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Barbecue (Smoking) Forums

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 

I went over and joined the Smoke Ring Forums on thetincook's recommendation in another thread, have been lurking and read through lots of threads, but don't see much to interest me. Curious as to what Tin thinks is good -- if he's reading this. 

 

Maybe I'm missing something.

 

Since changing heat sources from gas to charcoal and moving from a horizontal offset to a vertical, water smoker (BWS Fatboy), the abysm of my ignorance, never small, has enlarged dramatically.  I'm certainly looking for a good barbeque forum.  If anyone happens to be in or otherwise know of one, please let me know.

 

BDL

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post #2 of 91

I've never found a good bbq forum either. They all think they have the secrets and won' t discuss deeply.

post #3 of 91

I've never found a good bbq forum either. They all think they have the secrets and won' t discuss deeply. Or don't really know what they think'they know.

 

 

post #4 of 91

/shrug I like it mainly because it has a very active membership base with a lot of professionals. Kinda like a cheftalk about bbq. As a general rule about forums, I think you'll find more of interest if you start topics re your interest and/or be active in discussion rather then lurking.

 

Guess it's a case of YMMV

post #5 of 91

I'd love to talk BBQ. OK, so maybe you don't want to hear me talk. Still, we can talk here as much as you want. We are all kinda sorta professionals, right? We should be able to have some good conversations. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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post #6 of 91

Any of you guys used an altoshaam with smoke?

post #7 of 91

I've used a thumbnail.aspx?q=984881374289&id=6e4b64f85c1d4ccc086bccb1ad1684bd on my car. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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post #8 of 91

Still don't see what the big deal is in BBQ/Smoking. I could see BBQ in the South, people didn't have much money, they had to use the least tender cuts of meat. Does anyone really think the people in Mexico would be eating all the guts and head of the Cow if they were offered the prime cuts. They made something out of whatever the rancher threw out. I raise my own Black Angus Cows, I would rather eat the prime cuts and taste the real flavor of the meat................When I get a craving for smoke, I'll eat some jerky..............The bone in Prime Rib goes in the oven at noon........................ChefBillyB

post #9 of 91

You know, ChefBillyB, I think you're pretty close.

We don't talk much bout smokin down here because it's somthin we always done. Most everyone knows how to smoke. It's like chili, most recipes,method and proceedure will vary

from one to the other. Then the smoking world blew up. Then all the hoity toities started to try to claim the method by doing all this silly tweeking and changing things up.

    Billy, you're right about the money. The best barbque is the cheapest barbque. Gather free local woods, oak,pecan. Make your smoker out of anything that you find to be acceptable.

Put that meat in the smoker before your last shiner and mother will bring up the fixins in the morning.

   The best barbque for me is at my brother in laws ranch. Actually ours but he built the house. We usually have 30-40 staying there and we invite the local twns people. Pop. 350++

Neighbor has cows so he supplies the beef&pork. We use cheap ole aluminum garbage cans. Small door by the bottom for wood to go in and we just run rebar through each side to create grates. We have an old apple orchard way back on the property. We sent all the kids out on the quads to retrieve the wood. This was our best tasting so far.

   I invited all the chef friends I know to come up in Sept. We're going to spend a few days hunting hogs. I have never smoked one before. Sound hot but sounds like fun.

  You know, it's like poker hold em. When I arrived here decades ago, hold em was a trash game we used to play after a few shiners. We would sit out and play dominos and inside was hold em.  Now you go to play hold em and the tables are full of younger players wearing baseball hats and sunglasses. Thinking their playing for millions. LOL

 

Ice, what the hell is that?

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post #10 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post

Still don't see what the big deal is in BBQ/Smoking.



I'd say largely the experience. BBQ is low and slow cooking, which you know can be done in an oven, so why the fanaticism about it? Well, have you ever spent 9 hours sitting around with a light breeze and a cold brew talking and laughing, people playing music, kids running around having fun. All of it building to a climax of an epic line of perfectly cooked briskets, pork, chicken, etc. and all of the great sides that usually accompany it? Smoking/BBQ is an event more than just a food. I love a good prime cut steak as much as anyone else but that enjoyment is not mutually exclusive to the enjoyment of a great BBQ.

post #11 of 91
Thread Starter 

BillyB,

 

Surely you jest.  If you think smoking proteins, "low and slow" is and or was traditionally limited to the south, or traditionally limited to less desirable cuts, you're buying the good ol' boys' BS -- and at retail. 

