Though I did a few test cooks, this was my first real run on my finished Mini WSM after solving a problem with the bottom vent. Thanks to the other mini guys for some help there.
Chuck was on sale locally last week at a pretty decent price, so I grabbed a 2 lb underblade roast with nice marbling Thurs night. I also found some Western brand oak cooking chunks at Ace Hardware on Fri, so it was good timing overall. It's been a bit windy and cold here in South NJ, but when winds let up late yesterday afternoon, I decided to throw the chuck on the mini last minute, since it was getting to the point where I had to either cook or freeze it.
Salt, pepper, little bit of garlic powder added:
Since I had temp issues before I fixed the vent, I was a little too careful in trying to hold things down. This would cause some problems, which will come up later.
Got a basket of KBB and 2 large oak chunks started with the torch at 4:42 pm. Thanks to @dirtsailor2003 for the push on this, it's a real time saver. I don't have side vent ports, so I just hit the edge for approximately 1 min:
I started with intake choked pretty low, maybe 1/8 open or so. Again, I was a little aggressive here after having runaway temps early on. Opened things up a little after that, approaching 225 around 5:10 pm, with smoke looking pretty good.
Meat on at 5:16 pm:
Temps dropped to about 175, no big deal. However, I had a hell of a time getting them back up, mainly due to my fear of running too hot.
5:49 pm. Added a little makeshift wind break to fight some gusts, cracked the lid to help raise temps:
I finally relented and gave the mini some intake air, but something unexpected happened. As I started to move into the 200-225 range, the smoke really picked up. I think that extended dip to 175 sort of paused the combustion a bit, plus my chunks were rather big. In retrospect, 1 would have been plenty given the small roast size.
Pretty heavy smoke at 5:58 pm:
Finally hit 250 at 6;02, so I choked things back a bit. At 250 it stayed, which felt like a real victory. Finally had the mini where I wanted it.
A little after 8 the meat had been hanging out in the 154 range for a while. I started to realize that it's going to be a pretty late dinner. I should have known better, but part of my line of thinking was "It's only 2 lbs, no big deal."
I had planned to foil with some beef stock around 165 or so, but decided to move earlier. I prepared a cup of stock (Better Than Bouillon brand) with a dollop of oyster sauce, and preheated the oven to 275.
Chuck off the mini at 8:35 pm:
Into a foiled pan it went. Hit 203 around 9:18 pm, so I opened it up and started probing. Unfortunately it wasn't feeling even close to probe tender, so I refoiled and put it back in.
I don't know whether too much heat got out when I probed or what, but the temp started dropping into the 190's, as low as 194. Growing hungrier and wondering how long it might take to not only regain but surpass that original 203, I pulled it, poured off most of the the juice to reduce, then rewrapped and put into a 200 oven to rest for 30 min.
You don't do your best work when you're tired and hungry, so reducing the juices was prob a waste of time. I didn't have time to do both that and let it cool for easy fat removal, and I'm absolutely terrible at skimming fat with a spoon. Did what I could, and threw some asparagus into the toaster oven at 425.
The roast finally hit the cutting board at 10:07. Slices look pretty good! Very respectable smoke ring:
Unfortunately, the slices that came after this had big chunk of fat in the middle. If I had gotten it to pull, this probably would have been unrenderable stuff to be tossed. I forgot to get a final plate shot, and finally sat down to dinner with the lady.
The chuck was very moist, but I found the smoke to be overwhelming. I'm guessing the combo of big chunks, low temps early on, and thick smoke are to blame. I got a bit of a stinging tingly tongue effect, but oddly enough, my girlfriend raved about hers. Go figure!
I left a little less than a half unsliced and saved most of the reduced juice. I just put the meat in the crock pot on high with a little fresh beef stock. Hoping to enjoy some shredded beef sandwiches later, and will skim and thicken the juices for a sauce.
Here it is in the crock, with that fatty section I mentioned circled:
I'll follow up with the sandwich results, but to wrap things up, nearly everything that went wrong was due to operator error. For the future I'll know that it's OK to give the mini a little air, and the late start thing is a no brainer. You live and you learn. I'll likely use less wood for such a small roast in the future as well, though I'm not 100% on what was more to blame: wood volume or temp issues?