Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Smoke Break...no no, not that kind...

Since the start of this summer, I've been telling myself, "OK, gotta smoke something on the smoker". I've had my smoker for about 2 years and have smoked turkeys, ribs, etc., but have always wanted to do a brisket. But, when you go to the wholesale clubs (Sam's & Costco), they always have these huge ones and those take a really loooong time to smoke. When I watch those Food Network bbq specials, you hear the experts talking about smoking the brisket for long hours, even overnight but hey, that's a little too long for me. So...I started looking for an alternative to brisket to satisfy this urge to smoke something. I told my wife, "you know, I always see those cheapie pork steaks at Foodland"..."might be good to experiment with". She told me that the wholesale club was probably cheaper. I made a mental note to go and check it out on the weekend. Meanwhile, during the week, I researched the internet and surprisingly found that smoking pork steaks are like smoking pork chops and they also have those country style pork ribs, which are pretty popular.
One web site defined country style ribs as:
"Country-style ribs are cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin. The meatiest variety of ribs, country-style ribs are sold either as “slabs” or in individual servings. These pork ribs are perfect for those who want to use a knife and fork."
Another site said:
(country style ribs are:) "Ribs taken from the blade end of the loin closest to the shoulder. Country-style ribs are meatier than other ribs but they are not as easy to eat, due to their bone structure and fat running through the meat. They include a minimum of 3 ribs and can be as many as 6 with bones or boneless."

I saw all of these web sites stating how good the results were when smoking country style ribs and how popular they were in some regions...seems that it's a regional thing as you can't get this cut in some places. The ones we get here are boneless and are these long meaty pieces...almost like cutting up a rib slab into individual pieces but the pieces are much more meatier.

OK, I was sold. At Sam's Club (when I went on the weekend), the price was great...I think it was about $1.96 per lb., which is pretty cheap. I think the tray I purchased was about 5 lbs or so. Didn't want to go too big as I didn't know how it would turn out. Researched on the internet for a dry rub. It's always the same kind of ingredients being used but everyone's proportions are different and everyone says that their version is the best (yeah, right). The heck with it...I decided to just make my own (by the way, I always go through this). Lots of paprika (had a new can from Williams-Sonoma that was received as a gift), coarse sea salt, some garlic powder, brown sugar, onion powder, cumin, a little cayenne (I go light on this as my youngest doesn't like it spicy :( ) , and couldn't find regular ground black pepper so I used the grinder for fresh ground black pepper. Mixed it all up and rubbed it on and placed the ribs in a ziploc overnight. Next day, I hunted down wood chips (couldn't find my regular ones so used this mix...supposedly for poultry...has a blend of mesquite, chardonnay & apple wood...couldn't see anything wrong with using it for pork) and got them soaking in water. Hooked up and prepped the smoker at about 12:30-ish. It's a vertical water smoker that uses gas (that means heat on the bottom and a water pan in-between that adds moisture for the smoking process). I put the ribs on at about 1:00.
Every hour, I added a mixture of water and a little bit of wine (found a bottle of merlot that my wife uses for spaghetti sauce in the fridge) to the water pan and chucked in wood chips every 20-30 minutes.
I wasn't sure how long to cook it but the sites were saying between 3-6 hours and pork should get about 160 degrees internally. So I went about 3 hours or so, just to be sure. Tested the pork with a thermometer and it was 180 degrees...too long??? Took it out and then I figured it would be great to finish off on the regular grill. My wife had grilled pork chops a couple of weeks ago and had done a pretty good tasting balsamic glaze/marinade (funny note: my youngest loved it...she thought it was chicken..ha ha) so I thought that might be good. I asked her to whip up a batch.
Here's a pic of it grilling:
And here's the finished product off the grill:
We didn't know whether to shred it like pulled pork or slice it. In the end we just sliced it.
I thought it kind of looked like char siu. Nice smoke ring. It tasted like pulled pork or kalua pig but with a sweet, slightly crispy outside. I think I went a little too long on the cooking time as it was a little dry, just a little. I know with pulled pork, sometimes they mix it up with bbq sauce...now that's an idea...serve it with sauce... Probably could have smoked it for only two hours. Overall not a bad try, I'm probably going to try again. After all, it's cheap enough and you get food for a couple of nights.


Reid said...

Gosh that looks delicious! I haven't used my grill in ages...I think it's time.

Anonymous said...

Nice try looks great but yes too fast,,dont worry I'm coming to Hawai soon to open up a good ole whole in da wall BBQ joint can you help I need a cool name what do you think of "da smoking Pig" or is that ?? thanks ,BBQ guy.

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