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The Grilling and Cooking Thread


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So what are y'all's strategies for doing indirect heat and low heat slow smoking in regards to maintaining temperature in a non electric setting? I'm hopefully getting a new grill soon. One that comes with the sidecar attachment for smoking. In my few experiences with indirect heat and using a non electric smoker I've done okay. But each time has also been a learning experience. Problem with that is though, when you're talking about investing the money for a good piece of meat and 6-10+ hours of time, it's nice to have a strategy going in.

 

Some of the issues I've had in the past were trying to find the right blend of soaked wood chips to coals and tying into that, maintaining temperature. Would using wood chunks as opposed to chips help with that? Do you generally lay a thin bed of coals down and set the wood on top?

 

Sorry, I know I'm a bit of a noob here. I've loved cooking for years. I've gotten really good at making stuff inside my kitchen. I've done some really good work on the grill and smoking meat in the past. But I want to learn some strategies to really get the most out of that time and money and I'm curious what y'all do

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So what are y'all's strategies for doing indirect heat and low heat slow smoking in regards to maintaining temperature in a non electric setting? I'm hopefully getting a new grill soon. One that comes with the sidecar attachment for smoking. In my few experiences with indirect heat and using a non electric smoker I've done okay. But each time has also been a learning experience. Problem with that is though, when you're talking about investing the money for a good piece of meat and 6-10+ hours of time, it's nice to have a strategy going in.

Some of the issues I've had in the past were trying to find the right blend of soaked wood chips to coals and tying into that, maintaining temperature. Would using wood chunks as opposed to chips help with that? Do you generally lay a thin bed of coals down and set the wood on top?

Sorry, I know I'm a bit of a noob here. I've loved cooking for years. I've gotten really good at making stuff inside my kitchen. I've done some really good work on the grill and smoking meat in the past. But I want to learn some strategies to really get the most out of that time and money and I'm curious what y'all do

Weber Kettle, with the "one-touch" cleaning system, for ash removal, ,($99.99), or a "premium" model,($140.00.)

I suggest the "premium" model, because it makes ash disposal much easier.

Slow N Sear smoker accessory, made for the Weber kettle, is $99.99 w/shipping.

http://www.abcbarbecue.com/

So, for under $250.00, you get a high-quality, grill and smoker set-up.

Get that stuff, start using, along with a couple of decent digital remote leave-in thermometers, then hit us up with the specific types of questions that you're asking.

Edited by Skinsfan1311
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Weber Kettle, with the "one-touch" cleaning system, for ash removal, or a "premium" model, for $140.00. I suggest the "premium" model, because it makes ash disposal much easier.

Slow N Sear smoker accessory, made for the Weber kettle, is $99.99 w/shipping.

 

I think you have me talked into this set up.  I've been wanting a charcoal smoker set up, I have a gas one now.  Was thinking one of those ceramic egg types.  After watching all this and the vids this seems a damn good and cheaper way to go. 

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So what are y'all's strategies for doing indirect heat and low heat slow smoking in regards to maintaining temperature in a non electric setting? I'm hopefully getting a new grill soon. One that comes with the sidecar attachment for smoking. In my few experiences with indirect heat and using a non electric smoker I've done okay. But each time has also been a learning experience. Problem with that is though, when you're talking about investing the money for a good piece of meat and 6-10+ hours of time, it's nice to have a strategy going in.

 

Some of the issues I've had in the past were trying to find the right blend of soaked wood chips to coals and tying into that, maintaining temperature. Would using wood chunks as opposed to chips help with that? Do you generally lay a thin bed of coals down and set the wood on top?

 

Sorry, I know I'm a bit of a noob here. I've loved cooking for years. I've gotten really good at making stuff inside my kitchen. I've done some really good work on the grill and smoking meat in the past. But I want to learn some strategies to really get the most out of that time and money and I'm curious what y'all do

 

Regardless of equipment, the key to holding a temperature +/- a certain level (say, 250 degrees) comes down to how air tight your grill is. That doesn't mean if you have leaks you can't hold a temperature. It means you need to practice with the air vent settings to compensate for any air leaking from your grill. 

