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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have already posted about my minor shotgun resto project in the 'Other Guns' section. Since we have food threads from time to time, I thought I would toss this in there.

Fired the smoker this weekend. Around midnight on Saturday night, I put an 11.92 pound beef brisket on. I smoked it over a mix of apple, red oak and pecan wood - mostly pecan. I have taken to wrapping bigger pieces of meat in cheesecloth when I put them on the smoker. Keep the cheesecloth damp and it keeps the meat from drying out - plus the cheesecloth keeps the exterior of the meat from getting too dark/hard from the smoke. This isn't the first brisket I have done. I think I might like doing brisket better than pork shouders, butts or ribs and the briskets I have done have always turned out well. They have just gotten so darned expensive - a couple of years ago I could have bought this same brisket for fifteen bucks or so. This one cost me $30 so I don't do them all that often, anymore.

I usually do a dry rub, injection or both but this time I didn't do either. Just wrapped the meat in the cheesecloth with nothing added. Instead, I added spices to the vinegar and (small amount of) olive oil mixture I used to baste it/keep the cheesecloth wet while it cooked. Gave a good flavor while really letting the meat and smoke be the stars of the show. The barbecue sauce I created for this one was (intentionally) more like a steak sauce. It had tomato sauce in it but leaned more heavily to vinegar with just a little molasses and sugar added to mellow it all out. Of course, there were some spices in there, too (including a pinch of the homemade chili powder I made last year with some fresh ghost peppers a buddy found plus my home grown jalapenos, serranos and habaneros.) Instead of a 'slathering' sauce, I intended it as more of a 'drizzling' sauce - and it worked quite well, if I do say so. Actually, I should say 'works' well - I have some brisket and sauce left over that will make good sandwiches for work this week.

Fresh off the smoker after about 16 - 16.5 hours (yeah, I'm serious about my smoking) and just unwrapped from the cheesecloth:



Anyone else fire it up and char some animal flesh lately?
 

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What kind of smoker are you using? I'm wanting to get more into it, and I don't know which direction to go. My bud swears by his Big Green Egg (and I agree since I usually get to eat its output), but I don't know if I want to spend that kind of green (no pun intended) for my first smoker. I'm kind of leaning towards a cheaper electric smoker to start me off.

Oh, great looking brisket by the way. Did you get a good smoke ring out of it?
 

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On the big green egg right now.
 

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Owned this one for about 10 years. Love it. Get one it is great.
 

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I just did a job for a homeowner and saw that thing out there. It does look like a big green egg on a stand.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
What kind of smoker are you using? I'm wanting to get more into it, and I don't know which direction to go. My bud swears by his Big Green Egg (and I agree since I usually get to eat its output), but I don't know if I want to spend that kind of green (no pun intended) for my first smoker. I'm kind of leaning towards a cheaper electric smoker to start me off.

Oh, great looking brisket by the way. Did you get a good smoke ring out of it?
Mine is just a fairly cheapo Brinkmann offset smoker from Walmart, on sale. It has done everything I have wanted, though. Before this, for 'smoking' I mostly used a Brinkmann upright 'barrel' type smoker. Worked pretty well - and are great if you want results that are more like a grill/smoker hybrid than a true, slow smoker. You can get a good, smoky flavor from them but since they are direct heat rather than indirect they cook meat a lot faster and the smoky flavor is less intense (which both may be 'pluses' for some folks) but definitely still there. One thing that can really improve the results from an offset smoker - and this thing is not often included in the ones you buy - is some kind of heat baffle to allow the smoke into the cooking chamber but reduce/redirect the heat that gets through. I have seen some pretty elaborate, home built baffles online. I simply use an old cast iron skillet that cracked. I have it leaned up inside the cooking chamber in front of the opening between the cooking area and the firebox to redirect/baffle some of the heat from the firebox. Thing is, with my offset smoker I have learned its 'habits' well enough that I can actually get my coal bed established, put meat on, poke the firebox full of wood, set the vents where I want them, monitor it for about an hour or so then go to bed without worrying about it getting too hot or the fire going out. I just get up after about four hours, check the fire then go back to bed. By the time I get up the next morning, it is usually just about to the point where it needs more wood thrown in. It took about two years of using it to get to the point where I can comfortably do that, however. With a direct heat smoker, like one of the upright 'barrel' types, I would never try that. You kind of have to stay on top of those in case of flare ups, etc. - or at least I always did. You also generally have to make sure to keep water or some other liquid in the pan that is provided for that purpose. The steam from that liquid helps cook the food and, more importantly, helps keep things from drying out if you are cooking a larger piece of meat that requires a long cook time.

