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Added Apr 02 2012

I really enjoy spending time preparing low and slow cooked food outdoors. Anyone else? Care to share how you shop, prepare and cook? For the smoked fish in the attached photo here's what I did:

Stopped by:
3333 North Kimball Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 478-5566

Bought the frozen Norway Mackeral, and the smaller yellow croakers in the box in their freezer. What you see is about 12 dollars worth of fish.

Thawed them, scaled them, gutted the fish. rinsed then dried thoroughly. In a baking pan used course sea salt and covered all of them with it. Placed in fridge for 1 hour. Rinsed them with running water to get salt chunks off, dunked them in cold water. Dried them thoroughly. Placed them on the rack, brought the rack outside. Let them sit in shade (it was 50 degrees out) for about 1/2 to form a pellicle.

Took the 22 inch Weber Kettle, used Royal Oak briquettes, placed a dozen hot coals with a chunk of cherry wood in, internal temp of weber up to 190F. Placed rack of fish opposite side of the coals. Probably opened the kettle 3 times in dduring the 3.5 hour cook. Internal temp of kettle at grate level fluctuated between 185 and 235. Added wood two times. Bottom air holes were wide open, top I opened full too. It wasn't real windy yesterday.

Internal temp of the fattest mackeral hit 172F.

Didn't use a drip pan and didn't use a pan of water over the coals either. Essentially dry heat and smoke.

I enjoy eating smoked fish when it's chilled.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @lana, not sure which cooker you have but for my 22.5 inch Weber kettle, about 8 coals is all I use off to one side. smoking the fish on the grate on the opposite side of the hot coals.

    For fish you can do it without a thermometer. Use a fork and your fingers. When the fish isn't expressing moisture anymore, take a fork into the thickest part of the fish. If the meat flakes you are done. During the cook using your finger, if you press into the thickest part if it bounces back you need more time.

    Depending on the thickness of the fish I'm usually at 3-4 hours. I'll create smoke for about 1/3 of the cooking time.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @lana, I went to Kmart on Elston and Cicero and got this:

    I use it for temping the inside of a cooker and meat temps. What's also nice about this model is it goes up to 550 degrees which makes it ideal to use for hot oil cooking too. It's made my fried foods much better now that I know what temps my oils are at.

    Currently I'm fond of using grapeseed oil and bringing the oil to 395 degrees.

  • Lana Avondale

    Thanks, Kenji, that's less costly than thought. I have a food thermometer but not a thermometer to measure the heat inside the grill. I'm using a 22" charcoal Weber too.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    once you learn how much of a specific fuel creates a specific temperature it's all about maintaining that temp by using the openings of the weber and adding fuel as needed.

  • @kenji, cooking with kenji update, went to family fruit market today picked up a
    3.1lbs chicken $5
    goya mojo criolla marinade $1.49
    3 lemons $1.56
    cut the chicken in half (first time cutting a raw whole chicken in half, easier than i thought) and put into a large sealable container, put the juice from the 3 lemons on it and the marinade to cover the chicken.
    it is in the fridge now, i opted for the overnight marinade.
    i will update as i go along.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    No beer run at the Savoy down the block, West of there on Milwaukee?

  • an occasional drinker at best, i am having a red stripe now, it has been months since i had a drink. really not a drinker, but can drink, and will throw down rum and diet cokes all night at a wedding or event of such.

  • Luci in Rogers Park Dog Lover, living in Rogers Park for 26 years

    @Inactive User, Don't forget to wash your hands well after handling raw chicken and meat. FYI

  • @kenji, update on the grill now 260 at grate 280 on built in thermometer on grill on top. chicken over off burner, wood chips soaked and put over on burner, reynolds wrap sheets were used to make the packet, poked holes in it. only burnt myself once when putting the wood chip packet. removed the thermometer on the grill with glove , lifted grill grate, put packet, then went to put thermometer back on grill grate without glove, owh!
    @ luci, hands washed every time i touch meat. i have someone open the door even not to get my hands on the handle or anything else. thanks for posting.

  • @kenji, ok, flipped over, 267 at grate 290 on built in thermometer, 110 on internal thermometer in chicken. smells good, i am beginning to learn patience in cooking, having a little anxiety over it, i can see this is probably where the beer would come in handy.

  • @kenji, complication, checked temp, 100 at top of grill. "pro tip, if slow cooking for first time make sure you have enough propane." grill out of propane, relocating bird to a 350 degree oven to finish off, smells and looks good. most likely 20-30 min will finish it off. i can see where the beer would come in handy here too.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    FWIW, I've done that.

    Neighborhood tip on propane refills. Go to the Uhaul place on Cicero and Cullom. They fill the tank all the way for about 15 bucks. I used to go the the gas station and get the 19 buck exchange tanks for years. Those tanks at the gas station aren't filled to full. It's maybe 1/2 the amount of propane you'll get at UHaul.

