June 10, 2013
Jack Daniels Pit Beef
Let me start this article by saying, "you ABSOLUTELY must try this".
This venture into "Pit Beef", started when I brought home a large cut of beef believed to be a brisket, yeah I know I'm a GOOFBALL!
I still don't know how this got by me, considering how careful I am with dates and such on meats.
I think I was overcome with excitement when I saw the huge slabs of meat in front of me, sort of like a kid in a candy store with money to burn, or a my dad in a buffet line!
I quickly checked the date and price $2.66 a pound not bad, I quickly scanned the meat selection and grabbed the lightest of the bunch at 12.5 pounds, my reasoning for grabbing the lightest of the bunch was due to the fact that I don't have much experience with briskets and figured it would be safer to hone my craft on a smaller piece of meat.
That night, with my awesome piece of meat safely in the refrigerator, I went to bed at about 7:00pm. I set my alarm for 4:00am. Lying there wide eyed thinking about the brisket, I had trouble falling asleep, hell it felt like when I was a kid laying awake in bed excited about a fishing trip with dad!
The alarm goes off and I ask myself, "Do you really want to get up now". As I visualized that awesome hunk of meat in the fridge my excitement and anticipation won out and I sprung up out of bed by 4:10 am.
I go downstairs and out to the pit and throw on a basket of wood and fire up the log lighter. The weather is ok it's a bit cool for June, due to all the rain we had, but still warm enough for a T Shirt... for me anyhow! It's still dark and you can hear those early birds singing, yeah you know the ones, the ones that you hear when getting home from a late night party and you are seeing two of everything.
I head into the garage and grab the roast out of the refrigerator, like a rushed quarterback, I sprint up the steps to the kitchen with my prize under my arms.
With my prize in front of me, and as I am about to remove the cryovac, I look at the label and it says, Beef Round Bottom Round... FRACK! my heart dropped, whuut!! how the hell could I miss such a thing? I saw the price, the date and the weight, how did I miss the damn cut? That is the most obvious part of the label. I then started asking myself were there briskets in with these? Did I see brisket on another label, then look at the weights? Was this all a dream and was I about to wake up for real?
Ok take a deep breath! get a grip Think Think!
There's no going back now, so what's a person supposed to do at this point?
Google my friend, GOOGLE!
As I Googled, the general consensus is that this is a lean tough cut of meat and better when braised or cooked low and slow in a crock or something... "this can't be true", I thought to myself, "I have had great success with bottom round on my grill". Many folks said its best for Jerky... well I'm not buying into this!
Anyhow after about a half hour of Googling, and finding this article. Maryland Style Pit Beef, I felt that there was a beacon of hope!
The article made sense and inspired me to give it a shot, it was either go for it, or slice up into thick steak and grill, but that wasn't an option, I wanted to play on my Pit.
I figured, what's the worst that could happen? It would be tough and find it's way into a stew or chili dish, no biggie.
I head back out to the pit and by now its near 5:00am and I ask myself, should I go back to bed and get up in a few hours or start now, after all, If I was going ahead with the Pit Beef, I would cook to an internal temp of 135°F and that would be fairly quick.
While I was contemplating, sleep over cooking, I opened the fire box door and saw that beautiful glow from the embers with a little flame still burning, then I opened the cooking chamber door and inhaled deeply, that was it... no turning back now.
OK... I'm gonna go for it, after all I have grilled a lot of bottom rounds over the years with almost no failures, how much different could this be!
The plan is to cook on the pit at 300°F to an internal temp of 135°F, foil/towel and rest several hours then refrigerate till 5:00pm and slice paper thin on the slicer.
Now, a man on a mission, I open up the firebox door again and throw some more wood on top of the red hot coals, before heading to the kitchen to prep the roast.
After removing the roast from the cryovac and inspecting, I decided to leave the fat on, the fat was very soft and not hard so I felt the roast would benefit from leaving the fat intact. The only part I removed was a real hard thick cut of fat. After removing the hard fat I tossed it into the drip pan.
For an Injection I mixed up a basic injection, beef broth, chicken stock, onion powder, garlic powder and a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce, I was afraid to add too much salt in fear of making it tougher than what was already anticipated.