As for the smoke ring, I get a pretty good one but its visibility is sometimes a bit lessened by using the cheesecloth, I think. It doesn't lessen the smoky taste one, single bit however. When I smoke meat, it pretty much gets smoked for the entire time it is on the smoker. I have never seen the logic in putting meat on a smoker but wrapping it in aluminum foil that pretty much keeps the smoke out for much of its time on the smoker. Might as well put it in the oven in the kitchen and save the extra trouble. Nothing annoys me more than to go to a barbecue restaurant that advertises 'pit smoked' or 'real hickory smoked' barbecue only to end up eating something that tastes about as smoky as if they had cooked it in a crock pot. For instance, I honestly think the best barbecue ribs are when they are smoky enough that it numbs your lips a little when you eat it. I have done beef ribs on the smoker in a pan of braising liquid to make sure they got tender - but I still made sure they got exposed to enough smoke to know they have been cooked on a smoker.

Sorry, went on a bit of a tangent, there. Non-smoky barbecue is actually a pet peeve of mine (as if you couldn't tell.)

I have heard good things about the Big Green Egg and was going to say Eric in Nola seems to love his (if he hadn't chimed in, himself.) They are just a little spendy, for me. Actually, scratch that - they are a lot spendy, for me. I have thought about building a DIY version like Alton Brown did on one episode of his show 'Good Eats.' His cost less than $50 at the time he put it together. His version is electric. I have never tried an electric smoker but can see that it might do well for some applications. Like the aforementioned upright barrel smoker, these would be direct heat and would probably be different than smoking on an offset like mine (and sometimes - for some things - different can be good, which is why I have been considering building one, myself.)

I sometimes differ from Alton Brown on the particulars of some recipes/cooking methods but many of the contraptions he comes up with appear to be good ideas and this is one of them (I also like the tandoori oven substitute he built - also out of terra cotta pots, iirc. Anyhow, he shows how to set up a DYI ceramic cooker on the cheap at the very beginning of this clip:

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ka2kpzTAL8[/ame]

Then there was this episode where he cold-smoked fish in a smoker made from, of all things, a cardboard box:

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMk-y6330aE[/ame]
 

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Discussion Starter #7
On the big green egg right now.
Why do I get the feeling that chicken has a beer can shoved in an indelicate place? And that it will be (was) delicious?
 

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Beer can chicken is the way to go. Fast cheap delicious. I freeze the carcass and make stock after I get a few.
Re bge price. One smoker , 11 years. Remaining Life span of it measured in decades. Used 3 or more times a week 52 weeks a year. Up front cost is high. Value over time is also high.

I consider my bge one if my most valued purchases of my life along with a Bose lifestyle system, Ruger 10/22, Glock 17, and my Ford ranger that I kick myself for trading in.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Beer can chicken is the way to go. Fast cheap delicious. I freeze the carcass and make stock after I get a few.
Re bge price. One smoker , 11 years. Remaining Life span of it measured in decades. Used 3 or more times a week 52 weeks a year. Up front cost is high. Value over time is also high.

I consider my bge one if my most valued purchases of my life along with a Bose lifestyle system, Ruger 10/22, Glock 17, and my Ford ranger that I kick myself for trading in.
No doubt the BGE would be worth it if I had the cash to make the investment. As it is, my actual grill (as opposed to my smoker) is a cheapo Walmart special charcoal grill. I have been using it for about three years and it is still going pretty strong except that the removeable charcoal pan finally deteriorated past its usefulness. For now, I have replaced it with an old cake pan that had developed a rust spot preventing it from being used for its original purpose.

Now that I am living next door to my mom, however, I will probably bring an old grill that my late father built for me out of retirement. He cut an old, heavy water tank in half around the middle (not lengthwise but around the circumference), leaving it pretty deep. He built it that way because I wanted a grill that was deep enough that I could grill over a wood fire, instead of charcoal, without burning the meat or cooking it too fast. It is mounted on a metal post that he then sank into the ground - which is why it is still at my mom's house. Talk about lasting a lifetime - my dad died ten years ago next month. He made that grill for me a few years before that. I cooked on it quite a bit back then and it shows no signs of going anywhere. I just need to get a replacement grid for it. He built it for open cooking so it has no lid but I am sure I could come up with something.
 

