Friday, December 28, 2007

Useful Site - Cutting Board Care

I thought I'd pass on a link to this site as it has some good basic information on selecting cutting boards and how to care for them. The site is called "Cutting Boards, Chopping Blocks, and Butcher Blocks" - I recommend taking a look.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Smoked Turkey - My First Time

December 22, 2007

My first time smoking a turkey. I think it went pretty darn well overall. Got some tasty meat, and learned a few things along the way. Barbecue, like many other things, is something that you continually learn about - and the best way is to learn by doing.

In the end the meat was super moist, and had a nice light smoke flavor.

Lessons Learned:
  • If possible, get a fresh turkey - no hassle with thawing, and it just has to be better.
  • A 13 pound turkey is about the limit for my little Brinkmann smoker (this one is 12.71 pounds).
  • Don't brine so long - it was a little too salty in some of the meat closer to the surface (I'll try about 10 hours next time).
  • It is easier to deal with the cold when starting the cook - I had to wrap the smoker to get the meat up that last 8-10 degrees.
  • Don't let your wife put a hat (especially one of hers!) on you - even if it does have ear flaps and it is cold out. I'll stick to the baseball cap I had on all day, thank you.
  • The dogs know a good thing when they smell it - just don't turn your back on them!
The prep:

For this day I used a 12.71 pound frozen grocery store turkey.
Fully thawed bird and removed the neck and giblet bag.
At noon on the 21st I put the bird into a brine.

The morning of the 22nd I started up two chimney's of charcoal, and put a bunch of Oak chips into water to soak. Then I prep'd the rub, got my filler for filling the cavity and liquid for the injector all ready.

My rub this day was made up on the fly. I had been going back and forth on what to try, and in the end decided to go for simpler and made it up as I went along. This ended up being really ugly on the cold bird, but lovely after smoking for an hour.

The Brine:
1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water. I ended up needing about 3 1/2 gallons.

The Rub:
2 tablespoons salt
1/4 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 stick butter, melted

The Filler:
1 onion, quartered
2 pink lady apples, quartered
1 handful of dried cranberries

The Injector Liquid:
Apple Juice

First I tossed the cranberries on the bottom of the cavity, then alternated onion and apple till it was all stuffed.
I then injected with the apple juice. I have never done this before - not too hard to figure out.
Then I reheated the rub since the butter had hardened in the refrigerator and spread it over the bird. It wasn't quite enough to cover every part, but I did what I could. I also hardened as I put it on since the bird was still pretty cold. The bird sat for a bit to warm while I checked on the charcoal.

Here's the ugly bird with the rub on it just before going on the smoker (click image to enlarge):


It was sunny, but really cold (yes, really cold for a native Californian!), so I used both chimney's of charcoal, and thought I'd be smart and save myself some work later on and added some unlit charcoal on the edge of the pan on top of the lit stuff.

The theory was OK, but in reality it made the first hour hard. It was too darn hot. I opened the door, pulled the top off a lot - kept trying to let the heat out. Funny how when you need it hotter it won't happen, but when you don't need it hot, you can't cool it down. Finally I lifted the unit off the bottom and pulled a bunch of briquettes off. That did the trick!

At the one hour mark the internal temp was 250 F and the temp in the breast was 98 F.

Here's the bird at one hour (click to enlarge) - I was totally happy with the color on this. Looking good. At this point I thought I might actually pull this off.


At the two hour mark the internal temp was 225 F and the temp in the breast was 122 F.

At the two hour point the deep brown/caramel color really deepened (click to enlarge):


At the three hour mark the internal temp was 245 F and the temp in the breast was 137 F.

At three hours (click to enlarge) the color looked all set - now to slow cook and get the temperature up.


At the three and a half hour mark the breast temp was up to 140 F after having a drop in the smoker temp. Took a bit to get it back up.

Here (below, click to enlarge) I have covered the wings with foil because they were getting too brown.


At the four hour mark the shade was sneaking almost to the smoker and it was cooling off fast. The internal temp was 160 F and the temp in the breast was 141 F.

Tossed a little more smoke Oak just for fun (click to enlarge):


Things continued to cool, so I started some more charcoal - about 2/3 chimney. Put that in when it was ready, and the heat came up, but not enough to really hit deep in the bird. A slight breeze was blowing too.

So I got my really fancy wraps and draped them over the smoker - it isn't pretty, but it did the trick (see below, click to enlarge)!


With the smoker wrapped and some hot charcoal in the belly, the temp in the breast went from 171 to 181 in 45 minutes.


Pulled out the instant read to check a few other locations and I called this baby done!


Here's Mojo (one of our two Newfoundlands) with new found interest in what I am up to. Dontcha just love the hat? Jen was worried about me being cold so she pulled off my baseball hat and put this thing on me because it would cover my ears. Remind me to hide the camera next time...


Got the bird inside to carve up - yum!


Juicy and yummy. Everything just fell off the bones. Very tender, very juicy. Very happy. =)


We ate a bit to try it out. Not as much meat on a 12 pounder as I expected, but that's OK.

I bagged up some for each family to try out on Christmas day, and we will keep all the extra little tidbit for ourselves.


Jen thinks I should just do a number of breasts next time to get more meat for the work. Will have to try that sometime to see how it turns out.

