We planned a dinner for this evening with all the kids and everyone made it, so we a great meal to share together, with a Mexican Rice, which parred-up well for my cabbage, CSRs and Russet potatoes, all from my modded Brinkmann Gourmet Stacker charcoal smoker (except the rice). The rice with my smoked cabbage wasn't even part of the original meal plan (bonus #1), but it was a nice last-minute thought that everyone who liked cabbage fell right into after following my lead...and they loved it!!! Bonus #2 is at the very end...you'll just have to read and find out...
I did have some low temp issues with the gourmet today due to briquettes which had gotten wet a week ago......they were dry, but as everyone who's tried it knows, they tend to burn a bit on the slow side, so, after adding enough hot coals to nearly fill the charcoal ring, I still could barely get over 200* chamber temp...all intakes wide-open, so should have pushed around 300* without breaking a sweat. OK, so this is gonna be a little longer smoke than planned...maybe 1.5 or so hours longer...oh well. It still made for moist CSRs using the wet-to-dry smoke chamber method, just not quite as tender as I would have liked. But, the dry rub...tried a no-salt version last time around on BBs...was OK, but we all knew the salt was absent from the party, so, I decided to go a few steps farther and reduce the salt instead of omitting it this time. I used Morton's Lite Salt instead of kosher...backed off on quantity to about 2/3 the normal ratio and it tasted great, as well as cut the sodium intake for these smoked goodies to roughly 1/3 what they would have been (didn't weigh the Morton's Kosher and compare to the Lite Salt, so exactly how much the reduction is is up in the air for me right now...maybe I'll get weights vs measure later, though).
I captured most of the entire meal on this one again, so I'll break this down by food item, instead of the sequential order of in/out from the smoker, just so your topic of interest is easier to follow...fair enough?
Oh, for those of you who may have missed this recipe:
BLUEBERRY-CHERRY-RBP PORK DRY RUB
This rub is intended for low & slow cooking only, as the natural sugars in the fruits will scorch quickly with high-heat cooking.
All measures are pre-grind, except for the powdered ingredients, of course.
4 Tbsp dried whole Blueberry
3 Tbsp dried Tart Cherry
3 Tbsp dried diced Red Bell Pepper
3 Tbsp dried chopped Onion
2 Tbsp dried minced Garlic
1-1/2 Tbsp Black Peppercorn
1 Tbsp ground White Pepper
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt (sub with 4 tsp Morton's Lite Salt)
1 Tbsp Spanish Paprika
1 Tbsp Rosemary
2-1/2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp ground Cumin
1/2 tsp rubbed Sage
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, then portion 1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp into your blade-type (coffee) grinder at a time. Use less if the grinder stalls/jams. Grind to near your desired particle size and place in a second container until all ingredients are ground, then repeat grinding for smaller particle size, if desired, and to aid in blending the dry rub for the best consistency.
Note: grinding the dry ingredients with the fruits will aid in preventing the fruits from forming a paste and stalling your grinder, as well as making for much easier clean-up. This is a very effective method for grinding dried fruits. The only draw-back to grinding all ingredients together is if you want larger particle sizes with certain spices but not others, although some of them could be ground separately, if desired, such as the Kosher Salt.
This particular recipe, even in the semi-arid climate of my location, tends to clump soon after blending if tumbled in the container, so a regrind may be necessary prior to application onto your pork. This is due to the sugars in the fruits and is normal. Application with a shaker container may give the easiest results. Do not compress this mixture until it is on your meat, or it will pack to a very firm consistency, making a re-grind difficult.
Yield is approx. 1-2/3 cups.
OK, let there be SMOKE!!! A medium/small chunk of apple and cherry to start, then another one of each added about 45 minutes into the smoke, just to keep things rolling pretty well while I battled low-temp issues. I had 160-170* chamber temps for near 3/4 hour, then finally hit the 200* mark where I wanted to ride for a bit, but that soon dropped off again. I fired 7 or 8 partial chimneys attempting to keep building up the heat, but it just wasn't in the cards. Kept temps close to or just over 200* for nearly 2.5 hours, then was able to start kicking into the mid-240* range for getting closer to the finish, when I panned/tented and dropped 'em in the "O" for 15 minutes @ 350*, then dropped to 250* for another 10 minutes or so while we waited for the last part of the meal to be ready...the rice. All in all, the gourmet would have handled things fine, had I not had botched-up briquettes, so I relearned a valuable lesson, anyway.
