Really Eating Real Food

A Finance Story on a Food Blog: Smoking

I don’t smoke cigarettes.  In fact I’m allergic to tobacco, so it pretty much goes without saying that cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chew and the like are right out.  However, I love to smoke meat.  You might say I have a problem.  This all started back in the day when I lived in Texas and was exposed to Euless Main Barbecue.  It’s only open Friday-Sunday.  The rest of the week they’re busy smoking meat to keep up with the demand on the weekends.  It’s the best barbecue you’ll ever get at a restaurant.  In 2004 my family and I moved to Denver, Colorado.  I know what you’re thinking: “Randy, Denver has barbecue.”  You’re right, but they don’t have Euless Main (or Texas) barbecue like I remember.

Alton Brown did an episode on smoking pork butt and he made a terra cotta smoker inexpensively [heretofore: the AB Special].  I followed suit because there just needed to be more barbecue in my life.  Then, two years ago I got a Brinkmann grill and smoker (if you used this as a grill you’d have to be smoking crack).  I wanted something with more space than the AB special for cooking turkeys and they like during the holidays.  Except that the design of this smoker is something like the design of a Dodge Ram pickup with a yugo engine: it just doesn’t come equipped to produce heat enough to cook the meat to doneness.  So after just over a year of various tweaks, disappointments and frustrations of undercooked food I started eyeing a larger smoker that I was sure I could get cooked, tasty, smoked barbecue from.

I upgraded this last June to a Char-Griller Outlaw “Texas Smoker” with a side-box.  So for July 4th I wanted to prepare a massive get-together to have smoked meat, tasty meat and more meat.  We invited a ton of people only for me to realize I couldn’t provide that much meat in one cooking session.  So I got a pork butt to smoke (the AB Special’s hot plate bit the dust just this week) and thought, “I can’t fire up the Texas Smoker, it just uses too much lump charcoal.”   Can I get a hot plate for the AB Special?  I went to the hardware store: they were out.  Wait, what if I can get a larger bowl into the Brinkmann?  I remembered I had a bowl left over from a small tail gate kit I bought for the AB Special still kicking around somewhere – that might be the ‘larger engine’ I need, but it will still use less charcoal.

So this morning at 10 I fired up the Brinkmann with the larger grill bowl.  I was skeptical, but it was still possible for things to work out OK.  I got the fire going hotter than it ever went before with the factory bowl quickly and the smoke began to fill the air and start the cooking of the rubbed pork butt.  To my disappointment it kept going.  The heat stayed up, the the smoker performed amazingly!

If you’re keeping track I have three smokers now.  One electric, two charcoal (and a gas grill for quick hot dog and burger cooking when I’ve not had notice for the charcoal grill part of the Texas Smoker).  I will be fixing the hot plate for the AB Special and probably will gift it to a relative that’s interested in having it.  But now I have two smokers that work great.  I’m a dork.  I’ve spent $400.00 or more on smokers and accessories over the last three years.

I guess that means I better keep things up and get really good at this to  justify the expense 😉

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