What is being said....

"I need dessert for my blood sugar."

Mallory, 7 yrs.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and ABTs....Oh My!

Last weekend was Mallory's 12th birthday.  12th birthday, 12th Man, Seahawks in Super Bowl...coincidence?  I think not.  Anyway, one of Mallory's favorite meals is hamburgers and she asked if I could smoke some for her party.  I thought sure, how hard could it be meat + fire = good eats (sorry AB). So I started doing my usual research days in advance.  I found all different types of responses to hamburgers cooked in a smoker.  Some said they were rubbery, others said dry, some said overdone, others said they were just "meh". Yet many people said they were the best burgers they have ever had and would never grill them again.  What to believe?  Nothing to do but try it myself and see how they come out.

The consensus with everyone seemed to be to use more fatty meat to help retain moisture.  So I started with 7lbs of 80/20 ground chuck.  I didn't want to experiment with putting a rub on burgers with 16 people coming over (I thought it might be a bit over powering) so I went conservative and added some Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning to the meat for flavor.  Once mixed in I made average sized patties.  Reviews said that since the meat is cooked so slow, there is little shrinkage (I was in the pool!).  Now just in case these were a total flop, what could I do to put the odds in my favor of people enjoying them?  Add bacon!  Even if they were rubbery, the bacon would at least make them taste good.  Plus the drippings would help keep the meat moist.  Here is what they looked like before going in:

Since burgers only take about 1.5 to 2.0 hours to cook, I figured I would make some more ABTs as appetizers since there were several people coming over that didn't get any last week.  I made a full batch this week (12 jalapenos) and used the same ingredients as last time.  One problem.  My smoker only has 3 racks and I needed at least 5 to get everything on.  What to do?  If I only had another smoker....  Got it!  I tested the temps on my Weber grill to see if i could keep it low enough and if so, I would turn that into a smoker.  Lo and behold, with only the back burner on low, the Weber maintained a temp of 221* exactly.  Fantastic!  I started two racks of ABTs on the smoker at 225* using hickory wood this time.  I let them go two hours while I get the Weber ready to fire up.  I put a pack of wood chips in a foil packet over the back burner (under the grate) and let the grill settle in and start to smoke.  After two hours on the smoker, I move the ABTs to the Weber for another hour.  Man, they smell fantastic and look just as good.  Look at that fine smoke coming off the wood:

After I get the ABTs moved over, I load up the smoker with my hamburgers and throw in some hot dogs for good measure.  Two hours later, they were done and the guests arrived.  I was so excited to show the loaded smoker to my folks when they arrived, I forgot to get a picture of how awesome all of the food looked.  Here's a shot of them on the counter though:

Man, were these burgers good!  The combination of bacon and hickory with the beef and a little BBQ sauce.  Oh....my...goodness.  If I was the type of person to say things like "they were 'da bomb" or "they were off the hook", I would use those words.  The burger was a little more firm than how they are normally cooked on the grill....I wouldn't say rubbery, but they were definitely more firm, but not in a bad way.  They were also a little greasy from the bacon sitting on top.  Maybe put the bacon around the burger held with a toothpick next time.  Another thing I was concerned with is the burgers being medium-well done.  It turned out some were more done than others, but for the most part, they were nice and medium and even had that nice smoke ring in them:

The hot dogs were good, but after all, they are just hot dogs and how good can a hot dog be?  The ABTs?.....what can I say that hasn't already been said.  Doug, my father-in-law, doesn't like spicy food (black pepper is too hot) and he even enjoyed one.  Soaking the jalapenos for several hours is definitely the key.

Would I do burgers in the smoker every time now?  No, but I'll do them in the smoker when the occasion calls for it. I still like a burger medum rare on the grill, and if you only have a short time to cook, the grill is definitely the way to go.  I can get a little smoke going on the Weber, but with just 10 minutes of high heat cooking, it won't be anything like a 2 hour low and slow smoke bath. 

I saw a fun verse this week that another BBQ'er is using as a tag line:

Exodus 12:9 - Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire....

Well, I took the day off of work to prepare for cooking a brisket on Sunday, so I'd better get to it.

Go Seahawks!

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