Hello and welcome to the August edition of the smoking meat newsletter. We have been having unseasonably cool weather here in Oklahoma and the smoking adventures have been quite a bit more pleasant than what I am accustomed to this time of year.
I sincerely hope that all of you are having as wonderful of an August as I am!
In this months session we are going to be taking a few of your questions and answering them in detail.
We have been doing this about every other newsletter for the past several months and I always get excellent reviews from it.
Before We Get Started..
I do want to say a big thank you to all of you who support the site by purchasing the recipes or by sending in cash donations via the "Support This Site" links at the top left of the website and forum.
Many of you also support the site by signing up as a premier member at the forum for $15/year and that is extremely helpful as well.
I want to make a special note that the recipes are NOT food products. Every month or two I will have someone who purchased the recipes expecting to receive a bottle of rub or sauce in the mail.
I sell the recipes to help pay for the ever growing cost of hosting and other required services to keep the website and forum up and going and.. because I think you deserve to own the best rub and sauce recipe in the world!
I will allow this to suffice for advertising in this newsletter so if you would like to support the site and you want to own the best recipes in the world then you owe it to yourself and your friends and family to order the recipes.
The Rub and Sauce recipes compliment each other extremely well and are only $18.95,
You will not believe the flavor!
If you are wondering if the rub and sauce is as good as I say, just go to this thread at the forum where you will read post after post of non-solicited testimonies from folks who have ordered and are so glad they did.
Enough on that.. let's get right to some questions and I will answer them for you in as much detail as I can.
Question and Answer Session
Q: When you smoke your meatloaf, do you keep the loaf on the cookie sheet or do you place the meat right on the smoking grate?
A: An excellent question.. I get this question a lot which tells me that I need to revise my instruction page to make it more clear. When placing the meat in the smoker, you will need to keep it on some type of sheet to keep it together. I use a cookie sheet generally however I have experimented with other types of pans to see what works best for me and I recommend that you do the same.
For those of you who have not tried smoked meatloaf… what can I say? You are missing one of life's little pleasures;-)
Reference: How to Smoke Meatloaf
Q: I am planning on doing some pulled pork (boston butt) for about 36 people Labor Day weekend. How much meat do I need????
A: I am certainly not the expert on catering however, just as a general rule, I tend to allow for 1 lb of meat per person if I do not know the ratio of men, women and children. If I have a pretty good idea on this I then use 1/2 lb per child, 1 lb per woman and 1.5 lbs per man.
You can get just as scientific as you want to get and the more you know about your crowd then the better off you are as far as planning goes. I like to have plenty personally and tend to allow for a few leftovers or send home bags but then that's just me.
If it was me and I did not want to get too techy… I would buy 5 shoulders in the 7 to8 lb range to total 35 to 40 lbs of meat.
The only caveat to this would be if you are serving the pulled pork on sandwiches only and you have a couple of sides with a dessert.. you will generally use about 1/4 lbs of meat per sandwich which really cuts down on the amount of meat you need. In this case, a couple of 7 to 8 pound shoulders would definitely do the job.
As a side note, the quoted weights are uncooked weight. There will be shrinkage during the cooking process.
Q: Jeff, when smoking a brisket,would you recommend mesquite or pecan wood? Also, do you run the risk of drying the brisket by flipping it each time you baste? Thanks.
A: I tend to prefer mesquite for brisket but pecan is quickly becoming a favorite as well. The mesquite is robust and strong flavored which I really like with large pieces of meat like brisket and pork shoulder. When using mesquite it is absolutely essential to make sure you have plenty of airflow into and out of the smoker and that the mesquite is well seasoned.. i.e. it is not green.
As far as flipping a brisket… this is something that I have found that works well for me. It serves several purposes the main one being, I like to baste with a butter marinade and this allows me to get both sides every 1.5 hours when I flip.
Many folks claim that the fat side down lends to a more moist brisket while many folks say that the fat on the top keeps it moist and basted with the melted fatcap. The flipping every 1-1/2 hours gives the best of both worlds in my opinion.
Note: I do not recommend flipping or basting during the first couple of hours to allow for the rub (if you use one) to adhere to the meat.
Reference: Smoked Brisket
Q: I have a 24"X48"X 1/4 steel pit w/24X20 fire box with adjustable damper and a 5" smoke stack, my meat has a strong smoke flavor. i'm using post oak well seasoned??????
A: I use post oak fairly often especially as a base wood. Make sure you start your fire an hour or better before you are ready to add the meat to allow for a good bed of coals. I know I sound like a broken record sometimes but when folks say the flavor is too strong this can usually be attributed to not enough airflow or unseasoned wood.
You say the wood is seasoned well so it sounds like airflow may be the culprit. Make sure the damper leading into the firebox is allowing plenty of air in and this may mean you need to build a smaller fire to keep it from getting too hot with the extra air.
You also need to make sure that the chimney is open enough to allow for the smoke to exit from the smoker at a pretty good pace. The smoke should be very light almost invisible when all things are going as they should. At times, when you first add a new stick of wood it may get a little heavy but you should try to shoot for what we call the "thin blue smoke" for best results.
I usually recommend that the firebox damper be open at least 1/4 to 1/2 of the way open and the chimney to be at least 1/4 open. Over time you will find the best setting for your particular smoker.
Use a log book for every smoke and keep records on the configuration of your smoker, the weather, type of wood, etc. and you will be able to refer back to what works and what doesn't.