Been a while...Picnic Shoulder, Cabbage, Onion Blossoms & Yellow Taters in the Vault (finished)

Discussion in 'Pork' started by forluvofsmoke, May 31, 2014.

  1. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Everyone!!!

    Been a while since I posted any contributions to the forums, and today I had the chance to get in a nice smoke for the immediate family, and felt it worthy of sharing with my extended family here on SMF as well.

    My oldest son is moving out of his apartment in preparations to leave for an out of state move, so I thought it would be nice to cook for him and the moving crew (rest of the family) while they labored through the last day of clean-up and turn-over of the place. I'm off work for the weekend, was ready and willing, so off to the smoker I went.

    I started out last night after work with a 10.6lb picnic shoulder which was mostly thawed, skinned it, removed most of the surface fat, cross-hatch scored the top/bottom and rubbed heavily with my Blueberry/Cherry/RBP Pork Rub, and went straight to the Smoke Vault 24 gasser @ 8:30pm with Hickory, Cherry, Apple and Pecan chunks...filled the tray for lots of heavy [email protected] 225* using my Wet-to-Dry method.

    Around 1:00pm today I added a full large head of cabbage, split through the core 8 ways and rubbed with Olive Oil and seasoned with freshly cracked black pepper. At 1:15pm I added the Yellow Onion, peeled and split into 16 sections almost to the root, so it holds together on the treatment with oil or seasoning, along with a half-dozen yellow potatoes for a few here who do not like cabbage, just for an extra bit of smoked goodies. I added more pecan for smoke when these went in, and bumped temps up to 250-260 to push things along with the picnic as well as get a faster wilt to the cabbage and onion. I don't expect the potatoes to cook through at these temps, but if they do, I'll know about how low I can go for the past, 275* seems to be the low limit, given enough time, but if I give them several hours, maybe they'll cook...well see. If not, I can bump temps while the picnic is resting, like I always do.

    So, what's the plan for all of this? Pulled pork, of course, but, the cabbage is for adding to pan-toasted/boiled brown rice and tomato, seasoned with oregano, basil, garlic, black pepper. The onion and cabbage can also be used on the side for pulled pork sandwiches. Kind of a mix and match to your own liking.

    Aaaaah, happiness is a full smoker...well, sorta full...16.5 hours for the picnic...cabbage, onions and taters are just passing 75 and 90 minutes, respectively:

    2.25hrs for the cabbage, 2hrs for the onions...what can I say, I LOVE smoked veggies:

    So, in case you noticed I have no probe in the picnic and are wondering why? I misplaced it after my last use of it a few months ago, so the last couple of picnics I smoked I went by visual flight rules only...and all was well...GREAT, actually. I'm getting close on this one, a the bone is showing itself pretty well now. Gonna give it a tug here in a bit and see what it feels like and go from there. Hope it's ready soon, 'cuz the kids said they'd be back for dinner around 5:00pm, and I need to rest this meat yet, too...and it's now 3:45pm.

    Took this just a few minutes after yankin' the cabbage and onions, so ~19hrs for the picnic and 2.25+ for the taters:

    Thanks for peekin'...time to get that rice going...back later with the finish!!!

    Last edited: May 31, 2014
  2. Hello Eric. Well, what can I say?  EXCEPTIONAL as always.  Great looking food and great "how to".  Keep Smokin!

  3. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks, Danny!!!

    We dodged a severe thunderstorm just by a few miles...had a warning, and radar indicted golf-ball sized hail and up to 50 MPH winds heading our way, but it veered off to the north. There was another storm to the south as well...both moving due east...but almost on top of us. I had my smoker empty and shut-down when I called wifey to let her know I was just waiting on the rice to finish...I was so busy I didn't even see the storms in the area when she told me we were under a warning, and my weather alert radio is in the bedroom where I can't hear/see it...been there since last fall...lesson learned. Radio is out here in the main room of the house now.


