My motivation for posting this was due to the playful badgering from a very close smoking friend and the seemingly lack of firsthand information on the Weber Genesis grill with the Smoking cassette and the use of Manzanita wood. Now, I have no doubt that I will likely offend some of the Great Gurus of Meat Smoking here with this post so I ask your forgiveness in advance and to just simply pity the uninformed and inexperienced newbie fool.
A few years ago my Girlfriend and now Wife gave me a Weber Genesis grill that turned me into a “Grillin Fool”. I went from routinely turning perfectly good meat into dry black briquettes to serving up some of the best grilled dinners I’ve ever done. The consistent heat distribution on Genesis has made me a consistent grilling hero. Then I added the Weber Genesis Smoking Cassette which opened up a whole new (to me) culinary demission of smoking meat.
I started “tinkering” with smoking meats using store bought bags of Hickory, Apple and Mesquite chips to slicing & dicing my own chips from local woods. Getting the grill ready for smoking doesn’t take much effort at all. Open the grill, open the door on the smoking cassette, fill the cassette with DRY UNSOAKED chips and lite off the right and center burners to maximum. I allow the hood’s indicated temperature to rise to at least 450 degrees F, hold it there until the chips start to smoke. Once the chips are generating smoke I turn off the center burner and reduce the right burner to minimum which generally allows the temperature to settle in to around 235 degrees F. Depending on the chips used the grill will produce between 50 and 65 minutes of smoke before a refill of the chip cassette is required. Filling the cassette is a snap. I use a long meat fork to agitate the remaining chips (about the only thing this utensil is good for in my book), get some air in to get the coals lit up and allow the ash to drop out the bottom before refilling with DRY chips. Clean-up is easy; pull the smoking cassette and the short grate out and a suck the ash with a ShopVac in about 2 minutes.
I’ve smoked Beef Brisket, Pork Shoulder, Baby Back Ribs, Bacon, Burgers, Felt Mignon, Sward Fish Steaks and much, much more on this setup with consistently excellent results!
If you’ve never smoked fresh sliced uncured bacon with apple wood you’re truly missing out and as a bonus, it doesn’t curl up!
As mentioned earlier I couldn’t find much information about folks using Manzanita anywhere other than “I heard its good” or “a friend of mine tried it and said it was good”. Well I am here to tell ya that Manzanita is outstanding as a smoking wood. The flavor is similar to Hickory but isn’t as abusive and with a hint of sweetness. I feel blessed to have Manzanita not only in the yard, down the road and folks will actually pay to have it trimmed or removed here in the area. When I do have the opportunity to get the Manzanita I buck it up in 6” lengths, stack it and allow it to dry. Manzanita will tell ya when it’s dry as it will naturally start to split on its own. Manzanita is some of the hardest wood I have ever encountered. In fact I bet you could almost shave yourself with this stuff it’s so hard and sharp when split. Using a hatchet, and “reading the end grain” Manzanita can be easily split to almost any thickness lengthwise. Once split lengthwise, two more chops across the grain and voila you have chips for smoking. I bag my Manzanita chips in gallon gently punctured “ZipLoc” bags for storage.
Manzanita smoked Meat Loaf on a Weber Genesis (with smoker cassette)
Yes, I did a Meat loaf on the grill and it wasn’t because I failed to pay the electric bill and couldn’t use the oven in the house either, it was on purpose! I started with 2 pounds of grass fed 4H ground beef and 1 pound of some more ground 4H meat this part being the “other white meat”, pork. With 3 pounds of quivering meat in a mixing bowl, 17 cloves of garlic (yes, I counted them), One 4” diameter diced yellow onion, some kosher salt, several healthy grinds of a good pepper corn medley, 2 cackle berries (chicken eggs) and generous sprinkling of some “quick oats”. Blend everything together and form a loaf then place the loaf in the chillchest for a few hours to firm up. Now the first time I did the smoked meatloaf I used Hickory chips and placed a makeshift tray of heavy aluminum foil under the meat to catch the drippings this turned out to be a mistake. The meat developed a beautiful 270 degrees of flavorful crust while the bottom was…well nothing special. The Weber grill has a removable drip pan that will catch the goo and using disposable aluminum trays disposal is a nonissue. The next attempt at the meatloaf I used my Manzanita and laid the loaf right on the grate and the results were nothing less than spectacular.
After getting the ash out...
Ahhh Yes the thin blue smoke returns for the finish!