The best grills for long cooks, in my opinion, have a vent opening in the bottom & one on the top. Both should be adjustable. By controlling the amount of air coming in (bottom) & out (top) you can get the grill temp set to anything you want for a very, very long period of time. 

Personally, I prefer wood charcoal & then use flavored wood chunks (cherry, apple, etc.) not soaked in water when smoking meat (or peanuts, fish, etc.) I use these to start the fire (using a piece about the size of your thumbnail). Fill the grill with charcoal, dig a whole in the middle to the bottom, place the firestarter there, light it, & place 1 or 2 pieces of lump wood over it to be sure not to smother it.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Rutland-Safe-Starter-Squares-144-Square/dp/B00138MO16/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1461168361&sr=8-5&keywords=fire+starter

 

I know Skinsfan loves his Weber but I'm extremely pleased with the Akorn (pictured above). I bought it 4 years ago for $150. I practiced a couple of times, starting the grill, working the vents, to determine the best settings for certain temps. Wind direction definitely plays a roll in the temp but I can adjust the vents to get whatever temp I want regardless of how windy it is. My longest cook was 12 hours - that's with no adjustments & no adding charcoal. I've read where some people have been able to go 24hrs+ with the Akorn at ~250. The best part I like is the outside isn't hot to the touch - ever. Once I'm done cooking, I can close the vents & put the cover on it. I can't tell you how many times over the years I forgot to cover a grill & it got rained on! 

 

The wireless thermometer is a must. Get the dual probe - meat & grill - so you can monitor both temps. There's all kinds out there, depends on your budget. Also, some of them will work with your cell phone. 

 

My favorite part of a long cook (besides the outcome): I can put a pork butt on the grill at 9AM at ~250 and spend the rest of the day doing whatever I want. Once I have the temp dialed in I'll leave it alone for 8 hours & not have to worry about it at all. 

 

Here's a good site to get more info on various types of kamado-style grills:

 

http://www.kamadoguru.com/

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I thought about the Akorn, but the thing that is swaying me to the weber setup is that it more closely resembles a side box smoker.  My gas smoker I have has everything lined up vertically , the heat, wood, water, then meat.  So the meat drips down and makes a mess of everything.  Having more of a side set up with the water in between eliminates this problem.  I'm sure they both cook awesome, I'm just a lazy **** looking for the easiest way to do anything. 

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I thought about the Akorn, but the thing that is swaying me to the weber setup is that it more closely resembles a side box smoker.  My gas smoker I have has everything lined up vertically , the heat, wood, water, then meat.  So the meat drips down and makes a mess of everything.  Having more of a side set up with the water in between eliminates this problem.  I'm sure they both cook awesome, I'm just a lazy **** looking for the easiest way to do anything. 

 

Oh, that's easily solved in a Kamado-style grill. 

 

The firebox holds the charcoal (sitting on a grate - which allows the ashes to drop to the bottom)

A grill is placed on top of the firebox. It's on this grid where you place a heat deflector (a pizza stone, a cast iron griddle. I use a pizza pan). Then you can sit a disposable pan on top of the heat deflector. That's where all of the grease drips on a long smoke. A Kamado-style grill does NOT need any additional fluids to keep the meat moist because it retains the heat so well (the entire shell on top & bottom is insulated). 

Then the actual grill where you cook the meat sits above the heat deflector. The Akorn has a swivel grill that sits above the main grill so I can smoke meat on 2 levels. Or, I'll cook meat on the main grill & toss some potatoes/corn on the swivel grill an hour or so before the meat is done.

 

To cook direct on the grill, just remove the deflector from the center grill. 

 

 

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Made pork spare ribs over the weekend. Standard brown sugar rub.

 

Started in the oven (don't judge me).

425 uncovered for 1 hour.

275 covered for 1 hour.

 

Finished in the LP smoker with hickory for 1 hour.

 

Glaze with your preferred sauce. I used a homemade Kansas City-style sauce.

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Made pork spare ribs over the weekend. Standard brown sugar rub.

