- I've had this cooker for a full year now, and I've cooked just about everything you can think of. I've done brisket, chuck roast, whole chickens, chicken parts, turkeys, game hens, pork butts, pork ribs, cheese, nuts, smoked salmon (which got me into this whole business), and jerky. As I got more experienced, I upgraded to a bunch of new cookers, but this one is the first real "smoker" that I had and still does the best jerky out of all my cookers.
If you really want to make good barbecue and you want to make the most of your ECB, my personal recommendations for using this cooker are:
No matter what you're making, if you can get to and control your fire, you can make good barbecue. (I've even been tempted to try my hand at competition using only ECB's....I bet I would at least place in the middle 50%, which would mean that I beat half of the guys using expensive equipment. Don't laugh, I read that some guy does this and wins.)
- OK, here's where we start. For a tonight's example, we're going to cook a Pork Shoulder cut called a "Picnic Roast". This cut of meat has a thick skin on it, and a large shank bone in the middle. It is ideal for barbecueing (low & slow) because that is the only way to cook it up tender and delicious.
- This is one of those "personal preference" items (chunks or chips, soaked or dry, foil packets or not, etc.), but for this cooker DO IT! I'll write up a wood discussion later on and you can send me all the flame mail you want. Get a container, any clean container, and put your wood in it with enough tap water to cover.
- For most large cuts, we usually trim the meat a bit for cooking. I prefer to trim the "fat cap" down to about 1/4" all around. That is usually the best balance between leaving enough on to keep the meat moist, but taking enough off so that it all renders down to a tasty "bark".
Then, unless you're really "old school", most barbecue recipes start with a rub or marinade (see definitions). Before I apply a rub, I personally prefer to apply a thin coating of plain yellow mustard (French's). This will help the rub adhere to the meat, and also helps tenderize the meat while it sits in the fridge.
After the meat has been slathered with mustard, apply a thick coating of your rub to all surfaces. You don't actually "rub" the seasonings in. It's more like sprinkle it on and pat it down a bit. Do this until you have a nice even coating of rub all over your meat (this is where all your flavorful "bark" comes from, so don't skimp). Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight.