Monday, May 10, 2010

All's Well that Ends Well on Mother's Day

So even though it was going to be a busy weekend and it was Mother's day, my better half had to work and I knew she'd rather stay in to eat than go out. We had a rack of ribs in the fridge with her name on it. As you will read on, today's story is full of unexpected twists and turns and probably should not have turned out an edible food product, but it actually turned out some nice ribs. My wife and my mom are usually the biggest critics of my backyard shenanigans including barbecue, but neither of them had any complaints.

One running theme in my short lived blog is that I'm experimenting with different charcoals and that I havn' found anything I liked. I've been thinking lately about lump and after the reviews I saw of Cowboy at HD and the cost, I picked up some Argentinean lump, 20 pounds for ten bux. More on that later.

A close up of the lump

For those of you familiar with the Char-Griller brand, I had to do some last minute MacGyvering on my charcoal tray, because the end rail- the one with the indentation for the hook to attach- broke loose. I drilled a hole and attached it to the next one using some bare wire I had around. Stuff like this makes me want to learn to weld.

Last year's homebrew- not fit for human consumption but fit for vapor-basting my ribs.

These ribs were rubbed with what I call my turmeric rub. Go to, find their recipe for 'best odds rib rub' I think it's called, and substitute turmeric for mustard. The first rub I ever made- I found it, wanted to make it, and made do with what I had around the house. Gives nice flavor and a nice bark. Some rainy weekend I'll elaborate on it.

Here's where my problems started.. After taking forever (40 mins) to get ready in the chimney, moved it to the Side Fire Box. The temperature reading on the grill level (not stock) thermometer would not go above 150- After a while I added a 2nd chimney of the lump with the same result. Pissed me off. I eventually dumped my coal box inside the main smoker chamber to one side and separated it from the meat with my home made heat shield. I supplemented that with the rest of the Kingsford Competition Ive been bitching about which got my heat where it needed to be and higher.

This was all taking so long I was starving. I took advantage of having a hot side of the grill and threw on some frozen puck burgers for my parents who were over and I. These things were so frozen I had to grill them for a minute or two to separate them. Even then if took some elbow grease and the WMD I use as a spatula.

On top of everything else my thermometer was dodgy. The plug the probe goes into recently pushed itself into the housing of the device, so I took it apart, found the plug part, and superglued it in place. A couple of other bits and pieces fell out but who's counting? Now the thing turns on and off at will and the temp it reads varies by a range of about 30 degrees. What you see below is after about 2 hours of cooking- 191- highly unlikely.

All in all a thin area at the end was crispy but the rest turned out to be a good rack of ribs for Mother's day.

Turned out good. The end.

Lessons learned:
-The lump charcoal was a good deal price wise, and made some nice burgers, but does not produce enough indirect heat at least for my smoker. Does anyone else have experience? Please comment away-
-The Kford Comp I was complaining about saved the day. 

-Even when things zig when you think they will zag, you can still get a decent meal out of it.

Wondering now what my next fuel source experiment should be. I'm going in on a cord of firewood with some guys, all hardwood supposedly. I'll have to get my boy scout field guide and try to identify some hickory or mesquite in it, maybe cherry would be more likely here in NJ. Maybe I should forget about charcoal and go caveman style with the logs.


Rene said...

Dear Anonymous,

Can't help but feel like I'm at a disadvantage here, you seem to know us pretty well so feel free to ship up some of that oak. According to my neighbors my smoking action seems real enough so we have no complaints. We had a great mother's day, thanks.


gopopgo said...

The ribs look good. I've never competed before, but I was briefly considering going to and I noticed that their rule state: ""All competition elements must be cooked over a wood fire- no charcoal or gas allowed!" Currently, I'm getting really good results with my Weber 2820 and Kingsford charcoal, but I'm definitely interested in trying wood fire. Looking forward to more of your posts!


Ishmael said...

I'm about to buy a new house. The house comes with a gas grill. My wife says that to make good barbecued ribs you need to use real charcoal but I think that is crap. I mean why should I pay my good money for a charcoal grill when I'll have a gas one for free and besides just turning a knob is a lot easier then all that messy charcoal. What do you think, René?

Rene said...

Hi Ish,

Thanks for posting. I do have a gas grill and have smoked on it so I can speak from experience here. Smoking takes some time, you should plan a minimum of 4 hours from the time you start heating your grill to when your food should be ready, often more. You can smoke on a gas grill by lighting one side and putting a metal bx of soaked cips over the fire and your meat on the other side. However I found this not to be economical because of how much propane it went through, about half a tank for one 4 hour smoking session. There is also a flavor element charcoal gives that gas can't do, so my verdict is while it is possible to smoke on a gas grill, my preference is charcoal. Having said that I have not settled on what I want to be my regular charcoal.


martin frankly said...
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