Monday, 28 May 2012

Bone-in Pork Butt with Green Apple and Crushed Hot Red Pepper

Most of BBQ Smoking efforts to date have been pretty straightforward. Basic rubs and some homemade sauces. Nothing fancy. But once I got to version 6 of my smoker I thought I'd raise the bar a little and go for the big one: Bone-in Pork Butt with Green Apple and Crushed Hot Red Pepper (using the related APL BBQ Sauce). The Adam Perry Lang stuff is supposed to be very good ... after all, this is a Grand Championship winning recipe.

Lot of work, but what the hell.

There's not a lot to write about this since it's really just following the recipe, but you may enjoy the pictures.

Got a nice 7lb Boston Butt from Gateway Meat Market
Started with the injection ... really got to work the needle around to make sufficient pockets in the meat.
 The Mustard Moisturizer
The Seasoning Blend. Cooking 101, never measure your ingredients over the bowl. When I'm doing curries or rubs I prefer the plate method ... easy to double check your proportions and you can always correct mistakes.
Moisturized ...
 Rubbed and oiled ...
Sand nice and hot in Version 6 ...
 And we're off and running ...

 After 3hrs (130F)
 The Wrapping Mixture ...
 The APL BBQ Sauce (which is really awesome even by itself, let alone as a base) ...
After 6 hrs (160F) ...
Nearly cooked at 9hrs, 193F exactly ... Foiling and with the Wrapping Mixture, ready to rest in the cooler.
 Apple Spray ...
About 12hrs total ... done! This is after a last re-seasoning and with the BBQ Sauce Glaze hardened.

The Version 6 Smoker

Worked like a charm! All the efforts to increase the heat flow to the top chamber worked perfectly. The temperature held at a perfect 250F the whole cook. It was truly set and forget. I also used a lot more sand than previous times. This made a big difference. No blue smoke and the cooker recovered to the hold temperature much faster after the lid was opened. I just need to refine the construction a little and make a table for it. Very happy with the state of it right now.

Final Thoughts on the Recipe

Not. Worth. The. Effort.


I would have loved to say this was the most phenomenal thing in the world and the apple flavor dominated the pork ... but it didn't. In fact I found very little difference between all this song and dance and my more basic seasonings. Also, the portions for each of the ingredients are way too high. I had lots of waste. 

That said, the APL BBQ Sauce base is something I'll use again and the rub was pretty good.

The resting in the cooler and plastic wrapping the meat is a very good technique as well. I kept the temperature probe in the meat during resting and it increased a solid 10F during the rest to peak at 203F. Pretty neat.

A fun experiment with mixed results in my opinion, but that's what this game is all about.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Chef's Knife - pt 5

A lot happened since my last report but nothing really photo worthy. When I started working on the 220grit on the other side of the blade I discovered some deep scratches from dirt on the blade holder. I had to take them out with the belt sander. Then it was back to hand sanding. 
I'm now intimately familiar with these two tools. Far too much.
Once I got the 220 grit done I could focus on the 320 and 400 grits. The 200grits were done along the length of the blade, the 320 was done vertically so as to remove the horizontal 220 lines. Then the 400 was done horizontally to remove the 320 lines. By the end of it you're essentially just doing a single stroke in one direction to get it polished.

The 220 takes about 2-3 hours of work per side. The 320 goes faster (depending on how well you did with the 220) at about an hour per side and the 400 is relatively quick at about  20-40 minutes per side. Still ... a lot of hand sanding!
Then the whole process was repeated on the edge of the knife. You'll also notice a change I made to the finger grips on the top edge. I lengthened them out another couple of inches since I changed the bolster style. You don't usually see this on a chef's knife, but the finger grip on the top edge is a very common. I think it'll be quite handy when dealing with slippery ingredients. 
After the 440 grit. 
 Even the underside of the knife had to get the 220/320/400 treatment.
Finally, we discussed handle material. We both agreed to go with stabilized hardwood. Chuck is going to use the Curly Maple Grey. I have another style in mind. And I decided to go with a stainless steel bolster and pins.
Now the blade gets sent away to Mossington Knives for hardening! I spoke with Mike Mossington about materials and he's going to gear me up with what he thinks will work best. I'm going with a style like Mike's Algonquin Hunter blade that he has for sale on his site. Should take a couple of weeks to get the additional materials and hardened blade back. I indicated which holes will take the pins for the handle and bolster. The rest will be filled with epoxy.
Next, we move on to the 600/800/1000 grits and start work on the handle! Getting closer!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Treadmill Desk

