Pulled Pork Tonight/Tomorrow

picnicI've only tried barbecue overnight once and my heat died during the night. Tonight, after a great deal of reading my new favorite place to hang out, the forums on Virtual Weber Bullet, I found some modifications to a Weber grill to get me throuh the night easily. I made a bank of bricks to contain the coals and mesquite tidily against the side for a long burn indirect cooking of a sexy little 3.5 lb. picnic roast I picked up at Giant-Eagle today.

Tough to monitor in the early stages however. We've only been in this home less than a year and I just noticed the backyard is totally black at night. Kind of cool. I was only able to get this shot by pointing my camera in the dark and used the flash to see what was going on. This shot is about 2 hours into the cooking. Cracked about a 1/8 on the bottom vents and full open on the top.

I think I'll lose a bit of sleep tonight thinking about tomorrow night's meal. In the morning, I'll wrap it, put it in the fridge and take the kid on a wild day of activity. Tomorrow night, we feast.

"Hot meat, hot meat" Frankie will chant. Going to kill me if she becomes a vegetarian at 13.

pulled yumminessDamn, fire went out during the night because I didn't read the "Bullet Post" thoroughly enough. I was supposed to use the minion method to do the burn. Next time I guess. For now, I just fired it back up for a few more hours. When I found the grill out, the meat was still hot. Let it rip another few hours, wrapped it a couple hours and it pulled beautifully. It was a tad dry but really good. Frankie said "It's great Papa!". I don't get that too often, high praise indeed.


Cold Smoking: Weber mod, v 2.0

cold smoker

In my previous version of the Weber mod, I was essentially cooking, not smoking since my dome temperature was 150-deg-F. Since then I made the several changes. I'll point out all the features of the new version and indicate which are alterations to the old one.

1. Dome, no change here. Just a thermometer inserted to monitor the temperature near the food.

2. The Thunderbelly insert (caution: most horribly designed site in the world with loud music), used, as before, to position food further from the heat/smoke source.

3. The drilled out bottom to permit the smoke into the Weber kettle, no change.

4. The 6" to 4" ductpipe reducer. Perfect to fit an inverted 28 oz. can of tomatoes (empty, 6 in 1 brand). This is a big change. I drilled about 6 3/8" holes in the bottom of the can. This permits less smoke to go through the can as my previous much larger aperature. I believe this slows down the combustion of the wood resulting in:
a. reduction of billowing clouds of mesquite smoke all over the neighborhood,
b. my neighbors' comfort because they don't have to smell the billowing clouds of smoke all day,
c. our clothes and home won't smell of mesquite all day from the billowing clouds of smoke and,
d. the smoldering wood will last much longer (a ca. 2.5" cube smoldered about 6 hours).

5. Using my chimney/smoke conduit on top of a cast iron pan greatly reduced the dome temperature. The cast iron pan got really hot, but since the heat is essentially outside the system, it dissipates into the environment much better than the previous version. On a 80-deg-F day with no wind, I was able to keep the dome temperature at a steady 105-deg-F to 110-deg-F. Still on the high end of cold smoking, but on a cooler day, with a light breeze, this may be perfect for a 24 hour period of smoking, perfect for salmon or trout.

6. 650 W hotplate set on M, no change.

This was just a dry run with no food in the chamber. I have a couple more ideas to implement before a food run. Keep you posted.


Best Feta in Columbus

Mediterranean Food Imports is my favorite ethnic market in the city. On the southwest corner of Dodridge and N. High the market has a wide variety of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food not easily found anywhere else in the city. Over the past 5 years it's been through several owners and now it seems to be the best it's ever been.

Their best product is probably their feta. They carry Egyptian, Bulgarian, French and Greek styles. The Egyptian is probably their best seller; it's the mildest and creamiest of all the varieties.

My second favorite staple of theirs is their variety of grains and legumes. Lentils of all varieties and any mesh size of cracked wheat you can imagine. They even have Israeli couscous (sometimes called Maftoul, a larger mesh size couscous, awesome for this dish). And, now, bonus, a muslim butcher is on board. They have halal meats including Merguez sausage, a Tunesian sausage that's spicy and wonderful. I first experienced this delicacy at a Moroccan restaurant in Paris several years ago. It was heavenly. I've never seen it anywhere in Columbus.

They also have a huge variety of olives, olive oil, labne, dolmados, etc. If you haven't been there, you're missing out on one of Columubus' finest food gems.

ps An interesting recipe using merguez sausage.


Not quite cold smoked salmon

salmonMy cold smoker mod kind of shit the bed. Click on the photo to bring you to the Flickr slideshow of the project to this point.

The major problem is I ended up smoking at 150-deg-F. Hot smoking is at 225-deg-F and cold smoking should be at about 80-deg-F. Alton Brown smokes his salmon at 150 for 5 hours and I did too. But, I was shooting for several days at 80 degrees. I think I have to make the heat source even further removed from the smoking chamber.

I'll take what I have, let it rest and see what it tastes like. Maybe it'll be good enough. Keep you posted.

Notes 06-Aug-2007:
1. The fish was un-frickin'-believable. A tad dry, but I rushed the brining because Frankie demanded we go bowling (like, really fast).

2. The heat source is a bit of a problem and I'm working on switching to a food-quality liquid wax to heat the wood to smoldering (as I'm writing this, I have a dry run going). This is because the hotplate, while effective, smolders the wood too fast. A 3" cube of mesquite decomposed completely in about 3-4 hours. If I turn the hotplate down lower, it doesn't smolder at all. Also, the hotplate heats too much and the design wasn't effective enough at dissipating the heat. Maybe it'd work if it were 30-deg-F. But I want to smoke year 'round.

I want a near thermal-free smoke source.

3. Anyway, I have a pound of wonderfully smoky salmon that we'll enjoy tomorrow night on a bed of greens with warm lentils on the side and a sesame/soy/rice vinegar dressing. Yum. Not a bad first shot.