Monday, March 25, 2013

Lock, Stock and One Smoking Barrel....

Jake's Red Top Smoker Grill

With the onset of warmer weather comes the blooming of the flowers, the tweeting of birds and the obvious hints of sunny days ahead.  And as predictable as these signs are, so are the signs of barbecue season.  But wait, there’s a new old wave that’s coming through this season.  And that wave is the rise of the USD (Ugly Smoker Drum), or plainly enough smoking in barrels with removable tops.  Now Jake’s has been smoking meats for generations and we’ve been building smokers for the better part of 40 years but recently we decided to begin selling what we make so often.  While all that’s good and fine what’s been missing for most is the practical uses of these USD units. Many can tell you how to build one or what to expect and even where to buy the parts but there just seems to be a shortage of easy to use, convenient recipes and instructions for cooking.  So, to get you on your way I’ve included one of our easiest smoking recipes, smoked barbecue ribs.  In this recipe I take you from the front door to the back porch and ultimately to the table with these step by step instructions.  Keep in mind smoking meats is wonderful but takes time and planning.  One should begin the planning process at least a day in advance of the smoking to get things perfect.  When the smoking begins try to dedicate at least 6 hours to the entire process.  While you’re not standing around staring at the barrel for 6 hours, you are in fact monitoring the process for that period of time.  So, let’s get started. 

Smoking Jake’s Barbecue Ribs:
There are many ways to smoke ribs making them succulent, sweet tasty and full with a natural smoky flavor. This method uses a water smoker which not only delivers the richness of smoke but adds additional juiciness to the ribs through the use of water.  The process cleans up nicely and the results are fantastic. Because we are using a USD we will focus on the use of charcoal and the components necessary to make that work. If you have a smoker with a heat element or gas system you can still achieve the smokiness that you desire. Most of these steps translate directly to your preferred method. 

Preparatory steps:
-Assumptions:  We’re going to assume that you’ll either be smoking the ribs on a Saturday or Sunday.  That would mean that either on Friday or Saturday you’re going to have all the necessary materials at your disposal to ensure that things go well on the DOS (Day of Smoke).  In addition to the USD we’re going to assume that you have some way of hanging meat in suspension over the charcoal as it’s cooking either by hooks or by some other hanging method.  We’ll also assume that you’re going to be eating your meal on the DOS in the afternoon of either day.

Ingredients:

1 USD (Ugly Smoker Drum)
1 Standard Bag of Regular or Non-Matchlight® Charcoal**
1 Rack of Ribs (at least 13 bones in a standard rack)
1 pan/dish to carry at least 1 Quart of Water
4 Tablespoons of Jake’s Tri Tip, Steak and Rib Rub (All Natural)
4 Tablespoons of Standard Yellow Table Mustard
2 Cups of Wood Chips (Hickory, Alder, Cherry whatever you prefer)
1 Roll of Foil Wrap Aluminum
1 Chimney Fire starter

Rib Rubs
Seasoning pork or beef ribs beforehand enhances the flavor when the ribs are finally cooked.  The best Dry Rub Rib mixture will allow the meat to marinate evenly throughout the ribs.  Since Jake’s makes and sells it very own  Tri-Tip, Steak and Rib Rub this is an easy one for us.  But if you don’t have a dry rub there are a couple of ways we can remedy this.  One, you can simply go to our website at www.jakesbbqsauce.com and order your dry rub using code: 1501062009 at checkout which will give you a 10% discount.  Or you can go to our website at www.jakesbbqsauce.com and search for a copy of one of our open source recipes for dry rubs that we have available free for any site visitor.  Just type in “dry rub recipe” in the search box and you’ll be taken to the web page listing the recipes.
 
Before applying the dry rub you’ll need to clean your ribs.  Take the ribs if they’re pork and simply use a paper towel and your fingers to remove as much of the white membrane on the backside of the ribs.  This membrane barrier when removed allows you to deliver more flavors from the dry rub directly to the meat. After cleaning pat the ribs dry with a paper towel to remove any excess water moisture.  Lay down a long piece of aluminum foil enough to wrap the ribs in when completed.  Following the foil lay the ribs on top of the foil.  Coat the rib with the yellow mustard on both sides of the meat.  If you used your hands to coat the meat you must thoroughly clean your hands to prepare for the next step.  Follow the mustard with the dry rub coating both sides thoroughly.  When done coating cover the ribs with the foil wrap.  Seal as much of the ribs as possible with the wrap.  Now, take the ribs and place them in your refrigerator where they will rest overnight.  The combination of dry rub and mustard will help tenderize the meat and make it juicier when cooked. 

Next Day DOS: 
Since you’ll need at least 6 hours of smoke time it’s a good idea to get the grill ready by 9 AM.  We’ll assume that you’ll have all the items and ingredients you need and that you’ll light the fire at 9 AM.  First position your USD so that you will be upwind from the unit.  Remember it will be smoking most of the day so ensuring that you’re not in the smokes’ crossfire will run favorably in your direction especially if you have a few sensitive family members or a testy neighbor. 

