Jeff Phillips’ Smoked Meatloaf


Jeff Phillips' Smoked Meatloaf

The meatloaf was smoked on a silicone smoker mat purchased from QVC. It has really come in handy for a variety of recipes including fish and pork chops.

This is a recipe from smoked foodie author Jeff Phillips. Jeff really knows his way around BBQ – I followed the recipe exactly and it was an instant success.
I’ve included links for his book, as well as his rub and sauce recipes.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground chuck (80/20)
1 lb ground breakfast sausage, hot or regular
1/2 cup bell pepper (yellow, green, red mixed), diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced (1 small onion)
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 TBS olive oil
2 slices of loaf bread or a hamburger bun top and bottom
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
Jeff’s barbecue sauce recipe (purchase recipes here)
Jeff’s original rub recipe (purchase recipes here)

 

Preparation:
Step 1: Soak Bread

Take two slices of loaf bread or the top and bottom half of a bun and tear it into small pieces.
With the bread in a small bowl, pour ½ cup of buttermilk over the bread. The bread will soak up the buttermilk and this will be part of what makes the meatloaf so moist.
Once the milk is soaked in, crack a couple of large eggs onto the bread mixture. Stir gently to combine.
Set aside

Step 2: Saute Vegetables

Dice bell peppers, onion and celery so that you end up with about ½ cup of each.
If you have extra, place them in a zip top bag and place them in the freezer for later.
Put 2 TBS of olive oil into a skillet over medium heat.
Once the pan is hot enough, pour in the onions, peppers and celery and stir to mix with the oil.
Let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables start to get slightly soft.
Once the veggies are finished cooking, remove them from the pan and into a plate or bowl to cool.
Add ½ cup of Jeff’s barbecue sauce and 3 TBS of Jeff’s rub to the sautéed vegetables. Stir to combine.

Step 3: Mix the Meatloaf

Place the 1 pound of ground chuck and 1 pound of ground sausage into a large mixing bowl.
Add the bread, buttermilk and egg mixture to the top of the meat.
Add the vegetable, sauce and rub mixture to the top of the meat as well.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the top of the mixture and gently combine the ingredients together.
Do not overmix. Do just enough to combine and stop. Overworking the meatloaf mixture will make it tough.

Step 4: Form Into a Loaf

Pour or scoop the mixture onto a cookie sheet, food grade butcher paper, etc. and form into a loaf with your hands.
You can also place the mixture into a loaf pan to form it and then dump it out onto the pan, rack or tray that you will use to cook it.
You will notice that this mixture may be a little wetter than what you are used to using but that’s ok. It will form and hold together just fine.
I recommend about 2 inches thick in the shape of a rectangle but you can get creative with this if you like.
If using a Bradley rack, I recommend placing a piece of wax paper under the meat so it will be easier to remove once done.

Step 5: Smoke the Meatloaf

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225-240°F using indirect heat with hickory smoke or whatever smoking wood you have available.
If your smoker has a water pan, I recommend that you use it.
Once your smoker is maintaining the proper temperature, the cooking can commence.
Place the meatloaf in the smoker.
Let the loaf cook for 3-4 hours or until it reaches about 155°F.

Step 6: Top with Sauce

At about 155°F, brush the top and sides of the meatloaf with plenty of Jeff’s barbecue sauce. Give it about 25-30 minutes to caramelize then remove from the smoker.
Finish temperature for meatloaf is actually 160°F but knowing that it will continue to cook and rise in temperature even after being removed from the smoker, it is ok to remove it a few degrees early.

Step 7: Rest and Serve

Once the meat is brought into the house, tent some foil over the top and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. This resting period gives the juices in the meat time to redistribute throughout the meat.

 

Helpful Tips:
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours
Smoker temperature: 240°F
Meat Finish temperature: 160°F
Recommended wood: Hickory or Apple

BBQ Pulled Pork – using an electric smoker


You’ll need a lot of patience when preparing this recipe – smoking a pork butt is an all-day event. Before I got a dedicated outdoor electric smoker, I thought my “BBQ” was fairly good, when made in the oven or slow-cooker. This takes it to an entirely new level. It’s how true BBQ should be and you’ll immediately be impressed by the difference.