    OK, taters came out of the Vault just after the Picnic. I grabbed a tong and gave the bone a tug...could see and feel a section of the roast moving like it was trying to tear away from the bark and cut loose...that's tender enough for me. Taters had the skin separating from the meat, so yanked 'em out @ 3.25hrs with average chamber temps of 260* or bit over.

    The rice was a snap...I soaked the rice in water just long enough to float the chaff and sift through it to find any unwanted kernels, etc and remove them manually...then just poured the water off to rid the floaters, drained for a minute and tossed in a hot skillet to evaporate the remaining water so it would heat up and toast it lightly while I turned it with a wooden spatula...took about 10 minutes and the rice was almost 2" deep in the skillet. Then, I tossed it into seasoned boiling water, stirring for the first couple minutes reduced heat to a slow simmer after the boil resumed, added the canned tomatoes and covered for 20 minutes, stirred again 2 more times, and killed the heat when the rice absorbed the bulk of the water...about 35 minutes, give or take. This is a bit different than I usually do for rice...bring to boil, cover and kill the heat, s long as it's a larger batch of a few quarts or more. This tasted a bit light on seasoning, but I didn't want to get carried away for when adding it to the smoked cabbage, and maybe smoked onions...they'll add a lot to this dish. Oh, and I decided to add a couple pinches of salt when I threw the rice into the water, just in case what I used for seasoning was slightly bland. Last time I did something similar to this, I laid a bed of smoked coarse chopped cabbage to place the rice over...great side dish.

    Brown rice has a chewier texture than long-grain white rice, and I wanted that for today's meal. Brown rice also has more oils than white, as it is the whole grain, and toasting brings out more of the flavors from the oils...the high heat to get a slight browning possibly alters those flavors slightly, but brings it more up front and out in the will have a subtle addition of flavor when something like tomatoes is added to the mix, but it finishes nicely.  I did notice that the rice absorbed some water during the initial process of toasting, as it bulked-up slightly after it heated through in the it steamed slightly with residual water from the rinse...kind of neat to see. Anyway, I cooked it slightly over-done, so the kernels were just beginning to split open, kind of like what you would see in a beef & barley soup (love that stuff, btw).

    BTW, I didn't even measure the rice or water...2lb bag of brown rice, poured an eyeball amount of water in a pot...figured start with a bit less than I thought it would take...began the boil, added rice, added a bit more water to cover the rice completely with about 1/2" extra. The canned tomatoes added more water, of course. Came out nearly perfect for the amount of cooking I wanted and having a slightly moist rice when it was finished, with the kernels just beginning to split...with the texture slightly chewy, but more tender than for a normally cooked brown rice. Couldn't have done it better if I did measure everything...but then I've never had issues with rice, wife and daughters still don't like cooking rice because they either get it finished with a tough chew or a sticky, mushy texture...I'm the rice cook of the house, so it's a treat when I make it. It's all about the rice/water ratio, and heat over time...bearing in mind what texture you want. Minute Rice is their friend, but it has it's drawbacks...I don't like cooking it myself due to it being too easy and having little options for texture. Besides, I like to experiment and I like to challenge myself to do things a little differently when the opportunity presents itself. Ah, enough about rice...and I'll skip the pulling...we've all seen a pan of pulled pork, right?

    How about a plate with some pulled pork on an onion roll, a buttered split tater, and rice over cabbage topped with onion? No sauce needed for this PP, as the tart cherry in the rub adds a slight tang...mouth-watering is an understatement...and the retained moisture is as good as I've ever had.

    The works:

    Dark, heavy bark...not scorched, just a long smoke:

    Cabbage, rice & onion combo...smokey deliciousness from the veggies:

    Skin on the taters was pulling away nicely from the could cut a chunk out with a fork and leave nothing 'em that way:

    This was a huge hit here...a bit of everything for whatever you wanted to drop on the plate, and all but the rice had a nice amount of smoke. BTW, the pecan for the taters and veggies was a really good match...not to heavy or too light, nice aroma and smooth flavor. The picnic, getting hit with four smoke woods was interesting trying to dissect each of the smoke woods from the bites having bark in them...confusing at times, but not in bad way...the pecan might have been what pushed it towards that state for me, because hickory, apple and cherry are a great combo match, IMHO, for pork in general.

