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Everything posted by ScoutHikerDad

  1. Greetings all-I see it's been over 2 years since my last post. I've been busy in other areas of my life (I was assigned Department Chair of my large suburban high school English department along with 2 AP English courses and all that entails, for one thing), but have still managed to do quite a bit of smoking here and there. In fact this week's smoke of 20 chicken legs on my 5 year old Akorn revealed a rusted out fire bowl. Rather than try to scrounge another one, I just gave it away, and my loving wife decided to gift me with the Vision Pro S for 799$ from Home Depot. We also got the electric starter and the lava-stone and hangers accessory. I am very impressed with the build quality and features relative to price when looking at similar competition. Yesterday, I lucked onto a 10 lb. choice-grade packer brisket from the Evil Empire known as WalMart. Still, I've had great luck with their Excel choice-grade briskets in the past, so that will be the Vision's maiden voyage one day this week. I've watched all the Vision videos, done my homework on here, and read their instructions, which are kinda basic (don't operate the smoker with the cover on-make a note, lol!). So I'm familiar with the fundamentals from 5 years with an Akorn, but just curious about vent settings for a classic low and slow smoke at 225-275. I've got my extra bag of Royal Oak, my rub made (a Texas-plus rub, basically), and my chips are ready. So if anyone is willing to share the vent settings for both top and bottom dials, I would appreciate it. I assume to start out open, and gradually close it down as the temps start climbing. I guess the 2 bottom vents kind of confuse me. If the top vent goes to 1ish on a long, low and slow smoke, do both bottom vents need to be open just a peek? One more than the other? It kinda reminds me of the gain and volume knobs on a tube amplifier-just a hair more complicated than a single sliding vent. Thanks in advance for any thoughts! Aaron
  2. Looks great! Supposed to hit 70's here in SC by the weekend (after last weekend's lows in the teens). Either way, it makes me want to fire mine up!
  3. Just open up your vents after a messy cook for a few minutes to get the temps up-keep an eye out to close them down when it gets up near the max. on the dial so that it doesn't go full nuclear!! Let it cool until it's still hot but not dangerous, and the fire's long out. Put on your oven mitts and scrub with foil, then spray all the nooks and crannies generously with cooking spray to re-season, and you're good until the next cook. Soap and water are the enemies of cast iron unless absolutely necessary. I have done some really messy cooks with lots of charred fats and sauces, and the above technique has always cleaned sufficiently for me.
  4. Wow, nice-looking brisket! That is very moist and tender for a small flat!
  5. Wow, great 1st smoke in challenging conditions. It's been awhile since I smoked a butt. I smoked and ate so much 'cue over the last summer after I got my Akorn last Father's Day that I kind of got tired of it, but this makes me want to start it back up again!
  6. I'm sorry I find this so funny.
  7. Yeah, they all have that play, but it doesn't seem to impact the cooks any.
  8. I re-purposed one of those heavy woven bags you get a ton of sand in at Lowe's because I'm cheap. It works great, and fits almost perfectly!
  9. That's a beautiful view, Brad. I too have bitten off more than I could chew on many hikes both in the Rockies and here in our NC mountains. The only thing you can do, as you did, especially when the elevation gain ramps up, is take frequent rest breaks, and just keep doing it. Move it or lose it, and I'd rather die of a heart attack on a strenuous hike than in front of the tv. The thing is, as you know, so much of the great outdoors just can't be seen at the convenient tourist overlooks, and I have found that if you're willing to put in some boot time, you can escape the crowds (like in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, our own Smokeys, or anywhere). And if you take your kids along, you will instill in them a lifelong love of nature and a conservation ethic that is our only hope of preserving these beautiful places.
  10. Thanks Brad-I'm not sure we have a "real" local butcher/meat market type store, but I'll look and ask around.
  11. Well, they got done much earlier that anticipated! All were reading around 200 after only 3 hours. Sadly, they seemed to be more gristle and fat than beef; maybe that's why they shrank away from the bone so quickly. Lesson learned-Don't buy beef ribs at Mal-Wart! (though I've had great luck with their spare ribs and Excel briskets). What meat we did get was very tasty and flavorful with the SPOG rub, so maybe I'll try again if I can find better ones at Costco. I also had some issues with temp control and getting it shut down. I'm thinking some high heat cooks have compromised some seals, which I understand is pretty standard for the Akorn, so maybe I need to work on that before my next low and slow. I saved the bones and some gristle to try that beef broth idea I was talking about. I picked up some nice gourmet brown and wild rice and dried mixed mushrooms I may add to them after they simmer for a few hours, and maybe some red wine and mirepoix. We'll see what I get inspired to do. I'll post results if it turns out okay.
  12. So I put 'em on my Akorn at 10 this morning over my usual RO lump, with some hickory chips and apple chunks mixed in. I've had some issues getting temps stabilized (maybe due to a cold, brisk wind), but my Maverick appears to be fairly stable now at 255. But the skinniest rib that I stuck the probe in now reads 180, so these may go quicker than I thought (though several are much fatter!):
  13. I read an article recently something to the effect that the same mechanism that causes cancer is related to the very necessary biological mechanism that allows for the mutations that drive adaptive changes, or evolution on a longer scale. In other words, cancer is a necessary by-product of the process that keeps a species like us humans going. I wish I could find the article, and I know I'm grossly over-simplifying it, but it was fascinating and explained a lot about the dreaded disease that becomes more possible the older we get. That doesn't mean I would like to get cancer, and it has certainly taken enough of my relatives (and yours too, probably), but looked at from that perspective, it is much more "natural" (for lack of a better word) than we are perhaps comfortable with. Having said that, I am looking at getting one of those cast-iron pans for a diffuser and throwing it into the mix of all the other carcinogens I/we undoubtedly consume, including smoked red meats.
