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The BlueSmoke Gazette, Issue #005 -- Monthly Newsletter - June, 2006
July 12, 2006

Welcome To The BlueSmoke Gazette!

Howdy everyone, and welcome to all of the new subscribers now receiving the BlueSmoke Gazette. I would like to personally thank you for your interest in my newsletter.

The Grillin's Gettin' Good!

During this last month, the only blue smoke seen around here has been pouring out of grills, not smokers. I've been so busy with other projects that I just haven't had the time to babysit those smoking baby backs and briskets. I've been grilling steaks, salmon and veggies instead.

In this issue of the BlueSmoke Gazette, you'll see some of the questions I've been asked by my wonderful readers, and a old (but good) recipe for wood-fire grilled ribeye steaks that my Grampa used to cook.

In This Issue You'll Find

  • Readers' Questions
  • Recipe: Grampa's Grilled Ribeye Steak
  • How I Built
  • More Reader's Questions
  • Contact Me With Your Question or Comment

Readers' Questions

I love to answer your questions about smoking and grilling. Keeps me on my toes! Here are a few good ones I received earlier this year.

Wayne asked...

"Please help , im looking for a way to cook my beef ribs so that the meat will "fall off the bones". i tried to slow cook them for 10 hours with the fell off of them but it didnt work. i smoked them? any help would be greatly appreciated."

My response was...

"Sometimes I have the same problem. There can be quite a bit of variation in the tenderness of beef ribs. I guess some cattle are just ornrier than others.

One trick that should help is to wrap the ribs in foil after the first 3 or 4 hours. Continue slow cooking them for 4 more hours wrapped, then check for tenderness. It they are as tender as you want them, you can slow cook them for another hour or so unwrapped to give the exterior of the meat a drier texture."

A few days later, Wayne wrote back...

"hey bill, you da man! thanks for the tip it worked out really well. "

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Mike asked...

"you mention white oak @ hickory ,but is apple or peach okay for beef cuts. I have used them for poultry @ fish with good results "

My response...

"Actually, any of the woods normally used for smoking food would be fine to use with beef. Hickory and oak are more traditional choices, but it all boils down to personal preference. It's kind of like which wine goes best with food...they say drink red wine with red meat, but then they tell you to drink whatever tastes best to you. If you prefer white wine with your steak, go for it! I actually like to use apple wood with beef myself. "

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Lisa asked...

"I have been searching for instructions and recipes for smoking turkey. I bought a smoker for the purpose of smoking turkey sausage and also turkey legs. The turkey sausage that I buy is fresh but has little flavor, I buy both the breakfast link and sweet italian. I am trying to stay away from nitrates and my son is allergic to pork. That is why we choose this option. I also want to smoke turkey legs to keep in the freezer to add when I am cooking beans, etc. What are your suggestions. Should I brine the sausage as well?"

My response...

"If you brine the turkey sausage, keep the salt level low. Try a concentration of 1/2 cup salt per gallon. Try a test batch of a pound or so of sausages. Mix up a quart of water with 2 tablespoons of salt. Add spices or herbs you like to boost the flavor of the sausage. Depending on your taste, you could try different kinds of pepper (black or red), onion or garlic powder, oregano etc., at about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each. After 4 hours, pull out half the sausages, and leave the others in overnight. Try to keep the smoker temp at 180F. It shouldn't take too long to smoke them...maybe a couple of hours. Check the internal temp with a thermometer. When they reach 160F, they're done. Compare the flavor of the 4 hr and the overnite brined sausages, and use that info to decide how long to brine next time. And if you need more or less seasonings. Sounds like an interesting project!

For the turkey legs, you can look at my page "smoked turkey legs" to get the general idea. Feel free to adjust the seasoning types and levels to so the legs compliment the dishes you'll be putting them in (beans, etc)"

Recipe - Grampa's Grilled Ribeye Steak

One of my fondest childhood memories is when me and my grampa cooked grilled ribeye steaks in his backyard, under the big elm tree. I could tell a million stories about that backyard...climbing the tree, digging worms, picking locust (cicada) shells off the tree trunk in early summer.

The ingredient list for his ribeye steaks included salt, pepper, and butter. Nothing more, nothing less.

The steaks were seasoned with salt and pepper...more than a light shake, too. Grampa liked his salt and pepper.

After the steaks were speckled with salt and pepper, it was time to put 'em onto the grill. Grampa didn't throw them, but he laid them gently on the grate, like they'd bruise if he dropped them. When the steaks were in place, the grill cover came down.

