Category Archives: Technique

The WSM Setup tests

Ok, so now that I have had my Weber Smokey Mountain for about 5 months, I figured it’s time to experiment with different setups.

The Control

So my default setup is to fill the charcoal ring 3/4 full. I then light a full charcoal chimney with coals and light it up. Once lit, I top off the charcoal ring for a minion method cook.

My vents are fully open because I have gasket seals on the whole smoker. I also fill the water bowl with about 4gal of water. This evens out at about 225 – 240 degrees.

Experimental Setup #1: No Water

So I have read online that a few people will cook without water. They leave the water bowl in and cover it in foil. I took this method and modified it a little. I put in an 18in pizza stone in the bowl and wrapped it in foil.

I am using Cowboy lump charcoal with the same ratios as before. 3/4 full and a full chimney. I left the vents fully open but this topped at 350. I pulled all three bottom vents down to 15-25% open (you can’t really be exact) and the temp dropped to 275. This is perfect for a fast cook ribs.

The pizza stone did not seem to make a big difference. But I’m keeping it in there anyway.

Conclusions

I think for long term cooking at a lower temperature keeping water in the basin is the way to go. I have trouble getting the smoker over 250° when the basin is full. This makes it more difficult to burn my food. Now if I want to go hot and fast the new water is definitely the way to go. I think the foil and the pizza stone act is a perfect deflector so that the meat does not get direct fire. The real takeaways from this experiment is that you shouldn’t be scared try new things with your own smoker. Try throwing firebricks in the bottom or try new kinds of woods while cooking. You never know what you may discover by changing things around a little bit.

Low and Slow BBQ at Home with Dr. BBQ himself, Ray Lampe

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A BBQ Class at home?

You heard right, almost every BBQ class that is out there require you to travel to the teacher and can cost upwards of $400-$600 dollars! Now don’t get me wrong, paying $600 dollars for a BBQ class gets you an inside look into how a competition BBQ team does its magic! That can be worth it’s weight in gold but to take the class in the comfort of your living room is priceless! This class isn’t $600 dollars, it isn’t even $60 dollars. It’s the insanely low price of $39.99! In fact it’s even on sale right now for $29.99! So let’s get into it.

What does it cover?

This class really covers everything you need to make your own rubs, sauces, and best of all smoked meats!

Lesson 1: Firing Up the Barbecue

This lesson covers what you need to know about the grills and smokers that you would use in cooking. He covers fuel sources, the basic kettle grill, ceramic smokers, and even pellet smokers.

Now you know I personally use a Weber Smokey Mountain in which I use charcoal. I have a few posts on maintaining heat on my offset smoker as well. This is something to pay attention to.

Lesson 2: Seasoning the Meat

Let’s jump right into flavor! Wood and seasonings are the way you can add flavor to the meat. Several woods types are covered including hardwoods and fruit woods. Then we move into the spices. The Doctor shows us how to make a good dry rub and talks about how to change it up.

This is the same process I went through when coming up with my flavor profile. Check out BBQ Flavor 101: Making a BBQ Rub for my take on this.

Lesson 3: Making Sauce

We jump right into a good and tangy BBQ sauce! He starts with a ketchup based sauce with several ingredients. He also covers a yummy South Carolina vinegar sauce. Here is my take on it: BBQ Flavor 201: Sweet BBQ Sauce also have a look at this awesome video, I really love the white sauce.

Lesson 4: Pulled Pork

Now this is where the fun begins! Pork butt is covered in all aspects, we learn how to clean it up and trim the fat, both home-style an even competition bbq! You get to learn about shoulder, picnic, and the incredible Money Muscle! Ray shows you three ways to serve the pork, chunks, pulled, and chopped. This is one of my personal favorites. I make it quite often. Have fun with this and through a party.

Lesson 5: Brisket

Brisket is always a scarey piece of meat to cook mainly due to it’s price, but don’t worry! Ray gives you all the info you need to smoke a good brisket. He covers meat choice, trimming, seasoning, and cooking.

We get a good lesson in trimming the fat for competition. Ray covers the muscles of a briskey and how to cut them. He also shows you two seasoning methods, Kansas City style and Texas style.

He takes the meat to a Fast Eddy FEC100 for 8-12 hours.

