I've gone completely Dark...The Dark Side: WSM 18.5"...let the journey begin

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9.4lb HAM & TATERS

I tossed this into the WSM 18 with Embers 2/3 chimney of hot charcoal covering a good load of cold, filling the ring level to the top, and one chunk of cherry to start the smoke. I'm still running an empty SnG pan with foil-liner...seems to get a bit hotter with less fuel, and temp swings are pretty minor anyway, even with the 34* ambient temps, light snow and mild winds today. Intakes were set to 50% open, lid full open, until grate temp rose to 260*, then I backed-off intakes to about 20% and it's been running around 230-240* since.

104* I/T when I dropped the Taters on after about 3-1/4 hours...added another chunk of cherry for smoke:

No rub or glaze, as these reduced sodium Smithfield hams are just too good to mess with...if it ain't broke...

I didn't think about anything else to toss in on bottom...plan on putting the taters there, but when I saw the extra space on top, well, why lift grates and do the shuffle when you don't have to? Still makes me want to fill the lower grate, though...hmm, time to have another peek in the pantry and freezers...

Back with the finish ASAP!!!

Huh...this turned into a Surf & Turf, in a roundabout kinda way.

Temps were dropping in the WSM after adding about 20 briquettes and cracking the intakes open to about 40% (dropped to 210*), so I figured ash was building up, and I do have an extra grate to hold onto the smaller coals for longer, so it made sense. Pulled the barrel and shook the grate, let the air-borne ash dissipate for a few seconds and set the barrel back on. I/T on the ham was 135* @ 5hrs into the smoke...taters are cooking along nicely and taking on some good smoke as well, judging by the color change.

I rotated the taters 180* being they're close to the edge of the grate where high chamber temps can cause uneven cooking:

The next victims for today...cod...thawing in 2Tbls kosher salt and 1.5 cups of water with a warm water bath...last-minute add-on for this smoke session today. I'm moving things around frequently so temp changes move more evenly throughout:

Just about ready to pat dry and dust with some rub...took about an hour to thaw these out:

Cod seasoned with some rub my Wife picked up a while back...Weber N'Oleans Cajun...has some kick from red pepper...probably going to drizzle some lemon on mine when the time comes:

OK, taters, move over, snuggle-up and get cozy:

Ham is 139* I/T...could come out any time, but if it hits 145-150* before dinner, I'm cool with that...it's still gonna be moist and delicious:

6-1/4 hours into the ham smoke. With tending taters, adding cod, snapping photos, I'm slowing that ham down...it's been hanging in the 135-139* range for the past hour, so I doubt it will jump up and start a sprint any time soon.

All that and I STILL have not touched the lower grate...hmm...naw...better call it quits with the cod...who's gonna eat all of this?!?!?!?

So, the REAL finished pics are up next...when we get there...patience...

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The smoked Cod was a nice way to start the meal. The rub wasn't over-powering and the lemon juice paired suprisingly well with the lightly smoked, firm but tender flesh. I want to do fish like this more often:

Just off the WSM with 142-145* I/T @ the 8hr mark, per my pocket digital giving a second opinion in several areas:

There are those tell-tale wrinkles in the skin again...I'm not sure why, but I find myself tossing taters into the smoke a lot more often than I have in the past. Maybe, just maybe, they're easier on the WSM...naw, can't be...I've smoked 'em in my SV-24 and had a nice, tender potato if I wanted it. Must be because they're just so darn good that I can't help myself anymore.

Well, the house is REALLY full of smoke aromas, now...

Nothing super-special or spectacular...just a basic, simple, and delicious smoked rendition of an oven classic. The cherry smoke pushed a slightly sweeter profile through to the ham, which was a nice way to finish without added glaze or dry rub. Sure, I could have rolled with a variant of my red bell pepper rub, with extra RBP to push that sweetness, but when you can add what you're looking for with smoke, why not? the cherry smoke worked well on the fish & taters, too:

Yet another easy meal under my belt. The WSM and Embers rolled along pretty nicely today with the way I loaded and started the fire. Smoke was on track with using one medium chuck of cherry at a time. I still had some glowing smoke wood when I tossed the Cod on late in the day and it was still there when I choked it down to kill the fire, so it was coming on nice and slow, all day long.

