Canine Yuckies

A dogger does love a stinky treat. So for a minor project I fried up the salmon skin from the Lox.

They are smelly to the point of nauseating, and apparently so delectable to a furry carnivore that their odor induced uncontrollable salivation onto the kitchen floor. Fantastic. The price of being a dog dad.

–Simon

Vernal Anticipations

Spring is coming, and to celebrate I smoked a salmon! This time, I used quick cure (the kind I make bacon with – the one with sodium nitrate) instead of plain salt for the brine.

Few fish preparations are as tasty as Nova Lox – brined, cold-smoked salmon. On a bagel. It’s also something that can be closely replicated at home! I don’t technically cold-smoke, since I don’t have that equipment and don’t want to rig something up. Cold-smoking is technically done around 80 degrees, but you can’t generate smoke at that temp so you have to create hot smoke and then cool it before it touches the fish.

Or, you can smoke at a temperature just high enough – say 150 – on very cold fish that’s only barely fully thawed. Combined with the brine, it’s juicy and salty, and the sodium nitrate preserves the bright orange-pink color. Cooked to an internal temperature of 130 (I deep-froze it to -40 beforehand to make it safe for “raw” consumption), then cooled, it’s a damn close facsimile to true Lox. It made for a nice faux-spring day.

–Simon

Brisket

More smoked meat pics inbound. This time a brisket!

It follows, more or less, the same procedure as pork shoulder.

The main difference being the intramuscular fat content. I don’t think there was much advantage to wrapping it in foil for the collagen liquefaction stage. It didn’t give me a system purge, but was definitely too rich. I also don’t think it would have dried out, and needed that extra rending. And I left out all seasoning, save the initial brine, so as not to overwhelm the smoky taste (which I wouldn’t do for pork as it needs the added moisture and flavor).

So here we are:

Wood chips courtesy of the kid’s gift to me: Jack Daniels whisky barrel wood.

–Simon

Smoked Pork Butt

After some trial and error, I have finally nailed a pork butt.

No you freak. The devil did not appear to me in a porcine guise with an offer.

Thick and juicy

Although it was smokin’!

So here’s the trick, as I see it. May the internet BBQ community explode in outrage at what they think I did wrong:

  1. Brine meat for a minimum of 12 hours. Just a standard salt and sugar brine here – nothing fancy needed. The flavor will come later.
  2. Place meat unwrapped in smoker cold – both meat and smoker. No preheating.
  3. Smoke at 170-200 degrees until internal meat temperature reads 160. Temperature is based on preference – colder smoking gives more contact time with smoke and therefore has a more smoky taste. Also I like cherry wood for pork so far.
  4. Pull the meat at 160 (at this point, much of the water and most of the fat will have rendered out, and the collagen will start to liquefy, which you want to stay in the meat). Cover with rub. My rub base is ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar. As a self-proclaimed pitmaster though, I won’t tell you my spice mix. But I will tell you that the rub shouldn’t taste very good on its own (like a marinade). If it makes you wince, you’re good to go.
  5. Wrap meat tightly in aluminum foil. I prefer to remove the thermometer probes first and then punch through the foil. It’s easier, and creates a tighter seal.
  6. Put the meat back in the smoker and cook at 275 until the internal meat temperature reads 205. This is the stage at which most of the collagen is liquefied. The next day’s leftovers will be a mass of meat and gelatin, which indicates successful collagen breakdown. This is good, even if it doesn’t look like it. Wiggle wiggle.
  7. Place the meat, still wrapped and with meat probes, in a cooler. There’s no real reason to rest it as you would a steak, since the collagen isn’t significantly redistributing as water would. But resting it at this point will allow the collagen to continue to liquefy if any hasn’t yet, and it will gradually cool to a touchable temperature for pulling. More importantly though, this gives you a buffer by which you can finish smoking prior to dinner and time the preparation of side dishes. You could technically wait as long as you want until the temperature hits 140, at which point you’ll be in THE DANGER ZONE! OOOOOOOO!
  8. Shred, stuff in face, and wait for your well-deserved adoration.

And you’re done! And it only took me 15 hours for an 8 pounder. It was, however, gone in 4 days. And now I know why you can’t get good BBQ at a restaurant. It just isn’t economical to spend that many man hours in our present day of Boomer chains (i.e. Applebees, Chili’s, Outback…)

But before I go old man ranting on you, get to the store and buy and pork butt!

–Simon