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richlife

Smoked Almonds, Baby Backs, Chicken & Ham

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I few days back I promised some grill porn and I must follow through. On Sunday last (the day before the bad weather) I got the chance. I think the results were just "smokin'"! :ph34r:

 

We actually had a really nice, sunny day though the temps hung right at 35* all day. On Monday along with the rest of the South, we got hit with the tail end of that snow/ice storm. Only a smattering of snow here in central NC, but overnight we got a covering of sleet topped with a fine mist that laid a .10 inch of ice on top of everything. Even the gravel in my driveway was fused under an unbreakable sheet of ice. (Just a little farther south they got up to 5 inches of snow and 1/4" of ice -- we were lucky ! And then there was Atlanta -- I'm sure you've seen that mess on the news. And only 8 snow plows!)

 

I hate to waste charcoal but it takes time to do the ribs. So that's why I ended up deciding to do all the other meats. It takes a little planning, but everything can be started at once and removed as needed. (Or added late and finished as desired. I've done chicken wings like that -- added quite late in a brisket smoke cycle, but removed for an appetizer before the brisket is ready to come off.) I prepped the ribs with a Cajun rub (recipe in the next post), mixed equal parts buttermilk and that same rub and spread it up under the entire chicken skin, and let the 2 1/2 lb. ham sit until cook time. Then it was time to set up and start the WSM including a few chunks of cherry (no water in the pan). Before loading I stirred up 4 cups of almonds with my secret smoking mix (which can be found in the following post :P ). Once the smoke settled down, I loaded up the two grill grates.

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You clearly can see the almonds and the ham (straight out of its wrap) on top. The chicken and the rolled rib rack are on the bottom grate. The smoker was puffing along at about 230* per it's own thermometer as you can see here (actual grate temp is about 25* higher). The temp held really constant through the smoke despite all the lid lifting for photos and moving the meats around.

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To get rub (or butter or spices or sauces, etc.) under the chicken skin, first use a small (say 1/4"+), rounded plastic or wooden spoon handle to loosen the skin all around. Be sure to push it up into under the leg skin so you can press some of your mix in there. A few of tablespoons of whatever mix you use should be good for the whole 4 - 5 lb chicken with some left over for the inside. After that I trussed the chicken by binding the wings and legs together to help keep them from over-cooking. I stuck a probe thermometer in the thigh and ran it out through one of the ports I made in the smoker. This pic is the chicken hiding on the lower grate.

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The ribs were simply coiled (rolled) and fixed in place with two thin skewers so that no parts touched each other. It's hard to see in this pic, but there is a piece of one skewer.

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Chicken and ribs were on the bottom because they needed the most cooking time. The almonds need at least 1 1/2 hours (see next post) and the ham is just being heated/smoked until it gets to 110*. (It's pre-cooked.)

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At that point, I scored the ham in a checked or diamond pattern to about 1/8" deep and about 3/4" between scores so that I could apply a penetrating glaze. (The glaze can be most anything -- I used a 50-50 mix of apricot preserves and yellow mustard with a little Cajun spice thrown in.) Then continue to heat the ham to 130* for serving or to about 125* for freezing (as I did). Wrap for the freezer once it's cooled.

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Almonds finished first at about the time the ham needed to be glazed. Once both were off, I moved the chicken and ribs to the top grate. They were the only things that needed care to ensure they were done. The probe in the chicken and the "tear" method for the ribs take care of that.

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Once the chicken thigh got up to 165, I used an instant read to check temps in both breasts and the other thigh, then removed it to rest before wrapping for the freezer.

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With the chicken finished, it was just a matter of waiting for the 3 hour portion of the ribs' 3-2-1 cycle to complete. Then I wrapped them in foil (Texas Crutch) to heat for 2 more hours. Any juice or soft drink or beer can be added in the foil, but I only had some sweet green tea and some grape juice. What the hell... It worked just fine. :D

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While the almonds and ham smoked, I pretty much stayed with the smoker to manage the cook and take pics. But after finishing the chicken, it was time for some recorded NFL football during the 2 hour wait! When I went out to remove the foil -- guess what? The ribs just fell apart :P ! So much for a "pull test". A quick taste showed they were indeed perfect, so I left them on for just another 20 minutes to seal the outside.

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It took my day from 10am to 6pm, but it was a great day and a really successful smoking experience. The almonds (as always) are awesome. If you haven't done any, try it! The ribs were just succulent -- fat and sinew fully rendered, truly fall off the bone with just enough external texture to satisfy the bite. I really haven't had great success previously with ribs, but this one was right. NEXT! :lol: :lol: :D

 

Rich

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So now -- about those almonds. I also promised a few months back to get my recipe down and post it. Actually, the spices are really a mix of Steven Raichlen's cajun rub and Jamie Perviance's cajun rub. My recipe makes mildly salty, spicy hot nuts if you use my proportions. The almond prep and mix for smoking is mine after trying their directions and experimenting some.

 

You could really use any combinations you like with and appropriate oil or butter. Google "smoked almonds" and you'll get lots of suggestions. This is just what happens to work well for me.

 

Also, I use this recipe and technique both on my Genesis with several chunks of wood for smoke flavor and on my WSM. Either way it takes about (I would say "at least") an hour and a half of smoking -- more if, like me, you prefer crispy nuts.

 

**Cajun Rub** (makes about a half cup)

- 1/4 cup kosher salt

1 tbsp sweet paprika

1 tbsp hot paprika

2 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp onion powder

2 tbsp thyme

2 tbsp oregano

3 tbsp light brown sugar (more or less to taste)

1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tbsp ground white pepper

2 tsp ground sage

2 tsp ground cayenne

1 tsp chili powder (I prefer hot Mexican chili powder)

1 tsp cumin

 

I prefer to fine grind any coarse ingredients first for a better mix. Mix all by hand in a small bowl. Store in a closed shaker or small jar.

