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Char-Broil Gratitude Post & the birth of a smoker.

Char-Broil Gratitude Post & the birth of a smoker.

I have been wondering how to start this post for a while now. It came to me quite clearly  a few days ago to just simply share the story I have been telling so many in the journey to build this smoker. Because how else do you let the world know of a company with customer service so outstanding that you want everyone to own their products? Of a company that stepped up way way above and beyond. A company I had the pleasure of working with last spring when they rolled out their Life Is Better Bbqed campaign.

Of course I am talking about Char-Broil.

My replacement Char-Broil BBQ on Nutmeg Disrupted

In the spring of 2015 I did a 3 post project for Char-Broil. They had a Spring campaign going on with Lowes and I was honored to be a part of it. As you know we love BBQ on Nutmeg Disrupted and to work with such an amazing team was a dream come true. I received a gorgeous Char-Broil BBQ from Lowes to review and grill with for the campaign. The BBQ was mine to keep.

Flash forward a few weeks after the campaign wrapped up standing in line at Starbucks…

My phone buzzed, it was a text from my son. A huge storm was rolling into town and a tree was down in the backyard. As I was standing there I was struck with a bit of panic. Tree down. Which tree. No way it could be the 1000+ pound tree beside the deck. Then he sent a photo from the inside of the house through the patio door. All you could see was leaves.

Indeed it was said tree.

I paid for my coffee then quickly made the 70 minute trip home.

A huge maple tree down from a summer storm.

Massive tree down during a summer storm on Nutmeg Disrupted

A bbq crushed by a massive tree on Nutmeg Disrupted

That was what I found when I arrived home.

I was devastated. Yes that is a bold statement to make about a BBQ, but in that moment I was completely devastated. It took a couple of days to get the tree bucked up and retrieve the crushed grill. Almost every inch of it was damaged.

The evening the tree fell I had Tweeted about the storm and the sad fate of my BBQ. I was thankful no one was hurt, had anyone been grilling out back I can’t even imagine how that would have ended. The smoker that was on the deck took a hit and was damaged but the full weight of the tree was on the BBQ.

What happened next was something so unexpected and wonderful.

Within 24 hours of my BBQ misfortune I had been contacted by the marketing company that represented Char-Broil during the Lowes campaign.

Char-Broil had heard about what happened and they wanted to make it right and send me a new BBQ to replace the one that was crushed. Talk about a company standing behind their product! Because I had done some work for them they were willing to replace their product, not because they had to, simply because they wanted to. Now that is a brand I want to stand behind and do business with.

I may have cried a little when I received that news. BBQ is a passion and to have not only my smoker but my BBQ also taken out in a brief moment was a huge loss.

Char-Broil customer service on Nutmeg Disrupted

After the tree was cleared away we took apart the BBQ to salvage any of the good parts. It felt like a such a waste tossing out such a new piece of equipment and the goal now was to repurpose what we could. Immediately it was decided that we would build a smoker. The only pieces not damaged were the handles off the doors, the temperature gage, the logo and the heating element area of the grill, though bent it was still functioning. With the salvaged bits stored away we set off with a plan of building a smoker. We had an idea of what we wanted for the body of the smoker and scoured the ads for upcoming auction sales. Everything we looked at was just not quite what we had envisioned until one day while in Canadian Tire after a year long search we found the perfect body for our new smoker.

Shopping for a new smoker body on Nutmeg Disrupted

The vision has always been to build a large smoker. Something substantial so that we had the area to do a large cook. Having catered weddings and hosted pig roasts we have had the opportunity to use some very large BBQs and we wanted our smoker to not only be impressive but have the power to do the job.

Adding the Char-Broil details to the new smoker on Nutmeg Disrupted

From there everything started to fall into place. In conversation with Brian our butcher we mentioned that we were building a smoker and he gave us a great idea as to what we could use for the racking inside the unit. The heating element was a close fit and with a bit of work the smoker started to coming together.

