Sunday, April 27, 2014

Baby Back Ribs in the Smoker

I still have about another hour before this delicious slab of baby back ribs is ready to take off the smoker.  Looks like another solid winner!

Here's what I did.

While the charcoal was heating up in the charcoal chimney, I prepared the ribs by first removing the thin membrane on the bone side.  This is tedious and not fun, but it allows the smoke to penetrate both sides of the meat.

I rubbed down the meat with this rub:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup paprika
2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp lemon pepper
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp cayenne pepper

This recipe makes a lot so you have plenty left over for next time.

Let the meat sit with the rub on it for 20 to 30 minutes.  While this is taking place, finish putting the smoker together with the hot coals over unlit coals and spread cherry wood shavings all around the charcoal, fill the water bowl, and put that in place, and after that, the grill rack.

Next put the meat on the grill, close the lid, and that's it.  After two hours, and every hour after that, spray apple juice on the meat.

It should be done in 4 to 6 hours, or when the meat begins to separate from the bone.

This recipe came from my book, The Essential Guide to Real Barbeque - Smoking Meat by Jeff Phillips.

Jeff calls for rubbing yellow mustard over the meat before you put the rub on it.  I forgot that step.  But from the smell of the meat while it has been smoking, I don't think I'm going to be disappointed!

This is my second time to use my new smoker and that is my biggest regret.  Had I known how easy it is to get fantastic results, I would have tried it a long time ago.  It always seemed "technical" and above my abilities.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The smell of the smoke while it is cooking is just unbelievable good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

So what's all the hype about Wegmans???

People outside of Western New York or those who have never been to a Wegmans just won't understand. . .

My son and daughter-in-law live in Richmond, Virginia.  Richmond is home to a lot of former Rochesterians.  So when news broke down there today that Wegmans is opening two stores in the Richmond area, excitement ran wild.

Wegmans started out in Rochester many years ago as a small cart selling groceries - I forget the year, but it was even before my time.  Over the years, through exceptional customer service, treating their employees well, and offering quality merchandise, Wegmans has grown into a world class grocery store.  It is still a family owned business.  Robert Wegman, the founder, died a few years back.  He was known to have walked into one of his stores and if he saw long lines at the check out, he would walk up to a closed cash register and start checking out customers.  It is no longer just a Rochester thing.  No, they are all over the mid-Atlantic states now.

Back when my sons were in college, one of them brought his girlfriend home one weekend and we took her to a Wegmans. . . I was busy getting what I needed and suddenly realized we were missing her.  We found her, walking around, totally dumbfounded.  She later told me, she had never seen a grocery store quite like this one, with more than just a few cash registers!

Besides the quantity and the quality of their merchandise, the thing that attracts me to Wegmans is asking for assistance in locating a product.  They don't just say, "Check down on that aisle."  No, No.  If you ask for help in finding something in Wegmans, they will walk with you to the item.  And if that particular employee doesn't know, they will soon find out for you.

They have their own bakery, with fresh baked goods.  They even have restaurants in store now.  That isn't a big deal to me, but to many people, it is!

So, to the people of Richmond, Virginia. . . just wait till you walk into Wegmans for the first time!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

SUCCESS!!! My first experience with my Weber Smoker.

I just took the chicken out of my smoker!  This was my first ever experience with smoking meat and it couldn't have turned out better.  The chicken weighed four pounds uncooked so I was going to lift the lid at the four hour mark.  But when I went back to my owner's manual, it said 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours cooking time.

I stuck a thermometer into it and it was above the 165 degree desired temperature.

I'm hooked on smoking meat!  The smell while it is cooking is just wonderful.  And unlike my fears, this couldn't have been easier.  I soaked the chicken overnight in a brine of water, salt and brown sugar.  This morning I took it out of the brine, rinsed it well and dried it with paper towels.  Next I rubbed it with olive oil and then with a rub consisting of sugar, salt, paprika, black pepper, thyme, and oregano.  While I was doing that, I had the charcoal in a charcoal chimney heating up.  You pour the lit charcoal over a bed of unlit charcoal, sprinkle a few shavings of hickory wood over it, place the water bowl, filled with water over that, and next comes the rack with the chicken.  Put the lid on it and let it do the rest of the work.  I took the second rack out.  Why have to clean a rack that I wasn't going to use?

I had to keep an eye on the temperature to keep it within the smoking range.  That required a few adjustments to the air vents.

Much of the time I sat in the backyard with it while Morgan ran herself ragged all over the yard!  I finally got her to be still long enough to take this picture.
Lessons learned:  Next time bring out my small folding table to hold all the gear and have a clean place to put the lid.  Also, line the water bowl with foil.  Didn't realize how grungy that could get with drippings from the chicken.  I cleaned that and the grate with an SOS pad using my backyard water faucet.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My new Weber smoker

Tonight I assembled my new Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker.  This is the 18 1/2 inch model.  In less than an hour, I unpacked the parts from the box, spread everything out on the living room floor, and finished putting it together.  I admit to being a bit anxious by seeing all the parts.  "What have I gotten myself into?" I asked myself.  I just followed the exploded view in the owners manual and took one step at a time.  The only tools needed are a screwdriver and adjustable wrench.  On the very last step, screwing the two rubber pieces above and below the lid handle, you need a phillips head screwdriver, so I went to my kitchen drawer and pulled out a phillips head screwdriver and I was back in business!

And here it is all put together!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

First paddle of the season

Today was the first really nice weekend day we've had and it was not a day to spend inside.  The bicyclists, motorcyclists, golfers, runners, people walking their dogs - everyone was outside.  I went paddling in Black Creek in the section that empties into the Genesee River.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A new adventure

About 12 years ago, I had my first taste of home smoked meat.  I was visiting my father in Florida and attended a cookout with him.  The host used an old refrigerator to smoke about 10 whole chickens.  That was the best tasting meat I had ever eaten.  I was intrigued with the taste and the moist, tenderness of the meat. 

I had never heard of home smoked meat and was more than a little taken aback by the use of an old refrigerator!   Over the last several years, I heard more and more about people smoking meat in their backyard.  A co-worker told me about smoking their Thanksgiving turkey.  I wanted to try it.

Recently, I began to get serious about doing it and started researching how to do it and what is the best brand of smoker to get and equally important, were there smaller smokers more suitable for my needs?

I started reading everything I could get my hands on, books, online information, You Tube videos, and talking to everyone I could find who cooks this way.  I zeroed in on the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker that comes in three sizes.  I have three Weber products already, the Weber Genesis gas grill on a stand with wheels, a portable Weber Q gas grill and the smallest Weber portable domed top charcoal grill.  The Weber brand, in my experience, is highly reputable, long lasting, and easy to use.

I bought two books, “Smoking Meat” by Jeff Phillips, and “Smokin’ with Myron Mixon”, the winningest man in barbeque.  I couldn’t tear myself away from their pages!

Stay tuned.  I haven’t bought the smoker yet.  But when I do, look for posts and pictures of my new adventure!  And I would love to hear from you if you are already into smoking meat.  Recipes are most welcome!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A new Spring bud!

Maybe I had to look carefully for them, but after the unusually harsh winter we have had, maybe you can understand my excitement at seeing new growth on my tree out front!  It's still too early for the forsythia and crocuses, but for now, I can be happy with just these tiny buds!