  • oh, i forgot to mention how it turned out, only took 15 minutes to finish off in the oven. the chicken came out juicy on the inside and was literally falling off the bones. i liked it and would make it again. you can taste the smoke flavor from the wood chips. there were a couple times i took a bite that was extremely lemony. it went very quickly, i am thinking of doing the same with a bunch of chicken breast. with the wood chips, do i use new chips every time or wait for the ones to burn up? how do i know when to change chips?

  • kenji Find us here -->

    I make a few packets for a day of cooking. Use a new packet when the packet isn't emitting smoke anymore. Try different types of wood for various flavor. Mesquite is the most flavorful followed my Hickory. Fruit tree woods can be lighter in smokey flavor. Maple is less smokey than oak too. Also, I don't bother soaking the wood chips. I use them dry.

    Personally I'm a dark meat kinda guy and if I was only making breasts I might not go past 145 degrees and then let them sit covered to come up to temp. White meat gets dry to me if cooked to too high of a temp. To make the skin crispier you could stop when they are at 120-125 then turn the flame up and cook over an open flame to finish off the bird.

    If you are confident you can keep a constant low temp for a few cooks then move on to baby back ribs. Baby backs can be cooked in under 1.75-2.5 hours with the same technique as your chicken. they are a different type of meat than a spare rib and get nice and tender in 1/2 the time of spare pork ribs.

  • grethomory Resident of Jefferson Park

    Kenji I want to taste some of your stuff and compare to mine. I'm from down South and I have not had any BBQ or grilling or frying that compares to what I am used to.

  • Randy Stroller

    @grethomory - not sure what part of the South you are from but I am guessing not Texas as Smoque and Hickory River do a good job on Texas style brisket. Not as good as mine but good.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Here's my newest rig. I picked it up this past Friday:

    Lil Drum Smoker

    Practiced with this weekend and did 7 cooks so far. 5 chickens, and about 30 various sausages so far.

    I've got it to 5 hours of burn time, between 225F to 250F, with an initial 25 briquettes and about 5 additional coals thrown in throughout the 5 hours.

  • Conor McGrath Portage Park

    I just cooked up 12 slabs of ribs at a picnic this weekend. Serving one rib per plate they lasted 10 minutes. Which means I need to bring more ribs next year. Which means I need a bigger smoker. I have a bullet smoker and an off set smoker. I really like my off set but it's rusting out and may not make it much longer. Any suggestions? That Lil Drum looks interesting (Weber conversion?). How large a capacity does it have?

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Conor, you need the bigass Ugly Drum Smoker.

    Yes you can cobble one together yourself, but this guy in Gary IN, has it down. Food grade barrel implementation.

    The mother of all UDS threads is here:

    Suffice what I just posted for you to:

    12+ hours at 250F with just 9 lbs of charcoal and wood chunks.

    I'm still practicing on my little drum smoker, but once I'm dialed in you are welcomed to give it whirl anytime. I think looking at it, I could do 8 slabs easily with a rib rack. I picked this up because I wanted something for less volume cooks using less fuel. That and it was only 75 bucks with a drive to Gary.

    If you end up going to Gary, I'll go with, I found a good soul food restaurant in Merriville which seems only 10 minutes away.

  • grethomory Resident of Jefferson Park

    @Kenji, how do you know about the oil can drum smoker? We use those alot down south. I swear I have never seen anyone use them. I am beginning to think you might have some cooking skills, lol.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    I learned it all on the Intertubes, that and I grew up in Maywood, with my friend's grandpa's from Mississippi.

  • Randy Stroller

    I really like JoongBoo and Barrel smokers but being a guy who has hydroblasted crackers I sure hope those barrels do not have any caustic left in them. Also it would be nice if I could have put my briskets in Kenji's smoker or my smoker anywhere that did not disturb folks. This was $65 of meat I was willing to cook and share with my neighbors but that is a new concept for folks who think smoke means rib or pork.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    The rig from Gary is made from a food grade barrel. It gets burned out with a pipefitters torch and a quick sandblast before it's fabricated into a smoker.

    Being that the cooker is new Randall, I'm still learning temp control. I'm good up to four hours right now. Once I get it dialed in we can cook your beef. I'm assuming your brisket cooks are 8-12 hours.

  • Conor McGrath Portage Park

    @kenji: WhiteArc's offset smoker looks very nice, and it's only $250. I'll probably give the guy a call in the next few days as his pictures of the offset don't give any interior views and I'm curious if he installs a heat diffuser or if that's an option.

    If I do make the trip I'll give you a holler. A stop at a soulfood place sounds like a nice option.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    It's my understanding most folks using the full size 55 gallon drum smokers don't want, need, or use a diffuser. I got that from reading that big thread on bbq brethren.

    Do a goog on it using "uds" "diffuser".

  • Lana Avondale

    I will selflessly volunteer to help test the food from anyone's trials. :)

  • Conor McGrath Portage Park

    @kenji: I wasn't talking about a diffuser on the UDS, but on the offset. A diffuser probably wouldn't make much difference in a UDS. In an offset it is a game changer. With the firebox on one side you get much more even temperatures across the entire cooking surface.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    gotcha. My next purchase from White Arc, will be the UDS. I think offsets might take too much fire tending for my tastes.