I'm tossing the idea of a new method for no-boil mac & cheese that I want to toss out next weekend and see how it works out...that's part of Thursday's smoke...meat is yet to be determined, but possibly pork loin chops. I want something a bit bigger for some slower cooking, though, so we'll see where it takes me. Time for some freezer scavenging again for next days off work...

Thanks for peekin'!!!

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

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You know without some long chemical breakdown and medical warnings, I really like a Smithfield also. Isn't it a Chinese company now? 

I gotta ask, as huge as that ham looks, is that what is called a banquet ham? I hope so, cause I have one in the freezer been in there forever its so big I have never seen a reason to thaw something that big. I could feed a whole weeding on that sucker. I am affraid as big as it is though it will be a bunch of chunks all glued together.. know what I mean?

Sweet looking ham, I have a butt in the smoker now, wish I had the patience for taters just once....LOL
You know without some long chemical breakdown and medical warnings, I really like a Smithfield also. Isn't it a Chinese company now? 

I gotta ask, as huge as that ham looks, is that what is called a banquet ham? I hope so, cause I have one in the freezer been in there forever its so big I have never seen a reason to thaw something that big. I could feed a whole weeding on that sucker. I am affraid as big as it is though it will be a bunch of chunks all glued together.. know what I mean?

Sweet looking ham, I have a butt in the smoker now, wish I had the patience for taters just once....LOL
Yeah, there's a lot of processed meats that would scare the wiser of us if we read the labels and understood it all...myself included. These are from mass-production, so, you can expect the quality won't be like it was 30-40 years ago due to changing regulations and trying to keep up with demands, which causes changes in processing. The really good country hams that most of us can't afford on a regular basis, if ever, are not mass-produced...they're hand-made and the price will reflect the quality. Smithfield Farms was purchased by Shuanghui International Holdings. Smithfield and it's variety of sister brands (many brands of varied processed meats) have been operated by the Chinese since September, 2013. The Chinese bought Smithfield in order to better meet the rising demands for pork in China (they are the largest pork consumers, globally). The foods marketed here in the states are still grown and processed stateside, and exports from Smithfield are for Chinese consumption, unless I'm mistaken. Smithfield operates processing plants globally.

The 9.4lb ham I smoked today was a bone-in, whole muscle, butt section...not pieced together or de-boned and rolled. I laid it down with the cut side on the grate, so the size may have looked a bit deceiving, as it was quite high on the grate. I did this for more even cooking. I should have taken a couple pics before I removed it from the packaging to dry and start smoking, but it was just cryovac packed (AKA: city ham, I'm guessing...but some sources state it is dry-cured...doesn't make sense)...no netting or piece-work, though. I did smoke a whole bone-in Smithfield ham (shank and butt) a few years back that was over 19lbs...that was a monster, and yes, they can feed a small army.

If yours is a whole ham, it should be bone-in, shank and butt, intact. It should keep in the freezer @ 0* or below with reasonably steady temps for a few years without loosing too much quality. Save it for a gathering...that's what my big one came out for a few years ago...well, I may have just got the itch to smoke a big ol 'hunka pork...I slept a couple times since then...

Ah, brother, ya gotta try taters!!! They're easy...I don't do anything with them except scrub 'em off if they're really dirty, and air-dry before tossing into the smoke. If they're nice and clean, just pop into the smoke. Just be patient if you're running under 250*. These ones today took about 3-1/2 hours or so @ around 230* average, or a bit less...a couple spots weren't completely tender, but very close...just needed another 15 minutes or so. 225* with med/lg yellow, red or russet will run for 5-6 hours, while the big Idaho bakers will take 8-10hrs...the monster Idahos in the 1-1/4 to 1-1/2lb range can run ~12hrs+. Increase in temps will decrease time, of course, but if you drop much under 225* you can expect an eternity to cook potatoes...been there, done that. 250-270* works out quite well, with reasonable cooking times.

