Monday, October 7, 2013

I Like Big Butts And I Cannot Lie.....Breasts too!

We decided to have a bunch of friends over on Sunday to watch the 49ers play the Texans on Sunday Night Football. Kathy & I are always game for an opportunity to entertain but if I get the opportunity to make it less work for her by doing a big part of the cooking, so much the better. In keeping with that and my desire to further hone my ability to run my new smoker I jumped at the chance to make some pulled pork sandwiches for the assembled crowd.

While I'm still working on trying to find the happy place with this cooker with respect to Low & Slow type cooking (~225deg range) I've quickly found the process for maintaining the cooker in the ~300-325deg range which is ideal for the "Hot & Fast" style of BBQ cookery which is gaining in popularity. Doing so allowed me to sleep in a bit on Sunday which I rarely shy away from and allowed me to get started at ~9am for a ~6hr cook instead of staying up all night for a ~13hr cook.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A New Smoker & A Quick Weeknight Cook

I'd been working with an old, inexpensive offset smoker for years. With a number of modifications I'd figured out how to get it to produce some pretty good BBQ. But, by virtue of it's cheap materials and how it was constructed it was horribly inefficient, it had seriously broad temperature variations in the cooking chamber, and it was very difficult to maintain reasonably consistent temperatures.  All of which should be expected of any of this sort of "Cheap Offset Smoker". See HERE for an detailed explanation as to why.

So decided to bite the bullet and purchase a quality offset smoker designed to run purely on wood or a "Stickburner" as they are called by the broad BBQ community. The type of smoker I was looking for had to be made of 1/4" thick steel, have reasonably consistent internal temps or a means of controlling/adjusting them and meet my expectations for quality workmanship. I'd considered a pellet smoker but decided that I rather enjoy the process of tending to the fire. Also of concern was the number of potential failure points in a pellet smoker what with electronic controls, motors, electric igniters etc. I shopped around, asked a bunch of questions on various forums and decided to purchase a 36" Lang Patio Model . It has just about the same total internal space as my previous smoker, but due to the consistent internal temps it has much more actual useable space. On the old cooker ~1/3 of the space was far too hot to use.

Most cookers in this category use tuning plates to control the internal temperature. The Lang however is a reverse flow design that provides the same result without having to adjust tuning plates relative to the temperature you wish to cook at. I was able to speak directly with the owner of the company, Ben Lang, who answered all of my questions and even made some custom modifications to the smoker that I wanted. The lead time from order to delivery was about 4wks and while the shipping wasn't cheap, it worked out to less than $1 per pound. I couldn't ship a pound of CA Apricots to Georgia for less than that. Every person I dealt with at Lang was really pleasant to deal with and they provided a very nicely constructed smoker at a price I felt good about.