Fitting the heating element into the new smoker on Nutmeg Disrupted

We did a few small trial runs to work out the kinks and cooked for an event mid summer.

The first offical cook with the new smoker on Nutmeg Disrupted

The smoker has been getting a lot of attention, it is a gorgeous piece of equipment and with every inquiry I share my Char-Broil story.

In closing I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Char-Broil. Not only have you made this girls BBQ dreams continue, you make a product that I love and your customer service is unmatched. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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Making Bacon

Making Bacon

You have to wonder who thought it was a good idea to take a chunk of pork belly, rub it with sugar, salt and spices and after allowing it to rest for a few days decided it needed a nice layer of smoke with a few hours spent in the smoker.

Making bacon at home with Nutmeg Disrupted

Pretty damn delicious decision.

It has been an interesting process of learning and research since deciding to make bacon at home. It was spurred by a recent visit with some of our oldest friends out at their farm. They have been raising pigs for a while now and after spending time out at their place it brought back many memories of when we had pigs of our own. We raised 2 kinds of pigs. Over the years we had both domestic pigs and we also had a large herd of wild boar. We would have pig roasts of wild boar that would turn into weekend long events!  And it was those events from which my passion for BBQ began.

After much discussion it was decided that we would buy a pig to butcher once they grow to a good sized weight.

And with pork on our mind our thoughts naturally turned to bacon.

Many things have graced the racks of the smoker but we have yet to make bacon. So with that in mind the research began. Any new smoking adventure always requires some research. in some cases you are working with expensive cuts of meat and while trail and error is a good way to learn it is always a good idea to do some research to find a starting point.

The first thing you need to find to make bacon is curing salt. The second thing you will need is time because as we quickly learnt it takes time to make bacon. It is easy to make, but after a few batches in there are step that definitely affect the final product. Taking your time is imperative to a superior end result. Do not rush, rushing will only leave you disappointed. The goal here is bacon, not seasoned side pork.

Curing salt should not be hard to find. It is available in stores that carry wood chips, smokers and BBQ products. We could not find just curing salt but we did find a bacon cure kit which has a mixture of curing salt and maple sugar. If you can not find that specific kit there are jerky making sets available that contain the curing salt required to make bacon. You can also search for online sources if you have trouble finding it locally.

Curing bacon on Nutmeg Disrupted

The pork belly is available in the meat section where I shop. If it is not on the shelf just ask your butcher. Be sure to get it with the rind on.

Pork belly being prepped for curing and smoking to make bacon from Nutmeg Disurupted

The list of ingredients is short. You will also need some large Ziplock bags.

pork belly

cure – 2 tablespoons per pound

brown sugar – 2 tablespoons per pound

Place the pork belly on a cookie sheet with an edge. (this is purely for easy clean up) Rub the pork belly on all sides with the cure. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of brown sugar and rub all over the pork. Place each piece of pork belly into individual ziplock bags, removing as much air as possible and seal. Place in the fridge.

Now the next part depends on the thickness of the pork belly. In doing the research for this we discovered variations of how many days you want to brine the pork bellies for. The idea is the thicker the cut the longer the brine time.

For the first batch the pork was an inch thick. We brined it for 2 days, flipping the pork over every 12 hours. We did a short brine as the pork was quite thin and we were concerned that the bacon may end up being too salty. The second batch was much thicker at close to 2 inches. We brined those for two days, flipping the pork every 12 hours. At the end of the entire smoking process we found that the second batch did NOT brine long enough. It definitely should have been left for another 2 days. It was good but there was definitely room for improvement. This is the part you do not want to rush. It takes the meat from being side pork to bacon.

A good rule of thumb is to brine it for 2 days per inch of thickness.

*notes: Some sites say to keep the pork in the brine for up to a week to 10 days. My main concern is having too salty of a product leaving it that long. My suggestion is too experiment and see what works for you.

Once the pork has been brined for the adequate period you can move to the next step.

