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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.

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Unread 09-29-2013, 10:14 PM   #1
Got Wood.

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Default Well, ya gotta start somewhere...

Well, after 12 years living in the US and loving the BBQ, we decided to give it a go down-under. Newbies here in quite a big way... just got us a 22" WSM, last/only one in the country... the country is New Zealand.

Virtually no one cooks like this in NZ, we are grilling champs and cold smokers (of fish). Lots of stuff to learn we have found. Firstly, the butcher's don't know what we are talking about when asking for 'Murican cuts. Second, meat is very expensive... the small pork shoulder in the pictures below, admittedly bought at a fancy organic butcher, was over US$35. Even the charcoal was a bit of a body blow price-wise. But against all that were the memories of some terrific meals all over the country. I even had a customer in Gallaway, TN, east of Memphis off the 40, so well remember lunch at Bozo's and that shotgun shack just across the road that harked back to what it must have been like before the war (WW2 that is, not the Civil, well maybe not!).

Now, the WSM. We got the 22" rather than the 18" because we thought if we like this gig, we might have more people than we would expect to cook for. We used the minion method to light the lump and she would have lasted a good 10-11 hours we think (we had the ribs off before this). In our second cook, we wanted max time, but I put too much in the chimney, so when I put it onto the ring of charcoal, even though I immediately saw the problem, it spread out too much and so actually burnt much faster... lesson, only a 1/4 chimney and a small pile in the centre. The temp is rock solid in the WSM for many hours, so that is great, you can definitely leave it and go and do something useful. Both times have used water in the diffuser bowl. I would say in general the WSM is too hot though compared to what I believe it should be. It was showing 245F on the Weber gauge in the lid, and knowing this is probably inaccurate, I used a Thermopen (yes, I tracked one down) and stuck it through the smoke outlet in the lid into the space above the meat... it was a stable 288F. The WSM has three sets of air inlets in the base... we closed these right up to try and drop the temperature, no go, it was a rock solid 245/288F. The little tangs on the air inlets stop them closing absolutely completely, and that is good. I left the outlet in the lid full open always. I think having a reliable, stable temp in the cooker is a greater benefit than having the lower temperatures. Any thoughts there? Oh, by-the-way, we use a local wood, Manuka, for the smoke. I think it was rather a good flavour. They believe the honey from Manuka has mystical, health-giving properties, and we are proving that it extends to the smoke as well J.

The first cook was the ribs which turned out pretty good. I think we overdid the cumin in the rub and that tended to overpower the natural flavours, but overall, while not the best ribs I've ever had, they were pretty darned good. Our second cook was the pork shoulder for pulled pork. This too was pretty good except for two things... the rub was too hot as the girls couldn't handle the heat in the cayenne pepper and the paprika. The other thing was that the meat right in the centre was dry-ish. As my wife does a pretty mean pulled pork in the crock-pot, one that is always very moist, this was a mark against the BBQ team! We pulled the pork at IT of 190F after about 10 hours (I would have liked a bit longer). Left it sitting for 1/2 hour. It pulled OK... that was a bit of fun with no heavy-duty gloves - so hot!

We see our challenges as:
a. The costs are quite high for charcoal and meat (also the WSM 22” was about US$850);
b. Getting equivalent cuts;
c. Getting time when my SIL and I are both off at the same time so we can get the experience together.

Overall though, we are quite excited by our startup and having some good memories of the US provides an excellent benchmark for what we are trying to do. We are also keen to try a straight roast (no smoke, just charcoal and no rubs), more akin to the roast pork found at Rosti Roti at the Farmer's Market on the wharf in downtown SF on Saturday mornings. In the pictures you see my SIL passing the arcane BBQ secrets (we wish!) to my grandson (oh, alright, his son if you must). He is English and I am Australian and we live in NZ but both of us are BBQ fans.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Passing_on_the_secrets-med.jpg (53.9 KB, 407 views)
File Type: jpg Mopping_at_six_hours-med.jpg (69.9 KB, 405 views)
File Type: jpg Shoulder_skin-med.jpg (27.4 KB, 406 views)
File Type: jpg Pulling_out_bone_easily-med.jpg (56.9 KB, 405 views)
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Unread 09-29-2013, 10:22 PM   #2
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gotta start somewhere? looks great to me!
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Unread 09-29-2013, 10:24 PM   #3
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International splendor. You might be able to hit up our Aussie brethren for how they deal with the world of barbecue in the Land Down Under. Looking forward to seeing more posts from you.
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Unread 09-29-2013, 10:27 PM   #4
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Welcome! You'll get there with the techniques...just remember to learn something with each cook ;)
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Unread 09-29-2013, 10:30 PM   #5
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(also the WSM 22” was about US$850) ..............