 

BDL

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post #12 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thetincook View Post

/shrug I like it mainly because it has a very active membership base with a lot of professionals. Kinda like a cheftalk about bbq. As a general rule about forums, I think you'll find more of interest if you start topics re your interest and/or be active in discussion rather then lurking.

 

Guess it's a case of YMMV



I'm not looking for recipes particularly, or beginner advice -- not that it doesn't hurt to meditate on fundamentals.  I've been smoking for close to forty years, including doing a fair bit of catering, and I'm just not seeing the stuff I want to read at the Smoke Ring Forums, not reading much by people with whom I'd care to share a dialogue.  Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong threads. 

 

Smoking is often very equipment dependent.  Things like fire management, wrapping, temperature choices, and so on vary from pit to pit.  I'm not seeing much about my new type of smoker.

Backwoods.jpg

Not the particular brand -- Backwoods -- so much, but tight, charcoal fired cabinets with water pans.  It may seem a rather highly specialized topic, but they're not really all that uncommon.  If active forum members were doing it, I think I'd see it by browsing and lurking.  There's certainly plenty of other type and brand specific stuff -- which may better relate to what you do and use.

 

I appreciate your advice about forum participation though, and will bear it in mind. 

 

Thanks,

BDL

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post #13 of 91

Sorry, didn't mean to be pedantic or condescending.

 

One of the most popular builds on the forum is a vertical smoker with water pan (they are split on the water pan part), so I'm guessing that there is some useful information out there. Fire management is so idiosyncratic, that I don't think you could expect anything more then general principles.

post #14 of 91

Tin,

  It would make it easier if you used words that I didn't need to google.eek.gif

 

Quote:

not reading much by people with whom I'd care to share a dialogue 

 I'm sure I fit that description, but wondering who the boy's are?

Quote:

 you're buying the good ol' boys' BS -- and at retail. 

Any given Sat. or Sun. when it's below 95F there will be at least 20 smokers going in the neighbor. It's part of the culture.

I spent a lot of time up North in various States. I'm not bsing when I say I never saw or heard of any smoking going on.

60-70's I also can't recall any Mexican eateries.

There was a lot of Bar b quing going on. No hot smoking.  There was some cool smoking going in the late 70's. But that was mainly

directing smoke over fish with a large ember in for flavor. 

I'm sure I'll be bounced for this but it's common knowledge here that The bar b que came up from the islands to the indians in Kentucky then to Tex.

I don't think equipment has anything to do with a good smoke. I had the oportunity to attend bar b ques with decendants of slaves. They live in the country

and smoke in a pit. Native Texans with a history here would never put beef in the smoker. It's always pork. I think the beef came into play as smoking spread

toward Kansas City. We tend to smoke at a lower temp. then most. I have to chuckle when people refer to putting water under the meat as wet smoking.

From what I've seen it looks like steaming to me. The water is to stop flare up from the drip and controll heat if you don't have a seperate box. I have had the purposely steamed version

that was outstanding. They actually imparted flavor that way with original DR. Pepper and Jack Daniels in the pot. They go hot on the beginning

so that the liquid actually simmers. 

There has been a movement towards injectioning. I actually use a vetanarian autopsy tools for injection. gross? no?

 

BTW Boar_d,

When I was talking about standup smokers with water,I wasn't referring to yours. Those smokers have become popular here. I think it's a Chubby?

I've got a good buddy that has a boat in LA. We usually drive and tow one of my toys down to the Shrimp & Petroleum Festival. This year we are

definately stopping by backwoods to pick up a smoker. My neighbor has one and I use it a lot. There is a difference though. The water tray can be used to controll heat.

Well back to Hold-em

pan


Edited by panini - 7/23/11 at 2:30pm

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post #15 of 91
Thread Starter 

Panini,

 

You're an interesting guy with a big storehouse of knowledge, but...  Talk about buying the BS.

 

The word "barbecue" was almost certainly derived from a Taino word.  So, you kinda sorta got a little bit of truth with that.  I'm not sure where the Kentucky connection comes in, as for the rest... not so much.  Just think about it and it's intuitively obvious that if grilling and/or smoking were "invented" in North America, those methods were independently discovered by the Africans, Asians and Europeans -- since they (we, really) were doing those things since deep pre-prehistory. 

 

Do you think the ancients never cooked a piece of meat in a wood fired, indirect heat oven?  Do you think the Huns needed Columbus to teach them smoke sausage?  Do you think no one ever cued and pulled a pork shoulder until the English populated the Carolinas? Sorry, but great uncle Billy Bob wasn't the first -- no matter what he says. 

