I got a new Weber a few weeks back...the BIG dog...well, 2nd in line to the Ranch Kettle...I can't justify the $1,300.00 for one of those (even with 1,100 sq in cooking area), and the 26.75" matches my wants and needs so much better. It's been everything I expected so far. I've char-grilled with direct heat using R/O lump & KB and did a little bit of hot smoke & sear (reverse-sear) with it using KB, but I hadn't made the time for a cold smoke/sear on it yet (or had the time to document any cooking on it)...soooooooo, tonight's the night.
I did season it with indirect heat in the baskets the first time firing it up, and checked the lid temp gauge vs pit probe temp in the center, and with indirect heat ranging from 200-450* on the lid my pit probe reading was about 85-90* lower, so I have a good baseline to go by for lid temp readings vs grate temp.
The 26 OTG comes with charcoal baskets (handy...I already had a spare set, and will use those for larger items requiring higher heat such as turkeys [4-way indirect fire]) and stainless cooking grate (major selling point for me). There's only the three of us at home now, so why did I want this huge beast with over 500 sq in of cooking area? Gatherings...I'm always cooking (if I'm not working) for birth-day parties, holidays, etc, usually transporting my Weber 18.5" OTG @ 240 sq in cooking area and/or my Smoke Vault 24" (with up to 4 grates @ up to 1,380 sq in grate area) to the site of these gatherings. I've fallen short on grill space a few times for obvious reasons. This 26.75" will be a nice addition to my portable arsenal, offering much more flexibility and capacity to my current set-ups...all that, and I really do love cooking over coals...the evenness of heat on the grate, the added flavors and aromas, the exceptional fire control with the Weber kettles...OK, 'nuff said, on to tonight's dinner...
Just into the thick, white smoke...just the way I like it for a short smoke...shooting for about 60 minutes smoke, then drop in a bed of hot coals for the finish...grill temp is under 100* with 49* ambient, dropping to 45* after 45 minutes of smoke, and 41* @ the 60 minute mark when I pulled the steaks and built up a hot fire for searing.
Steaks are in there, somewhere:
There they are...I think these were cut from the large end of the rib roast (5.5lbs for 3 1-1/4" thick boneless ribeyes), as the "money muscle" seemed small, and there was an apparent lack of heavier marbling, but nice steaks none-the-less...my choice would have been a lighter trimmed bone-in, though...these were cut fresh yesterday afternoon when I called my wife from work and told her I wanted to try a cold smoke & sear with the big kettle (translated as "play-time" with the new toy...LOL!!!):
Seasoned with garlic powder, salt and black pepper:
KB (partially lit, but heated well...should all be burning shortly) and a couple of smaller hickory chunks in the baskets...I nestled the hotter portions of briqs against and under the hickory to get the smoke rolling:
I had 6 briqs in each charcoal basket for the cold smoke...found it to be too much heat for my liking with full-open intake and lid vents (I wanted high-flow with the heavier smoke), as the lid temp climbed to almost 250* before I was ready for searing (~160* @ grate-level), but I'll know better next time...2-3 briqs would have been sufficient....these big Weber kettles seem to hold their heat quite well, even with a small fire and wide-open vents.
Darkness was upon me when I commenced with searing...remains of the fire in the baskets after 1 hour, with smoke still coming nicely, just leaning more towards thin and blue under my headlamp:
I just set the chimney on the coal grate for a bit more stoking...cool to watch a fire grow in the dark:
And yes, that's a full-sized Weber chimney on that fire-grate, with the charcoal baskets still on the sides...gotta love a big fire-grate:
Hot coals spread out after pushing the baskets in towards the center to act as a fence for a nice deep coal-base (my 2nd pair of baskets could have been use for the front and back, as well)...about 2-1/2" deep fire for a quick sear:
The fire felt damn hot @ 5" over the grate...about 700* or more, so, it's time to finish this gig.The ribeyes just hit the grate after a few minutes to allow the fire to heat-up more and pre-heat the grate...no flash here, just an LED headlamp:
...and with the flash:
Still no juices polling on the surface after several minutes over the fire, so they weren't cooking through very much from the smoke stage, but with the grate temps reaching the point they did during the smoke I felt the need for a HOT fire for very quick searing, even with the thickness of these steaks...R/O lump would have been a better choice than briqs in this case, as it burns quite a bit hotter, but I didn't think about it until after starting some leftover briqs from my last grilled dinner and topping-off the chimney with fresh ones:
Wide open with both vents for 8-9 minutes on the bottom side (no flip during the smoke or sear until now) and about 5 minutes on the second side...closed lid for entire searing time except to flip...I didn't even peek...couldn't smell a grease fire, which is a rare thing with a closed Weber kettle anyway, so why look):
I closed all the vents on the kettle to kill the coals so I can reclaim them for the next time I'm cooking out on the patio. And, yes, this big kettle kills the fire just my little 18 OTG does...dead fire in less than 5 minutes, and a cold kettle in about 15-20 minutes.
About 10 minutes resting:
Plated with broccoli & cheese rice...simple and tasty meal:
I tried every camera angle imaginable and couldn't get the true color of the cross-section of this ribeye...this camera generally likes it's own flash, so...must be the color of the plate, being a transparent (glass) cobalt blue...I usually use a white plate...haven't posted my plates much lately, so, live and learn...(sigh)...anyway, came out medium, a bit over my liking of med-rare, but still loaded with juices, so...that said, I'm eating this steak!!!:
Smoke flavor and aroma was nice and light...not faint, not overwhelming...and of course the hickory was a great match as always with beef. Seasoning was very good as well, being simple and to the point...beef doesn't need much to taste good. I tossed on a good amount of pepper, which we like for beef.
(1) use only a couple briqs per side for heating the smoke wood, even in this cooler weather...I usually aim for 100-120* grate temp for my smoke & sear and it jumped that mark within 30 minutes;
(2) fire-up my kettles more often!!!
I'm thinking about turkeys for thanksgiving now (this will be another gathering of family and friends)...I was planning on firing up the Vault as I wanted to smoke carrots, celery, onion and garlic for the gravy, but, maybe I can fit it all in both of my kettles...definitely worth looking into this further. Good grief, the things a guy won't think of doing, huh? More on that when it happens...
Thanks for peekin' and remember to keep your smokers (and grills) warm and happy!!!
You can stick a fork in me now...I'm done...LOL!!!