Smoke Break: Our (New) Adventures in Smoking

Alert the Surgeon General: Alex has decided to take up smoking. Smoking meats, that is! Two weekends ago, Alex decided he simply must own this R2D2-esque smoker and so picked one up at Lowe’s. And this weekend we fired ‘er up for the inaugural smoke, er, BBQ? 

No matter what slow-cooking, smoky verb you prefer to call this method of cooking, our first try was a more-than-all-day affair. We began by brining overnight a 4.5-pound pork picnic roast in some molasses, filtered water, and salt. The next morning, after getting the charcoal going, Alex gave the meat a good rub with a mixture of chili powder, paprika, cumin, fennel seed, coriander seed, and onion powder before saying good luck and closing the lid.

We kept an eye on it all day and definitely had to experiment with how high or low to put the meat in the cannister, how much charcoal to use to maintain a high-but-not-too-high temperature, etc. We invited some friends over and sipped mojitos (perhaps the one drink I know how to make) while we waited. And waited. And waited. And then the ladies made the side dishes (roasted asparagus, and baked sweet potatoes with fresh shiitake mushroom sauce, which somehow managed to escape being photographed) and we ate those while we waited. And waited. 

And finally after about 10.5 hours in the smoker (mainly because the temperature remained pretty low all day), Alex removed the meat, sliced it up, and we slathered on some of the most fantastic BBQ sauce I’ve ever eaten left over from another manly meal I made earlier in the week (just after taking a slightly blurry picture – sorry).

A manly meal: BBQ Chicken Thighs, Creamed Spinach, Creamy Lemon-Chive Pasta

And oh, goodness. The pork was smokey and slightly salty and bursting with flavor. Kind of like opening your mouth and inhaling sharply on a crisp fall day when someone is burning leaves. What? You don’t like that smell like Jessalyn does? Alex doesn’t, but he loved this meat, so maybe that’s not the most accurate flavor description… Alex also complained that it wasn’t as flaky and pull-aparty as he had hoped it would be. He also suspects that it may have something to do with the cooking time and temperature (and possibly the cut of meat?). 

Anyway, it was our first time smoking. And you know, we hit a few hiccups, but we’re definitely up for doing it again. I’m thinking smoked turkey, chicken, ribs, fish, even cheeses? A whole new realm of cooking has been opened to me! But I’ll probably let this be Alex’s thing. What experience do you have using a smoker? What nuggets of BBQ wisdom can you pass on? Do tell. Meanwhile, we’ll be over here smacking our lips with the leftovers.

P.S. Tomorrow I’ll be revealing the recipe for the winner of last week’s mid-week melange, so be sure to hop over to that post to leave a comment voting for the dish whose recipe you’d like me to share!

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6 thoughts on “Smoke Break: Our (New) Adventures in Smoking

  1. Nicole says:

    Mmmm… BBQ! So delicious!!

  2. Deena says:

    Nick and I do a lot of smoking, but we have our propane grill set up for indirect grilling and we put the woodchips over the lit burner and the meat over the unlit burners. Some people consider this blasphemy but it seems to work!

    I would suggest trying a bone-in ‘boston butt’ instead of a picnic as I’ve had better results with the former. We typically only expose the meat to smoke for 3 hours as there is a limited window in which smoke can penetrate the meat. Then, we wrap it up (use tons and tons of foil so it stays moist) and throw it in a 250 degree oven for a few more hours. It’s definitely easier to regulate temperature in the oven, and if you leave it long enough, you can hit it with a skillet and it will fall apart.

    Smoking meats is a wonderful thing and I hope you enjoy!

  3. […] that using some bone-in breasts or thighs with this seasoning might be a delicious thing to cook in our smoker – low and slow in the more traditional style of cooking? I will continue to experiment as my […]

  4. […] you may have concluded from our previous posts about preparing meats in our new smoker (here and here), smoking meats isn’t always an all-day affair. In fact, thanks to this book that I scored at […]

  5. […] The reason? Alex pulled out the smoker again and we tried again with the pork. (You may remember this post in which we documented our first attempt). Well, we refined our technique this time, and the […]

  6. […] Black Cod. (I ordered this primarily because fish is one thing Alex and I have not yet tried in our backyard smoker and I wanted to see what it was like and whether we could recreate it). If you ever think that fish […]

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