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Mediterranean Chicken
Created by Luthier


1/32 - tsp. Liquid Smoke
2 -tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar Aged
3- Pinches White Pepper
3 oz. sun dried tomatoes
6 – lg. Baby Portobello Mushrooms Sliced
4 – tbsp. Cilantro Base
4 – pc. Thick bacon Slices 1” X 1” Fried separately
5 - tbsp. EVO Dill Enhanced
5 – Whole lg. Roma Tomatoes
12 – Whole Black Olives
6 – Black Olives Sliced
8 – Chicken Thighs Skinless
1 Jar 12oz. Artichoke Salad with Pimentos and Green Olives
16 oz. Chicken Broth
¼- tsp. Capers Peppercorn Style
¼ Green Onion Tops Chopped add later.
5 – Green Onions cut from mid-green down
1/8 - tsp. Fresh Ground Black/Green/Red pepper
5 – Lg. Garlic Cloves Crushed and Chopped
½ - tsp. Sea Salt
For later use;
1/8- tsp. Minced Fresh Ginger, add in last five minutes
6 – ½” wide slices of Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper add in later.
Add all ingredients together as you open it including fluids from jars into a well aged large black iron skillet and slooooow cook.

2 – Large Garlic Cloves
Pinch of fresh Ginger
3 – Tbs. EVO
1 – Pinch White Pepper
Bring to heat a large frying pan and flash fry chicken both sides
Reduce heat, slow cook, once ¾ of the way cooked add above mix and simmer cook until Chicken is cooked.
Add in the rest of the Ginger, Rosemary, Yellow Bell Pepper pieces and Green Onions, perhaps some Chicken Broth.
Continue to simmer for another 30 min.’s or until the green Onion is semi soft,
This will require some LARGE pans.
Umm, and a good Shiraz and enjoy..

One can substitute Fish, Beef or Pork with this....
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Sounds pretty good, Luthier. Do you like pine nuts? I'd probably toss in a few toasted pine nuts just to give a nice, nutty counterbalance to the other flavors. I'd want them to have a good crunch, though, so I'd probably not toss them in until the very end. The fresh ginger is an interesting choice in combo with the other flavors. I'd bet it brightens the overall flavor profile and gives a nice, almost citrus tone - I really like fresh ginger. I wonder how shallots would work in place of the green onion. Hmmm...

That skillet full of goodness looks to me like it is just begging to have the meat removed and set aside and then have some angel hair pasta tossed/briefly simmered in the sauce. I can just see a big platter of the pasta with the meat lying on top. Heck, I can see doing this with shrimp and then just leaving the shrimp in with everything else when the pasta is tossed in.

Hope it doesn't bother you that I am 'reconstructing' your dish. It is just that I rarely go by a recipe - even one from a cookbook - more than once. Sometimes I just look at several, similar recipes and use them as a guideline even the first time I make a particular dish.
 

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Sounds pretty good, Luthier. Do you like pine nuts? I'd probably toss in a few toasted pine nuts just to give a nice, nutty counterbalance to the other flavors. I'd want them to have a good crunch, though, so I'd probably not toss them in until the very end. The fresh ginger is an interesting choice in combo with the other flavors. I'd bet it brightens the overall flavor profile and gives a nice, almost citrus tone - I really like fresh ginger. I wonder how shallots would work in place of the green onion. Hmmm...

That skillet full of goodness looks to me like it is just begging to have the meat removed and set aside and then have some angel hair pasta tossed/briefly simmered in the sauce. I can just see a big platter of the pasta with the meat lying on top. Heck, I can see doing this with shrimp and then just leaving the shrimp in with everything else when the pasta is tossed in.

Hope it doesn't bother you that I am 'reconstructing' your dish. It is just that I rarely go by a recipe - even one from a cookbook - more than once. Sometimes I just look at several, similar recipes and use them as a guideline even the first time I make a particular dish.
Actually I have a tub of pine nuts (Pricy little bastards), great for salads and what nots. Great idea thou,, As well as the pasta, we have gone there already and it works very nicely.
Now I have not tried the Shrimps as of yet because the little woman is,, yep you guessed it, allergic to sea food.
Sad twist of fate I suppose.
As far as the recipe getting tweaked, not at all, that is how great foods happen brother. :)
 
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