Giftsoc is pleased to feature a manly blog written by a manly guest writer…
As summer winds down and football season is getting started, I’m excited about getting some great stuff to smoke! Wait – not THAT kind of smoking! I’m talking smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, turkey, etc. It is hard to beat the flavor of any kind of meat that has been cooked long and slow over a pile of coals, and cooking it is half the fun!
A few years ago my wife gave me the ultimate BBQer for my birthday – The Big Green Egg. If giftsoc had existed then it would have saved me several years of having to drop hints before she finally got the message and bought it for me!
A definition is required here – barbecue refers to cooking over coals at a low temperature (200 to 250 degrees F). Cooking for a long time at a low temperature helps tough cuts of meat become tender (e.g. ribs and brisket), and allows fat to break down and melt away (pork shoulder). This is different than ‘grilling,’ which is cooking at a high temperature over coals, like you might do with a good steak. It boils down to the quality of the meat – grill the good stuff, BBQ the cheap cuts.
The Big Green Egg does a fantastic job of holding heat in – thus using much less charcoal than most other smokers or grills on the market. The charcoal shown in the picture can burn for over 18 hours – the time needed to bring a brisket to perfection. I can’t stress enough how convenient it is to not have to worry about adding coals while the meat is on. The last smoker I had required adding coals about every 2 hours – way too much work.
I must also point out the benefit of taking a long time to cook is that it gives the chef an opportunity to enjoy a few cold beverages on the back porch while cooking dinner. When the wife/girlfriend/spouse tries to complain that they need help, the perfect excuse is built in: ‘I’m cooking dinner out here!’
The challenge in BBQing is maintaining constant temperature, and there are several tricks to aid in this. I finally gave up on the manual effort, and now use a ‘Stoker’ by Rocks Bar-B-Que . With this gizmo I can set the temperature I want and it will make sure the temperature stays constant for the duration of the smoke. It does this by controlling a fan that blows when the temperature drops, but stops when the temperature reaches the set point (see photo). I have found that once I didn’t need to worry about the temperatures, I could enjoy those cold beverages mentioned above even more!
I’ll be doing spare ribs on the Egg next weekend so stay tuned for an update. I’m hoping the fire department doesn’t show up this time…