I’m quite pleased with the reliability of my smoker. It’s a Masterbuilt 30″ Sportsman Elite, purchased at Cabelas. It has an electric temperature control and internal meat probe which can be measured by simply pushing a button on a control panel at the top of the unit. If purchasing an electric smoker, ensure that you cross-check both the internal temperature and the probe reading for accuracy. Use an accurate thermometer for each so you won’t have any surprises. Both the internal thermostat and probe are within one degree on my unit.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get down to preparing this amazing recipe. I’ll also provide a few valuable tips I’ve learned so you can achieve success, the very first time.


INGREDIENTS:

1 bone-in pork shoulder (butt); about 1/4 – 1/2 pound per person – with leftovers.
Your choice of BBQ rub (you can try my version by clicking here.)


PREPARATION:

Determine a target time for when you want the pork to be finished. The night before, generously apply your choice of BBQ rub over the butt, ensuring that all sides are well coated. It’s easiest to do this in a wide, shallow glass baking dish.  Some people coat the pork butt with a thin layer of plain yellow French’s mustard prior to applying the rub. The theory is that it helps the rub to adhere to the meat better. The meat I got from my butcher was plenty moist on the outside so I felt it wasn’t necessary.

Once the rub is applied, wrap the butt and the glass baking tray with plastic wrap and let chill in your fridge overnight. This step is CRITICAL as it allows the salt and some of the spice to penetrate the meat.

The next morning, depending on the size of the pork butt, set up your smoker and preheat it to 225-degrees F.  Place the drip pan on the rack without water. You can line it with foil for easy clean-up.

Pork Shoulder Cooking Time (estimated):
• 2 hours per pound @ 225-degrees F.
• 1 hour rest
• 1/2 hour, pulling and serving prep

Let’s use this demonstration as an example:
Photos shown indicate a 4.25 pound bone-in pork butt with very little fat.
Using the numbers indicated above, the smoked pork should be ready to pull out of the smoker in roughly 8 to 8.5 hours if cooked at 225-degrees F. My target time was 6pm – so I knew I had to get the pork in the smoker by 8am – allowing eight solid hours to smoke; and an hour’s rest – plus some wiggle room just to be safe.

Time by temperature, not by time. What? You say you need your meal ready by 6:30pm because you have six inlaws ready to sit down then?  Your hard-won creation may not be ready at that time.  BBQ is all about patience — and lots of cold beer as a backup to pacify hungry guests.

With the smoker preheated, and your target serving time established, pull the pork butt out of the fridge and let stand at room temperature for an hour.

Place the pork in the smoker on an oiled rack about 5 inches above the drip pan. Ensure the coal tray is empty and that the floor overflow pan is properly aligned with the spout at the back of the unit. Close the smoker door and lock it.

The Smoke:
Add one cup of wood chips to the chip loader every hour for the first 5 hours. After that, the pork will not take on any more smoke so it’s not necessary. I suggest Hickory or Apple, or a combination of the two.

Safety First:
Ensure you don’t get food poisoning by following these directions.
• Do not insert the temperature probe into raw meat until the exterior is partially cooked. Probe the meat AFTER hour 4. You risk pushing bacteria from the exterior to the inside of the meat where it will be undercooked for several hours – thereby spreading contamination.
• Remember the 40-140-degrees in 4 hours rule. Meat left to sit in the 40-140-degree F. danger zone for MORE than four hours risks bacterial poisoning.
• Wash your hands and utensils after handling raw meat.

The Probe:
After hour four, carefully insert the temperature probe into the thickest part of the meat, taking care to keep it at least 2 inches away from the blade bone. The bone generates a lot of reflective heat and will throw the probe reading off. Check the probe reading once every half-hour to ensure you’re on track.
At hour four, the probe shown in the photo below read 162-degrees F, well out of the danger zone.  Remove the meat from the smoker when the internal probe temperature reads 190-degrees F.

The Stall, or Plateau:
At around 160-170-degrees, pork, as it’s cooking, will stall in temperature. The temperature will hang in this zone for up to a few hours, depending on the size of the meat. The phenomenon is due in part to the meat breaking down as it cooks, and evaporation of moisture, creating a cooling effect in the smoker box.  This is why the time-per-pound indicated allows you some wiggle room to compensate for this lost time. In the example shown, the pork butt stalled at 164-degrees for about 50 minutes before rising again. At that point it rose one degree every ten minutes. During hour eight, the temperature increased faster as the meat cooked through.

Resist the urge to jack up the heat during this stall. Slow and low is the way to go. Allow more time for larger butts!

Take notes and adjust accordingly.

