Wednesday, March 5, 2008

BBQ King????

It depends on the kingdom!! If the kingdom stops with my back yard, then, yes!! I'm the BBQ King!!!! However, if the kingdom reaches down the block, the city, or beyond, that's another story!

Yes, folks, I finally broke out the smoker! The forecast was calling for the first day above 50 degrees, so I planned to get in a practice run with the smoker. I Did a little research and got my game plan together. Went and picked up a 4lb pork roast and the spices I didn't already have and some hickory chunks. Alright! Ready!

The process started on Saturday when I made the spice mix and got the roast rubbed down soaking up all those flavors. So far, so good!

Sunday around noon I got out and fired up the charcoal and got the wood soaking. By about 12:30 or so, the roast was ceremoniously placed on one of the racks and smoke was rolling!!

Being my first time using a smoker, I wanted to keep a close eye on things so I spent some time cleaning up the garage and watching the temperature gauge on the front of the smoker. A few adjustments here and there trying to keep just the right temp but, nothing too crazy. Then, by about 1:45 the temperature had dropped...the charcoal was running low! Damn!! So, I added a bunch more, but, it took about 20-30 minutes to get back up to temp (actually, too far). Ok, adjusting the vents a bit and things were back on track. Another hour or so goes by and I decide it's time to turn the roast over, and while I'm in there, I add more charcoal. It took a hit with the temp again, but nothing too bad. Within about 10 minutes, I was back on track. A couple of hours later the temperature is dropping again, but, I figure it is getting close to time for it to be done. So, I check the temp of the roast....140 (it should be 170 - 180). Damn! Add more charcoal (and water to the water pan) and wait a bit longer. Another love! A few more pieces of charcoal get thrown in, and I move the roast to the lowest rack. Yet another hour goes by, still, the temp inside the roast isn't where it should be. Leave it go a while change!!!!

If you're keeping track, it's about 8:00pm by now!! I was figuring on 4-5 hours, and there hasn't been any progress in the last 2-3. It was at this point I started considering giving up. A half hour later, I caved....I got out the roasting pan and moved the operation to the oven.

An hour in the oven....almost up to temp. 30 more minutes go by, and we're golden!! I get the roast out and let it rest for 20 minutes. But, when checking it, I decided it needed to cook longer. So, back in the oven for another hour. This time, I'm calling it! I shred the meat, discarding the fat and finally have a pulled pork sandwich at midnight!!


It smelled wonderful, and it actually tasted pretty good!

So, for all the trouble, at least I knew the flavor was good, it's just the cooking technique/process that needs work.

Some people may consider it a failure, but, I really feel like I learned a lot. That is exactly why I wanted to do a trial run with no pressure to actually feed anyone. :-)

First: Start with a lot more charcoal!

Second: I think the temperature gauge on the front is not even close to the temperature where the meat sits. There is a water pan that blocks some of the heat and when I reached in, I could feel the difference between the edges (where the temperature probe is) and the middle. I plan to get an oven thermometer and set it right in the middle to see what the front gauge reads when the middle is the correct temperature.

So, now, I just have to wait for another warm day for trial run #2! Maybe by the time it really gets nice out, I'll have this all figured out!

Wish me luck!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Leap Day Project and Poker

Several updates all rolled into one....

This past week we had Leap Day, February 29th. One of the guys in the Peoria Illinois flickr group who goes by lscan proposed a project where you take a picture each hour you are awake, and then post your best of that hour. Then, where multiple people post for a given hour, a vote is taken and the best of the best is determined. There was also consideration given to creating a photo book from the project and using it to raise money for a local charity. The details on that front haven't been worked out quite yet. Anyway, I participated in the project and got I think 11 or 12 pictures. But, haven't uploaded them yet. I missed the 12:00pm and 6:00pm hours, then ran out of ideas/motivation after 8:00pm. In other words, beer took over the number 1 spot in my priority list. :-) It was fun, but the time investment really adds up quickly. Hopefully, I'll get the pictures uploaded to flickr within the next day or so.

Saturday I did some running around...normal weekend stuff, then went and played cards at Zooks' homegame. It was a good time, and I finally cashed at one of her games!! I'm still down about $30 - $40 at her games, but, at least I made it to the money for a change! LOL

Sunday...watched some of the race, saw Stewart battle the outside wall (the wall won) and kind of let my attention wander away from the race at that point. But, caught up with things as it was nearing the end. That's when Jeff Gordon took on an inside wall. It was actually an opening to an infield area where he hit, and man was it brutal!!! Parts were flying all over and his radiator went shooting down the track. It was definitely one of the hardest hits I've seen in a long while!

It was a great day out, and I also got some cleaning up done in the garage and a little DIY photography project done. Thanks Jeff for the material, it worked out perfectly, and I have enough left over to make 2 more!!!! I did a couple test shots and with the bare flash, the entire wall (as much as fit in the frame) was well lit...with the modifier I made, about a 2ft circle was all that was lit!

There's more to report from the weekend....but I'll save that for a post of its own.