The roast is injected and ready for the pit.
The pit is up to my desired temperature of 300°F, and there is a pretty good coal base. I usually bring the pit temps up even more then slowly bring the temp down to my target temp.
I place a cooling rack on top of the drip pan and toss on the roast naked.
Probes are inserted into the roast and a few quarts of water are added to the drip pan.
I contemplated adding onions, celery, spices and such to the drip pan, but I wasn't sweating it.
After the roast sat about a half hour naked on the pit at 300°F, I mixed up a mop and mopped the roast heavily.
Then I applied my Philly Style/Montreal Steak Rub hybrid, this has been a staple rub for me lately, I use this on my Pork Loins and sometimes for my Pulled Pork.
The roast was then mopped every half hour. The roast contracted at this point and got significantly shorter in length and fatter, now it really does look like a football!
The internal temperature of the roast is close to my goal temperature of 135°F, at this point I watch it like a Hawk eying up it's prey. Thermos are showing 126°F, 124°F, 130°F at the three hour mark and everything is looking good.
As I check the thermos I am quite impressed at how evenly and quickly this roast is cooking, is this normal? Are my thermos lying?
Wheres my Thermapen? Shoot, it's still in the Travel Trailer, oh well, these Taylors better be accurate!
Target temp is reached, 135°F, 132°F, 136°F, I was completely satisfied and a bit surprised with the temperature range being so close together. Not bad, a near 13 pound roast done in 3 hours 33 minutes at 300°F and obtaining fairly consistent internal cooking temps throughout the whole roast. That is, if it is indeed done!
The roast is then foiled in a few layers of HD foil.
The roast is then wrapped in a towel and placed inside to rest for several hours, the goal is a 2 hour rest, then into the refrigerator for 5 or 6 hours before slicing.
The drippings are removed, strained through a strainer then a sieve, then refrigerated.
Then the cleaning begins.
Tip: Spray your pans with cooking spray or wipe with dish soap before placing the pans in the pit, you could always use foil pans but I prefer the sturdy steamer pans, why? maybe because I'm a glutton for punishment, is that OK with you? I thought so, I'll sit down now!
Fast forward 6 hours, the roast is removed from the refrigerator. (I actually done three racks of Baby Back Ribs in between)
Like a baby lying tucked nicely in a blanket nestled in it's cradle I carefully remove the towel.
Then the unfoiling begins, at this point I felt like a surgeon unwrapping his patients bandages praying for good results, the anticipation was horrid. After the roast is removed from the foil, it is placed into the pan with the juices. The meat is still slightly warm and I am hoping its cool enough to slice without losing the juices.
Here it is, in all it's glory, I know it's Medium Rare due to the drippings, but just how rare will it be throughout the entire roast? Too rare and the meat will have a gummy texture, the moment of truth is upon us. Will it look good but be tough, will it taste bland, did I waste my time? Am I going to have STEW!
All these questions are running through my head at once and will be answered shortly.
I slice off a piece and taste it like a wine taster tasting a fine wine.
A little piece is cut, I squeeze the meat slightly, pull apart with my fingers checking the texture, bring it up to my nose to smell the aroma then a nibble for flavor, critiquing it every step of the way.
My wife looks at me and says, " w e l l "? I just smile and say, "you're not gonna believe it", so I cut another piece and say, "try it". She tears off a piece from our second slice, testing the texture then takes a bite and says "Oh my god, that is awesome"!
Then she says, you outdid yourself on this one, I was completely taken back by the flavor and texture, I expected a lot of flavor on the outside but expected it to be tough. It was incredibly tender and I figured maybe I was lucky this time.
Anyhow we are not out of the woods yet, this beast still needs to be sliced. Will the flavor and texture be the same throughout the entire roast?
During slicing we decide to leave the fat on, we only removed a large piece that was falling off. We figured the fat would add some great flavor and since it was sliced paper thin it would not be noticed. We were not 100% sure of the grain but since the meat was so tender from our sample, we decided that it would be sliced on the slicer the same way.
As I sliced up the roast, my wife heads upstairs to start the gravy.
The brown marks to the right are from the injection.
