I had some time for a smoke today with a couple of beautifully marbled Angus beef chucks, and while I didn't want to spend a lot of time for prep (get ta smokin'), I did take some extra time to make a nice finishing sauce from something made with ingredients we've enjoyed in the past as a wet rub or marinade...so, today, it's beef and smoke up front, and flavor enhancements to finish it up at the end (I've never used a true finishing sauce before, btw, not even for pulled pork), while I introduce you to yet another recipe: Cherry/Balsamic Finishing Sauce for Beef.
Come on along for another ride!
I mentioned a simple start because it was just that...no dry rub, not even salt or pepper...straight beef. The shoulder cuts of meats have a stronger flavor, especially with a good marbling throughout the muscles, so I banking on a good natural flavor combination from the meat and smoke, with enhancements added at the finish. I'm smoking @ 210-215* @ ~5,000 ft elevation in the Smoke Vault 24 with mostly pecan and a bit of cherry...dry smoke chamber all the way with pea gravel filled water pan and a large baking pan over the water pan for a drippings catch. R/H of 22% and ambient temps of 69* at start-up...5.83lbs total weight, just into the smoke:
While the chuckies were getting happy, I grabbed the goods to start the finishing sauce early so it could meld together for a few hours at low heat in a covered pot. I started as follows::
CHERRY BALSAMIC FINISHING SAUCE FOR BEEF
1/4 Cup ground tart cherries
3/8 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (aged 15-yrs)
2 Cups water
3 Tbls Red Bell Pepper, freshly ground from dried, chopped
1 Tbsp black peppercorn, freshly ground
1 Tbsp Garlic, freshly ground from dried minced
2 Tbsp Onion powder
2 tsp Thyme, freshly ground
1.5 tsp Rosemary, freshly ground
1 tsp Oregano, freshly ground
1 tsp smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp Cinnamon, ground
2 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan, cover and heat on low. Allow to slowly heat for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If simmering occurs, reduce heat slightly.
Drizzle hot finishing sauce over freshly pulled beef and toss to finish.
Just getting warmed up:
Note: I started this batch 2 hours after the smoke started, so it sat for hours and hours getting a smooth and well balanced flavor.
Chuckies @ 3.25 hours in, just probed for internals...120 and 127*, left/right..if this seems a bit long for these temps, it is...these still had some frost, as they weren't completely thawed before the smoke...probably started their journey @ 26-28*...also, @ ~215* start-up temps and 5,000 elevation, these both slow things down as well:
I bumped chamber temps to ~230-235* @ 3.75 hours in after repositioning the probes once to be sure on temps...came up about 8-10* in 30 minutes...chuggin' along waiting for the stall and a 190+ internal to probe for tenderness. Then pan, cover and rest for a bit before pulling (I hope). I might just toss on a elevated grate in a pan and cover with a towel if I decide I really want to see some fantastic bark on these chuckies, but these smaller cuts may cool too quickly to redistribute the natural juices if I don't keep the heat in more. I may be shredding these, but we'll see later. It's been a while since I smoked a chuck or two, and never with a dry smoke chamber, but so far, dry smoke chamber has proven very beneficial to retention of interior moisture, and knowing that, I think we'll see some nice pulled beef when the smoke clears. I'm anxiously awaiting the results, but with confidence.
I know that you may be thinking: but wait, you're not going to foil these chucks @ 160-180* to get them tender? Nope. Open grate all the way...that's when the dry smoke chamber comes through with shining colors. If you foil, you begin to steam the meat and open up the surface fibers...this is what dries it out at higher finished temps. It should also have a killer natural bark, just as it does with pork butts...can't wait to experience that with beef!
I let the smoke fizzle out at about 4 hours with average internal temps of 149* and let it ride from there...should be enough smoke for these smaller cuts of beef. Ambient temp of 78* and R/H of 18% @ 4hrs in...dry, dry, dry...perfect for a dry smoke chamber experiment. Chamber temps are now running 235* and bit higher at times when the wind calms down for a few minutes...afternoon winds have been relatively light and variable, but are messing with temp control a little.
5 hours in, one is has been stalled @ 158* for over 30 minutes, so we'll get that out of the way at least. The other is @ 147* and still climbing, but probably not far away from a stall, either. I did rotate positions from left to right @ 4 hours to balance out the internal temps a bit, but it doesn't always work. With the baking pan over the water pan to catch drippings, it may have changed my grate temp variances a little, so I'm trying to compensate for that possibility.
Gotta love this color...it may very well give a deeper color before they're finished...color change may stop before much longer, but I sense there's still time for more change to an even darker mahogany...time will tell:
Hate to push your drool-buttons and leave ya hangin' (feels kinda like a hit & run, when you're supposed to be playing no-contact foot ball...LOL!!!), but not much else to report up to this point. Chucks are gettin' happier by the minute and so is the finishing sauce. Just wanted to get this up and running...threads get buried rather quickly around here lately, so I wanted those who are interested to not miss out on the fun and experience.
Back with the finish later this evening!
Edited by forluvofsmoke - 6/2/13 at 9:12pm