Our friend Dave built the above barrel smoker a few years ago and we've gotten to eat all sorts of delicious things smoked in it. A little less than a year ago Dave needed someplace to store it and we've had it at our house ever since.
Late April Dave and his fiance Rachel came over and we celebrated their engagement by smoking an insane amount of meat for four people while splitting wood from our old apple tree that we cut down this winter. It was a really old tree -- one arborist thought it was nearly as old as our 100+ year old house -- and hollowed out as you'll see in the photos. Although the wood is still drying it was the perfect combo because apple wood which is ideal for smoking meat.
That day with Dave and Rachel we smoked a five pound brisket, three pound pork butt, and a rack of pork and beef ribs. Don't worry -- in the end, we invited some other friends over to help us eat it all.
We mortar and pestled herbs and spices and then dry-rubbed all of the meat with various combinations, adding brown sugar to some of the rubs and leaving it off of others. We got the smoker up to temperature (Dave says the sweet spot temperature-wise is 220-230) with mesquite, dried some apple wood while doing that, and then put all the meat into the smoker at 3:30pm to cook until about 8pm -- 4.5 hours.
The hottest spot on the racks is of course right by the smoke chute. We put our meat in when it got to 200. Then as the meat smoked we occasionally rotated things and cracked the door if it got too hot -- we tried to keep it between 220-230 -- and added wood if the fire got low.
You don't want too much smoke -- just a bit. We put wood shavings in a small cast-iron skillet and had an apple wood fire with mesquite coals in the barbecue. Although we didn't do it this time Dave usually adds vinegar and mustard to the meat toward the end to keep it moist. And if you don't know this already you always want to remove the silvery membrane from ribs so that they cook properly.
Up next a Q&A with the meat master himself -- Dave Blaikie!