2010 1st Annual Family Reunion: Play-by-Play Q-view

Discussion in 'Catering & Large Group Gatherings' started by forluvofsmoke, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Potluck BBQ is the theme for our meals, and we have a reserved shelter with electric at our home-town's lake/recreation area, complete with campsites and provisions for tons of other daytime activities for this mid-July gathering.

    I'm getting some of my smoked items started early and stocking up a freezer, as the menu entree items include some long smokes...this also allows me to stay caught up with posting, as it will take days if I wait until it's over and done with. With the regulations at the gathering site pertaining to no unattended cooking equipment, and me wanting a good night's rest for the 3 days and 3 nights we'll be there, this is my best option. Besides, I want to spend time with my family...that's the whole idea. We'll have fun cooking things up together during the day, I'm sure, but I don't want to be a walking/talking zombie all weekend from doing all-night smokes.

    I volunteered to put together the entree menu, and coordinate most of the cooking, and bring several smokers and grills...everyone thought that would be a great way to start. We'll be sharing food purchases/furnishing cooking equipment, etc, so it won't be a heavy burden for anyone to carry. They've all had some samples of my smoking talents recently, and seemed eager to have more when the prospect of a family reunion was being discussed several months ago via email...so here we go!

    For starters, I wanted to have a good mix of some of our favorite smoked goodies, and a mix of cold smoked/charcoal seared, cured/smoked, etc.

    I started a Ancho Chili & Jalepeno based corned beef with a flat I separated last-night. The point got smoked with a pair of butts today, and will be diced, re-seasoned and smoked again in the morning for burnt ends treat here at home for the family. I'll be smoking a couple more briskets in another 1-1/2 weeks for pulled flat and burnt ends from the point. This will be part of the freezer stock-up to reheat and finish on site as well.

    Enough rambling for now, eh? How about that Q-view?!?!?!

    Corned Beef has been resting peacefully in my 4.2 cu ft q-fridge for 24 hours...I've massaged and turned it over several times already...smoke is planned in another 11 days...oh, I didn't strain this brine/cure...just remixed in the saucepan before filling the bag:

    Oh, BTW, here's the recipe for the above:

    Ancho/Jalapeño Corned Beef Brine/Cure

    The following is for 5-6lbs of beef:

    2 Tbls Ancho Chili, freshly ground

    1 Tbls Jalapeño, freshly ground

    ½ Tbls Garlic granules

    ½ tsp Thyme, ground

    1 tsp Rosemary, freshly ground

    ½ tsp Cinnamon, ground

    ½ Tbls Red Pepper, crushed

    2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, ground

    1 Tbls White Pepper, ground

    6 Tbls Morton’s Tender Quick cure (EDITED)

    2 Cups Water

    Combined all ingredients, stirring well, and simmer in a covered saucepan over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Chill very well before adding to meat for curing.

    I started 17.5lbs of butts last-night @ 10:00 pm, and as many of my longer smokes go, this one was no exception...challenging...propane tank ran empty before I remembered to swap it out for a full one...I/T's were in the upper 160's, then dropped to ~161* by the time I had things turned around and under control again. Then, severe thunderstorm with heavy rain, hail and high winds tried to put a damper on the finish, but I wouldn't let mother nature get in the way of the success of this smoke, oh no!!!  I pulled the butts to foil/rest @ 167-168* I/T...this was @ 8:30 tonight (yea, 22.5 hours) and began the pulling ceremony after 3 more hours.

    12 hours into the smoke in my Smoke Vault 24 vertical gasser, rubbed with my Red Bell Pepper Rub, and smoke (~6 hrs) provided by hickory @ ~215-225*. I started with the brisket point 2 rack spaces above the water pan, and the butts on the second from the top rack space. After about 4 hours, I noticed the meats starting to sweat, and decided that this was the time to add drip pans directly under and above the brisket point (for pork drippings). I knew that this process would slow the smoking stage down quite a bit, as the pans act like a baffle, deflecting more heat towards the sides of the smoke chamber. After closing the door and waiting for temps to stabilize and seeing the door temp gauge running @ ~270-280, I knew this smoke would be no different than any other time I've used drip pans. So, things got really slow at this point...the 4lb mostly lean trimmed brisket point took nearly 12 hours to reach 170* I/T. The butts were moved to the mid-section and their pan just above the water pan, and the point to the top a few hours before the point was pulled out to help things along a bit:

    22.5 hours into the smoke...I/T's were 167-168* and I decided that was plenty long enough in the Vault...

