PORK SHOULDER STEAKS AND BEANS
Another weekend of fun in the smoke has come to an end. I had my pork steaks thawing for a few days in the refer, so the meat was good for a nice slow ride in the WSM. I was contemplating what to toss in with them and though a 1/2 size foil steam pan of beans might be the trick I was waiting for since last night. No need to cook, just heat them, through, however, when I sized these monster steaks, I changed my other mind and decided to go the stove-top route for beans. 4lbs of pork steaks plus that pan, well, it just didn't look good. It was all good eating, none-the-less.
I fired the WSM with a 2/3 ring of Embers briquettes, small fire in the center with torch for ignition and intakes set to about 20%, lid fully opened. Winds were crazy today and out of the S-S/W, which I was not prepared for. This was not the prevailing winds, as it's blowing in some warmer weather form the south. Temps peaked @ 50*, so warm, but the wind was just plain nuts...gusts were strong enough to take me off balance more than once just walking from the door to the smoker, just 10-12 feet away.
I wanted to run close to 200* grate temps...not normal low & slow, no, a bit below, especially for my elevation of 5K ft. The idea is to run slow enough to hold onto those precious juices in the steaks, and that did work. I had my pit probe centered on the lower grate over the foil-lined, dry water pan with 4lbs of pea-gravel. A second probe was on the upper grate...want to be sure there wasn't a large difference between the grates caused by the pea-gravel heating slowly...found out my suspicions were correct, and confirmed by the 2nd hour into this smoke, so I rotated the meats from grate to grate to even out the cooking. Grate temps started out about 35* cooler on the lower grate, then got closer to 20* cooler after 3 hours into the smoke. So, it was a gamble to leave the thermal mass in the pan for this lower temp smoke, but with the winds I figured it would all shake out about the same by loosing some heat and time to do a rotation of meats, or remove the mass and possibly suffer a lot more temp swings...I opted for more stable temps and to do the extra deed to keep things cooking evenly. BTW, wind gusts were often enough to such a lot of heat off the lid, as the lid therm would drop about 5060* at times, while the probes were holding pretty steady throughout, with just minor bumps when I did go have a look now and then.
Here's that 2-hr point in time when I decided to do the swap:
After the swap:
4 hrs and temps measured by pocket digital were in the 150*+ range, so I decided to we'd give 'em the fork and knife treatment (butter knife, that is...didn't need the heavy-duty sharp steak knives)...should have went about 20 minutes longer, but we were getting into the mood for food:
The beans are a spin-off version of Dutches Wick Beans. I used only beans (2 - 1.75lb cans), Rotel tomatoes and chilies (1 can), pineapple (1 - 20 oz can of chunks, drained...juice reserved for the chef...LOL!!!), and this time around I used a full 12oz pack of bacon and rendered it down, then drained off the fat. Put it all into the same pot the bacon was slowly rendered down in to heat through, and viola!!! Nice textures and great flavor with a little bit of creeper-mode heat...catches up with you if you just eat beans non-stop...:
This was a little more rare than I'm accustomed to for pork, so I nuked it for 45 seconds...just me...some like it rather pink, but I stepped it up to a bit lighter shade...maybe 155*.
That was a really nice, simple meal...not a complete diet for most, but once in a while we skip the veggies. Steaks were relatively tender for the cut, and had a very moist interior...partly due to the really low chamber temps. One thing I did notice with this slower smoke was that slightly off-taste, and bit stronger in the smoke, and I only used one small chunk of apple, so I know it wasn't from that. I suspect the charcoal was doing a bit more smoldering with this lower chamber temp, instead of burning a little hotter and reducing that coal smoke effect. So, I may try to run in the 225* range for the next low & slow smokes and see if that corrects the issue...in theory, it should. That was a bit of a trade-off between the retained moisture running that slow, and that off taste...I'll shoot for loosing the off-taste and probably still see similar retained moisture...I had to try it again, though...works fine in propane rigs...just me...and we learn by doing.
Thanks for peekin'!!!
Great smokes to all, and to all a good night!!!