 

I'm not saying that the southern American style of barbecue hasn't become the dominant style in the U.S., nor even saying that it doesn't form the basis of most of what I 'cue and how I usually go about it when doing low and slow smoking.  But there are other, just as wonderful ways.  I grew up in a couple of California's central coastal valleys, and let me tell you that what we did there was darn sure barbecue even if it didn't look a lot like KCBS.

 

You're over-generalizing form your own experience I think, and what you said about "Mexican Eateries" bears that out.  If "Mexican" food went north from Texas it also did from the rest of the border and Gadsden states -- California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado.  In California we have two major, authentic styles (although you seldom see them distinguished) actual, regional Mexican and "Californio."  And I know all the other states which had been part of Mexico have something along the same lines.

 

The point being that much as Mexican food did not originate in Texas nor even play the dominant role in it becoming national, so with the roots of barbecue. 

 

Moving right along...

 

The "Chubby" is the junior version of a "Fatboy."  If you do a lot of entertaining the Chubby is kind of small.  The Fatboy isn't all that big either.  It sems like whichever BWS model you're talking about, you're talking about a very tight, easy to control, cooker.  There have been more than a few guys who've tried to adapt the water pan to sand -- like a lot of folks do with WSMs -- but it doesn't seem to have netted any really impressive results; on top of that, even though dealing with the sludge that gets in the pan is not the most pleasant task, it's a lot better than clean up would be if there were nothing or anything else down there; and the cherry on top is that it helps stabilize the temp by acting as a ballast.

 

I've only done five cooks on mine so far, and am nowhere near ready to review it yet in any considered sort of way, but I think you could do a LOT worse.  One of those things which is "very expensive for what it is, but still a bargain."  If you're going to buy one, order way early.  There's a lot of lead time, especially if you want any custom mods.

 

I'm still trying to figure out the best fuels for mine.  I've tried commercial grade mesquite lump charcoal and some very high end briquettes (Lazzari) for heat.  The briquette got the pit up to cooking temp much faster, and overall was a very pleasant surprise -- but too expensive.  The mesquite I get (from CalChar) has lots of lumps too big for the Fatboy's fire pan.  That not only means picking through my charcoal bin, but that I can't pack the firebox as evenly as I like.  At the end of the day, I think I'll end up using one of the better mesquite lumps like Lazzari Mesquite, but haven't got there yet.

 

For smoke, I've been using some old pecan chunk but it's kind of dry and not doing the best job in the world. Just that little bit acrid, if you know what I mean.  But while it's easy to get fireplace log size hardwood here, it's hard to get good chunk and splits.  They tend to not only be expensive (drag), but also dried out (major drag) to stay "stabilized" in their plastic-bag packaging.  I suppose I could get a chain saw and set up a little station out back, but laziness got to me and I ordered 50 lbs each of oak and pear splits from Fruita.  How bad can it be?  If I can find some good maple at a reasonable price, another fifty pounds should take me all the way through the fall.

 

FWIW, I usually cold smoke over oak and/or cherry -- but that's a different rig.

 

BDL

 

PS.  If I seem prickly I apologize. 

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post #16 of 91

Well, I guess you educated me? I did write Ken. instead of Car.Thats a mental problem I have. I mentioned that I never saw Mex. when I was up north.

I don't have enough knowedge to speak on origin.

I think, gros blagueur, is the last thing I am or buy into. Most all of my knowledge is from word of mouth. I prefer this method mainly because

most everything in print now a days is either bogus or has a specific agenda. I think a lot of people get a little confused when they talk about( smoking)

and bar b que. I thought I was posting to smoking which would eliminate the accusation of BS.

  I think I'm going to take a break from posting and do a little lurking.

   I'll let those that respond to almost everything, regurgitate from wikipedia. 

GTG. have to check my pork butts in the smoker. Got a lamb leg goin also. tryin a new (mushed garlic,mint,peach,tequilla) injection.smoking.gif

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post #17 of 91

Come on boar. There's no way this can be taken well, particularly in text without the benefit of tone of voice. It's a personal attack and forbidden by the rules.  Don't go there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Panini,

 

You're an interesting guy with a big storehouse of knowledge, but...  Talk about buying the BS.

 

....

PS.  If I seem prickly I apologize. 