Onto the slicer and the fun begins, I set the blade for as thin as possible slices but thick enough so its not shaved beef.
It's slicing beautifully.
It's really hard to get a picture to show how moist it is but hopefully the next few of photos will give you an idea.
Here we are, sliced and ready for dinner.
I taste tested the slices about every inch or so throughout the roast and the flavor, texture and doneness, were consistent all the way through, I am now relieved and feel a sense of accomplishment.
About 3/4 of the roast was sliced paper thin for some sandwiches. My brother had stopped by as I was doing some Baby Back Ribs on the pit and I had asked him to stay for dinner, his wife was in the area and stopped by as well. Everyone commented on how flavorful and tender the beef was.
The other 1/4 of the roast was placed whole in the refrigerator for dinner in a couple of days. This will be thick sliced, about an 1/8" thick, my wife wants to try it this way, because thats how she does her roasts.
The sandwiches came out great, the Pit Beef is served warm or cold, not hot, then dipped in hot gravy and placed on a roll, you just want to warm the meat, not cook it, at this point you can add whatever you want, I prefer a horseradish based sauce or eating like a french dip.
The next day I decided on some Pit Beef for Lunch.
- I wanted to use poppers but did not have any left, so I used some jalapenos and cherry peppers in Olive Oil.
- Flax, Oat Bran and Whole Wheat Lavash Bread.
I used a whole piece, the nutritional facts on the package are for 1/2 a Lavash.
- Beef, Gouda, Onions and Buck Board Bacon.
- Cherry and Jalapeno peppers, I wanted to use poppers, maybe next time!
Half of this was pretty filling, and I can eat a lot. I guess you can also call it a, "Philly Cheesesteak Wrap".
One half down , another half to go. No one else would eat it because of the peppers so I had to eat the other half too...oh well!
So I have a few pounds of the Pit Beef left, I slice it down in 1/8" thick slices per the Boss's instructions (Wife).
During slicing, I noticed the grain of the meat wasn't optimal but I tested it and it was still tender.
The wifey throws together some instant mash potatoes and canned gravy...ooooh! did I just blaspheme?
I grab a chilled bottle of Blackberry wine (Local) that I have been anticipating since christmas. Now with my beautiful platter in front of me, I bring the glass of wine to my nose, I smell the bouquet thinking mmmm... this smells lovely then I take a sip and swallow, BAM.... Like getting hit upside the head with a baseball bat, I have a flashback of my youth, sitting on the railroad tracks with a bottle of warm Mad Dog 20/20, taking each mouthful and praying it stays down. Would ice help? Of course ice would help, but who's got time for ice!!
For those of you that do not know of MD 20/20, It's as close to crack as you can get LEGALLY! For those of you that have experienced MD 20/20, I am glad you are still with us.
Heres a tidbit I found at Bumwine.com
18% or 13% alc. by vol.
As majestic as the cascading waters of a drain pipe, MD 20/20 is bottled by the 20/20 wine company in Westfield, New York. This is a good place to start for the street wine rookie, but beware; this dog has a bite to back up its bark. MD Stands for Mogen David, and is affectionately called "Mad Dog 20/20". You'll find this beverage as often in a bum's nest as in the rock quarry where the high school kids sneak off to drink. This beverage is likely the most consumed by non-bums, but that doesn't stop any bums from drinking it! Our research indicates that MD 20/20 is the best of the bum wines at making you feel warm inside. Some test subjects report a slight numbing agent in MD 20/20, similar to the banana paste that the dentist puts in your mouth before injecting it with novocain. Anyone that can afford a dentist should steer clear of this disaster. Available in various nauseating tropical flavors that coat your whole system like bathtub scum, but only the full "Red Grape Wine" flavor packs the 18% whallop.
But to be fair, although the wine was bit harsh it was fine, however it did have that numbing effect in the throat sort of the kind of numbing effect you get from swallowing Orajel while nursing a toothache or a bad case of reflux that you refused to spit out and swallowed back down like a champ.
- I felt this was a total success.
- Read the labels COMPLETELY!
- My next go at Pit Beef, I think I will try to sear the outside first to add a little bit of a char flavor.
- I would not change anything else, well maybe the wine!