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Tag Archives: Weber kettle grill

New twist on dry rub

So, as I wrote yesterday, I picked up a shitload of Boston Butts because the price was just too good to pass up.

I decided to smoke one of them, even though, by putting it in the Weber at 11:45 am, it wouldn’t be ready until close to midnight.

As I was pondering what kind of dry rub I’d put together (I was out of my normal mix), and, as one hand was raising the Young’s Double Chocolate Stout to my lips and the other was reaching for a bag of French Onion SunChips, I had a flash of genius.

What if I took a handful of SunChips and ground them into dust in my spice grinder and use that as the base for my rub instead of brown sugar? And how about just rubbing it on the pork instead of using a carrier like palm sugar or molasses?

So I set to work putting together the new rub. I only made enough for one butt so I only needed about 5 chips. I ground them up in the ole Krups coffee grinder that I keep for such purposes. I then took  2 dried chipotles and 1 dried cascobel pepper and ground them as well. I added some cumin, chili powder, turmeric, paprika, a little garlic powder, some coriander, a few turns of black pepper and some salt that I infused with dried sage from my windowbox about 2 months ago. I then added some of the secret ingredient that I talked about in my post earlier this summer about dried rub.

Patted the pork down with the rub without any sort of carrier. Got it on the Weber by a quarter til noon.

This was the first time ever that I didn’t take a single temperature, either air or meat. I pretty much know now that I can hit it with lots of heat upfront as long as I throw a few wood chips on the coals every hour or so. I had 2 hickory chunks to start. After about an hour, I threw some small alder chips directly on the coals and continued to do that every hour. When I augmented the fire the first time after about 2 hours, I did about a third of a chimney starter with 2 more chunks of hickory. That lasted another hour or so, at which point I did 3/4s of a chimney and let it rock for another couple of hours.

After about 5 hours in, smoke doesn’t really add a lot more flavor, so I took the butt off and put it on my kitchen oven at 250 and went off and forgot about it. I know that it’s going to be around 1 1/2 – 2 hours per pound, so this 6+ pound Boston Butt was going to take around 12 hours. That didn’t stop me from checking it around 10:30 though, because these hunks of meat are known for being a little unpredictable.

I was looking for around 195 – 200 internal temperature, which is about the perfect pulling temperature. So, how did I check the temperature without a thermometer? Fortunately the Boston Butt has a natural, built-in pop up thermometer.  When the blade bone slides out easily, it’s done. It’s like ribs in that the meat shrinks from the tip of the bone, leaving a convenient handle. I basically try to lift it up using the bone. If the bone doesn’t come out, it’s not ready, unlike ribs, where you actually don’t want to wait quite that long because most people like a little “tug” on the bone when they eat it. For pulled pork, you want the fat to be virtually completely rendered so that the meat almost flakes apart. Some people like to cook it less and serve it sliced like a brisket. If that’s the case, then you only want to go to about 180-185 (the pork won’t “pull” at that temperature).

Anyway, around 10:30, I could tell that it was getting close. It’s a funny thing – if you only go to 180, it will seem kind of hard and dry if you poke it, but as soon as a little runaway fat rendering starts taking place as the temperature rises, it will start to sizzle a little and it gets a little softer. That’s how I knew that it wouldn’t be too long at that point. When I picked it up by the bone, there was a little give but it didn’t slide out. I checked it again at 11:00 and it was about the same. At 11:30, it slid right out. Perfect.

It pulled perfectly and I got a really nice black bark as well. I had a nice smoke ring on most of it as well.

I liked the rub so much that I think I’m going to try a 100% SunChips rub the next time to see how that tastes.

So, if you’re looking for something a little bit different, you might want to try this yourself. I’ve since found out that some people have used BBQ potato chips the same way when cooking chicken. so that might be worth checking out as well.

Oh yeah, forgot. I also took some pale ale and rub and hit the butt 3 times. Normally I would have used a mister or a little mop, but I had neither handy, so I just carefully poured it over the top, being care not to wash off the existing rub.

Kitchen tool of the day – Weber grill

No, silly, I don’t have one of these in my kitchen.

Weber 22

But it is only inches from my kitchen, since my little porch is adjacent to my kitchen. There’s only a wall and few inches from the fridge. It’s a 22.5″ Weber “Silver” kettle grill.

