3lb boneless pork loin and 3lbs of beef back ribs.
Time on the smoker:
Ribs: 5 hours. If all had gone to plan, this should have been about 4 or 4½.
Pork: 3½ hours. If all had gone to plan, this should have been about 2 or 2½.
12:20pm: I took the ribs and pork out of the fridge to bring them up to temperature.
Ribs: Removed the membrane from the bone side. Slathered mustard on the ribs and seasoned with salt, pepper & garlic powder.
Pork: Poked a few holes and slid in some garlic slithers. Rubbed the pork with olive oil. Then heavily coated with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.
1:40pm: I started to get the smoker ready... ½ full of unlit charcoal in the Minion method. I added some hickory chips. I then lit 25 of Kingsford mesquite charcoal briquettes in the chimney. This took longer to get to a hot, white ash than I thought they would. It took about 25 mins.
2:10pm: I poured the hot coals on top of the unlit charcoal and hickory. I threw on a little more hickory.
I lined the water bowl with warm water and filed it just over halfway. I put the pit together.
Outdoor temp was 75°. There was a light breeze. I took the smoker out of the shadows and into the sun.
The goal was to get the smoker up between 250° and 275°. I left all vents wide open.
2:30pm: When the smoke blew clean, I put the ribs (bone side down) on the lower grill. I put a couple of jalapeños around them. The aim was to initially smoke the ribs for about three hours (they actually got 3 ½).
2:35pm: I put the pork on the upper grill. I also added some extra fatty cuts of pork and skin. These bits will add a grease layer to the inside of the smoker and they just might be a nice extra treat.
Lid temp: 225°
Pork temp: 67°
Ribs temp: 71°
Lid temp dipped to 175°. Took ten minutes to climb back to 200°. Then it just plateaued at 200°!!!! Grrrr. Maybe I overfilled the water bowl. Maybe some of the water spilled? Maybe it was the old Kingsford mesquite briquettes. Maybe... just maybe, if I want to run HOT, I will not fill the water bowl at all...
3:00pm: In equal shares I was confused, concerned and pissed off as to why the smoker simply wouldn’t climb over 200° so I lit 10 more regular Weber briquettes in the chimney. I’ll simply use more briquettes next time and make sure they are smoking hot.
3:15pm: As I’m blowing on the chimney to get these damn coals to catch (I need some work on my chimney skills) the smoker climbed to about 215°.
3:25pm: I added the briquettes from the chimney to the pit (through the door).
3:35pm: I checked the pork. It was around 125° to 130°. We’re looking for about 145°.
Through the door, I gave the coals a little shake and a blow. This briefly moved the lid temp up to about 225°. But it dropped back down to 200° when I lifted the lid to add the bacon.
The pork should really only be on for about an hour to an hour and a half. But because I couldn’t get the temp up, I was forced to go lower and slower.
4:30pm: Lid temp was 225°. Pork temp 140°. Will give it another half hour before I check and wrap.
I poked and blew on the coals.
5:00pm: Pork temp was 150° so I wrapped it in foil (dull side out, shiny side in) with some apple juice and butter.
Lid temp was down to 215° but picked up to 230° quite quickly.
5:15pm: Lid temp was 250°. Really?? Yep.
6:05pm: Lid temp: 225°.
I checked the pork. We’re looking for about 160°. It was bang on 160°, so I took it off the smoker and left it wrapped in the foil. We want this medium-well as we’ll be carving it thin for cold pork slices.
I checked the ribs. We’re looking for about 160° - 165°. They were just under 180°.
I wrapped the ribs in foil (dull side out, shiny side in) with a little beer and a couple of knobs of butter. If you have butchers paper, that’s even better as it will keep a crisper bark. The foil will create a steam effect and therefore a softer bark. So be it. I didn’t have butcher paper at the time!
I put the ribs on the top grill and left them for another hour. We’re ultimately looking for a beef rib temp of 200° - 205°.
6:25pm: Lid temp: 250°.
The pork fat bites were amazing! Yes, we sneaked a few early nibbles.
7:00pm: Lid temp: 230°.
The ribs seem to have stalled at 180°.
I left them unwrapped to give them another 20 mins.
7:20pm: Lid temp: 200°. Ribs temp: 180°. Hmmmm......
While they didn’t make it up to the magic 200° I rewrapped them and took ‘em off the smoker ‘cos they gotta rest for between 30 mins and an hour.
Now it was time to prep the side. This time it’s faux Caesar salad (lettuce, anchovies, Parmesan, avocado, smoked bacon, nuts). Caesar dressing.
8:00pm: Dinner time. We just had a rib each with some salad. That means we still have another rib block and all the pork still to come...
The ribs were excellent (if a little salty - I’ll ease off the salt on my next rub). The smoke ring was perfect and the smoke penetration was wonderful. Texture was good but they did have a firmer bite than I was planning. I think if the smoker had gotten hotter earlier and I could have wrapped them longer, I’d have created a softer bite. But, really, this is pretty pedantic because it was lovely.
Saturday Morning: We opened up and sliced up the pork. Oh my! Still moist. Absolutely yummy.