Piggy in a Blanket:
At the last hour, watch the internal meat temperature VERY carefully as it can climb unexpectedly. As indicated, pull the meat out of the smoker when the internal temperature of the meat hits 190-degrees F. Then wrap the butt in two layers of aluminum foil and then a heavy clean towel or blanket. Place the bundle in a large empty beer cooler and let sit sealed for one hour.

Pull and Serve:
After the pork has rested one hour, remove and place in a serving pan and quickly shred with two forks – discarding the bone and fat. Keep covered and warm. You may choose to add back some of the pan juices that rendered out, but ensure the fat is skimmed off before adding it back.

Serve with buns, Mike’s Carolina Vinegar Sauce or BBQ sauce, coleslaw and thinly-sliced red onion.

Serves 6-10

 

Pork Butt with BBQ Rub

Applying the BBQ rub the night before.

The pork butt, shown in the smoker at hour 8. Look at that amazing crust, or bark!

The pork butt, shown in the smoker at hour 8. Look at that amazing crust, or bark!

Pulled BBQ Pork

Pulled pork kept warm in a cast-iron pan.

BBQ Pulled Pork served with Coleslaw and Carolina Sauce

BBQ pulled pork served with coleslaw and Carolina sauce.

Apple-Smoked Stuffed Pork Chops


Stuffed pork loin chops smoked over apple wood at 225° F.

Stuffed pork loin chops smoked over apple wood at 225° F.

Here’s a great way to add a new dimension to an old favorite – stuffed pork chops that are smoked over apple wood chips and then finished off with a rich, decadent gravy.  Incredible!

Ingredients:

4 stuffed pork chops
2 cups apple juice
1 cup apple wood chips for smoking
1 peeled, cored and sliced apple
Meat tenderizer

For the Gravy:
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup
10.5 oz. beef broth (enough to fill the soup can)
1 strip bacon, minced
1/2 small onion, fine chopped
Dash of Worchestershire sauce
Dash of Kitchen Bouquet seasoning
Dash of paprika; about 1/2 tsp.
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Pierce the pork chops on each side (1/4″ spacing) with a pronged tenderizer or sharp knife. Work in the meat tenderizer and let stand in the fridge for two hours.

Prepare an outdoor smoker by placing 2 cups of apple juice in the water pan and preheat to 225° F.
Warm the chops to room temperature before smoking. Rub peanut oil on the grilling grate and place the four chops directly on the grate (uncovered) in the center of the smoker.

Smoke for 1 hour with one cup of apple chips. Keep the top vent almost shut.

While the meat is smoking, prepare your gravy.  Combine 1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup and 1 can of beef broth in a saucepan. Whisk to incorporate.
Heat on low and stir occasionally. In a heavy fry pan, add the minced bacon and saute until slightly browned. Add the fine-chopped onion and heat until just lightly carmelized.
Add the sauteed onion and bacon to the saucepan with the drippings from the bacon. Add the worchestershire sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Stir to ensure it doesn’t burn and keep the heat at an absolute minimum. Cover partially to keep warm.

After one hour, remove the chops from the smoker and place in a shallow baking dish (ensuring that the dish fits the maximum width of your smoker box, when closed.)
Pour the heated gravy over the top of the chops and wrap the baking dish tightly in aluminum foil. Braise in smoker for 1.5 hours covered with NO SMOKE. (Smoke will not penetrate the meat at this point, so it’s not needed.)
After 1.5 hours, turn the chops over and add the sliced apple to the top. Cover again with foil and heat for an additional 1.5 hours with no smoke.  Remove and serve. The chops should be fall-off-the-bone tender.
Keep the heat in your smoker at 225 °F for the duration of the cooking process.

Serve with your choice of potatoes or wide buttered egg noodles.

Serves 4
Total Cooking Time: 4 hours + prep

Note: The preparation method shown is for a 30″ Masterbuilt Smoker with internal probe. Every smoker is different, so make sure you experiment to find the method that works best for you. For this recipe I didn’t use the probe due to the long braise time. In my opinion, one hour of smoke is all that’s needed. You’ll quickly overpower your food if you add more.

Smoked pork chops eady for a slow braise with homemade gravy.

Ready for a slow braise with homemade gravy.

Old-Fashioned Baked Apples


This ridiculously-simple recipe is a Swedish favorite from my grandmother.

Ingredients:

4 red apples – peeled, cored and cut into eighths
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 stick of butter (please do not use margarine – it will not turn out.)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Heat the butter over the stove top in a 2-quart cast-iron pot until melted. Mix in the brown sugar, apples and cinnamon.

Bake covered for 1 hour. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream in small serving dishes.

Serves 4.