So I bought this crazy space-ship smoker thing called a Big Green Egg from Eggs by the Bay in Santa Clara, CA. (this is what happens after hanging out with Garret Blythe and Arian Evans … I am left coveting this contraption)
Think Weber, or maybe the Weber Bullet , but bigger and smarter. Think nonconductive and insulating, don’t build it from metal (so you can spread, conduct, and waste your heat) but something more like space shuttle ceramics. Smoking is all about temperature stability! Holding a temperature for HOURS (not like two hours, but capable of doing this for something more like thirty!)
Elemental Fire Discussion:
- Fuel – feed the BGE only all-natural charcoal (no nasty chemicals), apply
- Heat – get a stable fire started, manage this with a flow of
- Oxygen – controlled exclusively by the bottom vent. This grants you precise
- Temperature – the furious union of the above elements.
Remaining Variables and Strategy:
- Heat Placement
I place a baking stone right above the heat source, forcing the hot air to convect, and not scorch the bottom of your meat.
- Moisture Management
Heating the meat is going to dry it, so you need to lock in and resupply moisture if possible. I place a casarole dish full of water or infused water on the baking stone, right below the grill surface.
Now you’re smoking, and need MORE precision. Just like website security, people do all this work and preparation, but if they are not measuring the live experience, part of the picture is missing. (well, that and instead of hitting the WSJ, your 10 best friends get to order Chinese food) Anyway, back to food geeking…
- Pit TemperatureIt is imperative to know EXACTLY what the temperature is where the meat is cooking. This is a good thing. Better than measuring somewhere else, like maybe up at the top of the grill lid. It would be better measurement could be obtained by NOT opening the lid and losing temperature.Remember: smoking is about temperature stability- for a long, LONG time.
- Meat Temperature
Cooking very low and very slow, it should take a lot of time for the meat to climb up to the target temperature. This allows for killing evil little micro-organisms, emulsifying fat, and thermal destruction of connective tissues. (read: moist tender meat falling off the bone)
Auditors like data points. I am no different. So I invested in a Stoker I will geek out on this in just a minute.
The Strategy (broken down):
The ideal temperature for very slow cooking pork ribs is 185 F. This allows a slow asymptotic arrival at a safe pork temperature of 170 while the meat absorbs HUGE volumes of smoke. I have a diffuser plate (actually, a foil wrapped baking stone) right above the coals to make the heat convective rather than direct, and keep a pan of mesquite infused water adding moisture to the meat along the way. (the infusion is a result of three days of soaking the mesquite blocks which are interspersed in the all-natural hickory charcoal)
So, as I continue studying, experimenting, and taking notes on this evolution- the tighter the control can be, the more focus can be placed on preparation and presentation.
Last night, we cooked about 15 lbs of pork ribs from Bianchini’s. (these ribs were cut country style- they were THICK) Preparation was varied in three ways:
The ribs were dry rubbed with one of the following:
- Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
This is a spice I grew up on in New Orleans (@tonychacheres on twitter)
- Big Acres Steak and Spice Rub
This is a gourmet spice by Melanie Yunk here in San Carlos (@melanieunk on twitter)
- This Recipe
(posted last night, thank Alex Hutton for the title)
So now it is all over but the smokin!! Just for fun, here is a graphical outlay of last night’s experiment…
…so Stoker Log (I found the link on the Virtual Weber Bullet site, you can download their software ) only runs on Windows (today…), so I keep the stoker on my *untrusted* network segment with my *untrusted* XP box. (obviously, this kind of software is going to be rigorously security tested) This makes it harder for Mike Bailey to deliver his BBQ-hating attack payloads to my Stoker (never mind that the Apple goodness lives on the *trusted* network, provided he can slip past no-script plugins…)
This only goes to show you that no matter what your use case is, no matter what your software is… if you aren’t testing your software, SOMEBODY else will be!
Anyway, that’s all I have time for today. Enjoy, and smoke on!