Started in the oven (don't judge me).

425 uncovered for 1 hour.

275 covered for 1 hour.

Finished in the LP smoker with hickory for 1 hour.

Glaze with your preferred sauce. I used a homemade Kansas City-style sauce.

Oh, I'm judging. ;)

At least pre-cooking in the oven isn't as blasphemous as boiling.

How did they turn out and, out of curiosity, why not start out in the smoker, and finish in the oven?

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I really like those kamado-style grills, but if I buy another grill, (I own 5), Mrs Skinfan will kill me.

That being said, one day I might end up with one. For now, the Weber grills do tge trick and they're very well-made and last a long time.

My first kettle, lasted 25+ yrs, (uncovered), and it was my fault it broke. I cinched it down too tight, with a ratchet strap in my truck, and collapsed part of the bowl, where one of the legs is inserted.

I have a Weber Genesis gas grill, from 2001, and it looks almost new, (I do keep that one covered)

I have a couple of 22" kettles, including a Performer and a 15yr old kettle for tailgating. The 15yr old is a beater, (that Mrs Skinsfan found at a yard-sale for $10.00) It's abused, but is going strong.

My beef with Weber, is that their covers suck donkey balls. I ended up buying quality after-market covers, from Costco, which are far better made, and cost less.

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Oh, I'm judging. ;)

At least pre-cooking in the oven isn't as blasphemous as boiling.

How did they turn out and, out of curiosity, why not start out in the smoker, and finish in the oven?

I don't go the other way, because I find that they get just right if you blast them first with heat (and it cuts down on the overall time).

 

You could also just do the whole thing outside with high heat, then low smoke. But I was feeling lazy to be honest.

 

They were delicious. Warning: if you go more than 1 hour in the second stage of the oven, they fall apart (made that mistake once).

 

And boiling is blasphemous. :)

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My beef with Weber, is that their covers suck donkey balls. I ended up buying quality after-market covers, from Costco, which are far better made, and cost less.

The Weber cover that I got when I bought my Weber Spirit was hot garbage.  But I got a replacement Weber cover the next year and it seems they have fixed the cover issue. I have had it for 2 years now and it looks brand new. Still 100% water proof, no fading from the sun (and my deck BAKES in the afternoon sun), and in pristine condition. I use the grill about 4 times/week, so the wear and tear from coming off and going on usually limits the life of the cover. But so far, so good.

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One of those Northern Nevada wind days forced me to improvise the rib cooking a couple of months ago. Tough to slow cook on the grill in that environment so I slow cooked them in the crock pot then was able to at least reverse sear them in the grill even with the wind gusting at around 50 mph. Turned out pretty good actually though the transfer to the grill and off again was a bit of a delicate operation. ;)  

I have a whiskey marinade I'm going to try next in combination with the grill. Of course keeping in mind the old cook rule when cooking with booze and/or beer. Equal parts to the recipe and the cook,(learned that back in my first year in the restaurant business in 81 :) ). 

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The Weber cover that I got when I bought my Weber Spirit was hot garbage. But I got a replacement Weber cover the next year and it seems they have fixed the cover issue. I have had it for 2 years now and it looks brand new. Still 100% water proof, no fading from the sun (and my deck BAKES in the afternoon sun), and in pristine condition. I use the grill about 4 times/week, so the wear and tear from coming off and going on usually limits the life of the cover. But so far, so good.

Maybe the gas grill covers are better made?

I've gone through couple of Weber covers, for my Performer, (which is basically a kettle, with a cart, charcoal bin and propane start). Mine also bakes, in the afternoon sun. Neither one of them lasted more than a couple of years. They got brittle,.pieces of protective covering flaked off, and leaked at the seams.

We grill a lot, and year-round to boot.

My aftermarket covers are 4 years old, and 1 year old and, so far, have performed admirably. The older cover is faded, but waterproof and strong.

Edited by Skinsfan1311
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Weber Kettle, with the "one-touch" cleaning system, for ash removal, ,($99.99), or a "premium" model,($140.00.)