I didn't get any prep.rub pics, as I need to get this rolling ASAP...just got home from a short road-trip after grabbing some salmon for a later date to smoke, lunch junk for work, and other errands, etc...you know, the grindage materials to keep the grinder happy for another week...LOL!!!
Just a few minutes into the smoke...2nd grate of 3, with part of the 9.6lbs of CSRs...and, yes, that's a stout amount of smoke, like I wanted for the wet-to-dry smoke chamber...I used 1qt water, for approx 2hrs wet chamber, remainder being dry:
Getting close here at about 5 hours...smoke is pretty well diminished:
Drippings in the foil-catch when I broke-down the Gourmet to cool the cabbage and pan the CSRs to finish:
After a ~30-min sweat...dinner time!!!
Russet Taters, just in at the start of the smoke:
It's difficult to see the difference without looking for the blemishes on the skin, but if you compare those (above) with the apparent disappearance after the smoke, you can better judge the color I achieved with these beauties...the flash didn't so these any justice, but that's how I could see the difference in the pics, because to the naked eye, they looked FANTASTIC, and smelled even better!!! These got 2.5 hours smoke, of moderate intensity and white to blue in color:
The taters went into the "O" to achieve the 300* plus temps to actually cook them.
Allrighty then, how about that cabbage...just in after the taters came out...this also got 2.5 hours smoke, but thin & blue for the most part. About 40 minutes into there ride here..I cut the head into 6 pieces from the core, then just rough chopped it away from the core for final prep...no pre-smoke treatments such as olive oil drizzle, etc, as these were originally intended be used as a garnish, so, just smoke and cabbage...nice extra touch for a side dish booster, as it turned out. I placed these pieces with the core out just in case it was slightly hotter than the center of the grate for a bit more even heating/cooking:
2.5 hours and time to come out and rest...just enough smoke for a mild aroma and flavor, and just enough heat and time to wilt it down some, but still leave a nice, crisp texture for the rice, and overall for the plate:
Time for the break-down...top grate's gotta go:
Chopped and ready after a cool-down while we waited a few minutes for the rice:
Are you ready??? Cover those keyboards and grab your paper towels before it gets messy...
Nice smoke ring in the CSRs, thanks to the low-temp smoke chamber on start-up and the charcoal fired smoker...good moisture, but the tenderness was lacking somewhat...not bad, but I've done better...just needed to get that chamber temp up sooner...I'll know better next time, though. The dry rub was yet again beyond what I expected it would be...quite tasty and unique, with a slightly sweet and fruity profile, backed up with a little hint of heat on the back...we all love this stuff...four pork smokes went down in history for us now with this rub, and many to come!!!
The cabbage had a light smoke aroma and flavor..nice touch for what was to follow on the plate...went great with the Mexican rice.
The russet potatoes had a strong smoke aroma when they went into the "O" for finishing-up, but it diminished somewhat after baking...still a nice smoke flavor came through on th eplate, so no complaints there...just enough to keep it on your mind while you savored them...never tried them quite this way before...always did a lighter smoke but finished at higher chamber temps in the smoker...works out about the same in the end, I think.
And now, for bonus #2...Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheese Cake...the kids made a triple layer last weekend that was super-scrumptious...this was rather good as well...this was starting to warm and soften a bit by the time I grabbed the digi-cam to snatch a couple shots for your drooling pleasures, otherwise the drooping tip of the slice wouldn't be so evident...my bad...::
Double-Layer Jello Pumpkin Cheese Cake
3 - Jello Pumpkin Mix, box
6 cups milk (2 per pkg of jello, follow instructions on pkg)
1/2 small container cool-whip or equivalent of fresh-whipped cream w/sweetener or sugar to taste
1 graham cracker crust (or regular pie crust, pre-baked)
Layer 1/2 of the prepared pumpkin jello mix into the crust. Fold the remaining mix with cool-whip or whipped cream and layer over the top. Cover and freeze until set very firm before serving...may take 2-4 hours to set.
If you'd like the recipes and prep methods for the double-layer or triple-layer pumpkin cheese cakes, just shout...I'll have to round up the responsible persons and get it from them, though...oh, same goes for the Mexican rice...they have either gone home or are asleep at the moment, and I knew I would have time to get it all posted tonight anyway...got an early morning for work, so didn't want to deprive myself from too much of my eyelid inspection time.
It's been fun, and now, I'm done!!!
Great smokes to all, and to all a good night!!!
Edited by forluvofsmoke - 10/21/13 at 11:26pm