Friday, July 18, 2014

Lechon Pork Belly

Having a Filipina wife, we do a lot of hybrid cooking ... yesterday was Lechon Pork Belly ... started it off on the smoker to get a little smoke flavor then moved to the oven ... required a higher temp to cook.

Flavor Rub / Stuffing:
5 gloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup fresh chopped oregano
3 chopped red onions
4 lemon grass stocks split and sliced
1 lemon zested
All the juice from the zested lemon
3 tbsp sea salt
4 tbsp crushed pepper corn medley

Mixed all ingredients together and set to the side to get busy with themselves.

Turned my attention to the pork, trimmed it up. Got it fresh from the butcher that day, he left some of the loin meat on and there were some rib bones left that had to go.

After getting it all trimmed up, I flipped the Belly meat side down, and took my knife and began puncturing the skin ... hoping to keep it from shrinking up to bad. (I need to get a bladed tenderizer - as I didn't get enough holes in the skin). Flipped it back over, rubbed the meat down with the flavor mix, then rolled it up, and tied it. It sat in the fridge over night to allow the spices to blend and for the skin to dry.

The Skin I rubbed down with Kosher Salt to help dry the skin.

Next day, it hit the smoker at 10am for approximately an hour, then was moved into the overn at 375 for 5 hours. At hour five, the temp was bumped up to 425 and it staid in there until we had a crispiness (cracklin) on the skin that we liked.

Pulled it and let it rest for around 45 minutes. Went to cut it and found out that NONE of my knives would work well. As a result my wife OK'd me shopping for a new knife capable of cutting cracking pork skin. (YES, I am open to suggestions).  You can see that it shrunk up a little ... that happens when you don't perforate the skin enough ...

We served the Lechon Pork Belly with fresh cooked Edamame with Sea Salt. And Sweet Potatoes (w/onion, garlic, cinnamon, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper corn for seasoning). My wife had it with rice, as I have cut out the rice (working on weight loss :P) this is my wife's plate.

Turned out awesome!

Girl's Camp Fundraiser

Well I had my doubts on how it would go and taste. Would I time it right, keep good moisture, not burn the crap out of the chicken. With a little planning, some help from my brethren ... the cook for my Church's Young Women's Camp Fundraiser was a success.

10 pork shoulders and 16 chickens total.

The Dinner was free to feed those attending the Auction and Silent Auction Fund Raiser. We fed around 100-125 people, the rest of the meat was divided up by the young women and auctioned off. Surprisingly the Pork Dinner plates (enough for 2 grown men) average almost $100-120 a plate and the chicken dinners (half a chicken) average $75. Blown away by that. Still getting requests in the mail and on the phone for both.

Anyways, here is some to the images from the cook, meant to get more but I was to busy to take pics. These are from people that were watching.

Shoulders I did low and slow @225 for around a 12 hour cook. Chickens I threw on at 350-375 to cook for just around 2-2.5 hours. Let the shoulders rest for about 90 minutes, shredded them up then pulled the chicken off the pit. The Young Women deconstructed the chicken for us ... Lesson learned I NEED a bigger pit if I am going to do catering! (the church is literally 5 minute drive from my house)

The Pit

The Food

Some of the shoulders rubbed down and waiting to hit the pit (I like letting the rub set on the shoulders for about 20 minutes before putting them on the pit) Shoulders I did at my house.

Getting ready to wrap the pork - just over 4 hours in @225 ... probed 165-168 (I used pecan on this cook - and I do my best to run a super clean fire)

The chicken about 90 minutes into their cook @350-375... just hit them with my sauce... (I used my Stoker on 3 different chickens - 5 meat probes - 3 in thighs and 2 in breasts) Chicken we did at the church.

As a side note, a couple kids stopped by the pit while were were glazing up the chickens and one said to the other - "those look like the chickens from 'Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" ... was a good laugh.

All in all a fantastic cook and learning experience. Was a beautiful day ... but after that cook I went home, cleaned the pit, showered and passed the heck out!

