I wanted to make a meal for my oldest daughter & her hubby, so we'd have an excuse to get together this weekend...
I had a 4lb that I started thawing yesterday morning with no real plan what to do with it, until I sent a text to my daughter and asked her if she'd like a smoked beef & tater dinner to share...of course she was eager to agree on a time, and I planned on bringing the main dish in a crock-pot for serving, so decided to finish the beef to a tender state in the crock after smoking, so, the plan began to take shape quickly. I know, I know...that's just sacrilege (finishing in a crock or the "O"), but I have my reasons...I'm a purist at heart, to the best of my equipment's abilities...I don't even foil anymore, but this is basically the same thing...do whatcha gotta do to gitter done.
Simple, easy, and delicious. I used a blend of equal parts of hickory, mesquite and cherry @ 240-250* and 5K elevation. Rubbed with a hand-ground (mortar & pestle) mixture consisting of:
1 tsp Celery Salt (just a few dashes);
2 Tbsp Garlic;
1 Tbsp 5-corn peppercorns (5-color blend);
1 tsp Basil
1/2 tsp Oregano (with Basil, both for a slightly sweeter background);
1.5 tsp Thyme
1.5 tsp Rosemary (with Thyme, both for a more savory touch);
New Mexico Chili (approx 1/4 of a large, dried) for more depth right up front;
Dried Shallots (approx. 2.5 Tbsp)
This was leftover rub from last-night's steak & tater dinner, and I added additional garlic, black peppercorns and kosher salt, just to change it up a add a bit more of a peppery bite for the chucky.
Just a few minutes into the smoke, giving the fire a bit of a breather here, as I had the intake set a bit too tight and temps were not climbing very well for the first 20 minutes or so...still in a slight learning curve with this kettle for low & slow, but it does turn out some very fine dining with little effort:
Not much of a load...could have used my older 18.5" OTG, but want to get well-versed with my 26.75" before the summer BBQ's for gatherings are upon me:
Oh, and the drip-pan under the chucky is a 12"x18" aluminum baking pan...use this size for Smoke Vault 24 as well...perfect fit for both rigs, and allows me to use the charcoal baskets if I want, and directs more of the intake air towards the fire for better temp control:
3 hours and the taters are ready to rest (this allows the smoke flavor to penetrate deeper into the flesh of the potato from the skin...learned this after eating leftover smoke taters)...just added a bit more hot RO lump to stoke the fire, as it was just starting to drop off:
Shrunken tater skins is a dead giveaway, but I give 'em a light squeeze for tenderness check as well:
I hadn't checked I/T on this chucky, but it's cooking nicely, judging by the shrinkage/pull-back from the bone:
Taters resting peacefully until the chucky is pulled or cut into chunks...they'll get added to the pot after quartering. They took on a nice smoke color, so the flavor should be coming through nicely after a few hours:
Temp was still climbing when I snapped this one @ 4.5hrs into the smoke...stabilized @ 150.5 or so:
I was hoping for at least 140* before tossing it into the crock to finish...we're there:
I added about 12oz water to braise for the finish, and this will be part of the gravy-base when I get to that stage. I preheated the crock/water on high for 20 minutes before dropping chucky in...probably could used another 10-15 minutes of preheat, though. If it cooks fast enough I'll pull it into chunks and if not pulling tenderness I'll do a rough cube, about 1" and smaller...we'll see what happens, as I've never finished a chucky in a crock-pot before, so another little adventure today:
I left the crock-pot on high to push things along, as it's only a 450-watt with an oval 6.5qt, so a slow-cooker is exactly what it is...I'm just trying to push it's limits here, if need be. I'll drop it to medium heat if it's starts jamming and brings on a rolling boil, but I don't see that happening.
I just checked the crock and it has a very slow simmer going after the 1-hr mark...should be about right for cooking pace, maintaining a low & slow for a tender chucky...just hope it gets tender before it's time to pack it up and head out to my daughter's house. BTW, I didn't lift the glass lid (no need) and I was greeted with very tempting aromas...then I realized, I've kept myself so busy this morning and early afternoon that I haven't eaten yet today, and dinner is about 4 hours away...and now...I'M HUNGRY!!!
OK, I gotta eat something...sorry for the hit and run...back with the finish, including the simple gravy, ASAP!!!
Thanks for peekin'!!!