The day to celebrate Dad is fast approaching. In our house, it is a day to indulge in good old meat and potatoes. Also, it is a good excuse to use another smoker. As some of you may know, John and I head up a competition barbecue team and even though we already have about 10 different smokers (or "cookers" in the lingo), Father's Day has become an excuse to get yet another. Well, I'm not going to use one of those here. Fooled you. No, this time I'm going to use the blasphemous (in barbecue circles) gas grill. I have read many articles and books on how you can smoke without a smoker, and being the curious type, I had to try it out. Besides, most people do not have a dozen smokers in their back yard, but many have a gas grill. SO, here is the grand experiment laid out for you. Have a very happy Father's Day!
This is what I had and what I did with it - I'm sorry there will be a lot of "I did such and such, but you might want to do this and that". Please bear with me.
4 1/2 lbs. boneless beef short ribs
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
peanut oil to coat the meat (about 1/4 cup)
Make a simple rub by combining all the dry ingredients above. With your hands (in plastic gloves if you want to be tidy) lightly coat the meat on all sides with peanut oil (we do this because I read somewhere that some spices are oil soluble only...who know if it's true, but the oil also helps the rub adhere to the meat, so what the heck.) Sprinkle the rub evenly over all sides of the meat. Now, I did this in the morning and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 8 hours. This is what we call a "dry marinade". I have also, in the past, rubbed meat only 30 minutes before smoking and had good results. Honestly, just go with what you feel, it will be delicious no matter how long the rub spends on the meat.
Okay, now for the fun part. You will need a handy dandy foil box of wood chips. I used the hickory in a Weber Firespice trial package (it had four different woods in it to try - pretty cute.) You can see it in the picture with the meat at the top of this page. We have a Weber Genesis grill that has 3 different burners. I placed the box of wood chips and a foil pan of water on the back one. Then I closed the lid and cranked up all 3 burners full blast. I let it run about 25 minutes to get the wood chips smoking. Note: the package will tell you to soak the wood chips. Do not do this. All you accomplish with soaking is acrid steam, not smoke. Leave them dry and you will get nice sweet smoke. While you are getting the wood going, remove the meat from the refrigerator and put it on a metal rack. You could put the meat straight on the grill, but I didn't want grill marks and I also wanted to be able to just pick up the rack and get them all on quickly so as to not lose any more smoke than necessary having the lid open. (I also threw on some potatoes just for fun.)
So, once the wood got going I put the meat and potatoes on, shut the lid, turned the front two burners completely off and turned down the back burner to low. I wanted to get the temperature to hold at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. It took a little while, but it got there aided by the fact that I forgot to put a temperature probe in one of the four short ribs, so I had to open it and quickly put a probe in the center of one of them. What I will do next time is choose 250 degrees as my goal because the short ribs took bleeping FOREVER to get done. I will also wrap sooner, however, I get ahead of myself. Low and slow is all well and good, but dinner at 9:30pm is not. Alright, I had the grill tootling along, the meat and potatoes in by 4:00pm. Then I sat and watched the temperature gauge, making little adjustments for the next 4 hours. At about 8:00pm I had had enough. The meat had stalled at 160 degrees internal and I was going for 200 degrees, so I got a double layer of foil and wrapped those suckers. The picture above is a little weird because the foil is not wrapped tightly around the probe - I swear it was wrapped snugly for the cook. Wrap your foil tightly. Then, I increased the heat to 250 degrees and thankfully, the internal temperature started moving up again. Unfortunately, it took another hour and a half to accomplish the 200-204 degrees that I wanted. Dinner at 9:30 - yay!
SO, if I were you and you wanted to try this but spend, maybe, only 3-4 hours rather than 5 1/2, I would do this:
Do all the primary steps above, lighting all burners with the wood and water.
After 25 minutes, put the meat on with a probe in one and turn the front two burners off, keeping the back one under the wood low, but adjust until you get a steady 250 degrees.
After 2 hours check the color. If it looks nice and deep brown, go ahead and and wrap in a double layer of foil (the wood will be all done by this time and you will have gotten all the smoke you're going to get anyway.) The foil wrap accelerates the cooking.
Cook to an internal temperature of at least 195, but I prefer 200-210. Take off, open the foil and let rest at least 10 minutes. Slice and serve with the juice and your favorite barbecue sauce, unless you're from Texas and you think sauce is evil.
By the way, I pulled the potatoes off when they felt soft, peeled and mashed them with massive amounts of butter and a little milk.
Tracy Wood Anderson