    Being this PP is from a picnic, the flavors are deeper and the moisture is even better than with a Boston butt. I don't plan on smoking butts anymore...the picnic is where it's at for me. BTW, if you're wondering what temp my picnic came out at? Can't tell you...I'd have to kill you...LOL!!! Just kidding...I have no idea, 'cuz I didn't stick it with a all...for the entire smoke. Shrinkage and little tug of the bone told me what I wanted to know. I kinda like smoking this way lately...laid-back and no real pressure or worries...I guess you get that way when you smoke enough meats for enough time to just get comfy and let it roll.

    Overall, this was a very, very easy meal...sure, rice may not be everyone's strong suit, but you won't gain the cooking and eating experience if you don't try (white rice may be to your liking over brown...maybe you like Basmati white or brown choice today was plain ol' brown). Be aware, some varieties of Basmati are GMO, if that matters to you. The eats from my 20-something hours of cooking (I did sleep through the smoke last night for my full 6hr rest) were every bit as good as my expectations...maybe even better. I know my pulled pork inside and out, and I know what the wet-to-dry method can do for, I knew that end was a no-fail. I haven't figured out yet exactly what it would take to cook rice in the smoker...actually never really thought about it until now. I'll let everyone know if I try that. That would be nice for a one cooker meal, but getting a boil going...that's tough with low & slow smoke chamber temps, so a very long, slow cook of the rice would be the only possibility, I guess. Smoked and cooked rice...hmm, I've done smoked dry, soaked beans, then added to smoked chicken meat, smoked new mexico chillies, smoked garlic, smoked onion and I don't even remember what else other than a broth, and returned to the smoker to finish it all up...yeah, a lot of smoke time over two days for one dish (everything got smoked ahead of combining for the final cooking), but it made for a very delicious and unique smoked green chili. That said, I now find myself thinking...what could go wrong with smoked rice? Not a helluva lot...water, heat and a lot of time...just gotta find out how much of each, right? Some day (soon, I hope) I'll just have to get after it and make it happen.

    Oh, just in case you're curious about the smoked green chili...WOW, I just looked at the start date for that thread...that was a long time ago, but I can almost taste it right now:

    You can stick a fork in me now...I'm done...LOL!!!

    Great smokes to all and to all a good night!!!

    Last edited: May 31, 2014
  4. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That all looks awesome man ! Very nice smoke ! Thumbs Up
  5. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks! We'll be working on leftovers today, as we had entirely too much for one meal...but it's raining today, so I don't have to get wet to make dinner...[​IMG]

    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Tasty looking meal!

    I have three butts that need some smoking and some green chile pazole sounds good!
  7. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Once again, you're over the top with your smoking. [​IMG]
  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks guys...even the leftovers are going down good!!!

  9. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As usually these days, a day late and a dollar short. That's some beautiful bark, my compliments to the chef!

    I am still trying to learn how to gage veggies, for some reason for me they just elude me with the proper times.

    <Hangs head in shame> I finally got where I nuke 'em in a steam box for 3 mins before throwing on the grill or smoker and it seems to at least be tender enough to eat.

    Impressive feast, bet the son was a happy camper. He's going to miss home soon.
  10. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Foam! The bark was great...wet-to-dry smoke chamber and this somewhat newer dry rub have been kind to me.

    Yeah, getting somewhat tender veggies from the smoker takes some time and experimenting. Low & slow doesn't usually work very well, but at least with potatoes, they'll come around eventually @ 250* or so, but 225* seems to take forever. The cabbage and onions I did this time around were aldente, but I wanted a light crunch to them. The cabbage was wilted enough to have a slight crispness...onions were just done enough to have a light chew...both were good for garnishing, but even the cabbage as a base for the rice worked well. I'm not so sure I'd want to try to get real tender on open grates, though...I think they'd get extremely dried-out. Smoke and steam would do nicely, though.