The Food looks Good.

I smoke at 275-300* on most meats so your temp is good. Don't know about the Meats ( maybe buy live and slaughter yourself?) but can u mail order Bulk charcoal and come out better price wise?

I know there are a couple other New Zealand guys on here.....maybe they'll chime in .
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Unread 09-29-2013, 10:30 PM   #6
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Nice write up LWFH.

I am a big fan of the WSM and have found that each pit has a "sweet spot" where it wants to run. If that spot is under 300, you're cooking low and slow.

The butt being dry in the middle leads me to believe that your instinct of leaving it on longer was right. Don't cook butts, or any meat, to temp. Cook to probe tenderness (your Thermapen slides in with little to no resistance). Also, the bone of the butt should pull out cleanly when the butt is done.

Good luck with your new hobby/passion/obsession.
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Unread 09-29-2013, 10:31 PM   #7
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Well done!
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Unread 09-30-2013, 05:54 AM   #8
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If that's just the start I think you're doing fine!

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Unread 09-30-2013, 06:14 AM   #9
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Welcome to the forum and it looks to me like you have already made the commitment to get it right. Sorry to hear about the cost of everything, if you have access to wood, etc., you might consider making your own lump charcoal - use the search tool at the bottom of the page and enter something like "homemade lump charcoal". There are lots of folks here to help you on your journey and we would like to hear/learn from your experiences. Best of luck!
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Unread 09-30-2013, 07:33 AM   #10
somebody shut me the fark up.

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A big welcome, food looks dang fine!
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Unread 09-30-2013, 09:04 AM   #11
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Looks great!
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Unread 09-30-2013, 09:58 AM   #12
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That good looks good and hopefully you can find some diagrams for the Murican cuts of meat and relay they to your butcher!

One thing with the pork shoulder, the middle probably wasn't done breaking down the collogen/connective tissue which is why it was dry. At 190* internal temperature it probably had a little while to go till it all broke down. I have found that most of the pork butts and picnics I have done aren't completely tender till between 195-210* IT. Also you want the shoulder to rest a minimum of 1 hour but preferrably 2hours. This will give the shoulder a little bit more time to break down the collagen and connective tissue and redistribute the juices into the meat as the muscles relax from cooling down some.
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Unread 09-30-2013, 10:48 AM   #13
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Off to a good start. Welcome.
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Unread 09-30-2013, 09:52 PM   #14
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Nice job! Get some friends hooked and maybe they will buy the meat if you cook it.

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Unread 10-02-2013, 08:08 PM   #15
Got Wood.

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Thanks everyone for best wishes. Beautiful spring day here now and looking forward to a smokin' summer (not the sort of thing you wish for in Australia or part of the US with their bush fires).

We are going to have another shot at the pork shoulder, trying to get it up to IT 203F and test pull the bone (which did come out pretty easily actually and the Thermapen went in and out like butter). Also going for some heavy-duty BBQ gloves to handle the hot food.

Next up though is a brisket (the last one I had was at the Hill Country BBQ place in NYC some years ago and really hanging out for some now). There are a lot of brisket links... anyone direct me to a good one to guide us through the first time?

Are even up for some educumation and have ordered Serious Barbeque and Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book.

If any of you guys travel down this way, drop us a line and you can come and show us some BBQ secrets - we'd love you to visit and for us to be the hosts.

Thanks again...
Ralph in Auckland... with a WSM 22" and a hopeful attitude...
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