wood fired Pit BBQ
Bent Brick Smoke Works
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|Standing in front of that little aluminum smoker at the drug store, I had no idea. Kim said, "It could be your 'thing', you could get good at smoking." For $36.00 why not? |
My first attempt was planned when Kim, the head cook for our crew of twelve, was out of town. Not that I was scared. I was going to follow the directions on smoking a turkey. The eighteen pound bird was free and if it failed I could blame it on the smoker.
While it was smoking, it smelled so good my neighbor asked when it would be done. I tore up paper bags and covered the counter, donned oven mitts, and pulled her out. As I was making my way our ten kids swarmed me at the counter. My neighbor and I stood back, fearing for our lives and limbs, while the kids had their way with the smoked bird. I thought we would eat some of the dark meat from the back.
|Those little brats ate that whole turkey in about ten minutes... I figured I was on to something.|
|I started searching the web for more info on smoking meat. I learned there was cold smoke, hot smoke, BBQ and grilling. Everyone had the one right way to do it, most offered history. |
I know that some where down the dark path of my family tree you will find a caveman cooking with fire.
So I'm an expert too.
|There are some universal truths. |
| I found a copy of the 1943 Sunset BBQ book on EBay. On line I saw some very nice modular outdoor gas kitchens. |
After studying the whole concept of cooking with fire, both grilling hotter than you could ever grill in the house, and low and very slow, BBQ, I started to plan my pit.
|I got the idea for the basic layout from the sunset book. I set the scale of the pit by figuring out how many hamburgers I would want to cook at once. For us that would be a case of thirty- two. So my grill surface was just under three feet by four feet. And to balance the whole unit I wanted three areas, one for a fire box/grill, one for the pit or oven and cupboard with a counter top. The BBQ pit had to be in a convenient location, with shade. It would take eighteen hours to BBQ a beef brisket; I'd be out there a long time. I also wanted to be able to seat large crowds. (Standing in the center of a huge crowd, pulling the breast from a 40 pound turkey while the crowd "OOOed and Ahhhed, was part of my vision.)|
| I wanted it to look 'right' in the yard. And I didn't want to burn down any trees. So I asked
everyone who would listen what they thought of this spot or that one.
Finally we decided, and dug a hole for the slab- four feet wide, twelve feet long, four inches deep.
Rebar and redi- mix.
Basically, build a fireplace and cook in the flue. To get the smoke and heat to rise up and out, I had to figure out 'draw'. Another simple rule of thumb: ten to one. The lower opening, where the coals are, needs to be about ten times as big as the chimney. I didn't measure this. The door to the coal box is loose and fits poorly. I set a few pieces of 1/4" copper tubing through the top row of bricks along the back of the oven.
|I wanted to keep rain and critters out of my pit so I used several small openings instead of one chimney pipe on top. The heat flow is more even and it looks cool to see light streamers of smoke coming out the back. I never laid brick before, and I hope to never do it again. Geeze,|
| I went in the hardware store and asked for some mortar. "How many bricks do you have?" "About two thousand, but I think I'll only need
sixteen hundred" When they told me I would need roughly twenty
ninety pound bags of mortar, I thought they were nuts! Eighteen bags.
Then there were the doors. First set I made out of wood..... I know, but BBQ only wants to be 225 degrees. I used a zipper to keep them closed. Had a grease fire and there went those doors. The doors on now are corrugated metal, pop riveted to flashing. They close with magnets
My brickwork is less than perfect. The pit looks like it was made during the civil war. (We got the bricks by pulling up a walkway in our garden. Brick by brick, we dug them up and carried them to the BBQ site.) When it was done, Kim said, "Too bad you had to use all those bent bricks." Yeah it's a little rough, but after I cut the meat I just grab the hose and rinse everything off. Sure beats a kitchen!
When the smoke starts people come. Everyone likes to be around the 'camp fire'. I keep the fire going while I'm cooking, shoveling hot coals, as I need them. The bent brick smoke works can handle three whole hams and three big turkeys all at the same time.
When you pull a BBQ'd pork leg out of the pit , set it in a pan and push on the top of it, everyone says "Ooohhh", as all the meat falls off the bone You'll feel like I do - like a Pit Master.
I'm never in a hurry with the pit, the target temperature is 225 degrees for BBQ. Figuring twenty minutes a pound is fairly close. I take turkey to 160 degrees, show it off, remove the breast meat, continue the dark meat to 180. Pulled pork needs 190, beef brisket 210. I let the meat rest half an hour and I take it out five or ten degrees shy of done. It will continue to cook as it rests.
|Fourth of July we started BBQ'ing three days early. We had pulled pork fajitas Saturday, BBQ beef brisket Sunday. On the Fourth we had a home cured whole BBQ'd ham and a forty-pound Turkey. When I took that bird out of the pit, three people stood up with cameras. Everyone wanted their picture taken with the turkey.
I guess I did OK.
|Email me if you’re interested.|
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