was ready and the rest were not.
  4. Open the air holes for the fish. I think this might let more heat out, which will require the element to stay on more, which will generate more smoke. Just a thing to try, not sure it’ll work. I always get done with the fish with tons of wood still in there.

Second Smoking – Brisket and Salmon

Some notes from the second time I busted-out the smoker – I made brisket and salmon.

The brisket recipe is based on https://heygrillhey.com/recipe/texas-style-smoked-beef-brisket/, and the salmon recipe is the one I normally make.

I used a 16.5 lbs brisket from Costco, $2.99 per pound.  Turned on the smoker to 225, added hickory wood chips.  Trimmed 1-2 lbs fat off, took just over half an hour to trim.  Sliced it in half so it would fit in the smoker. Took out two smoker racks to help it fit.

Put on 4 Tbsp kirkland sea salt, 4 Tbsp kirkland course ground Malabar black pepper, 2 Tbsp McCormick garlic powder. Sprinkled it on mostly using an old McCormick spice container. Rubbed it in a little.

1330, 30 Dec: Began smoking brisket, added 1 qt water at that time (should’ve done it sooner but forgot)

I plan to smoke it until internal temperature is 165℉, and expect that will take more than 8 hrs, but I plan to check temperature at 6. When meat hits 165℉, I’ll wrap it in foil like a present, then put it back in the smoker without wood at 225℉ until the thickest part hits 202℉. Maybe 6 hours more. After it hits 202℉, I’ll take it off and wrap it in a towel and let it sit at room temp for 2 hours.

1930, 30 Dec: At 6 hours it was at 155℉

2030, 30 Dec: At 7 hours it was at 158℉. I will check again at 9 hours, 2245 or so.

2245, 30 Dec: It was ready to be wrapped, at 165℉. I wrapped it.

0430, 31 Dec: Brisket was at 200℉.

0615, 31 Dec: Brisket was 207℉ and I took it off, let it rest for two hours.  I turned the smoker way down to the fish temperature.

0815, 31 Dec: Sliced it, put most in the fridge, got a stomach ache from eating too much fatty parts.  Delicious fatty parts

The brisket was fantastic, and I want to do the same thing again.  There are a couple changes I should make though.

  1. Don’t use foil, use butcher paper next time.  The foil broke in some small places, especially where it really stuck to the meat, and left little bits of foil on the meat that were tough to get off.
  2. Get a thermometer I can leave in the meat so I don’t have to open the door.
  3. Trim off more fat next time – get closer to what the source recipe recommended.  The fattyness this time was reasonable, but it would be better with a little less.

I started the salmon during the brisket…

1420, 30 Dec: started salmon brining, I should start them drying when I wrap the meat, I should start them smoking when the meat comes off.

2245, 31 Dec: started salmon drying

0840, 31 Dec: I started the salmon smoking – this was after the brisket had finished resting and I had cleaned the smoker just enough to do a different meat.  I cleaned the racks and water tray. The drain valve at the bottom of the smoker was plugged with frozen beef fat – I cleared it a little, there was certainly still some in there though, it didn’t affect much

1240, 31 Dec: The salmon finished smoking – right on time as it always does.

The result with this salmon was that it was fantastic again.  The starting temperature on the salmon is very low – so low that the wood doesn’t burn much.  Before starting, I cranked the smoker up a bit to get more smoke rolling.  I let it go at this temperature for several minutes – the temperature in the smoker rose significantly.  That wasn’t great – when I put the salmon in I turned the temperature down and left the door open to cool it a bit, but the salmon definitely started by losing more moisture than I’d prefer.  In the future – cranking the smoke like this is a good idea, but I need to use a lower temp setting for a bit, keep the vent on top fairly closed, and not go too long.  And also I shouldn’t worry about it too much – smoke still rolls.

The worst part about this fish was that it was already a little beat up – not the best fish I’ve gotten from Costco.  Still fairly beautiful, I can’t complain.