This icon of American culture is almost 58 years old, having been invented 2 years after the midway point of the 20th century. It became a symbol of American prosperity, being ubiquitous in suburban backyards in the 50s and 60s. Later, gas grills became fashionable and many families installed permanent gas grills in their backyards (as my own family did). The Weber became a bit “old-fashioned’ but remained an industrial example of form fitting function and  simplicity itself. Its shape and color (for many years, you could get it in any color as long as it was black) is almost perfection itself.

Despite selling more than any other grill in America by a long shot, most people don’t realize that it began life as the halves of bouys used in Lake Michigan. George Stephen, a co-owner of the Weber Brothers Metal Works and metal worker himself, had an epiphany while trying to work out the perfect grill for his own backyard. By cutting in half spheres that he had been constructing for buoy manufacturers, he realized that the dome shape was perfect for containing heat and protecting from wind and if you put a grill in the center, there would be plenty of room for coals in the bottom. If he fabricated movable vents on the top and the bottom, airflow could be controlled and heat and coals could be managed for even temperatures and smoke would have an exit point. And it was a breeze to weld on some leg sleeves and add legs and wheels for easy transport. He could even fabricate a dish between the legs to allow for easy disposal of ashes (later to be refined into a closed box).

And, voila! the Weber grill was born.

gourmet_201

Picture courtesy of www.foodbeast.com

This became a visual that was very familiar to those growing up in the 50s and 60s. Dad with his apron, tongs and long forks tending the grill while wifey and kiddies lounged around waiting for the burgers, hot dogs and steaks to cook. A bag of briquettes was leaning in a corner somewhere and the family dog was running around chasing birds and little children.

The Weber seemed to get a re-birth in the 90s after being out of favor for a while. Part of it was nostalgia, part of it was a realization that it was an inexpensive but well-built grill with a purpose. Despite competition from more sophisticated grill/smokers with sideboxes for wood and built in thermometers, huge gas grills that would rival some commercial kitchens’ equipment (Weber also making some of these), the Weber is more more popular than ever.

They make sizes ranging from table-top models perfect for small scale tailgating, to the huge (and expensive) 37 3/4 inch “Ranch” version. There are models that have been integrated into rolling tables, and now, there are all sorts of designer colors that you can choose from, although I think that black is perfection itself.

ranch-lrg_1885

The Ranch in action

While Weber offers a both a 18.5″ and a 22.5″ version of the kettle grill, I recommend that you stick with the 22.5 model. It’s only about $20 more than the smaller model and doesn’t really take up any more space. You’ll really want the extra grilling surface. They actually make a model between the $700 Ranch and the 22.5″, the 26.75 inch grill, but it will set you back about $150 more than the 22.5″. Unless you do really large volume grilling and you have the money to burn (pardon the pun), I suggest that you’ll be happy with the 22.5″ model. I use the less expensive model pictured above, the ‘Silver”, It has a simple dish-shaped pan for ash collection. You can certainly spend another $40 and get the “Gold” model, which has an enclosed ash collection system. It’s a little neater solution to ash disposal.

While most people use it for simple open-top grilling of things like hot dogs, steaks and burgers, the kettle is great for smoking using indirect heat (you don’t really want to cook steaks and burgers under the closed lid because it’s not necessary and you want to control flare-ups). This is a technique where you pile the coals on one side of the grill and put the meat to be smoked on the opposite side and keep the lid closed except when you add coals and spritz your meat. Some people even put a drip pan under the meat to help facilitate cleanup and to add moisture and steam.

There are two things that you should get if you are doing a lot of smoking. One is a hinged grill (some models come with them):

Weber hinged grillThis allows you to add coals for indirect heating without disturbing the meat that you’re cooking.

The other thing that you might consider is this handy little thing (it will set you back around $50):

Amazon_Smokenator_1000

http://www.smokenator.com/default.htm

This little charcoal basket is specially designed to get the most out of your coals. It extends the life of the coals by enclosing them. There’s a handy little container for adding liquids like beer, wine or fruit juices that can help infuse the meat with additional flavor. When you use one of these, you don’t have to add coals nearly as often and you’re able to leave the lid on longer, thereby preventing heat from escaping.

The kettle is also useful for adding smoke flavor to barbeque beans, seafood and veggies.

Even if you already have a gas grill, spending $90 – $150 for a Weber kettle is a great investment as, with proper care, it can last you for years.

Don’t settle for cheap imitators. The Weber is made from thick stainless steel and is coated with a baked-on porcelain enamel, not simple paint. They aren’t that much more expensive than the cheap imitators and they are much better built and long-lived.

You should also invest in one of these:

Weber cover

All hail the venerable Weber!