The Diemen's & SC Smokers Barbecue Turn-In
There are now many groups, organisations and societies of barbecue contests through the world, but here in Australia the most prevalent are the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) and Australasian Barbecue Alliance (ABA). A KCBS competition always consists of the same four categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder and brisket.
The judges must score for appearance, taste and tenderness.
With that in mind we’ve hooked up with our good friend and seasoned veteran of the competitive barbecue circuit Brett Robinson, aka Beaver from Southern Cross Smokers, to show us the low down on how to cook Low & Slow using one of his own Australian custom-made pits.
Beaver has some great tips for the barbecue results everyone should want: slow-cooked, tender, moist and packed with intense flavours.
When entering competitive BBQ events, Pitmasters can take many months to find the right cut of meat.
For this cook, we have selected these cuts from our favourite local suppliers:
2 x full racks pork ribs
Gary’s Meats (Prahran Markets)
4kg beef brisket
Cape Grim Beef
4kg pork shoulder
Greta Valley Free Range Berkshire Pork
8 x boneless chicken thighs with skin
Bannockburn Free Range Chicken
Step 1: TRIMMING
In competition, the purpose of trimming is to remove as much fat as possible so the meat looks visually appealing and tidy, especially with the beef brisket and pork.
With chicken, it’s good to use a sharp small knife to scrape the fat from under the skin. This allows the skin to immediately start breaking down during the cooking process, instead of waiting for the fat to render.
For the ribs, first peel—remove the membrane from the underside. this can easily be done using a paper towel once you have initially lifted up one corner of the membrane.
Step 2: Injections
Injecting is the process of using a syringe specifically made for placing liquids directly into the meat. For this cook-up Beaver has used a mix of salt water and fruit juices in the injection. By using salt, the meat brines and absorbs extra liquid, resulting in a juicier and more flavourful result. Pork loves sweet, salty, fruity flavours!
Beaver's Tip... only inject before your cook for a maximum of 3 hours. Any longer and you could end up curing the meat since most rubs are already rich in salt. Try to avoid high acid injections such as lemon or vinegar, if you plan on resting your meat for any extended length of time. You risk chemically cooking your meat before it even reaches the pit!
Similar to pork, brisket loves a little kick of flavour. In this case, a simple beef stock is really all that is needed.
Beaver's Tip... be sure to inject AGAINST the grain of the meat so pockets of liquid form and are trapped for retention during the cook.
Step 3: Applying your Rub
With most rubs, it is important to use a binding agent such as oil or mustard. These binding agents allow the rub to adhere to the outside of the protein and transfer flavour to the meat during the entire cooking process.
Our rub consists of smokey flavours with a sour tang and a black pepper heat from the dried leaf of the DIEMEN pepper plant. Massage a liberal amount of the rub onto the pork shoulder, ribs and chicken.
Beaver's Tip... to add even more flavour use a spray bottle filled with your injection or a fruit juice/vinegar, throughout your cook.
Step 4: PREPPING THE SC SMOKER
It’s midnight and time to prep the Pit…
Hard woods such as Oak, Iron Bark or Redgum are great Australian woods to cook with. Flavoured woods such as apple or cherry are also prized choices on the barbecue competition circuit.
If you are new to barbecuing and not yet sure how your pit runs, start off light with wood-chips. Many new pit owners should initially start on charcoal and over a few cooks, integrate wood into their flavour profile.
For this cook-up Beaver is using 100% wood, as the offset smoker is able to run a clean fire, which burns off any unwanted bitter tastes that smouldering wood would otherwise bring to a cook.
First, you need to build a small hot fire (much like starting a campfire) in the offset smoker using kindling and smaller bits of wood. Once lit, the idea is to keep adding wood to the fire until there is a good base of coals. This takes around an hour and you will need to maintain it by adding logs of wood throughout cook to create 120 degrees celsius in the main chamber of the smoker.
Step 5: COOK!
Start with laying the bigger cuts of brisket and pork “Boston Butt” after they have rested for 3 hours and the pork has been injected. The cooking times for both cuts are 2/3 hours cook time per kilo. Our cuts were both 4kg so they took 12 hours.