  14. Yeah, I too went the Home Depot terra cotta route. Mine held up fine for a few low and slows, and then on my last cook, when I crowded 4 Boston butts on my Akorn, a lot of grease dripped down the walls past it late in the cook. This lead to a smoldering grease fire (though the pork was still great-again, late in the cook). It developed a hairline crack due to the higher temps I had trouble controlling, but I'm still using it (heavily foiled, of course!). I may try those ceramic kiln shelves or the Academy grill next. My youngest son is a machinist, and could cut off the handle and deburr it for me. As always, the "Buy quality and buy it once" guys are right again! (or maybe just use the right tool for the job).
  15. Okay, after all the smoking I did this summer, believe it or not, but I got kind of tired of pork ribs, pulled pork, brisket, etc., and was ready to try something a little different. So I picked up about 5 pounds of meaty short ribs. I rubbed them lightly in olive oil just now, and then sprinkled/patted on a mixture of kosher salt, black pepper, onion and garlic powder (with a little Montreal steak seasoning thrown in just because): I'll let them "dry-brine" overnight before smoking on the Akorn tomorrow. I figure on starting at about 10 or 11, shooting for around 225, and hope to have them done by a 5 or 6 pm dinner-time. Not sure if I'll even bother with any sauce or glaze if they look and smell as good as I've heard short ribs can be on their own. So more tomorrow on that front. One other thing I hope to do is save the bones to make some sort of beef/marrow broth. I hear it's really good for you, and I can envision some sort of red-wine/mushroom broth or stew, maybe with some vegetables and barley? Anybody have any ideas or recipes for that? I'm all ears! See you tomorrow. Aaron
  16. Yeah, My oldest son, who is a senior at USC, had his car flooded. And his neighborhood near Gills Creek below the breached dams was evacuated Tuesday. Fortunately, his duplex was not flooded. But class was canceled for the week and we had a nice little unexpected visit here in Spartanburg. And the high school where my wife and I teach sent down a couple of truckloads of water. The destruction down there is almost unbelievable. What a mess!
  17. A quick update to this query. Per AbovePar's assurance that one can cook 4 butts at once on the Akorn, I picked up the 4 boneless 8-pounders from my principal yesterday for today's faculty luncheon, generously applied my spicy rub, and crowded 'em in there: Hoping for more smoke on this 30+ load of piggy goodness, I loaded up the bowl with RO lump, interspersed with several big handfuls of hickory chips and a few apple chunks. Expecting this cook to take AT LEAST 12 hours, I put them on at 7:30 last night. But even though my temps mostly held stable in the low 200's range, I noticed (as I have in the past with that much meat on the grill) that either all the humidity or a somewhat choked airflow (maybe both?) led to dwindling fire and temps if I dialed the vents down too much. So at least 3 times I had to crank them back wide open and fan the bottom vent to restart the fire. I even used the hair dryer a couple of times! Thankfully this worked, and the temps crept quickly back up. One other issue I had in about the last 1.5 hours of cooking was grease getting past my drip pan and smoking. In fact, that last leg of the cook there was a thick white greasy smoke that threatened to flare up when I dared to open the lid. There was certainly a strong smoke flavor, but I got the biggest smoke ring I've ever done, and everyone seemed to love it, so I guess it worked out...If anybody has any ideas on how to avoid that in the future, I'm all ears. The thing is, they got done MUCH earlier than anticipated! They all made 190 F within 8 hours, at which point I started foiling and toweling them to put in a pre-heated, heavily insulated cooler for a long rest. In fact the last one I pulled for lunch was still over 140 hours later at 9 hours. Needless to say they fell apart and were a bit mushy, but still got rave reviews! So thanks to all for the encouragement. I think I know my limits now on the Akorn, and am getting a better idea of how to manage temps on a big cook. Sorry no money shots. I was pretty busy along with the other guys who also cooked on their rigs, one a stick-burning offset and the other on an electric. Thanks again! Aaron
  18. That's a beautiful place. I fish up there some times, and used to take Scouts hiking there. Nice copperhead too!
  19. I had one of theirs this summer, the IPA I believe. As I recall it was very tasty! Some great brewing going on in our mountains.
  20. Well, my youngest turned 18 today. He's out now with his buddies trying out his fancy new spinning rod and reel. Anyway, nothing fancy for today's cook. I started out with a few dozen Moink balls around noon, dusted with my Memphis rib rub and on over RO lump, hickory chips and apple chunks at 350 F: At a temp of 350 over my foil-lined terra cotta drip pan, I got hit by an unexpected grease fire as I was saucing them, I guess from all the dripping bacon fat. It was coming up the sides of my Akorn, and the more I tried to fight it the worse it got! (Pro-tip: Don't squirt water on a grease fire! ). I took them off quickly with welding gloves and tongs before they burned up! Oh, well, I like a little char! We put them under foil to warm back up in the oven later. I then snuffed the fire down for awhile, as the temp has spiked to 500. I put 14-lbs. of spares on about 2 hours ago, again with my Memphis rub on them from last night: I finally got the Akorn steadied down around 260, and am just letting them ride. I'll post a money shot later if I can fend off my son's ravenous friends for a few seconds. (Not to mention, my bbq-loving principal told me that my ticket into the building Monday morning was 2 bones-Jeez, I'm gonna need a bigger grill!).
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