Potatoes are good straight out of the smoker, but if you age them for a day or two in the fridge (in plastic bags or containers)? OMG!!! Just like aged smoked cheese. Only with potatoes, if you don't eat the skin when they're fresh out of the smoker you can run a pretty wicked amount of smoke and it won't be a strong flavor at all, 'cuz most of it stays in the skin. The aroma is rather tantalizing, I must say. That's why aging makes a lot of difference...it will equalize into the flesh of the potato. Leftover smoked taters really are a treat because it's not just a lot of aroma with a very light smoke flavor...it gets deeper into the potato over time and mellows. Of course your fridge will wreak of smoke the whole time they're in there getting happy, 'cuz smoke goes right through plastic...
Oh, don't age smoked potatoes in your wife's favorite tupperware...she'll string you up when she wants to store her favorite summer fruit salad and it comes out smoked a day later...

If you want to give taters a shot in the smoke, give a shout. If you have the patience for a butt, you can handle taters...trust me. I mainly go by time and temp, now, like with everything else...then give 'em a peek for wrinkled skin...once there's wrinkles, check for internal shrinkage (not temp) with a light squeeze. When they start to collapse easily between a thumb and forefinger, you're there.

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How did I miss this one?? Beautifully done, Eric!!!

Thanks, brother!!! This was probably the easiest smoke I've done in the WSM so far. Of course, every smoke gets easier, I guess.

I do think that starting 1/2-3/4 chimney of Embers charcoal to dump over top works better than a small fire in the center...this stuff seems to ignite and burn pretty slow, so getting a good-sized fire going from the start makes the WSM happy. And, by covering the coal-bed with hot coals on top the white coal smoke dissipates within 5-10 minutes and I never see it again after that. I get coal smoke with the smaller fires, sometimes for much longer than I'd like to see. And, when adding cold fuel, you'll get it then, too. I think for a cleaner smoke, I'll just add hot coals from now on, if I need to. I'm learning...

Mine is simply marked "Banquet Ham" I'll have to check the weight.

And good to know about the cooling intensity of the potatoes.

Thanks man.
Yeah, Foam, that definitely sounds like a whole ham...dry-cured, wet-cured...either way, it should be somewhat of a behemoth.

I had to dig to find this...the only whole ham I ever smoked, to date..this 19.4lbr was in the Smoke Vault 24, Thanksgiving 2010...BTW, that split bird is 19.4lbs as well, just to give you an idea for size comparison. Judging by the grate spacing, that ham is still nearly 7" tall, and about 15" wide on the grate, finished at higher temp. If your ham looks like this (well, minus the effects of a long day of smoking), it's whole, and it's BIG:

View media item 24522
A little better look at it:

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Finished, resting in a 12" x 18" aluminum baking pan:

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You're welcome for the tater tips...any time.


Wife-person picked me up a 18lb cut/tied Rib Roast @ $7.99lb (that was the sale price), so I took off 5.2lb (2 bones from the large end) for my birthday smoke...just the right size for 7 of us...had a small gathering as most of the kids were working, so we planned for our big gathering on the 29th. I loaded up my gear and we headed to my youngest daughter's place to commence with smoking it up along with a handful of nice med-lg russet taters.

Just gettin' started...hickory and apple chunks over Embers briqs @ 240-250*, if I recall...these look way too pale:

Much better...almost ready:

Yanked it out @145* to hold for a bit in the oven 'cuz it was finished too early...had some issues with that gas range and it ended it up close to med-well...OOPS!!!:

After holding tented for 90 minutes:

Done enough to see a nice smoke ring, so yeah, it was not med-rare anymore, but still plenty of juices:

Never had med-well PR before...was OK...expected it to be a bit on the dry side in some of the leanest muscle, but it was a nice:

So, lesson learned: don't plan on holding in the "O" when it's not your own, unless you pull the roast early (like 130-135* I/T) for a med-rare finish. It still was great eating piece of beef, though. Those medium sized russets were nearly perfect after almost a 4-hr ride in the WSM running around 250-260* on the upper grate.


