I have wanted to build this BBQ Pit for a long time now. I have been smoking meat for about 4 years… Sometimes unsuccessfully, but certainly have come a long way. I discovered this YouTube video… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPSAQLIUCmo , which describes the cooking process for this style of BBQ. Thankfully, this is a great video because there just aren’t any more out there. I found it very difficult to find much information on the ways and hows of open pit.
The pit consists of 25 cinder block, a sheet of expanded metal, and a couple pieces of plywood. It probably cost me about $200 in material, but I bought everything new… Some of you will have these materials just lying around. The cooking surface on this pit worked out to be 3’x4’… enough space for 12 pork butts. This pit is much bigger than I need on a regular basis, but my girlfriend and I are hosting a big party next weekend and need the extra space. I’m planning on 3 butts and 10 chicken halves… Maybe a couple racks of ribs for good measure.
I finally found a use for that “ECB” (El Cheapo Brinkmann)… GIANT charcoal chimney! Because I have found myself without a decent supply of proper hardwood, I need to use natural lump charcoal. This seems to work out well, but is buy no means, the cheapest way to do this. I built a separate fire off to the side, and shoveled coals into the pit as needed to maintain temperature. This size pit required about (1) 15 lb bag of charcoal to bring the pit up to a steady temperature (not all at once), and another bag to maintain temperature for about 7 hours. Once the pit is up to temperature, it requires only a half shovelful of coals to bring up the pit 50 degrees. During this cook, I was using 1 shovelful to bring it up 100 degrees. I would let the pit reduce in temperature too 200 before I added the 1 shovel… then the temp would go to 300… Let it fall to 200 and repeat. The next time I do this, I’m going to try “indirect”… Coals on one side… meat on the other… This should have less extreme temperature fluctuations, and create a much better “low and slow” result. Then I will cook the chicken over the hot coals for a nice crispy skin… Low and slow is not good for skin!
I love this part the best… This is where I like to take my time with the trimming and rubbing. I have watched a lot of videos on competition BBQ, and I always try to do my best with my presentation. These probably aren’t up to competition standards, but i have managed to trim them up nicely… Removing excess fat and flesh that would otherwise burn up in the cooking process. BTW, these Old Hickory knives are great! Thanks to The BBQ Pit Boys (search them on YouTube) for introducing the to me! I also have a nice cleaver that I never knew I’d use so much.
After much care and love, I wrap them in plastic and put them in the refrigerator for the night. I don’t proclaim to use any “secret” ingredients in my rub… just basic ingredients like black pepper, salt, garlic powder, paprika, chilli powder, and some cayenne…. There are other ingredients and processes which I won’t go into detail… They add additional layers of flavor and sweetness to the ribs… Again, nothing super secret, and found openly on the web, but some things I just like to keep to myself.
After much blood, sweat, and time… You’ll end up (hopefully) with something that resembles these… A bit crispy (burnt) for my liking, but again… this is a different style then I’m used to. The crispy, burnt flavor, I attribute to cooking directly over the coals, and the extreme temperature fluctuations. Cooking indirectly next time should eliminate this… They were delicious and juicy however…:) Give it a try… It’s fun, and far more fun than mowing the grass!
I have been refining my skills with barbecue for several years now. I started with a cheap upright smoker in the beginning. While this smoker was a piece of crap, it was JUST good enough to keep me interested in doing better. After the first season of that (and the long winter that followed)… I had plenty of time to research better smokers. I was a bit intimidated,at first, by the offset stick burners, and opted for the Weber Smokey Mountain 22 1/2″… Couldn’t be happier! Not a cheap investment, but worth every penny IMHO. The Weber has served me a couple of years without fail. Having a few seasons under my belt, (in more ways than one), I have decided to have a go at “open pit”. I purchased the expanded steel grate yesterday, and picked it up today. I will end up with a 3’x4′ cooking surface. My girlfriend and I are having a party this summer and I have volunteered to do the cooking. I hope this is going to be big enough. I’d like to do 2 shoulders, 20 chicken halves, and a few racks of ribs (if space permits). I just need to pick up 25 block or so, a couple sheets of plywood, some leather gloves, and a shovel. I figure it to be less than $200 when all is said and done.
