Lately, I’ve been after some wings. This past Saturday, I picked up a pack of the super duper, organic, raised by Tibetan monks, lead a life of luxury type wings at Wegmans. This morning, I went outside and lit a chimney full of charcoal, dumped that in the bottom of the smoker, and added a bit more on top. In hindsight, I didn’t need the “bit more”. Oh well, live & learn. I really liked doing the wings because it required almost no attention whatsoever from me. I lit the coals, adjusted the vents once, assembled, pulled, then ate. My total time actively doing stuff, apart from eating, was maybe 10 minutes.
I ran the WSM without the water pan in place, dropped a chunk of hickory on top of the fully ashed over coals, and assembled the cooker. The wings were rubbed with the Weber Kick’N Chicken rub and put in place. I ran the smoker hot so the skin would be nice & crispy – 350F. About an hour later, I went out and checked the wings. They registered 163F, so I pulled them.
I sauced them with a mixture of 1/2c Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce and 1/3c wildflower honey. I think next time, I might do less of the wing sauce. Maybe a 50/50 split to tone down some of the heat. They were fantastic.
Wings, rubbed & smoked for an hour over hickory at 350F.
Sauced with a mix of Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce & Honey.
So, earlier this year, the best wife ever agreed to let me go out and get myself a smoker. I ended up deciding on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, 22.5″. I probably would have been fine with the smaller 18.5″ one, but figured since I wanted to try my hand at brisket, I’d go for the bigger one.
So, last weekend, I gave it a go for a brisket. This first brisket run wasn’t a full brisket. I just picked up a hunk of flat from the store. It was 2.68 lb at the start. I put it on at 10:30, hoping for a 15-16:00 sit down time. Since it was small, and I was planning on going slightly hotter that usual, at 275F, I figured I was in pretty good shape time-wise.
I loaded up the cooker with some good old Kingsford Blue, and dropped in 4 chunks of pecan. To that, I added about half a chimney of lit coals and assembled the cooker. I ran the cooker with the water pan installed, foiled, but empty. I had a bit of temp control difficulty, but I attribute that to me being new to using the WSM. In the end, it wasn’t a big deal.
I wrapped when the meat hit 155F, and was able to push through the stall without difficulty. I’d expect more difficulty with a full packer brisket stalling out. At 14:15, I’d hit 203F, so I pulled the brisket, and wrapped it in a new layer of foil and a beach towel for an hour’s rest on the counter. Then, we came, we sliced, we ate. And it was good. I even took advantage of my time waiting for it to cook and made a snazzy Excel template for tracking smokes like this.
Rubbed and ready…
Getting the cooker ready…
Out of the foil..
Cross-section after a slice.. Look at that smoke ring!
My wife, who is awesome by the way, got me an iGrill v2 for Christmas. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a probe thermometer that speaks to an app that runs on your iPhone, iPad or Android device using Bluetooth. Like most electronics, it’s not fond of getting wet.
So, I decided to build a housing for it that would protect it from rain, allow the probes to get out, and could be attached to a post underneath our deck. I picked up a Rubbermaid food storage container at Target. I got the 14 cup version.
I then hit the Lowes down the road, where I got a stainless screw and washers, and a galvanized (not stainless!) metal strap. Don’t buy a stainless strap, since you want the magnet in the back of the iGrill to stick to it. I also grabbed a water-tight electric conduit fitting for the probe outlet.
I taped and then drilled a 1″ hole in the side of the container and installed the conduit fitting. I lined up and drilled another hole in the back for the mounting screw. The strap is being held in place by the screw and held steady by some silicone caulk. You can see a little squeeze-out below.
Early this morning, Heather & I were talking about plans for today.. It was then that we realized we had absolutely nothing planned, including dinner. Since we had planned nothing, we neglected to take anything out of the freezer to defrost. So, I trotted off to Wegmans this morning to see what struck me. As I perused the meat case, a pile of tri-tips were being freshly put out. Hmm.. Tri-tip. It’s been forever since I’ve had any, and I’ve never actually cooked it myself, though I’ve been interested in doing so. As an added bonus, this would afford me the opportunity to play around with the iGrill2 that Heather gave me for Christmas. Have I mentioned how amazing my wife is?
So, I rubbed the tri-tip with a store-bought mix of kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper and garlic and stashed it in the fridge. Later, I loaded up the smoker box with hickory chips, got the grill going at about 225F and then loaded up the meat. We did a reverse sear on this tri-tip. For those who don’t know, searing first, then finishing over indirect heat makes for a less evenly cooked piece of meat than if you flip the process around. Roast/indirect cook first, then sear second. While we’re at it, let’s shoot the notion of “sealing in the juices” right between the eyes. This has been debunked multiple times, just let it die, ok? I set the iGrill’s alarm for 120F, at which point I’d pull and rest the meat. This took almost 90 minutes to get from 40F up to 120F, at which time, I pulled the meat and chucked the tater tots in the oven for 20 minutes. During the 10-minute rest, I cranked up all the burners on the grill to high to get everything nice & hot. By the time the 10 minutes was up, the grill was up to 650F, and the roast went back on for a blast of heat that made a crust that would have made Dr. Maillard proud.