We couldn't get everyone together for Christmas due to work schedules until today. Been planning this for over a month, so there was no turning back, even with the weather, being teens and snowing...at least the wind isn't howling, though. My oldest daughter is hosting and invited some more guests so she picked up an extra 2-bone rib roast to be sure we had the beef quantity covered.

I put the smallest russets on the OTG 18 indirect with one fire on the side and the lid vent on the opposite side...1/2-size aluminum steam pan under the taters for a baffle to direct air towards the fire...seems to be working fairly well, although I have rotated the taters around on the grate a couple times. Embers for heat with mesquite, hickory and cherry, as well. Thinkin' this was about an hour in:

101* I/T in the smaller one on bottom (5.5lb) and 72* in the larger one on top (12.8lb...remainder from my birthday smoke) @ 2hrs into the smoke the Embers briqs heating a bit of mesquite, hickory and cherry @ 225*. Rub is SPOG (used sea salt), RBP and a bit of Thyme...cross-hatch scored and rubbed it into the cuts a bit...I did remove the twine on the larger one and left it off:

Yeah, this big guy isn't doing much yet...time to make some changes:

The little fella is cooking right along down there:

Meat drippings getting onto these taters is gonna be GOOD!!!:

So, the lower grate is running quite a bit hotter today without pea-gravel in the pan. I rotated the meat and taters between grates, ending up with most of the taters on the upper grate along with the 5.5lb rib.

I had 7 hrs total to get this ready for dinner tonight, so I should have time to pull it off. Taters will be done early, but I wanted to rest them so the smoke will absorb deeper into the flesh while they wait for dining. We can reheat in the "O" or nuke-box when we're ready.

Indirect grill smoked taters resting peacefully...took on a great smoke color. They finished-up nicely with rotating on the grate a couple times. Grate temps are unknown, I just went by touch on the grill lid and checked them about every ~40 minutes...possibly in the 275*+ range nearer to the fire and around 220* towards the far side, being they only took 2.5 hours:

So, the two roasts are running about 24* apart @ ~3hrs (closer to 20* @ 4hr mark)...didn't really plan it that way, but it will work to my advantage. I figure the smaller one will work for med-well for the non-rare beef eaters, while the larger one can come out around 135* for a carry-over near 140*.

I'll post up the finish ASAP...getting to the point where I need to be watching therms a little more now, and I need to check those bigger taters in the WSM, as well. Should be getting close on them...5-1/4hrs for them now. I need to get a few coals going to toss some brats and dogs on for the little ones, if they want that instead of PR...usually that's the case...but I don't mind if they at least eat something from a grill or smoker...I'll get 'em hooked on the good stuff soon enough...

Catch ya with the finish!!!!

Thanks for peekin'

Ha-ha!!! Thanks, guys!!! Man, I gotta say, for the simpler prep and rub than I've done in years gone by, I think this PR was pretty close to my best. The guests, and family all raved about it for hours, even after opening our gifts and while playing cards. Taters were a big hit, too, as they always are...can't go wrong with smoked taters.

Sorry for such a late post, but I owed my family their due face-time...and we had a load of QT this evening. Gotta spend that family time wisely...we're not getting any younger.

OK, time was ticking away a bit too slowly for I/Ts I was seeing in the PR, even though the small fella didn't peak out where I thought it would. I cinched the intakes back on the WSM enough to get it to hold around 195* on the lower grate according to my pit probe...I/Ts were 136* in the big boy and 141* in the smaller PR at the 5.5hr mark, and I had 90 minutes to wait until we planned for everyone to be here and settled in for dinner.

Don't ask me how it happened, 'cuz if I tried to tell you I'd be flat out making up some BS story, but these both held steady for another 1-1/4 hours, and neither one fluctuated more than 1* throughout this time. Call it luck if you want to...I will, 'cuz I would have never guessed it was possible to create a stall at precisely that moment and make it hold for over an hour until time to pull and rest for slicing. So, 136* in the 12.8lb and 141* in the 5.5lb...good to go in my book.