Remove the cured pork bellies from the bags and rinse well under cold water. Now we want to soak the pork for at least an hour to 2 hours at the longest. A large container or Ziplock bag will work fine. Fill with cold water and pop in the belly. After the soak dry the pork with paper towels to remove all the moisture. Place the pork, rind side down in a container and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the pork for 24 hours. This step is very important. During this stage the pork is forming pellicle, the proteins are forming a skin over the meat for which the smoke will adhere to. Do not skip this stage, it is what gives the pork belly the smoky bacon flavour.

 

Getting the smoker ready!

 

Applewood is the preferred wood of choice in most of our smoking. If apple is not available cherry is the second choice. Use the kind that you like! We like the smaller wood chips and we do not wet the chips. We like a fast heavy smoke and from our experience wet chips take longer to get smoking at the level we want.  The liquid used in the smoker this time around was water. The smoker is always preheated and the meat does not go into the smoker until there is smoke. We want the meat cooked with the heat of the smoke not the heat of the smoker.

While you are waiting for smoke, get the pork belly ready for the smoker.

Have the racks in the kitchen so you can quickly get the meat into the smoker with minimal smoke loss. You want the portions of belly to have space between them so they get smoke on the entire surface of each piece. Place the pork with the rind side on top.

Making bacon at home. Smoking pork belly from Nutmeg Disrupted

Place the rack(s) into the smoker and turn down to maintain a temperature of 185 – 200 degrees. We replaced the wood chips once at the one hour mark and smoked the pork for a total of 2 hours. When it was done the racks were pulled out of the smoker and placed on paper towels to cool completely. Once cool the bacon was vacuum packed and placed in the fridge overnight to firm up and absorb the smoke. The longer you can hold off trying it the better the smoke flavour will be.

Frying applewood smoked bacon made at home from Nutmeg Disrupted

Remove the rind and slice to fry. Be sure to take note of the two bacon ends and save them for yourself. They are the smokiest most flavourful part of the bacon. If you sample a slice or two then go back to the saved bacon end you will taste the difference.

 

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National BBQ Day Kick Off. Slow Smoked Pulled Pork.

National BBQ Day Kick Off. Slow Smoked Pulled Pork.

July 13th, 2013 marks Meal Exchange’s fourth annual National BBQ Day (TM), a nation-wide celebration of locally sourced foods.

Members of the Food Bloggers of Canada have teamed up with National BBQ Day to feature BBQ recipes from across Canada.  Each week leading up to National BBQ Day on July 13th, they will be posting recipes from FBC members that will offer up tons of culinary inspiration for your BBQ. Be sure to stop by and check out what fellow Canadians are cooking up in backyards across the country.

Want to be part of the national conversation? Host your own BBQ and register your event for a chance to win a  Napoleon BBQ Grill

To kick off the series we are featuring my 16 Hour Slow Smoked Pulled Pork.

I am very lucky to have a few very nice butcher shops in the area so finding top quality cuts of meat is very easy.  The meat of choice for my weekend cook, pork butt. After doing a bit of research it is a good choice as it is a bit forgiving, though I was very confident walking into it.

 

slow smoked pork butt

 

The first step in the process was to get the meat into a brine. I went with a straight forward recipe of sugar and salt with a few add ins

 

brine for slow smoked pork

 

Brine:

2 cups of brown sugar

2 cups of coarse salt

3 heads of garlic, sliced in half

2 large yellow onions, sliced in half

3 bay leaves

1 red chili pepper

In a large pot I combined half the water with the salt and sugar and stirred over medium heat until the sugar was dissolved. Do not bring to a boil unless you have ample time to allow it to cool.  I added the rest of the water and stirred to mix fully.

 

slow smoked pork butt

Place the pork into a large container. I used a stock pot as it had the depth I was looking for. Add the onions, garlic, chili pepper and bay leaves. Cover with the brine. To weight down the pork I used a small plate and a mason jar filled with water to hold the butt under the surface of the solution. Place in a fridge for up to 24 hours.

 

slow smoked pork butt

 

When ready, remove from brine and place on a wire rack. Using paper towel blot the surface of the meat.