I suggest the "premium" model, because it makes ash disposal much easier.

Slow N Sear smoker accessory, made for the Weber kettle, is $99.99 w/shipping.

http://www.abcbarbecue.com/

So, for under $250.00, you get a high-quality, grill and smoker set-up.

Get that stuff, start using, along with a couple of decent digital remote leave-in thermometers, then hit us up with the specific types of questions that you're asking.

My Slow N Sear is arriving today. Hopefully I can get some stuff smoked soon. Need to get some pork shoulder from the butcher.

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My Slow N Sear is arriving today. Hopefully I can get some stuff smoked soon. Need to get some pork shoulder from the butcher.

Nice!

Get yhe cheapest shoulder you can find,at the grocery store. Not sure how many you've done, but any butt that weighs more than 4-5lbs takes a long,long time.

I usually look for an 8lb'er, and have the butcher cut it in half. It still takes ~ 10 hrs, (I don't foil), but it beats a 14-16hr cook.

Also, get the cheapest shoulder you can find, at the grocery store. No need to pay butcher prices. Save the trip to the butcher, for briskets and steaks.

JMHO

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I've never contributed to this thread but I figured I should add 2 things because my son is such a fan.

 

1.  Chicken breast marinated in Olive Garden salad dressing.  Pretty amazing.

2. Spaghetti with Cream Cheese added to the sauce.  After browning the ground beef and draining it, I add the sauce and some spices etc... then as its on the stove, I add the cream cheese and let it melt in, then I mix it up.  

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Nice!

Get yhe cheapest shoulder you can find,at the grocery store. Not sure how many you've done, but any butt that weighs more than 4-5lbs takes a long,long time.

I usually look for an 8lb'er, and have the butcher cut it in half. It still takes ~ 10 hrs, (I don't foil), but it beats a 14-16hr cook.

Also, get the cheapest shoulder you can find, at the grocery store. No need to pay butcher prices. Save the trip to the butcher, for briskets and steaks.

JMHO

I usually use store bought shoulder, but you have to watch out. If its been frozen, and has all that juice laying in the package, the meat can be dry.

 

I wonder if on bigger ones if you hit it with some higher heat first (like the oven method), then go low for like 6 hours or so, if it will work?

Edited by Zguy28
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I usually use store bought shoulder, but you have to watch out. If its been frozen, and has all that juice laying in the package, the meat can be dry.

I wonder if on bigger ones if you hit it with some higher heat first (like the oven method), then go low for like 6 hours or so, if it will work?

I've never,(knowingly), bought a previously frozen shoulder. I buy fresh shoulders and it's always moist and tender.

I think that you'll dry it out, if you hit a larger butt with high heat. BBQ is all about the "low 'n slow".

I always cook a couple of smaller ones, at the same time. In addition to a shorter cook, you get twice as much of flavorful bark.

Edited by Skinsfan1311
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I've never contributed to this thread but I figured I should add 2 things because my son is such a fan.

1. Chicken breast marinated in Olive Garden salad dressing. Pretty amazing.

2. Spaghetti with Cream Cheese added to the sauce. After browning the ground beef and draining it, I add the sauce and some spices etc... then as its on the stove, I add the cream cheese and let it melt in, then I mix it up.

I've never contributed to this thread but I figured I should add 2 things because my son is such a fan.

1. Chicken breast marinated in Olive Garden salad dressing. Pretty amazing.

2. Spaghetti with Cream Cheese added to the sauce. After browning the ground beef and draining it, I add the sauce and some spices etc... then as its on the stove, I add the cream cheese and let it melt in, then I mix it up.

We do that, with Ken's Italian dressing and, you are spot-on, it makes for delicious chicken. I pan-sear the marinated chicken breasts, top them off with Italian bread crumbs,then finish them in the oven, (in the same pan).

If you mix Italian dressing, with Worchestershire sauce, it makes an excellent marinade for cheap, tougher cuts, like London Broil, or top sirloin. I also add a big pinch of red pepper flakes to kick it up.

