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SimonP

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  1. To be honest I found them reduced on a closing down sale at a nearby GoOutdoors by chance and took the punt (Stockport FYI, closing for refurb in approx March, lots of things member discount + another 30% until then). I got them at £5.30 for a 4Kg bag, which seemed a good price. I'll keep an eye on those ones you mentioned. This was the first. Indeed, but that's part of the fun of it. I'm treating it as a hobby/craft to learn, rather than wanting instant perfection right away. That said, I don't want to get *too* caught up in the science of it, once I've got a setup and method that works for me then I won't want to mess with it and instead put my time in to trying different cuts and recipes Yes, and the sub-£100 price makes me feel OK about grabbing some tools and patching it up where needed.
  2. Thanks all. Still regard it as a successful cook and I enjoyed it, I'm just always looking for the next thing to improve on. Just a simple M4 bolt and plain nut. A double nut might work, if I can get the tension right. A nylock would be ideal in any other scenario but I guess the nylon would melt! This shouldn't be too hard to solve with some tinkering in the garage. I have a spare unopened bag of basic builders sand in the garage - I will try that, thanks. I did like the water idea under the pretence of keeping the meet moist, but now I think about it, I guess the kind of moisture we like comes from the collagen and fats etc in the meat breaking down during the cook rather than being added. Ah yes...I wish I had a card
  3. Hi all, Just saying hello - I'm Simon, live events electrician/CAD draughtsman by day and former/recovering roadie. I've always loved BBQs growing up but hated the little black hockey pucks and little black cat poos most parents would cook up, so wanted to learn to cook better. I'm hesitant to take in too much smoked food regularly for health reasons, so we have a Weber Spirit II 3-burner, which is great for all the usual stuff, and then I've bought a Callow (see my thread in the Callow section) to fire up maybe 5-6 times a year. Currently in Merseyside but moving back 'home' to Cambridgeshire in about 2 months, where I have license from the Mrs to plan a new outdoor kitchen area in whatever house we end up buying...so that's my next project, along with learning to cook better on the Callow. Cheers, Simon
  4. Hi all, Took delivery of a callow version 3 (two top vents, three bottom vents and a wire-rack-bottom charcoal tray) last week, cured on Saturday and had the first cook with it on Sunday. I thought I would share my experiences in case anyone is thinking about picking one up, and I would appreciate if anyone had any thoughts on where I'd gone wrong. I picked up what the butcher had available, just as something to try it with - I got a 2.2lb pork shoulder to pull and a rack of baby backs. Both came out fairly enjoyable for a first go, but the ribs really could have been better on texture. So attached are a few pictures, and here are some issues: Temperature management Contrary to what I've read about the original Callow, I couldn't get this one to stay low enough. My aim was 110, but try as I might with vents and even removing a few lit coals, I couldn't get it down that low. The graph attached shows me trying - between 13:20 and 14:00 I got to having all bottom vents pretty much closed and the top ones dialled back as I was running out of ideas. Only when I removed 4 lit briquettes at around 14:20 did it look like coming back down at all, but the damage had probably been done by that point. (The big dip at 15:30 was me removing the pork and ribs to wrap both, at which point the ambient probe was hanging outside of the unit and thus obviously reads wrong.) Fuel: Heatbeads. Started with a 4Kg bag. I just weighed the remainder of the bag, which was 1270, so I used approx 2.7Kg split between lit and unlit minion. I did it by eye, and now realise this might have been too much. Reading the low and slow guide in the manual, it recommends 0.5Kg lit, 1.5Kg unlit, so I was a little over. However, I started with 14 x 40g briquettes lit in my chimney, which is 560g - only just over what the manual suggested, however: I've since read that heatbeads burn hotter - should I start with 9 or 10 lit briquettes next time so I'm less at risk of overshooting 110 when preheating the smoker and then trying to bring it back down? How many briquettes does everyone else start with? My reasoning for choosing heatbeads was that I've always read about the thick smoke given off by coals when first lit is unhealthy, toxic and taints food. With a Minion, this would surely be a problem with the unlit coals. Therefore, I thought I should buy a 'branded' reputable natural briquette, even though I had some basic ones in the garage, so as they lit throughout the cook the smoke would be natural(?). What are everyone's thoughts on this? Would switching to Weber briquettes help? Not quite as hot but still natural (I think...?). Vents. The 3 bottom vents don't seem to fit too well - even when closed, there seems to be a gap around the circumference of the rotating damper that allows air to get in behind. I don't know if this was affecting my ability to regulate airflow. Also, because the mechanism is simply a bolt and nut, adjusting the vent will either loosen or tighten the nut, so in the middle of the cook one vent came completely loose and I had to prop it up with a nearby housebrick to hold it in place. I could add a washer, but this would push the plate even further away from the smoker body. Need to do some work on this. Water pan - started off with about 1L of boiling water. However this fizzled out part way through the cook and then burnt the remaining fats and grease on to the pan. Should have put foil on from the start I guess. I need to figure out how much water to put in and anticipate when it might dissapear so I can refill. Baby Back tenderness I aimed to do these 2-1-1, and added brown sugar and a little honey in the foil for the middle '1'. They came out with a flavour I was very happy with, the meat wasn't dry at all, but I wanted it to pull clean off the bone. Instead, it stuck to it - I'm sure everyone knows what I'm talking about. Here are some things I reckon might have done it: The elevated cooking temperature The cut wasn't very generous. 4 or 5 shiners, not a lot of top meat at all. I understand that, for the UK market, butchers will want to prioritise their loin chops over ribs, but I'd like to know where to get a nice generous rack of baby backs. When I wrapped, I was lazy and put them in a foil tray and covered with foil (with brown sugar and a little honey inside). Maybe wrapping them tight would have been better, with a little apple juice or something as well. I could have done 2-2-0.5 rather than 2-1-1. It could be that I needed to leave it a bit longer to get the 'flop'. I was trying to decide whether I'd already missed the boat on that and the thin cut of ribs had already tensed up, or whether they would indeed flop. However, given the elevated cooking temp and lack of any pullback, I decided to cut my losses and try again next time. So there we go - any thoughts appreciated! Thanks Simon
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