 

 

post #18 of 91

The BBQ forums are populated with new people who buy into the "you have to cook they way they do at BBQ competitions to be any good" mentality. Having cooked with all wood in a Klose, charcoal in the typical cheap leaky offset, charcoal in a weber grill, and now a wood pellet fired Traeger I can say they all produce a slightly different product but all are good and I would serve it to anyone other than a BBQ competition judge who is using his idea of what BBQ should taste like to judge it. Home cooks can do the best with what they have and turn out very good food. And yes the fun is having the neighbors over for an afternoon of slow cooking and socializing.

post #19 of 91
Thread Starter 

I apologize to Panini and the board if my post seemed like a personal attack.  It wasn't meant that way, but clearly was inartfully worded. 

 

BDL

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post #20 of 91
Thread Starter 

Posted by MaryB View Post

The BBQ forums are populated with new people who buy into the "you have to cook they way they do at BBQ competitions to be any good" mentality. Having cooked with all wood in a Klose, charcoal in the typical cheap leaky offset, charcoal in a weber grill, and now a wood pellet fired Traeger I can say they all produce a slightly different product but all are good and I would serve it to anyone other than a BBQ competition judge who is using his idea of what BBQ should taste like to judge it. Home cooks can do the best with what they have and turn out very good food. And yes the fun is having the neighbors over for an afternoon of slow cooking and socializing.


Mary,

 

I agree with every word you posted here.  I've been a member of several forums, most of them not very good, and mostly for the reasons you mentioned.  I was on that actually was good, but it was invitation only, I lost the address several years ago during one of my periodic flights from the net, and can't figure out how to get back.

 

What I'm hoping to find is a forum which includes people who cook at a fairly high level, a diversity of barbecue styles -- not just "KCBS" or even American south -- and some depth of experience with Backwoods smokers. 

 

FWIW, I'm enjoying the heck out of my BWS Fatboy and have got it rigged with both a Guru and the new Maverick ET-732.  The Guru minds the pit and the Mav lets me know that all is well... or not.  I haven't done that many cooks on it, but it seems to run faster than my old small offset.  I attribute it to the extra tightness and humidity transferring heat more efficiently -- but am not sure.  Anyway, that's the sort of thing I'd like to discuss outside the BWS forum which does have smoker specific wisdom, but not the depth of cooking creativity and expertise.

 

Maybe that forum doesn't exist, or maybe this just isn't the right place to ask.

 

BDL

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post #21 of 91

I think there's a subconscious undercurrent among the better cooks who also barbecue that this is a one true barbecue in much the same way that Escoffier or Larouse codified French cooking. But barbecue diversified too quickly across too wide an area. And the word is used very inconsistently.

 

These issues haunt all barbecue discussions whether spoken or not. We don't know which variant of barbecue resides in the other person's mental narrative. How many times do we hear about great fall-off-the-bone barbecue. To those whose narrative contains knowledge of competition, those words form an oxymoron.

 

We might consider a common usage of sorts, something like:

 

  • casual barbecue to include the non-regional grilling of burgers, dogs, chicken pieces--whilch many feel is not real barbecue at all, but the word is used this way
  • enthusiast barbecue for the casual barbecue types who step up to the common low and slow cuts and techniques but without regional bias or intent
  • [region] barbecue to discuss specific tradtional regional techniques and flavors where region  is something like NC, TX, Memphis KC and the like
  • Competition barbecue which gets into a more targeted kind of doneness and flavors generally defined by the KCBS standards

 

Create a FAQ of this stuff and add it to our WIKI  to refer new members to so they know what we're talking about and learn to communicate clearly with us.

 

Hey, it's the technical writer in me.

 

 

 

 

post #22 of 91

BRILLIANT post. I agree with everything you said. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryB View Post        << everything she said >>

 

This is the same kinda idea like everyone who watches a cooking show/competition on TV knows what the hey they are doing when they try to do it the same way. "Since Joe Schmoe did it this way on "XYZ Show", then that must be the way to do it." "I'm now an expert critic because I follow what "Johnny Public" said on TV." 
 

 

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post #23 of 91

See if they could add a BBQ forum here. This place would have the wide variety of people and places. State that BBQ is the art of low and slow cooking(there are some hot and fast techniques but I rarely see a neophyte try to use them) and not grilling hamburgers or hotdogs.

post #24 of 91
Thread Starter 

I asked a serious bbq question here about fuel.  Not just for kicks, not a test, real questions for which I'd like some good input.  We'll see if they generate any interest.  I don't know whether there's enough of a population here that are at all serious about 'q for the kind of knowledge base that will bring newbies in with questions and old timers with their experience to help and schmooze.  Hope so.

