Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WSM Smoked Pork Butt

I know this isn't wood working, or even bushcraft, or even something that I threw together in the garage one night, but my last post is tied directly to this one, so here we go.

Barbecue is one of those things that I never get tired of eating.  Ribs, pulled pork, chicken, beef, you name it, if it is cooked over charcoals I love it.  There is something special about cooking on a grill, food just seems to taste better, at least to me.  I've been wanting to get a smoker for quite a while.  My gas grill needed to be replaced anyway, so instead of getting another grill, I decided on the Weber Smokey Mountain.  I got the 22.5 inch model, I figured you can cook small things on a big grill, but it doesn't work the other way around.

My first cook on the WSM was three racks of spare ribs, and while they came out pretty good, it wasn't the best thing to start with.  A brand new WSM runs a bit hot, and I think ribs are much more unforgiving when it comes to temperature changes and such.  I need more practice just using it, so we will revisit ribs another day.  Technically this was my second cook on my WSM, but I tried to focus on the details and make sure it came out right.

I loaded the charcoal ring with a full load of Kingsford charcoal to get this party started.  I had a few pieces of dried Oak laying around that I cut into small pieces and split in half.  I spaced them evenly on top of the coals.

On top of these unlit coals I added half a chimney full of white hot coals and assembled the smoker.  It should be noted that I filled the water pan with water, despite learning that you don't have to use water, I thought that for the first few cooks I would use it.

Yes, I know that gas grill is dirty.  Yes, I know it is REALLY dirty.  I'm a bad grill owner, sue me.

I put the lid on the smoker, opened the top vent all the way open, made sure the bottom vents were open as well and let it come up to temperature.  I closed the bottom vents almost all the way when it hit 225 on the dome thermometer, and it stabilized at about 250 pretty soon after.  With nothing else to do, I took a deep breath and put the two seven pound butts on the smoker, closed the lid, said a prayer to the temperature gods and closed it up for 6 hours.

I got boneless butts, I just didn't read the package well enough.   I tied these with a few loops of natural fiber string.  When the butcher takes the bone out of the butt he leaves a large flap of meat in its place.  You have to tie these back together so you get equal cooking across the whole butt.  Next time I will find bone in butts for sure.  I had opened the butts the night before, seasoned them with a mixture of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder and left them in the fridge over night.  I made some home made dry rub, heavy on the brown sugar, with no extra salt added. I used black pepper, brown sugar, raw sugar, paprika, cayenne pepper, and some chili powder in my rub.

When I checked the butts after 6 hours of cooking, with me only making small adjustments on the vents to move the temperature around a bit, I took them off after making sure that I had hit an internal temp of 165.  I brought them in the house and wrapped them with aluminum foil.

I sprayed them with apple juice and wrapped them tight.  They went back on the grill and cooked for another 3 hours before I opened the grill again.  My plan was to check the temperature and then have them cook another hour or so.  When I checked it though, they were both sitting at the 200 degree mark and I knew they were done.  I pulled them off the grill, vented the foil just a bit to allow them to cool some, then re-wrapped them and let them sit for 2 hours.

I pulled them and just mixed a little of the rendered juices back in and finally after a 9 hour cook plus 1 hour of prep and 2 hours of rest, I had more pulled pork that I knew what to do with.  

I made some home made cole slaw and baked beans as side dishes, and everyone just loved it.  Even my daughter who is notoriously picky when it comes to food.  My neighbors liked it as well.  I was pretty proud of myself and look forward to my next cook.  I'm thinking of making some smoked macaroni and cheese, and maybe some pulled beef.  I can't wait.  Go make some food!  Remember, the most important ingredient is always love, add plenty of that and you can't go wrong.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Just a Spoon

I've been noticing a trend lately in the spoon carving world.  I think its a natural thing but the complexity and amount of decoration is rapidly getting out of control.  On one hand I think its a good thing, it shows that the craft is progressing and that people are stepping away from just making spoons and moving into the world of spoons as art.  Allowing people to express themselves creatively through their craft is a great thing.  On the other hand though, I think that this movement toward decorative spoons can be intimidating for the new spoon carver.  I mean how are they supposed to even come close to the chip carving and kolrosing techniques of the master spoon carvers?

Getting into the game of trying to see who can make a better spoon doesn't interest me.  I carve spoons to use, to cook with, to stir a pot of food that I made for my family to eat.  I have a spoon on my desk, in a jar, that Barn Carder made for me a while ago, and to be honest, I can't bring myself to use it.  Now, if you ask Barn, he would probably say to get it out and use it right away.  Because that is what a spoon is, its a tool, a utensil, it is made to be used.  I think though, that if I had one of those highly decorated spoons I wouldn't want to use it either, and frankly that's a shame.

I haven't carved a spoon in a while, I mean a long while.  I can't even tell you why, there are a bunch of reasons I think, but at the end of the day, its because I let life get in the way.  I found my way back, and although I may not be carving a spoon a day or anything, I've picked up my knives, sharpened them, and am carving again.

My latest spoon shows what happens when you don't carve for a while, techniques and tricks that you had learned sort of go by the wayside.  It has some shape issues, some handle issues (like always) and its not the prettiest thing to look at, but it will stir a pot just fine!

Its been a busy few days around the house here, we are getting some painting done, both inside and out.  My clean garage is filled again, and I need to get out there and get it straightened up.  It is what it is, life goes on, go make something with you hands, you'll feel better!