Tomorrow I am going to look at some vaults or some type.

Pork Shoulder Unwrapped

This weekend I decided to try a Pork Shoulder Unwrapped and with a modified home made rub (removed sugar from the rub and then sprinkled it on top - about 1/4 cup of raw sugar cane). Working on making my pork more friendly to my diabetic brother.

Heated pit to 225...

While pit was coming to temp - I injected the shoulder with a 1 to 1 mix of Apple Cider Vinegar and Apple Juice.

Let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes ... then pulled it out and rubbed it down.

Put it on the pit with a full water pan - kept the water pan topped off the entire cook. The water pan was also about twice the size as I normally use on the little Traeger. My big stick burner I never messed with a water pan but I will say this ... my next weekend cook I am loading it up and trying it out. I LOVED the bark on this and how it turned out!

Cooked it fat cap up the entire time ... the juice just ran down it the entire time ... pulled the shoulder after around 11 hours, when it hit an internal temp of 196F.

Let it rest, pulled it, ate some of it (LOVED IT! - the bark was freaking killer), then froze some for future meals.

***I was worried it would be dry - but was the opposite ... there was a ton of moisture ... if you look at the vacuum sealed bags you can see all the moisture and yummy fats.

Polynesian Cook

Finally getting a chance to post the results of my Luau Polynesian Cook... was definitely a learning curve. I learned that they like to keep it simple and usually just rub the pork down with 2 types of sea salt. However for this cook the request for was for more flavor by the rest of the people attending.

I hunted around and found something that I thought sounded good for flavor. I was going to inject as well, but was asked not to because they didn't want the pork flavor to be lost. **NEXT TIME I will inject as the flavor on the pork was mild on the back end. Had I injected I think that it would have had the power wow factor. But me being me, honored the request.

Used the following marinade and ingredients / cook. Again - I loved the flavor and how it turned out - just wished the flavor would have been a little strong, hence the reason I want to inject next time.

Polynesian Pork Roast

Pork Injection/Marinade
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
8 crushed garlic cloves
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger root
1 large minced onion
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup ginger ale

*Mix together, put in a large 2 gallon zip lock bag, and add 1 to 2 pork shoulders - marinade over night.
** Smoked shoulders @250 for 3 hours, then wrapped

To add to Foil Wrap
4 slices of Pineapple
1 thick sliced Onion
1 banana leaf (of a handful of cabbage leaves with some kale mixed in)
Pour in left over marinade

***Wrap and finish cooking @275 - will take around 8 hours total

Marinade made - I tossed in some diced up pineapple cause I had some.

16 Pork Shoulders Marinating

90 minutes into the cook ...

Wrapping the shoulders

Shoulders resting ...

Also cooked 100lbs of de-boned chicken thighs ...

Sorry - didn't get pics of the pulled pork ... we pulled and served it fresh - was awesome good. I will use this again in the future and tweak it. I'll post the chicken marinade in a different post.

Weekend Farewell Cook for our Foreign Exchange Student

This weekend we wished our Foreign Exchange student (Sophie - 16 year old young woman from Vietnam) a fond farewell with a BBQ and Pool Party. She leaves this Thursday - will be sad to see her go. Had lots of Good moments with a few bad ... but hey she is a teenager...

Originally planned to cook several different types of briskets, but time, resources, and my wife dictated otherwise.

So I ended up doing a Texas style brisket, 2 Beef Baby Backs (never cooked 'em before and they were only $12) with a bunch of Wings.

Brisket - did 2 Angus trimmed briskets... they had great marbling and as of late, the other choice briskets at Costco, Sam's, and Kroger have been seriously lacking quality.

Cleaned them up and rubbed them down with some Worcestershire/Beef Broth sauce, covered them and put them in the fridge for about an hour.

Went outside, did the usual clean up on the Traeger, loaded up some Pecan Pellets, powered the Pellet pooper up, set it to 225, got my Smoke Tube (I use it to add extra smoke to the Traeger) with Apple chips and placed in the back, then filled up my water pan.

