Over the last few months with the shed build in progress I have been un able to brew, and I guess I have been looking for other food and drink related projects, or to put it another way not brewing has given me time to indulge in a couple of other food related interests which I have been thinking about for the last year or so.
One of these interests is smoking meat -cooking low and slow, I have been wanting to try and do this for well over a year and I finally after a bit of internet based research have jumped in with both feet.
The two smokers I looked at were the ProQ Frontier Elite and the Weber Rocky Mountain and after a bit of research I settled on the ProQ Frontier Elite. Both smokers had good reviews but what sold it to me was the quick response to my questions when contacting Mac’s BBQ. It’s very reassuring when spending a few hundred quid to have questions answered quickly and it’s great to have the ability to just call up the main distributer and speak to someone about their products.
Here is the smoker
One thing which became very apparent when it comes to smoking is temperature control; the ability to maintain low temperatures for extended periods of time and to be able to monitor the meats temperature is paramount. This really is the key to smoking and I realised I need to be able to tightly monitor and maintain the cooking temperature – in this aspect smoking is very similar to fermentation!
So after a bit more research and a couple of emails to Mac’s BBQ I settled on the BBQ Guru Cyber Q, this is a pretty high end temperature controller with some great features, like most things you get what you pay for.
The Cyber Q had 3 food temp probes, a pit probe which feed into the controller when then controls the Pit Viper fan and the whole thing wireless connects to your house router and with a bit of configuration you can track all the temperature over the internet and make any changes using your mobile phone or any pc with an internet connection. All very handy when your sat in a pub having a few beers!
Here is the controler with all the probes and fan attached
The day before the first cook the new smoker was seasoned, the idea being that you just try and coke up the inside of the smoker so that a few of the gaps are sealed and it’s a bit more airtight.
The one thing I have now realised is that smoking requires an earlier than usual start on the day! If a 12 hour cook is required that means a 6am start which can be a bit tricky if a few too many beers have been enjoyed on the previous night!
The day before the first smoke I went and picked up the short rib of beef and that evening I applied the rub and left the meat in the fridge overnight to marinade in the rub. The rub consisted of the following:
- ½ cup sea salt
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup chilli powder
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp mustard powder
First job the following morning was to get the charcoal going, a pretty big pile of them for a long slow cook. I had also purchased a BBQ charcoal chimney which is a great invention that means you no longer need to buy any sort of BBQ fire lighters.
Once the charcoal was alight more were added and the unit was assembled with the water bath full of boiling water in the bottom of the smoker.
The meat was then added to the smoker and the pit temperature was set to 225degF looking to achieve a meat temp of 195degF after the 10-12 hour smoke.
Here is the smoker all set up with the temperature control in action
The following pictures were taken of the meat at 3 and 6 hours
As already mentioned the CyberQ allows you track the temperatures of the smoker from your mobile phone and this proved invaluable as at 8 hours in I found myself sat in a pub with beer in hand and I was able to notice that the pit temperature was dropping off slightly, this meant that I had a quick 3 pints then headed home to add some more charcoal to the smoker and soon the temperature was back up where it needed to be.
This was the short rib after 11 hours in the smoker, with the meat and pit probe in place.
The meat went down pretty well, the main evidence being that there was not much left! But my one main comment and a change I will make when I do this recipe again is to remove as much of the rub as possible before putting the meat into the smoker, as it was a little salty if you got a bit too much if the rub when you bit into the meat.
All in all I was very pleased with the first effort; next on the list will be lamb shoulder closely followed by some pork ribs.
Will post further pictures and details of smokes over the coming months.