Edited by Skinsfan1311
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I've never,(knowingly), bought a previously frozen shoulder. I buy fresh shoulders and it's always moist and tender.

I think that you'll dry it out, if you hit a larger butt with high heat. BBQ is all about the "low 'n slow".

I always cook a couple of smaller ones, at the same time. In addition to a shorter cook, you get twice as much of flavorful bark.

What if I cut an 8lb butt in half and smoke it as two 4 pounders? Any downside?

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What if I cut an 8lb butt in half and smoke it as two 4 pounders? Any downside?

It's got a bone in it (twss) so the two halves won't cook evenly, I would expect. Also when you get too small, you don't get as good a finished product imo. It jumps out of the plateau phase too fast, and ends up a little dryer/tougher. I try not to dip below 5+.

I've read about a different, faster method than the standard 250 all the way. Search the biggreenegg forum for "turbo butt" and you'll find it. Never tried it myself, but I recall several people on that board were happy with the result

Edited by Bliz
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It's got a bone in it (twss) so the two halves won't cook evenly, I would expect. Also when you get too small, you don't get as good a finished product imo. It jumps out of the plateau phase too fast, and ends up a little dryer/tougher. I try not to dip below 5+.

I've read about a different, faster method than the standard 250 all the way. Search the biggreenegg forum for "turbo butt" and you'll find it. Never tried it myself, but I recall several people on that board were happy with the result

Based on my own experience, I disagree.

A 4-5lb butt isn't too small. I can't comment on anything under 4 lbs, because I've never tried that.

I've smoked a lot of 'em, in the 4-5 lb range, and have never had one go through the stall quickly. I've never had any meat go through a stall quickly, even when I've foiled briskets. This is based on smoking at 225, which is the standard that I use.

When I smoke two at a time, they're usually done within an hour, or two, of each other,(I pull them at 203°). If one finishes first, I wrap it tightly in foil, and stick it a faux cambro. Which is a fancy term for a cooler with a couple of towels in it. The meat stays piping hot for hours.

Edited by Skinsfan1311
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Based on my own experience, I disagree.

A 4-5lb butt isn't too small. I can't comment on anything under 4 lbs, because I've never tried that.

I've smoked a lot of 'em, in the 4-5 lb range, and have never had one go through the stall quickly. I've never had any meat go through a stall quickly, even when I've foiled briskets. This is based on smoking at 225, which is the standard that I use.

When I smoke two at a time, they're usually done within an hour, or two, of each other,(I pull them at 203°). If one finishes first, I wrap it tightly in foil, and stick it a faux cambro. Which is a fancy term for a cooler with a couple of towels in it. The meat stays piping hot for hours.

Love the cooler method. Added bonus - your towels smell amazing

I cooked one that was close to 4 lb even, and had the problems mentioned above. Maybe it was a bad cut, or the difference between 250 and 225. Since then I always tried to stay at 5+

The extra time doesn't really bother me. I get the temp locked in and forget it, and employ the cooler method if it finishes early. And if I have extra I freeze 1 lb bags and use it to make Brunswick stew

Edited by Bliz
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Love the cooler method. Added bonus - your towels smell amazing

I cooked one that was close to 4 lb even, and had the problems mentioned above. Maybe it was a bad cut, or the difference between 250 and 225. Since then I always tried to stay at 5+

The extra time doesn't really bother me. I get the temp locked in and forget it, and employ the cooler method if it finishes early. And if I have extra I freeze 1 lb bags and use it to make Brunswick stew

Yes, the towels do smell amazing. When the meat I'm smoking, is a couple of degrees away from my target temp, I pour a few gallons of hot water, in the cooler, to pre-warm it. That, and stick it in the sun.

You may have had a bad cut, because shoulders are very forgiving, temp-wise. There is credence, in your thought process however, because it makes sense that a larger cut would be more forgiving. I shhot for a 9-10 lb roast. The grocery store butcher cuts it in half, right through the bone.

One time, i got an 8 lb roast, and one "half" ended up as just over 3lbs. I didn't even attempt to smoke that one. It went into the crock-pot

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