Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Let me start off my saying a big thanks to all the service men and women, the vets, and their families.

Next order of business- I'm thinking of changing the name of my blog. The Backyard Smoker was good to get things going but I think it's a little blah. So give me some suggestions in the comments section. Something Northeastern, to let people know who I am, where I am, and that I'm not inclined to let other regions corner the market on smoke. The smokey yankee? Give me some ideas.

So this was probably my most ambitious smoking day to date. Two each of rib racks and briskets, ne of each rubbed and one au naturale. and some smoked cheese grits that my mom made. THis was also the biggest gathering of friends and falimy I ever smoked for, about 12 people?

I rubbed one rack with the last of my turmeric rub you've hear me mention before, and left the other rack rubless, to help accomadate differing tastes and dietary limitations in our group. I picked up two thin-cut flat briskets at Corrado's, thinking if anywhere would have a good meat selection, it would be there. One was rubbed with this Texas-style rub from, the other was bare. I put the briskets on about an hour and a half earlier than the ribs, then let the whole thing go another four and a half hours, burning Trader Joe's natural briqettes, smoking with mesquite chunks and soaked chips. Here is a rundown of the action:

Here are some action shots of things as they transpired on the scene

Everything went pretty well. The Trader Joe's natural briqs appeared to give a nice even heat, but much like the Kingsford Competition they burned fairly quickly and produced a lot of ash that made me dump the ask pan at one point, letting air back in to my fire. Is that just the deal with 'natural charcoal'? Feel free to comment and let me know your own experiences.

The food came out great. The ribs were juicy, they had an acceptable level of doneness because the natives were getting restless, but my real preference is to leave them on longer, I never like using a knife to cut them apart, I prefer to pull them into pieces with the tongs, and even though they weren't falling apart to that extent they tasted great. The rub added some nice heat.

This was my second time ever making brisket, and while I'm not 100% positive they came out the way brisket is traditionally served I had no complaints. When I was trying to slice it it started coming apart much like pulled pork, and was a little oilyer  (is that a word?) than I expected. In any event they tasted great and everyone was asking for more.

The grits were the real surprise hit of the day. My mom made some real Louisiana  style cheese grits, we pit them in the smoker for the last hour and a half, they took on the mesquite flavor nicely, and while I think they boiled down a little bit, they came out thick, gooey, smokey, cheesey, and left an awesome burnt cheese crust in the pan that I gnawed on for about 10 minutes. We also had some great potato salad, brocolli-bacon salad, spinach dip, key-lime pie, cookies, and blackberry streusel pies that were a huge hit.

All- in all, good day out.
Here are some reaction videos. Please pardon my father who had some criticism of the services. He might have just been mad for having to wait 5 hours to eat. The other os my friend Ray, I'm not sure if he had the chance to read my previous posts but we had to remind him this was a family website:

For my next steps, while I figured out it's not hard to make a tasty brisket, I need to learn how to make one that will stay sliced. I'm still on the hunt for whatever will be my regular charcoal.


Here are some shots of the crowd including two lost vegetarians who found their way into my yard:


Chilebrown said...

Those ribs look smoky good. I have never ever had grits. May have to give them a try after seeing yours.

As far as a new name. I think "Hematoma" has a nice ring.

Rene said...

Hey Chilebrown, thanks for commenting. The grits were great, I'll get my mom to send you some. Funny you say hematoma, that's what my wife said the grits looked like when they first cme out of the smoker.


Culinary Dilettante said...

Hey, saw your blog as Im googling around looking for wood chunks in NJ. Nice job, the brisket and ribs look good.

Anyway, you were commenting on charcoal, so you might find the nakedwiz's lump charcoal database helpful:

Ive been using Cowboy Charcoal, just because it was easy to find. Im thinking it burns a little too hot for smoking, so I need to find something cooler.

Rene said...

Hi CD,

Yes I am familiar with both nakedwhiz and Cowboy, I have to warn you about Cowboy, I have heard they use scraps from the furniture industry and that glues and shellacs have been found, so I have stayed away. I will be trying Royal Oak lump from Walmart in Elizabeth NJ. For chunks I've been using what I find at Lowes and HD, but have heard Chef Central on 17 sells them by the bucket, so I may try that soon. Thanks for posting-


Culinary Dilettante said...

Yeah, I heard or rather read that about Cowboy, unfortunately after I had bought a bag. I have been rather unsucessful at finding any other lump around here. Ive only seen Cowboy at HD and the local Hardware stores around here. Most places only have briquettes. My cousin swears by Wicked Good Charcoal, but they are online only, and it seems silly to spend $15 on shipping for a $15 item.

As far as Chef Central on 17, the last time I was in there, I only saw Hickory by the bag. I didnt ask about anything by the bucket. I drive right by there on my way home at nights, so Ill check sometime next week. Ill let you know.

Culinary Dilettante said...

Just thought Id pop back and let you know what I found at Chef Central on 17: They have Hickory and Mesquite chunks by the bag. Thats it. They have a couple more varieties in chips, but just those two in chunks. Take care.