So all in all a good day. I had my laptop out there with me so I could check the CBBQA forums and even make a few posts. The new thermometer worked out well. Only thing that would make it better is if it were dual probe. Got some yard work done and did lots of little things around the house - and ended up with some pretty darn good smoked turkey too.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What I want for Christmas

I'm not going to get it, but a 20" X 40" Klose Backyard Chef would be great!
Check out these fabulous units at http://www.bbqpits.com/. At $2,300 it is going to be some time before I am firing one of these up at home. Sure would be nice though.

I was lucky to get a new RediCheck thermometer this year! Only swung that because I'm smokin' this Turkey and it sure would be nice to know what the temp is! =) My last one (cheap model) died earlier this week. I am hoping this RediCheck serves me well for a long time (that doesn't mean I won't need another one sometime soon!). I wanted to get the dual probe model, but when you are a few days out from Christmas and it is 9:30 PM, you don't have the luxury of being too choosy. Luckily we ran into a Linens 'n Things and they had a really nice selection.

I also paid less than if I had gotten it at Barbeques Galore - I went to two different locations and they were all sold out. But
this did allow me to see the big San Diego store - MUCH larger than the one here in Escondido. A much larger selection of items to choose from. They also let me know that a brand new store just opened in 4S Ranch, which is between Escondido and San Diego. So I will need to check that out and see how large that location is.


So a small piece this year. I think I'll have to work up to the Klose - but it's good to have goals!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Workin the Bird

OK - my plans for this turkey keep changing as much as the amount of rain forecast in San Diego.

I've got the turkey thawed out, and it is now sitting in its brine bath. Never smoked a turkey, or done a brine before for that matter. So this should be interesting.

Wish me luck for tomorrow! =)

Monday, December 17, 2007

New Plan - Gotta Get Started

OK - so the bacon smoke will have to wait a little bit. There is some learning to do on curing and such before I jump into that. But it will be done.

I got some pork for Jen to use in a meat loaf - and thanks to the huge portions at Costco, there is some left over. So I am going to fire up the new Brinkmann and do a small little smoke to get back in the game. Photos and notes to come.

I'd better try this new equipment out at least once before Saturday - that's the day I'm doin' the turkey! (assuming of course that the bloody thing defrosts by then!) It had better defrost, because then it is off to a holiday gathering and right into X-Mas eve. Given the cold weather I don't think I'm going to have much time to brine it - yes, I know I said earlier I wasn't going to do a brine - but I think I've changed my mind. Of course, I might not have any say in the matter...

I'm going to whip up some rub that I am totally making up from scratch, pop some stuff in the cavity and go for it!

But first the pork...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My First CBBQA Event

I'm a new member to the California BBQ Association. Been watching the member forums trying to pick up a tip here and there and learn a few things.

They have these Backyard BBQ events. Similar to what our dog obedience club does called a Show & Go (the idea being that you bring your dog to this "dog show" where there are stewards and judges and everything like a real show - but it isn't. This gives you a good test of where your dog really stands.

Same idea with a Backyard BBQ event. They have a full set of Judges, Table Captains and a set number of teams. They have agreed ahead of time what the meats will be and publish the turn-in times. The Judges judge, and the winners win. Just like a real competition - but it isn't. So less stress, more fun, and a great chance to test your stuff and see how it stands up against other teams.

This event at the end of January will have 14 teams competing, 12 Judges, 2 Table Captains and a lot of meat, smoke and fun.

This will be my first CBBQA event, and I am signed up to be a Table Capitan, even though they are normally certified judges. Since this isn't a real event, rules can be bent. It should give me a good flavor of how these competition BBQ's go, and how the judging works. Should get some good foodand meet some nice people too. =)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Bacon!!

A posting today on the California BBQ Association Forum made my mouth water for bacon. It got me thinking and I decided that Bacon is what I want to try next on the ole smoker. Also thought it would be a great gift for folks that are cooking big family breakfasts for the holidays.

Here's the specific post

Now I am attempting to gather information on what, how, when and why - anything that will aid me in learning what to do to smoke some good bacon.

So if any of you readers out there have tips, tricks or whatever about smoking bacon - send them on as a comment to this post! I'll be sure to keep notes on what I do and post that up along with photos.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Itching

I'm itching to smoke or grill something. Anything!

This is San Diego County right? It never rains. It's never cold. Well, OK, so that's actually not too far from the truth. Did have a big day of rain Saturday - 1.75 inches in one day. Washed out the road again - nothing like being stranded.


But that's not what is keeping me from the coals and smoke wood. It has been a combination of things actually. Life has just been too crazy lately, and Jen has been doing more cooking (which is a good thing!). Therefore, less need for me to do it - and I like to grill when I'm doing the food -- with some smoking added in here and there. Work has been busy too. But things should slow down starting this week, as they always do in the holiday season.


I've got a 12 pound turkey in the freezer that I need to pick a day for. This will be my first time smoking a turkey - and my first time smoking in the new smoker most likely. Should be interesting!

So if anyone out there reading this has any tips for smoking a turkey, or a favorite rub, or... please drop me a note and let me know about it! I have been debating a brine - but I've never done that either! So I think I'll wait on the brine for another day.


Here is the What's Cooking America plan. What Smoking Meat.com has to say. And here are BBQ by Dan's ideas. I'm looking for other ideas, tips, etc.


Till next time...happy smoking!
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