 

BTW, did you know I bought a Klose "Santa Maria" style grill?  I'm liking it beaucoup.

 

Feeble minds want to know,

BDL

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post #25 of 91

Based on the volume of barbecue questions in the past, I don't think there is sufficient interest to warrant  a dedicated forum.

 

Huddler supports social groups of a sort where you can establish ongoing discussions on particular topics. I don't think that feature is enabled on our site currently, but will check on it.  Posts and such still show up in the activity feed so you'll get attention of people who don't necessarily know about the group.

post #26 of 91

   Hi all,

 

    BDL, The Fatboy sure isn't just another vertical smoker, although you already knew that.  I really love the double wall design and how the fire box is isolated from the chamber, it's really seems like a vertical convection smoker.

 

    I've tried a few different brand of lump in my smoker and while all of them worked, I did have my favorites.  My favorite has been Lazzari with a great burn and wonderful flavor.  There are a couple of different Royal Oak lumps that I've tried and all have been decent, with a decent burn and decent taste...nothing extraordinary...but decent.  I haven't tried Cowboy in quite some time...when I did this stuff was pure garbage with virtually no flavor, tons of pops and sparks, and plenty of tongue and groove flooring.  Most decent lumps are good...Like Wicked Good Lump, etc.  

 

   Fuel management!  I haven't had the pleasure of using any assistance on my FatBoy, maybe someday.  If I've got a good long smoke ahead of me I'll pack the firebox full and tight with lump.  Then I'll place some chunks in varying places atop the lump.  Next I light one small corner of my firebox with my Mapp gas torch (I light the hinge side outer corner).  I open my manual vents all the way while things are heating up and add the water once the chamber is near temperature.  After adding the water I'll let the chamber come up to temperature.  Once at temperature I'll close the intake vents nearly all the way leaving only a crack on each.  The rest of the burn is automatic, and the fuel burns spreading across the entire fire box.

 

   I like how the water pan is implemented in the BWS, it's really not just a vertical smoker.  I've also got the Hide Setter option on mine, which is a pass-thru of dry heat from the firebox.  This way I can get some warm dry air passed through to get that bark set, and closing after.  What I do with the sludge problem in the water pan is I buy full sized foil baking pans (1/2" sides) and place this on top of the water pan.  Now keep in mind, I've got the hide setter so it easily sites above the water.  But it should be easy enough to rig something up to keep the foil pan on top of the water.

 

   have fun!

 

  Dan

post #27 of 91

Grilling was my first passion for cooking, and is still the way I prefer to cook.  Smokering is OK, Barbecuebible (Steven Raichlen) is good also.  My favorite, and the forum I check the most is BBQ-4-U.com.  Most people are friendly and helpful and they really encourage pics, which are always fun to look at.  I have been a member of that forum since 2006, occasionally posting, but reading alot.

post #28 of 91
Thread Starter 

Thanks so far everyone. The more information the better.

 

Dan -- your happy reaction was a big part of my choice.  So far I haven't regretted it, but would you send me the address of every one of your family members in case I do?

 

The nuances of this kind of cooking can be very pit specific, so we're probably doing most things in a very similar fashion. 

 

As you know I still haven't settled on a fuel choice.  At the end of the day it will probably be CalChar and/or Lazzari, but why not fuel around and do some experimenting?  But good fuel is good fuel -- what else is new?

 

The splits from Fruita probably won't get here until later in the week, but everything is very encouraging so far.  They have a great rep, shipped immediately, and respond to e-mail questions expeditiously.

 

I am using a sort of suspenders and belt approach to temp control by using both a Guru for the control itself, and a Maverick 732 to check on the Guru.  I load the tray, leaving a space near the front (but not right at the door) for a chimney's worth of fuel; open the offside (back, left) vent all the way, top vent all the way, and Guru's choke wide open; start the fire with (you'll never guess) a hot, chimney load;  when the pit temp hits 160, I load the water pan with a few gallons of hot water from the tap; when the temp hits the desired temp (225; 250; or 275, depending), I close the offside vent, half-close the flu, and choke the Guru -- how much depends on how hot I want to run; and start monitoring pretty closely. So far, so good.

 

If you have a smoker, don't want to run and check on it every few minutes, and don't have the new Maverick ET-732, you want one. It's a big improvement over the ET-72, which was already pretty good.   I'd say that's true for anyone who's got a smoker, and doesn't have some sort of more advanced wireless like a Stoker.

