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First cook on my PBC

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    First cook on my PBC

    Fedex put my new PBC on the doorstep yesterday morning, so I drove the sweet Highlander at illegal speeds to the spice store and butcher and procured two racks of baby backs and fixins for my first cook. Spoiler alert: I'm a newbie so there was some learning happening. I have a thermometer and chimney coming from Amazon, but not here yet, so I went the lighter fluid route and just tried to follow the rib video on PBC's YouTube channel.

    I took the coal basket out, filled it to level, and doused the brickets with fluid. I didn't have gloves, so I tried to pick up the basket with a hook and dumped a bunch (OK, all) of the briquets out on the ground. Glanced around furtively to see if anyone caught that pro move. All clear. Put the charcoal back in the basket and lowered the basket into the cooker bare-handed. Set the bottom vent one quarter open (I'm at 216 feet above sea level, more or less) and lit the coals. Gratified to see flames jump up, suggesting that there would be heat and cooking going on soon. In Pro Move Number Two, put the lid on the cooker and went inside to prep the ribs.

    Cut the ribs out of their Cryovac. They seemed appropriately ribbish. Successfully pulled off the membranes. Two things in a row went right. Starting to get cocky. Mixed up some Memphis Dust, oiled the ribs, and rubbed 'em good. Three things in a row. Thinking I might want to consider competitions. Stuck the hooks in after the second rib on the thick end, and strutted toward the PBC, brandishing ribs like a boss. Too bad I forgot the GoPro. Took off the PBC lid. Of course, the fire was out from lack of air. Fragments of shattered barbecue greatness fell gently all around me.

    In a haze of demolished ego and idiocy, I squirted more lighter fluid directly on the coals without removing the basket from the cooker. Thought briefly to myself, "This is how stupid people die." Despite solid effort, failed to incinerate myself. I won't do that again. Lit the coals, left the lid off, and 12 minutes later the basket was ashed over and seemed ready. Put the rods in, and hung the ribs. It seems that a tall pig contributed these ribs. Ends of ribs were touching the charcoal. That seemed bad. Pulled them out and put the hooks in lower. Kind of awkard hanging them with the hooks four ribs down, but it worked. Put the lid on the PBC. Smoke seemed to be coming out of the appropriate places, so I stared at it until I realized there was nothing to look at. Elapsed time between putting lid on and realizing there was nothing more to look at: between 15 minutes and one hour. I kind of slipped into a meditative state there for a bit.

    Went inside to watch the PBC rib video for the 23rd time. Noah did his first check at three hours, then waited 45 more minutes before pulling his baby backs to be sauced. Then they went back on for a little while more. He warned that users at lower elevations might have "just a little bit" shorter cook times. I figured I'd check my ribs at three hours and probably sauce them right then, 45 minutes earlier than Noah did. Commenced with making up some KC Classic sauce from the recipe on the site.

    At three hours on the nose, I lifted the lid of the PBC, only to see that one of my racks had fallen off the hook and into the fire basket. NOAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I grabbed my tongs (that's right, I actually did have tongs) and extracted the fallen ribs. Two or three worth were black and smoldering, but the rest looked OK and done. Pulled both racks and sauced them. Figured I wouldn't press my luck with any more cooking to caramelize the sauce.

    Here's what's crazy. Even after dumping charcoal all over the place, trying to start a fire with no air, trying to blow myself up by intentionally ignoring the (very clear) instructions on the lighter fluid can, accidentally buying extra-long basketball playing pig ribs, dropping one of them into a fiery bed of coals, and not sizzling the sauce on, it all (minus the black ones) turned out amazingly delicious. My family and guests were fighting over the last few ribs, and I came off like a Big Damn Hero.

    Executive Summary - Total newb did everything wrong and still made the best ribs of his life, thanks to this site.

    #2
    Great introduction to the Pit Barrel.

    Comment


      #3
      Loved the story, Crunchy ! I always cut my racks of ribs in half and always double-interlock-hook them, just as Noah shows that he does for brisket. I never met a pig I could trust.

      I'm doing a prime brisket flat today, as we speak, and have 4 hooks in it, two double-interock-hooks on each side. Gravity, bring it on!

      So far (knock wood), after many, many PBC cooks, I have yet to have the meat fall in the fire--ribs, chicken, brisket, etc. It's because I read the sad stories here of said event and work to avoid that fate at all costs.

      Congrats on a great outcome to your first cook!

      Kathryn
      Last edited by fzxdoc; August 2, 2015, 03:39 PM.

      Comment


        #4
        Love the story. Sounds like my first date in Jr. High...Painful memories. My first was ribs also. Did some screw ups but still turned out good. Over cooked two roasts yesterday. Thought I could go to church & come back in time to take them out. Nope. Cooked faster than I planned. Oh well. Live & learn. Good story to tell the grand kids.

        Comment


          #5
          fantastic narrative. this site has saved me from many, many horribly stupid mistakes. back when i started with the PBC, i had Noahs vids and this site open on a iPad within arms reach at all times

          Comment


          • Crunchy
            Crunchy commented
            Editing a comment
            I'm an iPad cook, too. I keep my recipes in Evernote, and then switch to YouTube for the PBC vids. Anyone remember how we learned things before the internet?

          #6
          My second cook is in the books. Two almost-five-pound kosher chickens from Costco, split and hung according to PBC's first chicken video. One with PBC's all-purpose rub and the other dry brined for an hour and then rubbed with Simon & Garfunkel. Both turned out delicious...complemented nicely with some sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. Happy wife, happy life.

          Here's the ponderous thing, though: with my first cook, my time came in something like an hour shorter than Noah's time in the video. With today's, I ran an hour longer than Noah's 2-hour recommendation to get my chickens to 160F, despite being 5,000 feet closer to sea level. The only meaningful difference I can think of is that with the first try, I used lighter fluid, and today I used a chimney. Same type and amounts of briquets, same aperture on the bottom vent. With the first try, I doused the whole basket with fluid, lit it, and waited 12 minutes with the lid off...it was burning pretty hot when I hung the ribs and started my cook. Today, I lit the chimney, waited 15 minutes, then dumped the chimney on the basket, hung the chix and put the lid on. I'm thinking my initial fire was much less hot today. I guess this is why it's good to keep notes on each cook. I'm doing ribs again tomorrow. I think I'll use the chimney, but let the PBC heat up with the lid off for a while, per some of the lighting instructions in the stickies here.

          (Nothing exciting today, in terms of falling food or inadvertent self-immolation. I'm calling that progress.)
          Last edited by Crunchy; August 3, 2015, 10:24 PM.

          Comment


            #7
            Welcome to the wonderful world of PBC! Check out Kathryn's sticky topic on lighting techniques. Very informative. I chart all of my cooks and am building quite a nice reference library. Very helpful for follow on cooks!

            Comment


            • Crunchy
              Crunchy commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks, Pappy. Will do.

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