Make sure to place your meats on your BBQ where there is little radiant (direct) heat. This will ensure the meat is cooked evenly.
At about halfway through your cook, you can wrap your brisket and pork in foil. Add warm beef stock to the brisket and your desired warm fruit juice to your pork before closing your foil.
Brisket and pork are done cooking when a probe is easily inserted with very little resistance. This is usually between the temperatures of 93-95c.
Beaver's Tip... Allow a 2/3 hour buffer as there are a lot of variables for cook times when smoking meats for long periods. Changing factors can depend on how much fat content the cut has, moisture content and how aged the cut is. You add all those up and the main factor for a consistent cooking time is the quality of meat.
Next is the ribs. A liberal dose of rub is massaged through the ribs and are then laid to rest for 30 minutes.
Take your ribs and place them on the rack. These take around 3-4 hours for baby backs and 4-6 hours for full spare ribs. You will need to wrap the ribs in foil halfway through the cook and add a small amount of juice (preferably with your spray bottle) to keep them moist.
When finished, lift ribs from the one end; the rack should bend slightly as you lift it, but not fall apart. Rest for 20 Minutes.
Beaver's Tip... “if you’re lookin’ it ain’t cookin’”
The cardinal rule of low & slow barbecue: Don’t peek into the cooker unless you have to. Open the lid only to turn the meat and baste.
Finally, the chicken. Beaver’s chicken is cooked in cupcake tins so they come out uniform, juicy and properly seasoned.
The heavily seasoned chicken was placed skin side down in the cupcake tins and cook for approximately 2 hours, turning halfway through cook so the skin is facing up.
Beaver's Tip… Use a temperature probe for your chicken. When it hits 75c, it’s ready. Anything higher and you’ll have yourself some dry, sad birds.
Step 6: SLICING, SAUCING & SERVING
Saucing your meat after it has cooked and rested will not only ensure you’ve got a great looking sticky, finishing shine, but also ensures your flavours are front and center for the judges.
Our sauce was a combo of DIEMEN’S Smokin’ Barbecue Sauce, Original Hot Sauce and the aux jus that came from each cut of meat.
Most turn-ins are served on top of finely chopped green parsley, as this highlights the meat and keeps it raised in all its glory.
Many will be familiar with the term “burnt ends”. These are the juiciest parts of your brisket.
To produce burnt ends first identify the seam of fat that separates the 2x muscles. The Muscle with the thicker grain is what is known as the “point”.
Remove the point from the other piece of meat known as the “flat”.
Flip over each piece of meat and remove excess fat.
Once you have your point, cube it into 2cm x 2cm squares and sauce with the aux jus, DIEMEN’S Smokin’ Barbecue and Original Hot Sauce.
The Flat is then cut into pencil sized cuts and layered onto the parsley after a light covering of aux jus.
The pork is done in the same way as the brisket, as it needs to be separated into 2 parts. The money muscle is for slicing and the other part is for pulling into bite-size strips.
The money muscle is similar to that of a beef scotch fillet. You will find this group of muscles on the end of your Boston butt. This is usually cut into slices and the rest of the Butt is then pulled apart and sauced.
To finish, mix in a 1/2 cup of DIEMEN’S Smokin’ Barbecue Sauce and a couple tablespoons of Original Hot Sauce into the pork aux jus and coat the pork slices/pulled pork liberally. Serve over finely chopped parsley.
The best way to slice the ribs is to flip them over and cut from the underside. This way you can see exactly where the bone is and the presentation side is left looking its best.
To finish, use the same method as the pork by mixing 1/2 cup DIEMEN’S Smokin’ Barbecue and two tablespoons of Original Hot Sauce along with the resting juices from the ribs. Baste the ribs liberally on all sides and place them onto a bed of parsley.
To finish the chicken, pour 1/2 cup of DIEMEN’S Smokin’ Barbecue Sauce with two tablespoons of Original Hot Sauce in the resting juices.
Give the bottom side of the chicken a liberal baste, as this is the first part of the chicken the judges will taste. On the skin side use a brush to lightly coat the chicken, leaving a sticky sheen.
Serve on finely chopped parsley.