I admit it ... I fell for an infographic. I read "Sitting Down is Killing You" and got spooked. I don't even know if it's accurate. The thing is, as a programmer, I sit. A lot. I had previously lost a nice chunk of weight by eating low-carb and zero exercise but that's not really a comprehensive long-term strategy. Ya gotta move. As someone who likes to cook, low-carb has to have exceptions (pizza and ice-cream are too good.) Beyond the fact I have no time for the gym anymore and there are a million other things I'd rather do. 

Sit-Stand desks are increasingly popular, but when a freak electrical storm knocked out my wife's old treadmill, we replaced with one that had some pretty interesting side handles. These were horizontal and almost the perfect length for a table-top. There was a catch. Whatever I was going to do needed to be removable since that's the church my wife prays at. 

(note: I know ... things are dusty, we have a wood stove. I'll get on that.)

I made some prototypes with scrap wood to figure out the height I wanted and to see if I could type and walk (since I can barely walk and chew gum.) The first was too low: 

So I stuck a shoe rack on the board to see how that height worked. It was perfect. 

Now to make it official. I had a piece of scrap 5/8" plywood and some vinyl fabric from an old chair refacing. About $40 and some 3" and 1 1/2" PVC piping later we were rocking.

First I dry fit the pieces and adjusted for height (turns out it was better lower than the shoe rack height.)
I left the smaller down tubes unglued in case I ever wanted to adjust the height. The friction on the PVC is plenty strong for downward forces. The real issue was the downward curve of the frame. It pushed the rack out way too much. So, a quick cut with the Dremel and we had a really snug / biting fit. It really locks it in place. 
The rest is pretty simple, mount the surface (recessing the bolts), staple on the vinyl and we're good to go. Note that I offset the desktop to use the space closer to the treadmill console. 

A clean, solid work surface. A mouse works great on it and it wipes off easily in case of a tea spill.
And it pulls off just as easily.
 From the side. Lots of room to walk beneath it.
I started with a 1.5 mph pace. The treadmill only goes to 99:59 (MM:SS) or about 1:40, which is a really good Pomodoro-like number for programming. This gets me about 2.5 miles per session (or 4 km). This is a very comfortable pace. I can talk on the phone, code very comfortably and drink tea without making a mess. No slouching, no hunching, no wavering back and forth. With your hands on the keyboard, you're quite solid.

Since then, with a little practice, I'm up to 2 mph, for 3 1/3 miles or 5 1/3 km per session. I can do this comfortably with jeans on and not break a sweat. It's a leisurely stroll on the flat with no wind. I doubt I'll go any higher, that's not the point of this. I'm not trying to get an aerobic workout, I'm just trying to move.

And the best thing, there's no desire for screwing around. It's all business on the treadmill. I'm not distracted by multiple monitors. I know I have 1:40 of focus ahead of me. After that, I can get a tea, have some water. Take my laptop with me upstairs for our daily meetings and sit where there's sunlight, then go back at it again later. I can usually get 2-3 of these sessions in a day (with the rest sitting down). That's a good day of programming.

If you notice the view from the back, you'll see I have a anti-theft Kensington lock on the back. I stripped the plastic off the other end and tucked it under the treadmill mat since I was getting some crazy static build up and zapping my machine all the time. I need to find a better solution, but for now this works great. 

All in all, it was perhaps the best $40 health insurance I could have purchased.

(edit: was using lb to kg for my miles to km conversion. heh, fixed)