    I essentially want my cooker to be like my kitchen stove oven. Set a temp and be able to walk away from it for a long time.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @lana...I'll keep you in mind!

  • Randy Stroller

    I have worn out an electric and a charcoal Brinkmann and now my newest Brinkman which is not pictured draws too much air. This new one you just move the fire pan to change to a grill so it does not have the large piece that slowed air flow on the others. The complaints on Saturday about smoke though came while the charcoal was still in my chimney starter. Here are some older pics.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    That's a beautiful looking brisket, Randall.

    What would happen if you gave some of those neighbors a chicken or two every now and then?

  • Randy Stroller

    @Kenji - Thank you for the comment on the brisket. The live chickens? One woman tried to convince me to become a vegan. Smoked? Not in my smoker. It as is one of my freezers is reserved for beef. I have one of those down under brand grills that I use just to a little smoke on quarters or thighs and then we finish them in the oven. I am paranoid about pink meat unless it is beef.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Hey Randall, what do you think of this recipe?

    Rosh Hashanah begins in the evening of Sunday, September 16, 2012, and ends in the evening of Tuesday, September 18, 2012.

  • Randy Stroller

    Hard to say. I have not had a chance to try any Rosh Hashanah brisket recipes. There are so few places here I can buy a whole brisket and it seems a shame to not get the whole thing going at one time. I like all of the flavors mentioned in the ingredients.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    People on the LTH Forum like Peoria Packing.

    Did you mention you tried Ellengee? I've only had their in-house prepared corned beef brisket. Which is awesome.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Even more brisket porn!

    An instructional video:

  • Randy Stroller

    The place I was using was closer in on Lake and on the North side of the street. Ellengie gave me a good price on IBP whole briskets and some very nice hamburger patties and they are just right up Milwaukee so I feel like I am shopping in my neighborhood.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    yesterday's cook: $1.99/lb pork shoulder from Family Fruit Market on Cicero Ave. about a 6lb cut of meat. 7 hours on the new little smoker. Good tasty product.

    yesterday's rub:

    cheap yellow mustard coating, Goya Adobo general seasoning, black pepper, Mrs Dash's Original Blend

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Forgot to mention, All Summer I've been using the Royal Oak briquettes (red bags) from Crafty Beaver on Central Ave.. Two 13lb bags packaged together for 11.99. Good burn time, consistent product all summer. They said they'd keep it in stock all Fall and Winter too. Supposedly this product is just charcoal and doesn't have all the chemicals the blue and white bags of Kingsford briquettes have.

  • I am smoking a 6lb brisket today, left that bad boy out there for the last nine hours. I through a spicy rub on it, using apple wood chunks to smoke. In a few hours it should hopefully be super tender.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    What kind of cooker you using?

  • grethomory Resident of Jefferson Park

    Hey Kenji, have you ever heard of BBQ Balogna? I was telling people about it the other day and no one believed me. I remember it being wrapped in foil...the outside being crispy, but the inside was oh so juicy.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    No, I'm not well versed with sausage.

  • grethomory Resident of Jefferson Park

    I remember 4th of July as a kid eating it and many people still do down South. Hey Kenji, I just found someone on youtube BBQ over hickory. Look below:

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Whoa! Jeezo Peezo.

    That's flash pulmonary edema ready to happen.

    One serving has to be 12000mg of sodium.

    He's using the red top bottle of Kikkoman on top of a bologna!

  • grethomory Resident of Jefferson Park

    LOLOLOLOL. Now, I don't remember seeing them put Kikkoman on top of it when I was a kid. I'm gonna ask my uncle in Louisiana for the recipe.

  • So we did ribs today in a regular Weber, dry rub, 3 hours smoke (mesquite & hickory) and 1.5 hours oven. Nice smoke ring, but way too soft. Never thought I could ever say that. I now know I like a bit of fight with the bite.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    What were your side dishes?

  • White rice and a sweet/sour arugula salad.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Luci emailed me her gravy recipe and I thought this thread would be the perfect place to archive it for us for future reference. Pasta is a great side dish for a BBQ meal.

    Thanks Luci!

    From: @Luci in Rogers Park

    1 LB Italian Sausage, casings removed (she likes Dominick's Hot Italian)
    1 LB ground beef
    1/2 cup finely diced onion
    4-5 cloves of garlic minced
    1Tbl Olive oil
    1 large can crushed tomatoes, I use Contadina (it's not too sweet)
    2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
    1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
    1/4 cup good DRY red wine
    1 1/2 cups of water
    2 teas dried Ital. seasoning including oregano & some fennel seeds, and Ital. seasoning
    1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped~~~~this is added during the last 20 min of cooking
    salt and pepper to taste

    In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add oil, break up the sausage, add beef, onions & garlic until well browned, DRAIN FAT. DON'T BURN THE GARLIC!
    Stir in crushed tomatoes, tom. paste, tom. sauce, water, Ital. seasonings, salt & pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 11/2 hours, stirring occaisionally.
    Add fresh basil last 20 min. of cooking time

    Serve over your favorite pasta with parm. or romano cheese.

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