    But, you didn't go to 200-205*, you ask? Nope...panned/tented and into the dreaded "O" @ 170* to hold the temps for 90 minutes, then rested for 3 hours before pulling...worked out just fine...lots of shrinkage as indicated by the protruding bones here...just about to foil tent:

    Ready for pulling...I kinda like this longer smoke, as it really developed the color and bark nicely:

    This had a much firmer and more prominent bark then I get with shorter open grate times and longer panned/tented times...so much so, that I really had to work at breaking it apart in the bowl with large meat forks...it was actually crispy, and I've never had a shoulder come out like that before...this alone was worth the longer burn time in the Smoke Vault:

    The drippings I scrapped off the pan, into a saucepan. I added a few dashes of lemon juice and about 1 cup of water and slowly simmered it uncovered for 10 minutes or so, then strained it directly into the 8 quart stainless bowl full of pulled pork...tossed it all up for a minute and bagged it for the freezer:

    I couldn't find any of my gallon size vac bags or large continuous roll bags, so I did my best with plastic food storage bags...it'll be alright.

    Well, that's a good start for my somewhat large smoking project, anyway.

    More to follow in the coming 4 weeks, up to and including the on-site feast.

    Thanks for peekin'!

    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
    beer-b-q likes this.
  2. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now you have some fine looking grub for your family reunion and the whole family should eat really well with all your food. I can't wait to see the rest of your smoking goodness either. I'll be checkin back with you soon.
  3. sumosmoke

    sumosmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Excellent looking food!
  4. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That look good, I to will be checking back to see the rest
  5. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looking good[​IMG]
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks all! I'm on another roll today, so more q-view!

    My wife and I were on our way back from a day-trip to Colorado on the 25th and I decided to check out the Sam's Club in Cheyenne, WY for my some meats and supplies for the upcoming reunion, and when I walked back to the meat counter, all they had out was flats. When I talked to a meat cutter, he didn't seem to know what I meant when I said full packer, so I said untrimmed brisket...that seemed to light up his eyes. He said he'd have to check if they still had any left. I told him I need 32lbs or so, and he came back with 2 nice monsters.

    It's brisket time again, only for today's project, I have 2 packers weighing in @ 35lbs...should be plenty enough for burnt ends and sliced or pulled flat for 35-40 peeps.

    Here we go...the 18lb I'm sure is a bit larger than any packers I've had the pleasure of introducing to the thin blue smoke:

    These are 12" x 18" sheet pans...pretty full load for them:

    I left the entire fat cap intact, other than scoring, and applied a heavy dose of kosher salt:

    Ready to flip and rub the meat side:

    I opted again for my Red Bell Pepper Rub, as I don't know the extent of the BBQ eating experiences of many who will be dining on this, so I'll keep it on the mild side...and, I'll have a spiced-up version of corned beef pastrami to go along with this meal for the more adventurous eaters:

    Just into the Smoke Vault 24 @ 3:00 pm Mountain Time, with mesquite/hickory @ 225*...a long night for the Vault, indeed:

    The plan for these is to smoke to 170* I/T, wrap and rest a few hours, then, trim the fat off and separate the point/flat and slice the flat thin with my Nesco Pro and freeze. The point will get cubed for burnt ends and frozen for the reunion as well.

    I'll get final prep of this out in about, oh, I don't know...20-24 hours, give or take...you know how it goes, when it's done, it's done. [​IMG]

    I wanted to toss my corned beef into this smoke as well, but it feels like it will need a few more days until the cure is finished.

    Oh, I gotta get busy and assemble a brand new Weber 18.5 one-touch gold kettle, which just arrived fed-ex for a 10-year service award from work...I thinkin' hot wings for it's inaugural burn.......cool!!!!!!

    More to follow on the reunion goodies, of course...

    Thanks again everyone!

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010
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  7. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks like the making of a good party!
  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Brother, everyone I've been in contact with about the reunion lately is getting really pumped about it. One of my sisters wrote in a email yesterday that it will be "monumental". Almost can't wait to see everyone again!

    7.75 hours into the smoke and decided to stab a probe for I/Ts. The upper brisket was 153* and the lower was @ 143*. The color difference told me there was a bit faster cooking going on up on the top side, which I expected anyway, using a 12" x 18" sheet pan 1 rack space under the lower brisket to catch all those marvelous beef drippings for adding to the bagged goods before freezing.

    Anyway, no matter, as I rotated the two rack positions to even things out by morning. Stall is on for sure in the 150's range, and the other won't be but a couple hours away from the stall, so no worries about hitting my target temps for quite awhile...it's now 11:15pm here. A nice and long smoke is destined for this beef.