After a nice crust was laid upon the meat, I sliced it against the grain to maximize the tenderness, and served it with the tots and some warmed up olive oil & rosemary rolls I also picked up at Wegmans. We have plenty of leftovers, which will probably end up as tacos in the next few days. Future yum.
Tri-tip rubbed and ready…
iGrill2 hanging out
From the iGrill app. Strangely, I only had 1 probe plugged in, yet all 4 registered temp. I’ve got an email in to their support to see what’s up…
My wife & I were pondering options for lunch today. On the weekends, we tend to eat the larger meal for lunch and a smaller dinner. Today, we settled on meatloaf, garlic mashed red potatoes and peas. Rather than our usual broil & bake process, I decided to do the meatloaf on the grill, as it was a lovely day outside.
We shamelessly lifted this recipe from the nice folks at Cooks Country, and re-adapted this slightly. Ordinarily, we make this as described below, using very lean ground beef with ground pork. Today, we just had beef on hand, so we went all beef, but used higher-fat content on the ground beef to make up for the lack of pork.
Make the glaze first…
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you like)
2 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon hot sauce
Put all that in a small saucepan. Mix, and heat to combine & thicken over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Put some glaze to the side to use while cooking. You should be fine reserving about ¼ cup to glaze with. What hot sauce? Whatever you want. You can’t go wrong with Frank’s RedHot. This time, I used the Tobasco Chipotle sauce for a slight amount of heat, and more smokey flavor. I’ve also read tales of people using Sriracha as well. I also used dark brown sugar today, and really liked the overall flavor.
On to the meatloaf…
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup Saltine crackers, crushed (about 17 crackers)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 pound 90/10 ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 large whole eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
Put the oil in the pan, heat it up over medium heat, add the onion. In about 8 minutes, you’ll have nice, golden brown & delicious onions. Add the garlic, keep it on the heat for another 30 seconds. Done? Into a large bowl with that veg.
Dump your crackers and milk in the food processor and unleash the blades upon them until it’s a smooth mixture. Add the meat and pulse to combine nicely.. That should be about 10 1-second pulses. Dump the resulting meat-goo into the bowl with the veggies. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it all up. Get in there with your hands and work that meatloaf. Get everything nice & combined, but don’t over-work too badly, ok?
Here’s where we diverge from Bridget Lancaster’s officially sanctioned cooking method.. Instead of forming a single loaf on a foil-lined sheet pan, we’re going to cut the mix in half, making two smaller loaves. This cooking method is similar to the also popular Weber recipe for grilled meatloaf.
Setup the grill for indirect cooking. You want to get that grill stable at about 350F. For me, I’m cooking on a Weber Genesis E-330, and I’ve got the optional smoker box kit installed. So, I kick on the right and center burners, and keep them just about 1/3 of the way between low & medium on the dials. For a bit of extra flavor, I dropped in a wood chunk. Today, I went for Hickory, since it pairs so nicely with beef. Before long, the grill was ready, and blue smoke was rising from the smoker box. Success was mine for the taking. I lightly oiled up the grill and with a couple of spatulas, I deposited the meatloaves on the far left side, where the burner was completely turned off. Down went the cover, and I set a timer for 30 minutes to check on progress. At the 30 minute mark, we were at an internal temp of 120F. I was looking for 155F, so we carried on. While I had the grill open, I applied a coating of the glaze that I’d reserved earlier. At the 45 minute mark, they were at 155F, and it was time to pull them. It would have probably only been 40 minutes, but I don’t currently have a probe thermometer, and was relying on our instant-read, so I had to keep popping the top to get a reading.
As an aside, if any of the super nice people over at iDevices happen to be reading this, I’d sing of your glory and valor forever if you’d send me an iGrill2. 🙂 I’d love to get my hands on one with 3 probes and an ambient temp probe as well. But I digress, and that’s enough begging for today.
After pulling the loaves at 155F, I put them on a foil-lined sheet pan, applied another coat of the glaze, and then it was off to the broiler. I put the spurs to them for about 5 minutes, to make a nicely caramelized and delicious crust on top. We pulled, rested a bit, sliced and served with the remaining glaze. I think next time I would broil first without the glaze on, then go to the grill. But, that’s just a minor difference, really.
It was absolutely delicious. I could see making meatloaf sandwiches out of this recipe too. Yum part two, revenge of the taste buds…