Guys & Gals, I gotta tell ya, this was too easy...and it just popped into my noggin...another one of those spur-of-the-moment creations with no plan, no recipe to follow (but you really wouldn't need one)...yeah, it's that simple. My first low & slow smoke-roasted Zucchini, and everything I did to it is also a new round of fun in the smoke...it's gotta be good...even if it's not great, it's different, and that in itself will make it good...if I do it right, it will be great eating. It's alright...you can call me a sucker for new cooking adventures...I fall for them at any and every opportunity.
For low & slow indirect cooking, begin with:
-1 package of Kraft Chicken flavored Stove-Top Stuffing;
-toss with 1-1/2 cups cold water in a large bowl (pkg calls for 2 cups water + margarine...I decided it would be entirely too wet);
-allow to rest and absorb/equalize the water while you prep the zucchini (I wanted moist, slightly firm bread stuffing for the start, as it may absorb water vapor from the squash...that was my theory, anyway);
Dry stuffing mix:
I had a couple more of these lying in wait, so, what to do, what to do...there's gotta be something I haven't done yet with a Zuke....well, this is where the adventure began...stuffing and Zuke...hmm...HMM. I split a Zucchini,measuring approx. 18" x 3-1/2 to 4" girth:
Scooped out the seeds...no seasoning, oil, nothing...BTW, this squash was tough to cut, probably due to it's larger size...tough skin and all the way through...seeds came out pretty easy with a soup spoon, though:
I packed the cavities tight with stuffing, and heaped it up until the bowl was empty...no planning here, I just rolled with it...came out to be about perfect for stuffing volume (couldn't have planned this if I tried...well, maybe...doubtful, though)...don't be bashful or skimp on the stuffing...then comes a 1/2 pkg of 1/2 slices of bacon, again don't be bashful. I laid it on diagonally for the best coverage, with slight overlap to allow for shrinkage/creep:
Oh, here we go...I almost can't wait...:
The meat of meal...a leftover Tri-Tip I picked up at our gathering last weekend for beef fajitas (that was scrumptious, of course):
These had fat-caps...never had fat-caps on TT before, so I trimmed it of that for more smoke flavor, better rub coverage on actual meat, and a light bark all the way:
Under-side needed no attention...overall, very nice TT...slightly less marbling than from my usual source, but it'll make a fine, tender and juicy sliced smoked beef, none-the-less:
Rubbed with a combination of McCormick Bbq (sugar, paprika, smoke flavor) and fresh ground garlic, sea salt, black pepper (a little sweet, subtle, light smoke flavor and light spiciness):
Smoke provided by hickory and apple, fire with Embers Briquettes and RO Lump with both charcoal baskets. I loaded with the heavier portions of the squash and TT closer to one fire more even cooking, lid vented towards the front, fires in front and rear. I never cooked anything quite like this before, but, OK, similar density variations, maybe. I thought about firing the WSM for this, but with the density variations of the Tri-Tip and the Zucchini coupled with the lack of much for grate temp variations...hmm...wait a second..I can create the grate temp variations I want for more even cooking of all the subjects...yeah, I have just the tool for the job...time for a OTG Weber kettle smoke:
So, I have fire, smoke, food on the grate...temps are slowly climbing from a cold-start...check intake setting through the grates and see just about the right amount of daylight and width...looks good...a quick feel for heat on both ends of the charcoal baskets (burning minion method with fires in both ends of both baskets)...no pit probe, just the lid therm which indicated I had ~140* on the grate per past experience with probe installed. I run over to an elderly neighbor lady's house just a few doors down the street to assist her with minor issues. I'll check the smoke progress when I get back and make adjustments as needed...I'll only be gone 20-30 minutes, right? WRONG. 3 hours pass. I come home and walk right past the OTG 26 without even a glance, grab my digital pocket thermometer, notice my lid therm is now down to 200* (about 120* grate temp)...OH SH**!!!!!!!!!! So, I have no idea what my average or peak grate temps were...don't even ask, cuz I'd be lying if I answered...LOL!!! My first thought is that the fire went berzerk and charred dinner beyond recognition, or that I just created a forced stall and could now add another 90 minutes until dinner is ready...you know that instantaneous gut feeling that dinner is destroyed or severely delayed? I'm there at this point in time...hard-core. Calm down, buddy, calm down...all is good. Tri-Tip I/T was 154*...perfect for sharing a plate with the neighbor lady (which I asked if she would like to share a plate with us in advance, and she was thrilled at my offer). The Zucchini was nicely done, slightly tender with a light crunch...not overcooked and mushy. Obviously this was a lot of luck...or, a little luck and a solid knowledge of my cooker, fuels and fire management...yeah, that must be it...well..ya gotta admit it sounds better than sheer luck, anyway...LOL!!!
All I can say is, cook low & slow...smoke will be good...check squash for desired tenderness with a blunt-end probe, downward through the cut flesh, and check the TT (or your choice of pairing...can I say the list is endless???) for desired I/T...you will be the dinner hero!!!:
TT out to rest briefly after I topped the Zucchini with cheese:
I missed pics of the freshly laden Zukes with this 2yr-4mo aged sliced Mozzarella Ball...I sliced cheese approx 1/4" thick and covered the squash, again, diagonally for best coverage. I didn't quit slicing until there was only 2 oz left from a 1lb cheese ball...closed the lid and let it melt for about 3-4 minutes @ ~120* grate temp...it's quick with mozz,so don't even think you'll slice that meat before it's about to slide off the edge of the squash and drop through the grate...it's not worth the risk...LET'S EAT!!!:
BOOM!!! The first plate off the line for my wife...second one I ran down to my neighbor...I always eat last when I cook...always...when everyone's happy (this didn't take long) I eat:
Only one thing is still puzzling me about the Zucchini...it got a great smoke flavor that penetrated about 1/2 way through the flesh. Being it's my first smoke-roasted Zuke, I have nothing to compare it to...next round may not not come out the same, so I'll have to keep this process unchanged...only problem is I have no grate temps to follow. Well, next time, fire it up and walk away for 3 hours...OK, I think I talk myself into doing that...maybe...uhm...yeah, that's a tough one.
Dry smoke chamber, moist (not wet) stuffing for the Zukes, and bacon draped over the top...when at desired tenderness, throw on a ton of...I mean a pound of thick sliced mozz...that's it...oh, don't forget the 3 hours smoke time without a clue on grate temps throughout the cooking...LOL!!! Sure, that last part is really vague...sorry...best I can do.
Oh, and the stuffing was moist, not soggy...the seasoning flavor even seemed to be a good match for the squash.
The Tri-Tip was, well, yeah, really good eating...tender, moist, flavorful...did I say tender? OK, they always are when cooked to a reasonable temp.
I'd do it again...oh, yeah. Even when I thought I finally screwed the pooch after never having a totally flopped cook for I don't know how many years. Too easy and good eating to not do it again. This smoke has some grey areas regarding temps, but should not be difficult to duplicate.
I'm so sorry for such a late post...I usually upload pics throughout cooking and get them out just an hour or so after the fact. I still had some running to do after dinner and wasn't here the whole smoke......all was well, for whatever reason...maybe good karma from helping someone in need...I'll roll with that.
Great smokes to all, and to all a good night!!!