 

No "hide setter."

 

At least so far, I've found the "clean the water pan" miseries to be overblown.  The first time sucked, yes.  Now, I drain the pan into a bucket, scrape the sludge out with two large, plastic putty knives and dispose of it in a plastic bag.  The chrome-over-steel racks need more cleaning than I was used to, so I sponge them, the (stainless) interior side of the door, and thermometer stem with Easy Off grill cleaner; and rinse the $#^! out of them.   Not so bad. 

 

So far, I've done things very simply and stayed away from my fancier techniques and gags just to get a sense of what's going on.  It doesn't look like much of that is going to change -- except, of course, this old dog will learn some new tricks -- so much for the "equipment specific" theory.  But, I am finding that the Fatboy (and I think this is true of all BWS) cooks a bit faster at any given temp than other units I've used in the past.  My guess is that's due to the overall tightness plus the high, constant humidity in the cook chamber, but that's just a guess.

 

Have you ever written a review of yours?  I can't remember.  I'd love to see one if you haven't, and see it another time if you have.  I'll do one for CFG after gaining more experience; but I'd sure like to read yours (again?) first.

 

BDL

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post #29 of 91

I would love to have one of the Klose grills. My offset had the optional firebox grate and top lid so I could grill over all wood. I do it in my Weber kettle but it is hard on the charcoal grates with the higher temps.

post #30 of 91
Thread Starter 

Mary -- I know exactly what you mean about the low temp-tolerance of Weber Kettle grates.  Although that's not the only thing -- Being able to burn big enough sticks to get a decently long cook, means having a lot of height to play with between charcoal and cooking grates.  Especially when you get into various styles of open pit.

 

I bought the grill with the very specific idea of doing what a lot of people think of as "Santa Maria" style barbecue. 

 

I suppose enough people call it that, that "Santa Maria" has become its right name -- despite the fact that the style of cooking was very common all through California beef country.  Beef was king here since before California was a part of the U.S., and the style of cooking on big pits with grates which could be raised or lowered on chains has been around for a long time.   

 

In case you missed the pictures I already posted in the brining thread, here are three of them again. 

First, hood down:

Klose, Hood Down.jpg

 

Now hood up, grates down:

Hood up, Grate Down.jpg

That black box you can barely see on the left is my new smoker, a Backwoods Fatboy.

 

The Klose again, hood up, grate raised about half way:

Hood up, Grate up.jpg

 

It's a fantastic pit, cooks like a dream, and does almost everything I wanted.  But dammit I'm having some issues with Klose about a small mod I ordered which they forgot to execute.  I'm not about to ship it back.  Besides, we're in love.

 

Speaking of California Beef Barbecue and its origins -- if you're ever in the coastal valleys -- Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Lompoc, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, to name a few -- and you sit down to a big top sirloin (traditional) or a tri-tip (Johnny come lately, started to get popular in the forties) dinner -- note that the traditional sides include frijoles de la olla and the kind of fresh salsa gabachos like to call pico de gallo.  Not just Californian, but a fair bit of Californio too -- just to show how long it's been around.  Not that there hasn't been evolution... for instance, you get that great Danish style cucumber salad if you're near Solvang. To me that salad seems traditional because it's part of my own boyhood, but it's really pretty darn local.

 

Most of the big barbecues I've been to over the years around that part of the state -- whether at a home, or a dude ranch -- included both a smoker and a "swing set" grill like mine.  That's what you call them, by the way -- swing sets.

 

I knew a couple of guys who cowboyed around those valleys when they got out of the army after WWII.  It was still major beef country, and stayed that way until well into the seventies when land started getting a little too expensive. They boys some stories about barbecues, let me tell you.  Of course, their stories didn't end up in discussions of equpiment.  More likely they'd start talking about the brothel in Buellton they used to go to.  One of them, Jake Copas, was something of a poet and could get pretty eloquent.  Pass the whiskey. 

 

A few years before it was supposedly invented by the Santa Maria Elk's Club, if you believe the internet, I used to eat that kind of 'cue in the very early fifties when I was just a little carnivore.  

 

Anyway, back then the weekend meant pits EVERYWHERE -- just the way Panini desTexas during his callow years.  And you know what?  They're still thick on the ground in the valleys.  What with its reputation and all the fundraising, they're frikkin' wall to wall in Santa Maria.   

 

Enough with the stories.  Pass the whiskey, please.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 7/26/11 at 7:34pm
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