Next we prepare the rub.

 

rub for slow smoked pork

 

In a bowl combine:

1 cup of brown sugar

3 tablespoons of onion powder

2 tablespoons of dry mustard

1 heaping tablespoon of black pepper

1 tablespoon of paprika

1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon of dried dill

2 teaspoons of chili powder

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Mix well. Rub down the entire surface of the pork.

 

slow smoked pork butt

Now you are ready to smoke.

First off, make sure you have enough propane on hand if you are using a gas smoker. Nothing would ruin the experience more then half way through the night you run out of gas and have to finish your meat in the oven.

Now you need to get the smoker nice and hot. You are looking at a temperature of around 225 degrees.

Apple and cherry woods chips were used and water was the liquid of choice.

 

slow smoked pork butt

 

All in all the pork spent 16 hours in the smoker. 190 seems to be the magic number for super tender meat. It was pulled out of the smoker when it hit 190 degrees.

16 hour slow smoked pulled pork

 

After a 30 minute rest it was pulled by hand.

The bark was sweet and spicy that added wonderful flavor to every bite.

pulled pork sandwich

 

The meat was juicy and tender with rich a deep smokiness I have never had before. It truly did melt in my mouth.  You can decide to mix some sort of sauce into the meat, though, when I tried it I thought it took away from the flavor of the meat. And maybe coleslaw is good on those pork loin slow cookers sandwiches but it is NOT needed with this pork.  It truely can stand alone with nothing else. It is indeed mouthwatering. And worth the time it takes to prepare.

I hope you enjoyed the first post of what will be a fantastic look at BBQ from across Canada. Be sure to check out the entire series. And if this has inspired to try wood smoking I would love to hear from you!  We look forward to seeing what you are going to grill!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smoked Maple Canned Salmon

Smoked Maple Canned Salmon

Whew

It has been a summer of food, gardening, renos and photography.

Fresh fish from Pacific Ocean, live lobster and scallops flown in from Eastern Canada, herbs, berries and veggies from the garden, a few cool updates to my kitchen and some handy new gadgets to experiement with! Indeed the summer has been busy!

The weather has been amazing, hot and at times humid, which made for some amazing storm clouds to develop over the field across from my home. And I was lucky to catch some of them with my camera.

With much to share, we will start with my latest project.

Canning smoked salmon.

With another successful fishing trip to the coast I have a nice little selection of fish in the freezer. Again halibut and salmon were the largest of the fish caught and even a rarer White King Salmon was among the catch and infact the largest of the salmon at 27 pounds.

 

Looking for a different way to handle the salmon I started looking into what it takes to can fish. I immediately knew I would need to invest in the pressure cooker/canner. I decided to go with a 22 quart Mirro. While doing my recipe research I found that every recipe I looked at using a pressure cooker was designed for either the 16 or 22 quart cookers, nothing smaller.

With a cooker in place I worked out the recipes and read and reread the technique used for the process.

Since I knew I would essentially be double cooking the fish I wanted to try and maintain as much moisture as possible. That meant first I would brine the salmon before it was smoked. Then I would add liquid to the jars just before canning.  The smoking part of the process was kept short, only going an hour in the smoker, with a full liquid tray.


