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Tonight, We Smoke!

I have obtained a smoker from Lowes.  I decided to go with a Brinkman charcoal smoker, mostly because it was cheap, and I didn’t want to invest a lot of money.  I have a habit of buying toys that I use a few times, and then just take up space.

Tonight we will be making Memphis style dry ribs, with a little Jack Daniels BBQ sauce that I have found a recipe for on the side, along with corn on the cob, and some cole slaw.  Bitter will post the recipe later on her food blog.

UPDATE: Could be heard emanating from my house today, “How the hell is it that you have to be shown how to get charcoal going by a damned Yankee?”  Considering this, and the fact that she doesn’t like Carolina BBQ, we might have to revoke Bitter’s southern credentials.   But then again, on her mother’s side, she does have the Davis family.  Yes, that Davis family.  So I guess that trumps not knowing how to light charcoal :)

UPDATE: Ate the ribs.  While I could identify the ribs as BBQ — as they had a nice smoke ring, had a delightful smokey flavor, and fell off the bones fairly well — the rub was problematic.   The rub was heavy in brown sugar, which rather than form a nice, caramelized crust on the outside, formed tough, charred exterior, which did not taste all that good.  Ribs don’t have enough meat on them to sacrifice the exterior layer.

I used hardwood lump charcoal to power the BBQ, and while think this good for providing flavor, it also burns through very quickly, and does not burn all that consistently.  I had a hard time maintaining temperature in the ideal range.  It’d get too cool, I’d add more coals, and it would get too hot.  I think I probably got the temperature a bit too much on the hot side for too long.  I’m thinking that f0r smoking, Kingsford might actually be the best, since the smoke is provided more by the wood chips than the by coals.  If I were to try again, I’d reduce the amount of sugar in the rub, and use a more consistent burning charcoal.

16 Responses to “Tonight, We Smoke!”

  1. Boyd says:

    Good luck! Getting it right is hard work that requires a lot of repetition. Fortunately, you get to eat the product of that hard work.

  2. That’s the smoker I have. Warning: You will almost surely have to add more charcoal, so do NOT use auto-light, or your food will taste like charcoal fluid.

    I’ll take low-country vinegar and red pepper or South Carolina Gold, but keep any nasty tomato-based sauce, and God save us from Texas “barbecue.”

  3. Sebastian says:

    Carolina style BBQ is not my favorite, but I like it. It lets more of the flavor of the meat come through.

  4. Sebastian says:

    Yes. Definitely. Fortunately I already have one from when I had a charcoal grill.

  5. Arnie says:

    You mean President Jefferson Davis? Hubba bubba! Does she have a sister who is single? Sigh!

  6. BillH says:

    you realize that your name is now on the carbon-terrorist watch list… if you get your name on too many lists, one of these days some bureaucrat is going to get BINGO on your card, then it’s off to the camp with ya.

  7. teqjack says:

    Love grilled foods.

    While charcoal has been around for thousands of years, those “briquettes” for the grill are fairly new. Thank Ford Motor Company. Seems making cars produces a lot of charcoal dust: not just messy, but expensive to get rid of. Henry insisted something be done, and his employees came up with making a sludge which could be compressed and dried for cheaper disposal. Then people started taking the stuff home… and a market opportunity was recognized.

  8. OrangeNeckInNY says:

    Did you get the smoker with the firebox on the side or did you light the charcoal right under the ribs in the main part of the smoker?

    If you had a firebox on the side, you could have maintained a 200 to 225 degree temperature in the main unit for a good 6 hours and you wouldn’t have a burnt brown sugar coating on your ribs.

    If you had the charcoal directly under the meat, well yeah, it’s going to burn the sugar as the temperature of the charcoals using direct heat is way too hot.

    I was looking into getting a Brinkmann smoker with the chimney on one end and the firebox on the opposite end. I could make a ton of ribs with that baby.

  9. Sugar? Away! Away! No ketchup or sugar! NEVER!

    And the fire in this smoker is directly below the meat, but the fire is at the bottom, and the meat is at the top. The smoker at the top never gets above 250 at the most after the coals have burned down.

  10. hsoi says:

    If you can find it in your area, consider getting real lump charcoal for use while the fire is already burning. Using things like Kingsford have some chemicals (binders, etc.) that could contribute to undesired flavors. So usually if you’re going to use them, you’d want to use something like a chimney starter to get them burned down a bit before adding them. Certainly avoid any of the ones with fluid already impregnated within (e.g. Match Light).

    But if you can find true lump charcoal, that works great because it’s nothing but wood charcoal. Just throw it on and off you go. Even better if it’s made from the wood that you prefer to use for smoking.

  11. Sevesteen says:

    I’ve smoked for a couple years with a drum-type charcoal smoker/grill, with a side firebox. I was recently given a gas box-type smoker. Lots easier to control the temperature with gas and get more consistent results.

    When using the charcoal smoker, I’d sometimes start with Matchlight, but I’d also have regular charcoal to add later. I kept a couple of metal cans that had previously had all their coatings and labels burned off. One would get damp chips, one would get chips and about half full of water, one would get chips and full of water, and they went over the fire. Adjust the amount of water so the half-full one starts to smoke before the damp one quits smoking. When a can quits smoking, it gets emptied, then replaced with more chips and water.

    I’m not good enough to keep a rub or sauce from scorching with charcoal, so I just smoke the meat and add extra flavor later.

  12. Sebastian says:

    It’s a vertical arrangement smoker, which means you get indirect heat through height above the fire. The firebox doesn’t let in enough air to allow the coals to get really roaring hot, so it’s supposed to maintain BBQ temperature of about 250 degrees.

  13. Ken says:

    One of my best friends makes a fantastic dry rub. I don’t think there’s _any_ sugar in it; I’ll check with him to be sure, though. Let you know what he tells me.

  14. Sigivald says:

    Look in y’all’s kitchen.

    See that big metal thing with the window, and the burny things on top of it?

    Yeah, I think it’s called an “oven”.

    It produces a superlatively consistent nice and low (by BBQ standards) temperature for effectively unlimited periods, and you can put damp chips in below the meat, to smoke it, if you turn the fans up real high.

    Just sayin’.

    • Bitter says:

      Sigivald, you presume our oven works that well. :) I’m pretty sure the oven is as old as I am. The only temperature setting that can still be read on the dial is 400, so I can cook things based on a guesstimate if it needs to be cooked between 350-450. (Of course, anything above 400 sets off the smoke detectors automatically.)

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