I pulled the bigger russets around 5.5hrs and heaped them up on the platter with the kettle smoked taters to cover with a towel:

The kettle grill smoked russets are on the left...lots darker color, probably due to higher grate temps and faster cooking...smoke-roasted, if you will. The moist/damp looking tater skins were from the lower grate in the WSM before I rotated the roasts and taters...that's the meat drippings. I could taste the difference in mine...that richer, more savory flavor from the beef fat. Oh, and yes, I would do it this way again...reminded me of whole ear corn basted in whole chicken drippings throughout the smoke. If I could get drippings onto all of them without opening the lid to baste, now that would be something, indeed:

I held onto the PR in the WSM for as long as I dared...6-3/4hrs. This is just...well, words escape me...small roast:

Large roast:

I though a white board would be fitting for the moment...I gave them about a 20 minute rest...serious juices began flowing within a couple minutes of slicing:

My trophy plate...smoked beef-fat basted Russet with butter and black pepper, Green Bean Casserole, smoked small-end rare Prime Rib drizzled with Au Jus and smeared with Horseradish Sauce:

That was good...naw, I'm tellin' a little white lie...that was fantastic!!! Our guests have had PR before, but never like this...smoked and finished to perfection (if that's possible...of course, that depends on one's definition of perfection, now, doesn't it?). We all loved it, and the fixings and sides. We finished off the largest roast and I mentioned to my daughter that we didn't need that second smaller PR after all...then one of the guests said, hey, I'll have more if you need to justify cooking that second roast...it was more than worth it, and his saying it the way he did was good for a laugh, too!!! So, there's 4lbs of PR and 4 beef ribs in my daughter's fridge for her and hubby to munch on at will.

On a final note, I have a gift from my dear oldest daughter which will make my q-view sharing much better in the future. Her mother and her conspired on the purchase of a new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H300 camera...complete with a set of 4 AA rechargeable batteries, travel quick-charger, 32GB card, USB 2.0 SD card reader, mini-flex leg tri-pod, 3-card belt pouch, camera fanny pack style carrying bag, lens cleaning cloth and solution. Not only did she put this all together for me, she packaged and wrapped it in a manner that there was no possible way I could guess what it was. The accessories were small items inside the second of a box-in-a-box-in-a-box, with the third box having some of the larger items...the camera was hidden in her closet, and she didn't go grab it until I opened everything else first. Of course, each item I found was yet one more hint of what was to come...the first accessory which had the brand Vivitar...well, now, that was a dead give-away from there on out, and the anticipation built with every piece I opened. But the little things just kept piling up as everyone started laughing with me while I tried to find the end of the rainbow...it was hilarious. Fun, for all in the end. Now, I have to read-up on this new toy...er...tool...so I can make the most of this wonderful machine that puts my 12-year old Olympus C-765 to shame. Should make candid shots of friends and family quite easy, while with my current camera, there was always a few second delay for point-and-shoot focusing. Anyway, that topped my list of gifts, but I have several new Craftsman mechanic's tool kits which will come in quite handy as well (I do my own vehicle maintenance, for the most part). My wife and kids are great, and they show their appreciation in a big way whenever they can.

Great family, great friends (even here on SMF), great food, great Christmas gathering...I would not ask for anything more, because that's all I ever really want for Christmas (I really am not a materialistic person...I do like to cook with quality gear, though). To see our kids and grand-kids all together under one roof and sharing the experience of loving and giving...that's something you can't put a price on.

WOW!!! What a Christmas this has been!!! No issues all day and everyone had a good time and enjoyed the food...yeah, this was another good Christmas gathering.

Hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did, and hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!!!

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

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Thanks, brother!!! You know, I didn't think I was ready for it just yet, and we're about to smacked upside the face with full-on winter, but I have a nice bone-in pork picnic shoulder in the freezer (my absolute favorite for PP). I may have to start a thaw on that in a few more days and see about pulling an all-nighter after work on Saturday the 9th for Sunday dinner. I mean, how hard can it be, right? I already know what I need to do to get the clean burning fire I want from my fuel, so, there's nothing to stop me except frozen meat or a lack of motivation. I'm still pondering my next days off work, but I have 3 more days to figure that out. Been so busy this past week I haven't had time to plan that far ahead, let alone think that far ahead...LOL!!!

Hmm, this would be a good time for a freezer check...yes indeed.

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