    Here we are just before the rack position change...gotta love that deep red color of the upper brisky....that's the 18lbr, if I remember correctly:

    No worries on this smoke...great evening weather, with calm winds, moderately cool temps (62* right now), and no threat for precipitation. High temp of 86* today and the forecast is for the mid-90's on Tuesday...gotta love it! I might just take a dip in the pool for that kinda heat...[​IMG]

    More later!

    beer-b-q likes this.
  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good morning to everyone!

    I slept in this morning, so comfortable with the way the smoke was going. 17.75 hours in and the bottom brisket is @ 174* I/T, so this one's panned/tented and resting as I type...it's partner, which was lagging about 10* before I switched rack positions is now @ 163* (has probe in it now), so a few hours to go yet. That's OK, 'cause it'll give me plenty of time to separate, slice and cube while the second one is resting...piece a cake...er, beef!

    Mmm, this is gonna be good!!!!!!!

    My digi-cam doesn't like the reflective background of the aluminum sheet pan with natural lighting...colors are skewed a bit, but you get the idea:

    You know, this has probably been one of the simplest and easiest smokes I've ever done, thus far. No problems, no worries...gotta love it!

    beer-b-q likes this.
  10. rio_grande

    rio_grande Smoking Fanatic

    I am sitting here sick as a dog and but for running to the bathroom I am waiting for the sliced shots,,, So lets not dilly dally :)

    Looking good I just coked for my family reunion. 4 pork buts a chucky and a brisket. Did it all on sight, Lots of work but well worth it.
  11. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Dang, sorry to hear about that, brother. I think there's a bug going around in our area too. Yea, I was seriously considering doing this all on site, but the regulations don't allow for unattended cooking equipment, so no naps during the all-nighters...oh well, this will still be super-good eats, just the same.

    It'll still be a quite a wait for slicing & dicing pics...well another hour and a half at least, until 'til I grab a knife and slicer to get them ready. I do have some silicone mitts now for handling hot meats, so that will help. I think I'll let it cool down some in an open sheet pan before I get to excited about it though.

    Hang in there, brother!

  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmm, the second brisket came out sooner than I thought, so I've got final prep done before separation and slicing. The drip pan is in my outdoor fridge @ 20* so the fat will solidify for removal. Then, I'll toss a bit more water in if needed and reheat to incorporate all the meat drippings for adding to the sliced/cubed beef...this is the final touch for a great eating natural meat in my book.

    Long smoke, but well worth the wait...:

    Yea, it looks pretty happy now...time to pan and foil for a rest:

    The tip of the point:

    The scored "corn", rendered down nicely:

    The drip pan is looking nice:

    Time for separation/slicing/cubing...be back ASAP.

    beer-b-q likes this.
  13. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have the first beast sliced & diced. This is as far as I got to this point...have another smoke to start shortly, so the second brisket is quick-chilling along with all the drippings. I'll weigh and measure out the beef base to pour some into each bag before they hit the freezer later tonight.

    A nice 3 hour rest revealed this:

    Flipped over onto a board with a large hollow in the center for catching juices...fat cap has the grate marks:

    The shadow along the left side showing the fat layer separating the point & flat:

    I filleted the fat-cap and then scraped as much fat/connective tissues as I could without getting into the meat fibers and having it start falling apart:

    Time for separation...point is on top:

    I scraped more off the inner and exposed sides of the point, trimmed some off the edges and began slicing and cubing:

    For the thickest portion of the point, I simply slice down the center and then finish cubing:

    How about that flat?:

    I scrapped this off as well, examined the bark and conenced to quarter it up so it would fit the Nesco's platform to slice:

    Cut with the grain first:

    Sliced it all up in about 2 or 3 minutes...I went for about 1/8" to 3/16" thickness:

    This one yielded 2.75lbs of burnt ends, and 4.75lbs of sliced flat (7.5lbs total), both without added drippings and trimmed pretty lean:

    Ha, I just noticed, I have smoker-lag...I don't know what day it is according to my labeling.........LOLOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Well, that's all I have time to post for now. Gotta get a couple yard birds quartered up (for tonight's dinner) and into my lil' brinky gourmet for her first propane burner fired smoke.

    More later, folks!

    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
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  14. rio_grande

    rio_grande Smoking Fanatic

    Ahh,, Well I didnt sit here the entire time, but it is good to see things well on their way.
  15. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey all, I'm back, with the next stage for my Ancho/Jalepeno Corned Beef!

    BTW, happy Independence Day!!!

    We're 15 days into the the cure and even though we're getting thunderstorms this morning, I need to get this finished.