Remove the charcoal basket from the USD and fill with Regular Non- Matchlight®  charcoal.  Place the basket back into the USD and ensure that the vents which provide air to the unit are about half way open. Take a handful of smoke chips and place them onto the charcoal.  Also, take the soaked chips and split them into two piles. Do not discard the water from the chips as we will use this later in the process.  Take each pile and wrap them in aluminum foil.  Tear a hole in the foil to allow smoke to rise from the foil.  Take the packets and place on the outer edges of the charcoal.  Take enough of the charcoal left to fill the Chimney fire starter.  Take a couple of strips of newspaper and ball them up.  After balling or wading them up place them under the starter.  The starter should be placed on a stone or metal surface.  Remember this unit will get hot, ensure that it is not placed anywhere that kids or adults may accidently come in contact with the unit.  Also, ensure that the unit is not placed in doors when starting or on any surface that might catch fire.  These steps are critical to your health and safety, do not take them lightly.   Once the fire starter is placed take either a match, lighter or barbecue lighter and light the paper underneath the chimney starter.  Within moments you’ll see the smoke from the burning paper rise up through the charcoal.  The intense heat of the flame against the bottom charcoals feed by the open vents of the starter will allow the charcoal to begin burning and will ultimately act to start the fire on the surrounding charcoals. 

**Charcoal: Note, we recommend using non-matchlight® charcoal.  This use will allow the charcoal to burn naturally.  If you use matchlight® or similar then all the charcoal will light as one unit which converts your smoker from a smoker to a grill.  Since we’re attempting to smoker and not grill this would be detrimental to our process.  Now, you can use a few matchlight® briquettes at the bottom of the chimney starter if you’re having trouble getting the first started.  Beyond, using matchlight® in the chimney starter I would hold it aside for the days in which you intend to grill and not smoke.

Once the Chimney starter is going let it burn for at least 10 minutes.  The objective is to get about half or more the charcoals lighted without having them burn white all the way.  This will help start the fire in the charcoal basket when transferred.  After the charcoals have reached their desired burn level use a heat protective glove or towel around the handle of the chimney to pick the unit up and dump the charcoals onto the charcoal basket.  When dumping the charcoals keep in mind there may be sparks for the charcoal or embers which may float around.  Be aware of the wind temperature and the area in which you are transferring the coals so as not to send sparks onto dry grass or brush.  Dump the coals over the center of the charcoal basket.  While the charcoals settle they will come in contact with the existing charcoals which will catch fire and begin to smolder.  As the heat builds you will begin to see smoke rise from the wood chip packets.  Once this the packets are smoking take a metal container or bowl and fill it with the water from the chips that were soaked.  Place the metal container on top of the charcoals directly in the center.  Make sure the container is level and keep in mind as the charcoals burn they will reduce in size causing the dish to change position.  Don’t let the dish shift too much because it may spill causing the water to cover the bottom on the smoker. If the water comes in contact with the smoker it may put your fire out.  A good way to determine something is wrong is by monitoring the temperature gauge.  If there is a dramatic drop in temperature then you know something is wrong and should be attended to. 

Options for water smoking include wine, juices or even beer. No matter the liquid or liquid combination you choose to smoke with, first soak your wood chips in this liquid. Depending on the flavor you want, you can vary the type of chips used. Alder, Mesquite and hickory are three of the most popular. Soak the wood chips for no less that 1 hour.  After soaking the chips, use the same liquid which will be poured in the water pan and used for the smoking process.

Once the charcoal is set remove your ribs from their foil and insert the hooks to hang the meat.  Transfer the meat to the smoker and hang.  Place the lid on the unit carefully and monitor the temperature.  A good smoking temperature is 200 degrees.  A great smoking temperature is closer to 250 degrees.  The best way to manage the amount of heat is through the movement of the air vent.  Adjusting the vent either open or close will deliver more or less air to the burning charcoals.  More air equals faster burn and of course less air means slower burn and longer cooking.  If you are cooking pork always be aware of the temperatures necessary to full cook the meat.  The temperature must be high enough to move the meat out of the know danger range to kill bacteria and allow meat to cook.  If the meat stays in the danger range too long one can get sick or ill.  Having your smoker at 250 will ensure that bacteria and illness never become a problem. 

Ongoing
It is a good idea to take at least one additional cup of smoking chips and have them soaked and ready for use.  After every 2 hours you should check on the water in the dish and also the wood chips.  If you need more water carefully pour more into the container without spilling or turning it over.  If you need more chips simply take a small handful and sprinkle them over the burning charcoals.  You may not need more charcoals but if you see them burning awful fast do two things, first close the vent door a bit to slow the burn process, second, prepare more charcoal by filling the chimney starter.  Once the charcoal reaches its desired temperature fill the charcoal basket as necessary.  When filling the basket watch for charcoal dust spray as the charcoals land on the ones beneath.  If you have a large enough access door fill the basket from the access door. 

Monitor the temperature and allow the smoke to perform its magic.  Once the meat is cooked add barbecue sauce after removing the ribs from the smoking process.

Slice the meat accordingly and plate with condiments, salsa, garlic bread and other items. 

Things to Avoid
Things to avoid are smoking on windy days or in areas where the smoke will drift causing irritation to neighbors or family members.  

One key issue that can't be repeated enough is heat management.  Keep the doors closed unless absolutely necessary.  Remember, open doors mean heat loss which means longer cooking periods which can also make meat tough.  Manage heat to improve the overall end result.

If you follow all these steps your ribs should turn our perfectly, just remove, cut, and serve.

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