Sometimes it's fun to cook a smoker full of meats that finish in several hours. In this story I'm sharing photos of a 6-hour cook I did for our annual Mother's Day celebration on Big Black, my Meadow Creek TS250 Tank Smoker.
Big Black is a finely decked-out tank smoker trailer with a BBQ42 chicken cooker, insulated firebox, charcoal basket, stainless steel exterior shelves, and the trim package.
It pulls like a dream on the highway and cooks meat in style, making a great impression for on-site catering projects. The reverse flow draft and rounded tank ends help reduce varying temperatures throughout the tank, which are common in offset smokers.
I filled up the smoker with a case of baby back ribs, a case of Italian sausage links, a case of breakfast sausage links, 16 bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, and a couple of cans of Bush's baked beans.
To prep the ribs, I removed the membrane, trimmed some excess scraps of meat, and seasoned the entire surface with a seasoning blend. Meadow Creek Brisket Seasoning is my go-to for ribs, but I mixed a couple of different ones together for this project.
The wood box is quite handy for carrying charcoal and other supplies. The BBQ42 Chicken Cooker is one of my favorite upgrades on a TS250 trailer.
For the chicken, I used 16 boneless thighs, wrapped the meat around a piece of cream cheese (1/16 of a box). I seasoned the inside of the thigh with John Henry's Chicken Tickler and then wrapped each one with a piece or two of bacon, and finally seasoned the outside also.
I started these on the top rack, but after I removed the sausage, I moved them down to the hottest part of the smoker, which is on the bottom grate close to the firebox. By this time, the smoker had cooled off a bit and was hardly hot enough to finish these on the top rack. The extra heat helped to crisp the bacon and finish the chicken quickly.
For the beans, I simply added some barbecue seasoning to store-bought baked beans and smoked them for several hours to take on some smoke and collect some drippings. It helps to stir them every 30 minutes. They were delicious!
The sausages were good, but I've found that the casing is tougher and more wrinkly than what I cook these on the BBQ42 over a hotter fire. However, for whatever reason, the casing was tighter and more tender after reheating them.
I fired the smoker with about 20 pounds of charcoal and then fed it pecan log splits roughly once an hour.
Once the ribs were in the smoke for 3 hours, we wrapped them in heavy duty aluminum foil for 2 hours, and then put them back on the smoker unwrapped for about 1 hour.
If you're going to wrap your ribs, the main thing is to keep them wrapped until they are basically done or as tender as you want them. The timing will vary by 1) your smoker temperature, 2) how often you open the smoker (I take a lot of photos), 3) and how much meat is on the ribs.
Wrapping them in foil makes them tender faster. After 2 hours in the foil, these were tender enough to unwrap and glaze.
If you're doing a case at a time, some racks will be smaller than others, and they won't all be done at the same time. I prefer to unwrap the small/thinner racks first, and let the others cook a little longer.
Ready for a sauce glaze.
I simply brushed the top of each rack with Sweet Baby Ray's sauce.
Put them back in the smoker for about 30 minutes to let the glaze set.
They are done once 1) the meat pulls apart on a 90 degree angle as shown above or 2) you can easily pull a bone away from the meat.
Pretty handsome, right?
A tank smoker like Big Black is perfect for feeding crowds of 100 people or even more, depending on the meats you are cooking. The BBQ42 grill makes grilling chicken and sausages a sinch and the tank handles the meats which are better suited for low and slow, such as ribs, pork butts, and brisket.
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