    As for timing, sometimes they fool me and go faster than I want, but usually I don't start them quite early enough. Squashes, such as butternut and spaghetti, are still on my list to work on more...first couple times they OK, but I'd like to get better with them.

    My son is definitely going to miss the Q, as well as his family here. Wish him well.

  11. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Jeeeeez Eric...... That looks awesome and your imagination with the sides makes me hungry..... :2thumbs:
  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Dave!!! I don't smoke veggies often enough...but then the kids aren't big on ' left in the house now, plus mom & me, so maybe I need to cook for the majority in the house...again...[​IMG]

  13. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow. Great post and meal.

    I need to try more veggies.

    Oh, I prefer picnics too.
  14. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks brother! The only veggies I've found that don't smoke well whole are roots...tried some large carrots once...looked ugly after they started to split open, but still tasted great...LOL!!! I'll still smoke root veggies, but I'll break them down a little first...a little smaller pieces, that is.

    Yeah, picnics are the bomb for PP.

  15. tonybel

    tonybel Smoking Fanatic

    Absolutely perfect!!!
  16. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks!!!  We just finished the last of it last night...I prefer freshly pulled pork myself (it's that crispy bark thing), but it's still good eats when reheated.

  17. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    That's Eric for ya!!!!! A purist at heart.  [​IMG]
  18. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    [​IMG]Yep, very little foil or tented/covered pans gets used around here these days...that just kills the bark I get using the wet-to-dry smoke chamber. OK, so, except for the occasional veggies that I choose to steam after a smoke, or to soften-up some ribs now and then when the wife requests it...I really need to do veggies more often, fills out the complete meal so nicely.

    Hey Dave, I almost talked myself into buying a 14.5" WSM tonight. For the coin, it's a pretty decent buy considering what it takes to build a mini WSM, and it comes with a premium cover. Even my Brinkmann Gourmet is too big now days, especially when I throw on the extra drum and then have 4 cooking grates staring at me...can't get a long burn out of it for all-nighters anyway. All the smokers I have are only efficient for gatherings...that, and I'm always temped to fill the empty grate space once I get a smoke know how it is...there's that grate with nothing on it, and I'm putting time, fuel and smoke wood into this thing anyway. That's when the wheels start turning and my creativity gets turned loose. Then, I end up with a week worth of leftovers...LOL!!!

    So, I figure my 18.5 Weber One Touch Gold and a 14.5" WSM would be the perfect match for 3-6 mouths. I always have my pair of camp 12" C/I D/O and 15" C/I skillet, as well as a smaller C/I grill/griddle...charcoal (occasionally lump) really is my passion...followed by cast iron. The dark side is nearly completely upon me...[​IMG]...I think it will suit me well.

  19. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    But Eric, I read on one of the many posts here on SMF about building Mini WSM, when someone mentioned about buying the 14.5 instead of building, the poster retorted with: "Real Men BUILD their smokers" or words to that effect.  J/K of course.  As I remember, you work killer hours out in the hinterlands so time for the family projects are very precious.  Me, being quasi-semi-retired, have time for the mod's bug to take over.  Already see mod (modify) potential for the Mini, some of which I incorporated into my 22.5 WSM mods.  Still, I'll keep it to Secret Squirrel status, until the mod's prove out.
  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ha-ha!!! Yes, I'm still pushing the 60-70hr weeks, so even the time I spend on here is pretty special. I would love to build my own smoker, but time is something I have little of, while cash for purchasing one isn't much of an issue. It's just a matter of carefully considering what I really want in a smoker these days.

    I do remember seeing all of your WSM mods...that is some kinda creation, Dave. Ease of use, overall features and convenience are just bursting from that smoker. I'll wait to see how your mini comes're just the guy to put every well thought out potential mod into a state of reality.

    I have a lot of time for thought, even during my work day, so ideas come in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, making the time to put them into use is another story...something else always seems to take the top of the list on priorities.


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