The ability to cook with fire is a huge Big Dick quality for a man to have. It takes us back to our primitive roots; you cannot contain a small “ug, ug” caveman style grunt when you catch a whiff of wood smoke coming off a grill.
Smoking meat is a completely different beast than grilling. Grilling is hot and fast. It’s all about keeping your fire under control and perfect timing to keep the meat from overcooking. Smoking meat is about low and slow. It’s about patience and being willing to dedicate 12-16 hours to a process that yields a melt in your mouth tenderness out of some of the toughest cuts of meat known to man.
This weekend, we had some good friends over for dinner. My friend actually judges and enters in bbq competitions, so he knows his stuff. I have the privilege of being to one to introduce him to the world of smoking, but he has really excelled at it and devoted a lot of time to it.
I fired up the smoker at 1:00 in the morning. I started with two chimney starters full of lump charcoal. My whole packer brisket and pork shoulder were trimmed and rubbed and ready to cook. I make my own rub from paprika, sea salt, pepper, garlic salt, celery salt, onion powder, and allspice.
I use almost exclusively seasoned oak, that I harvest from our woods, cut into 4-6″ chunks.
The heated lump charcoal goes on top of a bed of briquettes with the air flow on the smoker closed completely. After half an hour or so, the smoker settles in at 225 degrees.
Ok, now, here is the secret to great bbq: Do nothing.
Once the lid closes on the meat, I don’t open it again until I take it off the smoker. No peeking, no spritzing, no wrapping in foil. Just leave it the hell alone.
Check your temperature, feed wood chunks often enough to maintain a very light, pale smoke from the stack. Other than that, go drink beer.
After six hours, I pull the meat and finish it in the oven at 235 until the brisket hits an internal temperature of 190 and the pork hits just shy of 200. The brisket will take about 12-14 hours total and the pork will take 14-16 hours.
Once the meat is done, DO NOT cut into it. My God, you will be tempted. The smell at this point is overwhelming. Stay strong. Wrap the meat in foil and stick it in a cooler for at least two hours before you cut into it. This is necessary to keep the meat from drying out. If you cut into it immediately, the internal juice will come pouring to the surface. This is great for the moment, but the meat will quickly dry out. By the time you are ready to eat it, you will wonder what the hell happened. It seemed so perfect when you sliced it.
Let it set for a couple of hours. It will still be too hot to handle, but the juice will be settled back into the meat.
When the meat was done, I sent this picture to my buddy with the warning that his wife might be tempted to leave him.
When they arrived, I reiterated that, while I was not in the habit of seducing other mens wives, she may not be able to control the attraction she might feel after sampling my meat. We would just do the best we could to contain the situation.
It is so much fun to have friends that you can exchange such unadulterated bullshit with. We all laughed and headed in for a wonderful evening.
My buddy busted my chops about the bbq. He even asked for ketchup when we sat down to eat. I thanked his wife for her self restraint in keeping her hands off me in front of the kids.
It turns out I was safe; she gets turned on by burnt ends and I hadn’t cooked any. Burnt ends are the candy of the meat world. You take the back side of the brisket and chop it into small cubes. Then you cook them again with sauce on top for a couple more hours.
On one hand, I wish every guy knew how to smoke meat. It’s fun to have friends to engage with and have those “mine’s bigger than yours” conversations with. On the other hand, I enjoy the exclusivity of being very good at this. There is great satisfaction in being excellent.
Go buy a smoker. Learn to use it. Impress your friends and seduce their wives.
Just kidding on that last line. I’m only trying to seduce one woman, my lovely wife. And for the record, she loves my meat.