The ribeye steaks cooked over those hot coals, soaking up the flavor of the dripping-fat-on-coals smoke and the wood smoke. We'd talk about he weather, or fishing, or the walnut trees or the persimmon tree that grew in the back of the place, then Grampa would open the grill, look at the steaks, and say, "I think we should turn 'em. What do you think?"...

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More Readers' Questions

The first one here put a big smile on my face.

Marcela wrote...

"i just wanted to thank you for your website and great recipes. you have made smoking a great experience for us with your awesome directions and advice.


My response...

"I appreciate the wonderful message you sent to me. It made my day!"

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Laura asked...

"Ok, I have lots of questions. First I have a Luhr Jensen little Chief smoker with no temperature control.

1. What is the difference between using wood chunks w/water to using wood chips?

2. How hot does the smoker have to be to actually "cook" the food?

3. Will my smoker maintain that heat to cook the meat?

In the book that came with my smoker it always says to brine the food (I was trying chicken & pheasant) then it said to smoke for about 1 or 2 hrs and finish cooking in the oven. I thought when something was smoked it was cooked in the smoker, not the oven?"

And my response was...

"Hi Laura,

I'll do my best to answer all of your questions with the hope that you'll have great success at smoking up some food this holiday weekend!

First of all, there's not much difference between wood chips and wood chunks. The chunks will typically burn slower than the chips. And soaking either in water before putting them in the smoker will cause them to produce smoke a little longer. In the Little Chief chips would be fine to use. You don't need to soak them first, either. But don't use too many chips or the food will be too smoky and get bitter tasting. The first time you smoke, use 1/4 cup of chips or so. If that's not enough, next time use more. Better to start with light smoke, then work your way up to the smoke level you like.

Second question: a smoker normally runs around 225 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, it takes several hours to cook a chicken (around 4, more or less)and 12 hours or more to cook a brisket. The food will be cooked when the temperature reaches the correct temperature.170-180 for poultry, and for brisket, 190. The brisket would be safe to eat when it reached 160, but it would be tough as shoe leather.

Number three: No. The Little Chief smoker reaches a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit when the outdoor temperature is about 70 degrees. How do I know this, you ask? Well, I was curious myself a few months back, so I emailed Luhr Jensen and asked them about their smoker. The above information is what they told me. The Little Chief only gets up to 165 degrees, so it's unsafe to cook larger pieces of meat in it for more than a couple of hours, or bacteria in the food could multiply and contaminate it. Fish and jerky and sausage can be completely cooked in the Little Chief, but for anything larger, you should follow the manufacturers instructions in the book and just smoke for a couple of hours (to give the meat a smoky flavor) and then finish it in the oven, at 350 or so degrees. You won't end up with true smoked food,but it will have a good smoky taste.

The Little Chief is perfect for smoking salmon using the hot smoking method. It's not too hot and does a great job for any type of fish.

If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask. Let me know how your chicken and pheasant turn out! "

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The last of the reader questions I'm including is my all time favorite. It's in regards to a "beary" interesting subject.

Crystal wrote...

"This may a bizarre request, but hopefully you can help. We are going out camping in British Columbia, and wanted to smoke some meat on our smoker. Being that it is in the Rockie Mountains, and full of wildlife.. would the smoke (smelling so good) attract wildlife.. Bears specifically. Its a weird question I know, but please get back to me.. Thanks alot, Crystal"

My response...

"Hi Crystal, I'll have to admit, this is the most atypical smoker cooking question I've received to date. But it's a very good question, nonetheless.

I've done some camping at Yosemite National Park in the past, and the campgrounds there have "bear boxes". All food items are supposed to be stored in the steel boxes, and not in the tents or in clothing. If food is stored overnight in the tent, the bears are likely to wake you up in the middle of the night as they search for food. Not a very safe situation.

I'm no bear expert, but in my opinion, smoking food in bear country might be asking for trouble. The good-smelling smoke could permeate everything around the campsite...the tent, your clothes...and cause a bear to come searching for the source of the smell. It might not happen until the dark of night.

And smoking food is a long-term cooking process. The smell will have a chance to travel a long way before the food's done cooking.

If it were me, I wouldn't smoke food in a bear-area. But if I did, I'd do it a distance away from the campsite, just in case.

Enjoy your camping trip!

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If you have a question about smoking or grilling food, please don't hesitate to contact me. I love getting questions and I will do all I can to help you create great smoked and grilled food.

And Thanks Again for subscribing to The BlueSmoke Gazette, the official newsletter of Enjoy the Summer.

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