 

**Hot Cajun Smoked Almonds** (just a small bite)

2 cups raw almonds

1 1/2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce (or your preferred hot sauce)

1 tbsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

2 tbsp Cajun Rub

(Some recipes call for butter rather than EVOO, but I don't care for buttered nuts.)

 

Pour almonds in a bowl large enough to mix well. Add Frank's and mix well to coat all the almonds. Add a little more if needed (or to taste). Then add EVOO and mix well. You want the Frank's mixed first to heighten the heat, EVOO first if you want to prevent the hot sauce from soaking in. After all nuts are covered, sprinkle all over with the cajun rub and mix to cover all. (You can increase the amount of cajun rub to your liking. It will be a little saltier and a little spicier -- but still good. :P )

 

Let the nuts sit for 20 - 30 minutes to "fix" the flavors. Then pour into a metal pan or colander to roast on your grill or smoker at 225 - 250* for at least 1 and 1/2 hours. (I prefer at least 2 hours for crispy nuts.) You will need to stir the nuts or flip/toss them every 10 - 15 minutes to keep bringing new surfaces up to get the smoke flavoring. (You can sample a few nuts, but let them cool first and remember that they really need to cool overnight to get properly crisp. Fresh off the grill/smoker, they will be rather soft -- just wait.)

 

I have a "screen mesh" stainless colander that I used years back for draining beer mash (see pic in the first post). It's ideal for smoking nuts because there's really nothing to interfere with the smoke getting to the nuts. I just toss them lightly to "stir".

 

Last of all, as I said before, you could use your own cajun rub or any spice mix. But if you use a commercial rub or mix, be cautious -- taste it first. Most commercial mixes are primarily salt and you could ruin the nuts if you just use the proportions I have.

 

Rich

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Really great post Rich. Looks like a full day of cooking. All the food looks great.

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Rich:

 

Thanks for posting the Nut recipe - I was just about to PM you and ask how you did that.. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to doing this when I do my first pork shoulder of the season :)

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Rich:

 

Thanks for posting the Nut recipe - I was just about to PM you and ask how you did that.. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to doing this when I do my first pork shoulder of the season :)

 

Happy to help, Mr. ESQ B) . I do a batch of these rather often and buy my almonds in the largest amounts and best prices available (check Sam's Club, COSTCO, etc. or maybe a co-op), and do 2 cups or more at a time. When I want to experiment, it's easy to do a cup of nuts and later increase ingredient amounts for larger batches.

 

One thing that I've found is that 1 1/2 to 2 hours is an absolute minimum -- I now typically do 4 - 6 hours at low temps (200's) or 3-4 if somewhat higher (as in the grill). I'm always looking for recipes and techniques to try with smoked nuts -- they can actually be rather tricky.

 

Have fun, Rich

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Happy to help, Mr. ESQ B) . I do a batch of these rather often and buy my almonds in the largest amounts and best prices available (check Sam's Club, COSTCO, etc. or maybe a co-op), and do 2 cups or more at a time. When I want to experiment, it's easy to do a cup of nuts and later increase ingredient amounts for larger batches.

 

One thing that I've found is that 1 1/2 to 2 hours is an absolute minimum -- I now typically do 4 - 6 hours at low temps (200's) or 3-4 if somewhat higher (as in the grill). I'm always looking for recipes and techniques to try with smoked nuts -- they can actually be rather tricky.

 

Have fun, Rich

 

 

Longer times are even better - that way I can truly let them smoke while I have my pork on there. I will post back when I get a chance to do these... now I have to fund one of those mesh baskets. I've been meaning to go to the restaurant supply store for a while now.

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Longer times are even better - that way I can truly let them smoke while I have my pork on there. I will post back when I get a chance to do these... now I have to fund one of those mesh baskets. I've been meaning to go to the restaurant supply store for a while now.

 

 

Yeah -- anyone here who hasn't visited a restaurant supply store should take the time -- you just can't know what great things they have that you really, REALLY NEED! :D :D :D

 

Rich

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I finally got a chance to make the smoked nuts.. A month or so ago I went to a restaurant supply warehouse and was trying to find a mesh basket. I walked around and found a large fry basket, the guy was nice enough to take it outside and cut off the handle, and tack weld it back together.

 

So, we did a mixture of raw nuts - Almonds, Brazil, and Cashews... they all came out great!! We loved eating them at midnight when they were still warm (we let them smoke for a good 4 hours).. the pork was still going but the nuts came off (didn't want them to burn)

 

I ended up using my rib rub as my seasoning, but the franks is the key :)

 

Thanks gor giving me this idea, every time that smoker goes on - I'm going to load that basket up with as many nuts as it will hold :)

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I finally got a chance to make the smoked nuts.. A month or so ago I went to a restaurant supply warehouse and was trying to find a mesh basket. I walked around and found a large fry basket, the guy was nice enough to take it outside and cut off the handle, and tack weld it back together.

 

So, we did a mixture of raw nuts - Almonds, Brazil, and Cashews... they all came out great!! We loved eating them at midnight when they were still warm (we let them smoke for a good 4 hours).. the pork was still going but the nuts came off (didn't want them to burn)

 

I ended up using my rib rub as my seasoning, but the franks is the key :)

 

Thanks gor giving me this idea, every time that smoker goes on - I'm going to load that basket up with as many nuts as it will hold :)

 

Hey, great CPA! Doesn't that basket make a world of difference? And, yeah, I agree about the Franks.

 

I just got a new recipe for pecans that I want to try. If it comes out well, I'll post it here. (Gotta keep the nuts happy.)

 

Rich

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