Went inside, took the Briskets out of the fridge, rubbed them down with my homemade rub, and threw them on the pit fat cap down.

After getting them all set, went back inside and turned my attention to the ribs. First I removed the membrane - OR at least I thought I did. I'm still figuring this out (when I went to cut them up after smoking, there was still a bit of membrane that was a tough cut - guessing I got the outside of the membrane and not all of it...). Put the ribs in a marinade - nothing fancy - Worcestershire, Beef broth, Onion Powder, and a little bit of Jalepeno powder.

At about 6 hours into the cook, I decided to flip the briskets to Fat Cap up, this is the first time I haven't wrapped brisket at 4 hours.

Topped off the water pan and closed the lid. I wouldn't check on them again for awhile. Total cook time was around 14-15 hours with an average pit temp @ grate level of 220.

After closing the lid up .. I turned to my other Traeger and put the ribs on. The ribs marinated for about 5 hours and were rubbed down with my brisket rub PLUS my mix of home dried Habanero mix. Love me a little heat.

This is right before wrapping them (wrapping I added some butter and some of the Worcestershire/Beef Brother liquid) ... I think was 2 hours in... they were cooking a little faster than I had liked so dropped that Traeger from 275 to 225.

Brisket internal temp reach around 195 ... so I took my chicken wings out of the brine, tossed them in a bull, rubbed them down with extra virgin olive oil, and hit them with my mix of Kosher Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper Corn Medly, Onion, and Garlic... then put them back in the fridge while I wait on the brisket to hit 205.

Brisket hit 205, I wrapped them, and put them in the hot box. Turned the Traeger up to 350, loaded my extra accessory rack, loaded it down with wings.

@350 the wings only take about 50 minutes or so on the pit (I temp them to make sure they are safe).

I chopped the brisket after an hour of rest - chopped as we were serving a bunch of teenagers and chopped goes a lot farther on a roll then slices.

Pulled the wings off and tossed them with my home made BBQ sauce that I added Apple Juice and Raw Texas Honey to.

All in all ... really enjoyed the cook. The briskets turned out well but I think next time, because of the Traeger is with beef and having its heat source below the meat, I will leave the fat cap down until they hit 180.

The Wing Sauce got rave reviews, so I made sure to write down what I did.

Wife is making me take next week off from smoking - after arguing about it I gave in and said, "fine, I'll go scuba diving instead."

Mini WSM Smoker Build and Test Cook

Got my mini all built ...

Used a large dish plate to trace a circle onto the bottom of my Vasconia 32 Quart Aluminum Pot (19.00 from Walmart plus $2 for shipping).

Instead of a drill or tin snips I used my Dremel (note - you must use a re-enforced cutting disc as the cheaper ones shatter).

Taped my pot using masking tape... the top of the tape was 4" from the top of the pot.

I marked and drilled holes ever 14.5" around the pot ... 4" from the top and then 1/4" below the indented part of the pot.

Placed my decal (one on each side), put masking tape over each hole on the inside of the pot, then taped off the top using a garbage bag and tape to keep paint from getting on the inside. NOTE - I recommend putting a weight inside the bag so if you are painting outside, the wind doesn't pull the bag up and out over onto your paint.

All went well until this point... my decal had a lot of detail and the paint Metallic Blue engine enamel dried to quickly and also did not want to stay adhered to the stainless steel pot.

Next build I will use some sand paper to rough up the metal first and I will switch to VHT Engine Enamel. I will also use a less detail intensive decal. So after use of an exacto knife and some under the breath cussing I got the decal off and clear coat of engine enamel gloss applied... I put all the nuts and bolts in, and added my thermometer.

Overall, I was happy with the first build. I will do things differently next time for sure.

Burning it in tonight - still figuring out how to build and manager the fire.

Had the opportunity this weekend to field test my Mini WSM for the first time... based on my test I am going to make a couple changes.

Going to modify the water pan and diffuser ring to increase efficiency. Will also be adding a firebox ring.  Will end up looking something like this: