I decided to fire up for one more practice smoke before my busy day hits in the morning for stocking up on food & supplies for next weekend's outing. I'll be taking both of my OTG Weber kettles as my main cookers (just because I can do everything I want to in them this coming weekend), and the rotisserie for my OTG-18. I have a written plan for the menu for 2-1/2 days of cooking, and I'm not worried. It's not that I need practice, I'm just tossing anything and everything at my kettles that I can think of lately, for giggles and "what if..."...today may be another viable option as a back-up menu item...time will tell.
I hope these patties taste as good as they look. I'm starting out really low on temps and will let it build up...indirect all the way on these, as I want to seal them up with dry heat in hopes that less of the cheddar and fat will melt and go dripping out...fat is FLAVOR, especially bacon and pork fat. Come to think of it, there may also be some flare-ups from drippings with high-heat searing, too. With a kettle, flare-ups are a non-issue unless you leave the lid open too long, and, most of the time drippings try to kill the hot coals if the lid stays closed, so it's somewhat of a balancing act if your searing high fat foods. I'd rather not find out which way that would go, today, because if I cook these on a kettle again it will be with the same method. I just want a laid-back, slow and easy cook while I review my meal plans for next weekend and look for other toss-in, last-minute additions...knowing all these little details can make you shine when something changes at the venue...trust me...been there. I've only cooked for friends and family, but I like to be flexible enough to hit the curve-balls when they fly over home-plate. So, it's time to find out if I have another home-run here, or not.
I have one charcoal basket in the rear, lid venting towards the front...my usual set-up unless I need extra heat from a second charcoal basket, which is pretty rare, lately.
I'm not a huge fan of regular brat recipes from the store-bought brands...even cheddar-worst...maybe it's mace and/or ground clove in their recipes that just doesn't set well with me...could also be the searing with those ingredients that changes the overall flavor profile .I thought I'd try this patty mix as a possible menu item for our gathering next weekend and if I like them prepared this way, I might just give 'em a whirl for an alternate menu item for a breakfast treat.
Fire and smoke wood check @ 50 minutes...averaged about 145-150* grate temps at this point and temps a still climbing slow. I removed the 3 or 4 remaining very small hickory chunks so I don't over-smoke them, then gingerly moved the coals a bit for a little faster spread of the minion. Oh, heating with a couple Embers briquettes, but mostly RO lump with a full basket:
Coming along nicely...rendered fat starting to form on the surface, but no drippings to speak of, yet...nice and easy, lil' buddy:
Now, I'm not a big high-fat, high cholesterol food eater, but as with everything, enjoy IN MODERATION. Why? Have a look...hence this thread's title:
So, for those who may have questions about warm smoking these fresh ground meats/mixes (let alone smaller whole muscles), and possible food safety issues, yes, this isn't considered a normal process, however, these patties will pass through the danger-zone time/temp range in far less than 4 hrs. Grate temps will reach closer to 230-250* nearing the end of this smoking process and the patties will be finished at or above 170* I/T in just about 2 hours or less total cooking time. BTW, had I not read the package label I would have finished these @ min 165*...not sure why they recommend 170*...OK, 170* it is. Have I done cold/warm smokes with fresh meats like this before? Yes, for about 6-7 years...it's all been good, my friends. Why do I do it? Less rendering of fat, more retention of natural juices, better smoke reaction with the meat, and in this particular situation, less loss of cheese in the meat-mix. Sure, I have my reasons for doing it. Is it worth it? Most every time I've done it I can honestly say YES. Oh, and if you're into the smoke ring...w---a---i---t for it...you'll see. If you doubt the safety of my method, please feel free to check the FOOD SAFETY FORUM heading and/or consult with Chef JimmyJ, that forum's moderator. He and many others here are well-versed on cooking with lower temps, as well.
OK, back to smoking...grate temp climbed to ~220 @ 1.25 hours in...I'll let them ride for another 15 minutes before I inspect and check I/Ts with my pocket digital.
Oh, yeah, BABY!!! The kettle grate temp peaked around 230* just before I decide to have a look-see. We hit I/T readings of 170-172* on the outside of the grate (slightly cooler grate temps) and the couple in the center were 171-173* @ 1.5hrs...that's more than tight enough temp variations to please me. I love it when a plan comes together, and I love cooking on this beast Weber kettle:
What a transformation:
Time for chow:
As always, when I warm or cold smoke, then finish at moderately low grate temps, the results are nothing short of fantastic...deep golden mahogany color, nicely defined and relatively deep smoke ring (for the purist in me...maybe you, too), mild and smooth smoke flavor, and for the meat mix as a whole - not bad...rather good, I might add. And the cheese was still in there, with a nice smooth flavor, as well. It could use less salt and fat, but maybe they use so much fat expecting it to be pan-fried where much more of it would render out...resulting in complaints about a weaker flavor, I suppose. How silly of me...that's gotta be the reason. They would never intend a recipe for someone like me to cook these very low & slow with indirect heat...maybe it's time I start making use of my grinder and spice blend recipe skills again, huh? Then, there's high salt because they think the majority of folks are salt-junkies...probably true, but they could kill us off almost as fast with other additives, I guess. Nothing really off-putting about it prepared this way, though. Again, enjoy in moderation...we all want you guys and gals to be with us for a while, alright?
Proof is in the cross-section.......................so:
So, now, I'll ask you: was it worth it doing a warm smoke, transitioning to low & slow? Seeing and tasting what I just ate a couple hours ago ^^^...if you asked me that question, I'd have to say YES, without hesitation. The flavors, juiciness and texture alone are reason enough for me to do it again...and I would, in a heart-beat.
The best part of today's smoke is that it made for a nice way to end the day with a simple and delicious sandwich that nearly filled me up on the first round...all in the sake of exploring my options to expand my arsenal and bring yet another cooking method out in the open as an alternative, not only for myself this coming weekend (because I hadn't planned on using it, even though I know it well), but for all of you to consider, given the appropriate circumstances.
Yes, it is rich and as such, pretty filling...I'm still tempted to go have another, but just a single patty...yes, tempting, indeed. Oh, and the second best part is that I got to share it with everyone here...
Any questions and comments are welcome.
Great smokes to all, and to all a good night!!!
Edited by forluvofsmoke - 8/13/16 at 8:32pm