Six Days with My Big Green Egg – Day 3

Yesterday was pulled pork day on my Egg.  After steak on Day 1 and ribs on Day 2, this was my first real “low and slow” trial.  I smoked a 4 lb. pork butt with apple wood at 250° for 7 hours.

Egg Day Two RIbs 031

Holding the Egg at 250° for that long was dead simple.  After I got the temp dialed in, the Egg was rock steady. It only used about 1/3 a fire box of charcoal. There was a torrential rain about 3 hours into the smoke which cooled the Egg down to 200°.  That only lasted 20 minutes. After the rain passed, it was easy to get back up to my target temperature.

Two Interesting Lessons

I’ll post the recipe and commentary below.  If you read Day 1 and Day 2, you can guess what the commentary will say, “The food was great.” “The cooking was simple.”  That seems to be a constant with the Egg.

I did learn two interesting lessons from this smoke. One, because the Egg is so efficient, I didn’t get quite as much smoke flavor I like. Two, the Egg is famous for retaining moisture as the food cooked. I smoked this butt without added liquid or warping the butt in aluminium foil after 4 hours (a technique known as the “Texas Crutch“) to see how well the Egg did alone. The verdict was really good, but not spectacular.

Lesson 1 – Smoke Taste When using my water smoker or C.O.S I would mix the smoking chips through out the charcoal. As the charcoal burned, it would constantly be igniting new wood chips, giving a steady smoke through out the whole cook.

I tried that technique with the Egg and was disappointed by how little smoke the meat had.   The smoke was there, just not as deep and rich as I’d like. Plus, the pink ring was almost non-existent.  I used 3 big handfuls of chips, so I was puzzled by that.

Today, when the Egg had cooled down enough to remove the plate setter I found the answer. The Egg only consumed about 1/3 of the charcoal I’d loaded it with.  Most of those apple wood chips  never burned, so they never added any smoke.

Next time, I’ll pile the smoking chips in the center of the charcoal. Hopefully that will up the smoke flavor.

Lesson 2 – The Crutch With the water smoker or C.O.S, I almost always use the Crutch.  The idea is that after 4 hours in the smoke, the meat has absorbed all the smoke it’s going to. So you can speed up the cook while retaining a bit more moisture by wrapping the meat in aluminium foil and adding some apple juice.

The foil reduces evaporation from the surface of the meat. This cuts an hour off the cook time by eliminating the “Stall”, that long, frustrating period during which the meat’s internal temperature stops going up even though the smoker is holding the proper temperature. The Stall starts when the surface temperature of the meat gets high enough to start rapidly evaporating water from the meat. The evaporative cooling slows the cooking, adding potentially hours of cook time, and drying out the meat.

For all its virtues, the Egg still suffered from the Stall.  Next time, I’ll crutch the butt at 4 hours and see how that goes.

Food Porn

Finally, the good stuff.

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This wasn’t technically a pork butt.  It’s a picnic roast, essentially a boneless butt. I used it because it was the smallest cut Safeway had.  With my leftover problem getting worse, I wanted to keep this experiment small.

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My rub is simple, paprika, celery seed, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, black pepper and dark brown sugar.

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Having been boned, the picnic roast was a little floppy.  I tied it with butcher’s twine so it would hold its shape.

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My only really problem was the rain.  I had to wait over an hour for it to let up enough to be able to light the fire.

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After I got the fire going, it was 7 fairly painless hours.

More Day 3 006

Way easier than the water smoker.

More Day 3 008

Because the rain delayed my start, I took the butt off a little earlier than I should have. The kids were getting hungry and weren’t going to wait another hour.  It wasn’t quite pull apart tender yet, at least not in the center. But it was still very good.

Adding the crutch next time should fix that problem.

Up next, Agave-braised, smoked pork belly with grilled pineapple.

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About fzinger

I read and I write. I read a lot and I write when I can.
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