    They're definitely ready for a good fresh water soak and a kiss of smoke...very firm texture when squeezed...that's what I look for with curing...I cut the flat into two pieces just so I could fit it all into one bag:

    No rinse, just a deep ice-water bath in separate bowls to keep them cold and submerged while the salt is pulled back out...I'll work them around in the water every 15 minutes or so to help keep the process in motion. I'm thinking 90-120 minutes should suffice, and then, we're off to the smoker after a dusting with CBP:

    45 minutes into the soak right now, so I need to get the smoker ready [​IMG]

    Back later with the smoke.

    Thanks all!

    beer-b-q likes this.
  16. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It all Looks Great Eric...[​IMG]
  17. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Paul!

    The smoke is on!!!!!!!!!!!

    I let these drip dry after a good cold water rinse, then coated well with fresh CBP, and into the Smoke Vault @ ~220-230* with hickory and double pans of water.

    Very cloudy soak water after 2 hours (still some ice present, too)...that's what you want to see...this indicates a good amount of salt has been drawn back out of the meat. Most of the residual spices from the brine/cure have settled to the bottom, but the water is pretty saturated with salt, so I'll skip the fry pan test and get to smokin'!!!:

    Even the thin fat cap has taken on some of the coloring and spices in the brine/cure...oh man, this stuff is gonna be great!:

    Together again at last:

    Lots of CBP, and we're off to the smoker:

    A 12" x 18" sheet cake pan over the stock water pan for drippings and extra humidity. I filled this pan about 1/3 the depth (2" high pan)...I'll check the water level in this along with everything else when I pop the cabinet door open about 4-5 hours into the smoke to stick the meat with probes for I/T's:

    Temp probe is beside the smaller cut, and the larger cut directly above, as my past experience has told me that the lower level won't be quite as hot just above the pan:

    One last peek before they go on their journey through the thin blue hickory smoke:

    I want to pull these to rest @ 160* I/T, then slice, bag and freeze for the gathering in 2 weeks...hmm, actually we hit the road in just 11 days for the trip back to my old stomping grounds. These will get a slow steam to finish on-site...man, I almost can't wait to taste this stuff...I think I'll grab just one small slice for a taste after slicing, just to see how well those spices did their job.

    Back later with the finish.

    Thanks for peekin'!

  18. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    5 hrs in and hit the stall in the mid-140's range with both cuts.

    Still had water in both pans, but getting low, so I added another 1/2 quart to the drip pan, and the rest of a 1/2 gallon to the main water pan...good to go for another several hours:

    Lookin' good already...:

    Drip pan is catching some dropped peppercorn and a few bits of meat juices here and there...this will go into the bag after slicing for freezer storage and will be there for the steam reheat/finish on-site at the reunion:

    So far, so good!

    Slicing to follow soon (after the stall is over, and a foiled resting).

    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  19. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I decided to put off slicing until these cuts are well chilled. Thin slicing while still warm/hot doesn't seem to give very good results anyway.

    I pulled these at 160* after just shy of 8 hours in the smoke, and they've been resting for 4 hours wrapped in 3 layers of towel, and they are still pretty hot, so I'll just remove the towel wrap and toss 'em into my outdoor fridge @ 20* until Monday evening after work.

    Ready for foiling:

    The larger of the two cuts, with a cooked weight of 1.75lb:

    And, it's 1.25lb partner:

    Hmm, 4lbs of cured smoky beefy hot & spicy...this is going to make a great treat for the more adventurous eaters in my family...yum!

    I really want to see and taste a slice of this recipe...I know from the last ones I cured and smoked up that the spices should have penetrated very deeply  after just over 2 weeks brine/cure time. I think my last batch was 12 days and had far less amounts of heat and spices in the brine solution and you could could really taste it deep into the cut.

    Sorry to keep everyone waiting in suspense on this, but the sliced product will be better if chilled well first IMHO, and worth the wait just for this reason. Hey, we've all seen a good slice of Pastrami before anyway, right? LOL!!! Well, this one is an experimental recipe...it'll be good eats, I'm just not sure how heavy the heat level will go yet.

    See ya Monday evening.

  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Gang! I finally got around to slicing and posting pics.

    I worked pretty late last-night (11:00pm), so I waited until tonight to get this last little chore finished.

    BTW, I passed around a few slivers from the heals of the meat...this has a nice slow onset of heat from the Ancho/Jap/Cayenne combination. Just enough heat to get your attention after a few slowly and deliberately chewed bites...the bad part for us right now is that it makes you want to have another bite (we have to wait...sigh).

    My 20* outdoor fridge was just that...if you look closely, you'll see some ice crystals...that didn't stop me though, as the slicer loved it nice and cold:

    Sliced up nice and thin and ready for hibernation for 9-10 days in the freezer until it gets sampled at the gathering:

    4lbs of YEEEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    More to come as it develops...

    Thanks all!

    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010

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