4.12.2008

In which I come clean.

I've been trying desperately to control my Weber kettle to achieve 250 +/- 25-deg-F. Using the minion method (link in the right margin) I've not been able to do it. The minion method was developed specifically for the Weber Smokey Mountain. I've tried many times to apply it to a simple 22.5" kettle with little success. I usually get a hot initial burn (ca. 300-350) followed by a slow cooling over 5-6 hours to a final temp around 250 (and then it needs tending). I thought I was getting closer by closing the dome vent, but the fuel still heated things up too hot. This was done with the intent of achieving a constant temperature, without tending to the fire for at least 8 hours (overnight). The only way I've been able to get the temperature close to my desired setpoint is by feeding just a few pieces of fuel into the side at a time. This requires some attention every 3-4 hours. Not bad, but not what I wanted. My excitement in the past has been hopeful and biased, trying so desperately to see what I wanted, I almost ignored the data.

I am hanging my head in shame and will go back to the drawing board.

Last night, I did a control. An oven-controlled constant 250-deg-F on a picnic roast (cheaper than a Boston butt) with a light rub for 8-10 hours. It looks sublime. I wrapped it in foil and tossed it in the fridge. Soccer today, later this afternoon, I'll warm it up a bit and pull it. Pics later.

What next?? A trip to the dark side - electric??? Good steady LOW temps, slow smoking chips, all the attributes of a good low smoked piece of meat with no fire tending. Choice of busy parents everywhere. Problem with that option? Excommunication from the hallowed halls of Weber. Really expensive. Low end Brinkmann's have problems maintaining high temps due to thin steel contstruction (could be addressed by loading up the inside with some thermal mass - and - don't know if Mrs. Dave's Beer will allow another piece of equipment in the yard. (hint, hint). If I could apply some smoke via my oven, it'd be perfect, but smoking indoors is pretty much, uh, deadly I think.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
While I ponder these life changing events, have a peek at a lazyman's oven-mediated "pulled pork" run:

picnic roast
Started with a 4 lb picnic roast. About $5. Picnic is a shoulder cut lower on the shoulder than the Boston butt. It cost about half what a Boston butt costs and the taste is about the same. It's bone in too. I always make pulled from bone-in roasts. Oh, it's also dusted with my basic rib rub.

picnic roast
Here's the roast after cooking at 250-deg-F in the oven for 10 hours. It was sitting in rendered pork fat. I saved the pork fat to add dabs in my lentils. The finished product looks very much like a bronzed glorious piece of bacon - only bigger. This was removed from the pool of pork fat and wrapped while I went to the soccer game (Mustangs v. Wizards, tiny tots soccer).

pulled pork
Voila. After it was wrapped and in the fridge a few hours, I warmed it back up until barely warm, unrapped and shredded it effortlessly in my fingers. I must say, it was not smoky but perfect texture and moist. I got about 2 lbs. yield - almost, had a few samples for QC. For a fatty bone-in roast, that was a decent yield. We're having it tonight on wheat rolls (no coleslaw though, darn) with slow cooked black beans and a salad.

2 comments:

mac said...

Get a bullet. I use the minion method, and I set it and forget it for 8 to 10 hours (except to check the water pan). I got the WSM as a gift about seven years ago, I had never heard of it and up until that point I had been pining for one of those heavy duty Brinkman horizinals at Weiland's. It is so easy to keep a fire in this thing, it's worth the money (I do think they're kinda pricey). I love my kettle grills, but the bullet rules.

Cheers.

Dave said...

Hey Mac, thanks for chiming in. Love your site. Given that the sky is falling, economically speaking, the infamous bullet's a bit of a luxury. Going to have to steal some library books and sell 'em on Ebay or something to scrounge up the cash.

Definitely on the wishlist though.