I have decided to write a quick article about pork fatties. These delicious creations are somewhat new to me, in fact, I have only made one… This one! Words, specially mine, can not describe just how delicious this is! The fattie has a completely different flavor profile that one might think of in their head.
To start, get yourself a 1 lb. package of ground sausage. In this case, I used a pound tube of Jimmy Dean hot sausage. Roll the sausage out in a 1 gallon Ziplock bag as you would a pie crust. When sausage has been rolled completely flat and even (into corners also) cut the Ziplock down the sides only and fold open.
Now, the beauty of pork fatties is that you can stuff them with anything imaginable. In this case I used sauteed onion, green bell pepper, and mushroom. I also added a couple slices of American cheese. After using American cheese, I decided I wouldn’t ever again. The cheese melted into complete liquid. In the future I would recommend using something stiffer like cheddar or Swiss. Also, as you will see in the picture, I put the cheese all the way to the sides on the sausage… Bad idea also… You need about a half inch of just pork on each side, so when the fattie is rolled the ends will seal correctly.
After you have your filling in place, use the Ziplock bag to assist you in rolling the fattie into a roll. Transfer the roll to a separate, large piece of plastic wrap, and roll tightly (like a piece of candy) into a nicely sealed roll. put this newly wrapped roll into the refrigerator while you complete the next step.
On another separate piece of plastic wrap, make a basket weave of bacon slices, the same width as the roll you have just created. I believe I used 7 strips x 7 strips. After the weave is made, place the roll on top of the bacon, and with the assistance of the plastic wrap, roll the bacon over the pork roll. I like to kind of weave the ends of the bacon (a little, the next step will seal it good) so that the end of the roll will seal good. Roll it again as tight as possible, by rolling the fattie holding the ends of the plastic wrap, tightly.
You should end up with something that looks like this! I love the way it looks at this point. I found it good to make this at least a day before I plan on cooking it. It gives the fattie time to stiffen up again in the refrigerator so it wont fall apart when you try to unroll it for smoking.
Place the roll on the smoker, and smoke until you reach an internal temp of around 160 degrees F. I was new to smoking at the time I made this, and I think I smoked it low and slow at around 225 degrees. I would now recommend a higher temperature of around 300-350 in order to crisp the bacon real good. “Pork Fattie”… give it a try! You’re not going to be disappointed!
This is my Weber Smokey Mountain 22 1/2″ smoker. I purchased this about 2 years ago and absolutely love it! It’s fairly easy to regulate temperature and burns for about 12 hours on a full load of charcoal. The smoker wasn’t cheap, but worth every dime spent. I originally bought a smoker manufactured by a company called Brinkman. These are the “bullet” style smokers found at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot. Do yourself a favor, don’t buy one of these. They are impossible to regulate temperature, and will turn any type of meat into something completely inedible. I use, and recommend using, 2 digital thermometers (probe type). One for the meat temp, and one for the “pit” temp. You want to maintain about 225 degrees Fahrenheit in your smoker. This is called “low and slow”.
I have been wanting to put these pictures up since I started this blog. Just haven’t been able to find the time to do so.
Chicken comes out REAL juicy and tender, however, the skin is rubbery. I have found that if you smoke chicken at 350 degrees or better, the skin is much more crispy. The absolute best chicken salad I have ever had was with my smoked chicken. Just add some cranberries and walnuts… You definitely won’t be disappointed.
Ribs are pretty straight forward. I use the three, two, one method. Three hours unwrapped at 225, two hours wrapped in foil, and one hour again unwrapped. I don’t like the meat to completely fall off the bone, so I have since modified that recipe to one hour in the foil.
Do some research on rubs. Not all are created equal. They can be as simple as salt and pepper, to as complex as you want it. Ingredients can include paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, etc… Some people like to make them sweet at the same time by using brown sugar or honey. The possibilities are limitless. The best way is to just keep smoking ribs… Find out what you like, and perfect it!
Stay tuned for more pictures and thoughts about barbecue. Being winter, I’m not out there much. This summer I want to try “open pit” style. I sure this will add a whole new set of challenges to smoking and barbecue. Thanks for reading!
Oh, want to learn from the best? Check these guys out! http://www.youtube.com/user/BarbecueWeb