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Continued: Smoking meat in mass quantities pays off

  • Article by: KIM ODE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 13, 2013 - 9:41 AM

Flash forward to Plymouth, Minn., circa 2013, where Man continues to experiment.

Last year, they tried to cold-smoke cheese, which was deemed a dismal failure, “but we’re determined to master that next year,” said Tony Korman.

Jess Ford wowed the crowd this year with his bacon-weave “fatties.” He started by weaving a lattice of bacon strips about the size of a place mat, then laid on some ground meat before rolling it up in a log. One bacon-weave was filled with ground kielbasa, homemade sauerkraut, caramelized onions and mashed potatoes.

“I’ve never done this before,” Ford said, then raised an eyebrow. “But how bad can it be?”

Ford also brought a tray of jumbo jalapeño peppers stuffed with Buffalo-seasoned chicken and blue cheese, then wrapped in bacon, which he planned on smoking for a couple of hours. Their actual name is a little, um, scatological, better referred to in polite company as ABTs. (Just Google it with “smoker” added to the search.)

One first-year experiment that’s become an annual tradition is flinging a whole octopus onto a grill for a long smoke. The consensus each year is that you can smoke that thing until Labor Day and it will never be edible. But Pupel said the eventual result, with its tentacles curlicued by the heat, makes a cool table centerpiece.

“No — it doesn’t,” deadpanned Pat McTigue.

With all the experimentation — and men — it’s maybe a little surprising how little competitiveness permeates the day. “It’s not a competition,” Pupel said, to wide agreement, although Korman noted that a particular success “makes the peacock feathers go up.”

A question about best cookbooks drew blank looks. Their chief resource is the Internet, and they can rattle off various websites such www.smoking-meat.com or www.smokingpit.com, www.amazingribs.com plus websites of various smoker manufacturers. Ford found his bacon weave tutorial at www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/87072/bacon-weave-tutorial.

“The forums are what’s great,” said Ford. “You can go on and read what worked for some guys, what they’d do differently, ask questions. They’re just a great resource.”

10 heads are better than one

By midday, smokers arranged in a great horseshoe were up and running. Some meat, like the 8-pound brisket, had gone on the night before, compelling Pupel to step out at 2 a.m. to check its progress. Someone had brought a bottle of smoked porter, which was duly tasted and critiqued.

Patricia Pupel, who doesn’t much like smoked meat, was inside making a batch of homemade pretzels for the kids. Beef and pork jerky smoked earlier was up for grabs.

Side dishes would begin arriving and, if the timing was right, the 10 families would start eating by midafternoon, as much as they wished, and still each would take home a big foil tray of leftovers that could feed them for a week.

To a passerby, Smokapalooza may look like a bunch of guys on a deck, sipping beers, watching the kids drift in and out, believing they have given their wives the day off. But behind the jawboning about the Mauer contract, real expertise is being nurtured by friends happily learning from each other’s successes and failures, and willingness to try.

Next year: smoked cheese.

 

Kim Ode • 612-673-7185

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  • Nine smokers with various meats fill Joe Pupel’s deck as he, center, and several other smoking aficianados gather for Smokeapalooza 2013.

  • Meat smoking enthusiasted slaked their thirst with smoked porter beer and donned specially made Smokeapolloza T-shirts during Smokapalooza 2013, on the deck of the Pupel family residence Saturday, May 26, 2013 in Plymouth, MN.](DAVID JOLES/STARTRIBUNE) djoles@startribune How do you learn the intricacies and nuances of user a smoker? By having lots and lots of experiments going on at one time. How do you do that? By gathering 10 families, smokers and grills at the ready, for Smokapalooza. Everyone learns, by successes and failures, and they eat really well. More than 200 pounds a meat was smoked during this year's...

  • A whole octopus was among the more unusual items smoked during this year’s Smokapalooza. Above, fresh coals are added in preparation to smoke a turkey.

  • Pat McTigue replaced the lid on a smoker after putting a whole turkey on during Smokapalooza 2013, on the deck of the Pupel family residence.

  • Fresh coals are added for smoking a turkey during Smokapalooza 2013, on the deck of the Pupel family residence Saturday, May 26, 2013 in Plymouth, MN.](DAVID JOLES/STARTRIBUNE) djoles@startribune How do you learn the intricacies and nuances of user a smoker? By having lots and lots of experiments going on at one time. How do you do that? By gathering 10 families, smokers and grills at the ready, for Smokapalooza. Everyone learns, by successes and failures, and they eat really well. More than 200 pounds a meat was smoked during this year's Smokapalooza.

  • A meat concoction consisting of various types of meat woven with bacon outside slowly smoked during Smokapalooza 2013, on the deck of the Pupel family residence Saturday, May 26, 2013 in Plymouth, MN.](DAVID JOLES/STARTRIBUNE) djoles@startribune How do you learn the intricacies and nuances of user a smoker? By having lots and lots of experiments going on at one time. How do you do that? By gathering 10 families, smokers and grills at the ready, for Smokapalooza. Everyone learns, by successes and failures, and they eat really well. More than 200 pounds a meat was smoked during this year's Smokapalooza.

  • From top: T-shirts were specially made for this year’s Smokeapalooza. Spare ribs are slowly smoked on a grill. Various types of meat are wrapped inside bacon for a new twist this year. Beef jerky slowly cures on the grill.

  • Beef jerky slowly cures during Smokapalooza 2013, on the deck of the Pupel family residence Saturday, May 26, 2013 in Plymouth, MN.](DAVID JOLES/STARTRIBUNE) djoles@startribune How do you learn the intricacies and nuances of user a smoker? By having lots and lots of experiments going on at one time. How do you do that? By gathering 10 families, smokers and grills at the ready, for Smokapalooza. Everyone learns, by successes and failures, and they eat really well. More than 200 pounds a meat was smoked during this year's Smokapalooza.

  • Wood chips are soaked in water before going on to the smokers for a slow burn.

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