He presents slices and burnt ends, I’m hungry now… think I am going to do one of these this weekend.

Lesson 6: Ribs

Ahh ribs, we are going to see three cuts of ribs.

First we see baby back. This is the top part of the rib cage. We are shown how to trim the fat and pull the membrane off. We see a sweet rub added and then on to the spares. The spare ribs are the bottom part of the same ribs. Once trimmed they are good to go but if you don’t like the cartilage then you can do a St. Louis cut. You will end up with rib tips doing this, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

He cooks the ribs on the Fast Eddy as well. What a cooker!

Lesson 7: BBQ Chicken & Turkey

Whole chicken is cheap and tastes great! We are shown how to break the chicken down into halves and how to trim and cleanup chicken parts.

Ray covers brines as well. You want to brine for a few hours but be careful or you will end up with salty chicken.

We move on to cooking and the on to turkey!

Injection is the way Ray treats this turkey. He then adds aromatics as well as a bbq rub. He shows off a neat trick where he places a bag of ice on the white meat for 1 hour to help change the temp so that when it cooks, you don’t end up with overcooked, dry white meat.

This one gets cooked on a standard Weber kettle cooker!

What makes this class so special?

It really covers everything you need to find your passion for BBQ. Food, spices, sauces, and cooking techniques are all covered and with just enough detail to get you started. You also have direct access to Ray! Unless you are at a physical class, you won’t get this anywhere else! Ask a question in the class and he will personally answer it within a few days.

Sign up for the class by clicking on this link:

 Low & Slow BBQ at Home with Dr. BBQ, Ray Lampe

 

Just to let you know, this is one of my sponsors. I do get a commission if you choose to sign up. That shouldn’t sway you to buy this class nor should it sway you to not buy it. I have bought this class my self before being sponsored and I really think it’s worth it.

Helpful BBQ Resources

So every once and a while I will send out emails to the people on my list and I ask a short 5 question survey so I can keep track of what you guys are really looking for content wise. This past survey brought up some things that I wanted to answer right away.

I would like info on where maybe bbq classes are being offered

This is really dependent on where you live in the world. This list might help, some have their own class page others mix them in with the events pages.

USA

Canada

Australia

Affiliates:

If this conversation is getting you hungry, try out The Pig Of The Month Club They have Ribs, Pork, Sausage, Chicken, and many other meats all sent directly to you once each month! They also carry Rubs and Sauces for your enjoyment as well.

UK

External Resources

There are a few places other than my podcast that are giving out great info. Here is a list of resources that you might like.

And so the journey begins…

Off to become a CBJ!

So if you have been listening to my podcast then you probably heard Malcom Reed suggest that I try to become a Certified Barbecue Judge before I get in to competitions. So that’s where I am today!

I am going to see how much of the event I can record and maybe even get an episode or two out of the people there. I will take plenty of notes and will share as much information as I can.

So where is this going? I first want to get insight on what judges are going to be looking for, then I will look to actually judge at least one comp. Then my first competition!

What’s in it for you? You get to ride along with me and hopefully you try to do the same thing! Keep me posted if you are trying and let me know if you have questions.

Let’s do this!

How to make Sausage!

Awww yeah! I got the KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment for Stand Mixer with Bonus Sausage Stuffer for Christmas! And we are going to learn how to make our own sausage and smoke it of course!

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The grinder comes in pieces, so here is how to assemble it.

Putting the grinder together:

I will now show you step by step how to assemble the grinder.

Start by inserting the worm into the housing.

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It should fit in snuggly and it should not be sticking out.

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Then place the blade on the worm.

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Then the plate over the blade.

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Place the cap over the place and screw it on.

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The grinder came with two plates and a basic blade.

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I also got the extension kit that has 6 new plates and a bigger blade.

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In order to attach it to the mixer you first need to remove the extension guard.

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Unscrew the nob holding the plate on and it should just fall out exposing the gear inside.

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When you attach the grinder to the mixer, you should line up the divot on the grinder with the hole where the nob screws into.

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You are now ready to make your own ground meat and sausage!

Sausage Mix (Part 1)

So this is the first time I am making this so we will see how it goes. We are going to try a beef / pork blend. I chose Chuck Eye which is basically Ribeye just a little further down the rib. I also used a pork roast which is pork center loin cut.