Smoked Maple Canned Salmon
 
Author:
Recipe type: Smoked Preserved Seafood
Cuisine: BBQ
Ingredients
  • Brine
  • 3½ quarts of water
  • ¼ cup of soya sauce
  • 1½ cups of brown sugar
  • 1½ cups of coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons of onion powder
  • ½ cup of white sugar
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Glaze:
  • maple syrup
  • golden corn syrup
  • canola oil
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the brine ingredients in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Simmer and stir until all sugar and salt is disolved.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Place the salmon, with skin on, scales removed, into a large container with a lid.
  5. Add the cooled brine and place into the fridge overnight.
  6. I used 2 kinds of salmon.
  7. Chinook and the White King salmon.
  8. The salmon was brined for 18 hours.
  9. Remove the salmon from the brine and rinse under cool running water.
  10. Pat dry.
  11. Cut salmon into strips close to the size needed to fill the jars.
  12. Spray the rack from the smoker well with non stick spray.
  13. Place the salmon on the rack, skin side down leaving a bit of space between the pieces.
  14. Glaze with a 50/50 combination of pure maple syrup and Rogers Golden Syrup.
  15. Place the rack on the top setting in the smoker and smoke for one hour.
  16. Have all jars clean and sterilized and in hot water.
  17. All lids and rings should be in a pot of water, slightly simmering on low/medium heat.
  18. Fill the canner with the proper amount of water for your model.
  19. I used 4 quarts for this application.
  20. Remove the salmon from the smoker and allow to cool for a few moments.
  21. Gently fill the jars with warm salmon, leaving ¼ headspace in each jar.
  22. Drizzle with a touch of canola oil.
  23. I then topped each jar with 2 heaping tablespoons of Rogers Golden Syrup.
  24. Clean the rims of the jars with a hot clean cloth, add the lids and rings until finger tight.
  25. Place on the racks of the pressure cooker.
  26. Place and secure the lid on the cooker.
  27. Now crank up the heat!
  28. You want the pressure cooker to get fully pressurized.
  29. Once that happens and the cooker begins to let off a steady stream of steam, start timing for 10 minutes.
  30. This is a very important step, do not skip.
  31. Once the 10 minutes has passed add the 10 pound weight and maintain the cooker just under 10 psi for 110 minutes.
  32. After 110 minutes remove the canner off the heat and allow to cool for 1 hour before removing the lid of the pressure cooker.
  33. Remove all jars and allow to cool completely.

You can open a jar and enjoy it immediately.

I am very pleased with how the first 2 batches have turned out. It is sweet and smoky perfection!

 

 

 

 

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18 hour Slow Smoked Alberta Beef Brisket

18 hour Slow Smoked Alberta Beef Brisket

The love affair with the smoker continues!

I was asked recently what kind of smoker I use.

 

It is a Grill Pro propane smoker. The interior has 3 shelves so you can smoke a fair amount of meat or fish at one shot.

The next step in my smoked meat journey is the Beef Brisket.

Like the slow smoked pork, this is something I again have only seen on television, never having tried the authentic thing.

With a quick call in to the butcher shop and a stop at the bulk spice section we were ready to rock and roll.

Wanting to keep things very simple the first time out I decided that the beef would be rubbed with spices and head straight into the smoker. In doing my research I discovered many different techniques that are used for the brisket. Some brine the beef, some rub and then wrap the brisket to sit in the spices overnight.

I know when ever I am first trying out a recipe or technique I keep it simple and straight forward. Once you learn the basics you can then have fun experimenting.

The rub for the brisket.

dry mustard

garlic powder

onion soup powder

pepper

seasoning salt

paprika

cayenne pepper

brown sugar

chili powder

Combine and rub well onto the entire surface of the brisket.

I did not write the measurements down, it was an after thought. As were the before pictures. I slept in far later then I had hoped that morning and was in a rush to get the beef into the smoker. When you are cooking for 15 – 18 hours, starting on time is important.
It was a fantastic rub, the only changes would be slightly less mustard and a touch more brown sugar.

When picking your brisket make sure it has a nice layer of fat across the top, also known as the fat cap.  You can trim it if you find it too thick. Also look for nice marbling throughout the meat. This all contributes to the tenderness of the finished brisket.

It was on the smoker for a total of 15 hours. A combination of apple and cherry wood chips were used. Liquid was used, I started off with red wine and finished with water.

My magic number for the brisket was 185 degrees when it was pulled and wrapped after it came out of the smoker. This continues the cooking process and also allows the meat to absorb all of the juices making  making the brisket even more tender.

It was smoky and delicious. Very different from the slow smoked pork. It was tender and addictive. There was a tang from the peppers and mustard. Perfection. For the first time out, I was very very pleased. I can not wait to get another to experiment with. Really the fun has only just begun.

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