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Start off by breaking the meat down into cubes.

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Then put the mixer on setting 4 and run the meat through the grinder twice. You will get a nice ground meat mix like this.

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Repeat the same process with the pork.

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Then add your seasonings. I recommend my Meat Rub but if you don’t have that, try this mix out:

Sausage Seasoning Mix

Depending on the amount of meat, you may need to double this. Heck multiply times 10 and keep the extra around, it’s not like you aren’t going to use it…

  • 1Tbl Salt
  • 1Tbl Crushed Black Pepper
  • 1Tbl Fennel Seed
  • 1Tbl Oregano
  • 1Tbl Thyme
  • 1Tbl Sage
  • 1Tbl Paprika
  • (Optional) 1 tbsp of Cayenne Pepper for some heat.

 

Sausage Mix (Part 2)

Ok now take the seasoning and mix it in by hand with both the pork and beef. Also take this time to mix the two meats together as well.

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Sausage Casings:

First things first. Lets clean out the grinder and remove the blade and plate. Now we can put on the sausage stuffing part of the grinder.

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First put on this part, sorry I don’t know what it’s called…

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Then put on the cone that the casing will go on and the meat will come out of.

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I am using natural casing. They are made from pig intestine and they come packed in salt.

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You want to pull one out and put it in a bowl of water that is heated to about 120 degrees.

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The casing needs to sit in there for about 5 to 10 minutes. Once it’s soft, find the end and slide it onto the sausage stuffer. Run the mixer at setting 4 again and let the sausage fill the casing. This part can take a while and is a bit messy but is well worth it in the long run.

Sausage stuffing time!

Final Results

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First Attempt:

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Footlong “Snack”

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So I added some oil to the pan and put it on medium heat.

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I browned it on all sides and made sure it was properly cooked. This is how it turned out! It tasted awesome! I am going to try and smoke the next batch!

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Crockpot BBQ – Brisket

I know, I know.. a crockpot is not a smoker but you can still get great food from it using the same food prep techniques and most people will love it just the same.

Affiliates:

If this conversation is getting you hungry, try out The Pig Of The Month Club They have Ribs, Pork, Sausage, Chicken, and many other meats all sent directly to you once each month! They also carry Rubs and Sauces for your enjoyment as well.
What you will need:

  • Brisket flat
  • Rub

Brisket top is when they take the brisket and cut it in half. You end up with just the flat part and not the point. It’s a lot easier to get prepped and cooks in half the time.

Brisket comes with a lot of fat on the top. You need to trim it down a bit. This video will explain what to look for when breaking it down:

Now its time to rub it down. Coat the whole brisket with rub.

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Throw it in the crockpot and let it sit on high for 5-7 hours. Once it’s done, it should fall apart and you should end up with a pile of deliciousness like this.

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Smoked Turkey Breast Redux!

Ok I promised a follow up so here we are. Just 3 weeks after the first attempt I am on to try number 2! This time a few things will be different.

First things first. I am cooking this breast along with a full sized turkey. I am not smoking the full turkey. I am cooking the turkeys using a few methods. First I am going to place both the full turkey and the separate breast in a brine for at least 24 hours.

What you will need for the brine:

  • 4 Qts Chicken or Turkey broth
  • 1 lb Kosher Salt
  • 1 lb Honey
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Onion Powder
  • Oregano
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Onion
  • Fresh Garlic Cloves
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Fresh Sage
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • 8 lb bag of ice
  • 5 Gal bucket

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Bring the broth to a boil and add the salt, honey, and herbs. Pour the mixture into the bucket and add all the ice. Now add the turkey, put the lid on it and put it in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Take it out, rinse it off, dry it with paper towels. Now for the flavor and fun.

What you will need for the turkey prep:

  • 1 Stick of soft / room temp butter
  • Fresh Sage
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Paprika
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Salt

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Mix all these guys together and stuff the herb butter under the skin.

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You now want to add a dusting of rub to the skin as well as any leftover butter. You will do this to the turkey breast as well.

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Full Turkey Quick Tip:

Before putting the turkey in the oven, cut a small slit in the skin under the leg. Tuck the tip of the wing in there. This will prevent it from burning.

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Now do everything in this video to the tee. You will thank me later.

 

Ok now moving to the smoker…

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You guessed it! Minon method again. I am using lump charcoal for this one because it burns hotter than briquettes with the same air flow. I want the smoker up at 285-300. I am smoking it for a few hours then I am going to foil it to keep it from drying out.

This is about 2 hours in. I am adding foil right after taking these pictures.

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At this point the temp was about 138. So I am thinking about 2-4 more hours. I am also adding more coals to crank it up to 350.

 

And here are your finished products:

Oven Roasted Turkey

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Smoked Turkey Breast

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Look at that smoke ring! Yum!

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Hit me up in the comments and let me know how your Thanksgiving turned out!

Pull That Pork Friend!

Ok I just realized that I haven’t made a post on pulled pork and that is kinda what I’m known for (if you know who I am and have had the chance to taste my food.) So yeah… time to pull some pork friends! Now, why would you want to look here for how to do this when so many other places tell you how to make pulled pork… because the secret to pulled pork is more than just cooking a pork butt (shoulder) to the point that you can pull it apart. It’s the flavor trick that I show you at the end that will set you apart from all the others out there. I am going to show you 2 ways to do this. One on an offset smoker like you see in the picture on the top of the blog, the other in a crockpot because sometimes you just can’t smoke a pork for six to eight hours…

Ok first things first. Make a rub. you are going to need a lot of it, please see BBQ Flavor 101: Making a BBQ Rub for details on that and turn all the teaspoons in to table spoons and double that and then maybe even double that again… trust me… Save a good amount of rub for latter as well. *wink wink*

Now I use a normal pork butt (bone in), you can use a pork picnic as well but a shoulder will do fine. Clean it up a bit, try to leave the top fat cap on but trim it down to about 1/4 of an inch thick. Once you pull it out of the package (unless you had a butcher cut it) rinse it off and dry it with paper towels. Once it’s dry add the rub. Don’t hold back on this! cover every inch of the sucker and rub it, no really push that rub on there. Don’t be scared, it’s already dead and won’t complain about the physical abuse.

Method 1: The Crockpot

Alright, I am starting with this because it’s the easiest… Put the freshly rubbed pork shoulder in the crockpot with nothing in it. Set it on high for 6-8 hours and then jump to the finishing section after the offset smoker instructions.

Method 2: The offset Smoker

Well hot damn, time to go about this the old fashioned way. Low and slow is the way to go with this one. I personally have a Charbroil Silver Smoker but any offset smoker will do. Make sure that you have a temperature gauge in it. I recommend the minion method for this one, I will feature a whole post on that later but basically create a layer of charcoal (unlit) in the offset portion of the smoker it should be about 30 briquettes. Place some wood chunks like Apple Wood or any other hard wood spaced out over the coals. Take about 10-15 more briquettes and light them up with the charcoal chimney. Once they are white put them in one corners of the offset section and make sure they are touching some of the unlit briquettes. This will allow a slow burn that should last a few hours.

Place the pork on the other side of the smoker and make sure you have a drip pan under it. You may also want to add a bowl of water to help keep the air moist. Let that go for about three hours every hour I would recommend using a spray bottle with some apple juice or apple cider vinegar, this will also help keep it from drying out. I don’t wont you opening the smoker doors more than that. As Aaron Franklin says “If you’er lookin’ you ain’t cookin’.” Once you are at the three hour point, you will have to refresh your charcoal pile. At this time you also are going to want to wrap your butt in foil. The pork really won’t take on any more smoke flavor at this point anyway. Once it’s wrapped keep it going for a few more hours. Pork is safe at 145 but you want it up around 185-190 internal so that all the fat and connective fibers break down and it pulls like butter 🙂

Finishing it off: Secret Tip!

Alright, now we are at the finish line! If you want pork that tastes like every other bbq chain restaurant then you are done at this time and it will be good but if you want the most amazing flavor you have ever had then take that left over rub and add it back to the pork as you are pulling and shredding it up. The pork looses flavor during the cooking and adding the rub after will take it from bland to Whammy-Bam!

Now slap a chunk of that in a bun and take some of your freshly made BBQ Sauce and slather that bad boy up. Take a bite and prepare for the food coma. Make sure you have plenty of people around to eat that pork up because you will feel like a fat ass if you end up trying to eat 8 pounds of pork in one sitting… trust me, you are going to try it 😉