NOTES ON SMOKING RACKS:
Using a rack to hold food upright while smoking ensures that the smoke comes in contact with the entire surface of your product. Racks also save space and facilitate transportation of food. The racks need to be food safe, and the higher quality the material, the better. Carbon steel can be used, but has a tendency to oxidize, discolor, and deteriorate.
Stainless steel is the best option, but most people don’t realize that there are many different quality levels of stainless steel. There is a link HERE that goes into greater detail. Certain low-carbon versions, 316L being the primary one, are used to avoid corrosion and heat damage, and they are the most expensive. Grade 316L is also preferred where biocompatibility is required (such as body implants and piercings). The “L” means that the carbon content of the alloy is below 0.03%, which facilitates the durability of welded joints, which all smoking racks have in some capacity.
Lipavi racks are all made from 316L, low carbon stainless steel, at considerable expense. This particular steel is also used in swimming pools, because of its superior resistance to oxidation. It can withstand exposure to high levels of alkaline environment, such is as used in dish detergents and automatic dishwashers.
316L is also the most tolerant of exposure to the corrosive environment of smokers. Carbon steel is used in the assembly of most home smokers. It is much less expensive than stainless steel, but it is highly susceptible to corrosion from exposure to water vapor and the components of smoke itself. Most backyard BBQ enthusiasts are all too familiar with barbecues “rusting out.”
a few words about…
Bacon from the market is fine, albeit seemingly expensive. It is possible to make your own bacon, provided you are patient enough to endure the curing process. You must also measure curing ingredients extremely carefully, so, typically, most people are content to buy their bacon. That being said, there is growing interest in how to make it, so we will have a brief outline of the process.
In the slides below, we see the raw pork belly, direct from NickyUSA. There are a few curing mixes on the market, but keep in mind that sodium ions are the only things that actually penetrate the tangled matrix of complex proteins that comprise meat. There is also sugar in curing mixes; it helps in even distribution of the salt and the sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite is completely safe, provided it is carefully measured. For more information on this subject, click HERE. The carefully measured cure is massaged into the pork belly, as pictured in the second frame of the slide. Curing takes a minimum of one week refrigerated, and then I smoked the belly in the RecTec at
I vacuum bagged the cured and smoked belly and processed sous vide @
I then cold shocked to 70F/21C by submerging the bag in ice water, and then refrigerated @40F/4C. This completes the full pasteurization of the bacon. Kept sealed in the bag, the bacon will keep refrigerated much like an unopened carton of milk. It rarely lasts long enough for that to matter!
After cutting the tenderloin in half, it is vacuum sealed and sous vide pasteurized @
It is then cold shocked in ice water to 70F/21C, and refrigerated to 40F/4C.
You can see how different the coloration is of the beef. It really does have a sort of purple hue, and is very high in myoglobin. Myoglobin is a protein that provides oxygen to muscle, not to be confused with hemoglobin or blood itself. The high level of this protein is an indication that the animal was somewhat more “active” in life, which is in accordance with the open range tending of the cattle. By contrast, American cattle spend a lot of time penned.
After processing and cooling, the silver skin is removed, and the larger end of the filet is cut as shown.
Presentation #1: Churrasco without the Sword!
South Americans love cooking meat over coals. They have gigantic outdoor pits with rows and rows of gigantic skewers that hold entire carcasses. Sometimes the vicinity is too hot to actually be tended, and the meat is frequently left to roast until the fire goes out. At that moment, the party begins!
We will operate on a much smaller scale, heating our grated cast iron skillet to about 700F/371C. Seasoned pieces of meat ranging from 9 oz./270g to 16 oz./.45Kg are placed in the pan, which then cools to about 350F/176C for the duration of the heating/cooking.
The internal target temperature is still 129F/54C, just as if the steak were actually raw, and the time it takes will be approximately the same as if it had never been processed sous vide.
So, why sous vide the filet in the first place? For one reason, the process pasteurizes the meat. Even though it appears fully raw, the risk to immune deficient people like pregnant women, children, and the elderly is greatly reduced.
The final result is much improved over meat that has not been sous vide processed, because of textural changes in the meat during its bath. The end result will be perfect medium rare all the way through, instead of well done on the outside and raw in the center, as we will see.
Served ever so simply, but not actually claiming to be authentic Churrasco. Salt and Pepper, a little bit of the Dark Side BBQ Sauce, parsley and lemon for tang. I did some thin hash browns for the mini version above, that was good. Why tart it up with anything else? This is a beautiful and complete thing. Does parsley count as a salad?
Presentation #2: The Sword without the Churrasco!
There is a tougher “chain” shown on the left, which has a lot of connective tissue. This is removed before the steaks are cut. You can see that they retain their color quite well, because of the low temperatures used in the sous vide processing.
Sous Vide Smoked Corn that has been cooled is cut into segments and crisped in vegetable oil. Yukon Gold potatoes that were sous vide processed @
183F/84Cx1 hour, shocked and refrigerated
are cut in half and pan roasted until brown, and some bacon is softened along side. Customarily, the bacon is wrapped around the tenderloin steaks, which are then sautéed. This will not necessarily crisp the bacon, but it can be removed and finished in the same pan. This prevents the filet from being overcooked.
The potatoes themselves make an excellent side dish. Yukon Golds are a lot like red (new) potatoes, with that creamy texture. They are less likely to stick to the pan than Russets and certain other varieties. The scallions and tomatoes included in this brochette are not cooked along with the meat, because they require only a few seconds in the pan to achieve heat and texture.
Once everything was cooked, I skewered alternating pieces of bacon, tomato, steak, bacon, tomato, and, of course bacon. The scallion becomes the crown, and everything is arranged tightly grouped in the middle of the plate. The sauce is simply Beurre Monte with some San Marzano canned tomatoes pureed into it.
It may seem that this takes some romance out of the idea of skewering. The familiar method is to skewer everything and then cook it, but not everything has the same cooking time. A skewer that looks great raw will not look so great after the tomatoes have fallen off the stick, the bacon is still soft, and the steak is getting ready to burn. Another romantic notion dashed!
The sword is ceremoniously removed at the table, not to impress your guest, but to quell their urge to purloin it as a memento of the fabulous meal you prepared. You can also see the end to end, top to bottom uniform medium rare appearance. This is very difficult to accomplish without sous vide processing!
Presentation 3: Churrasceria Miniatura
The smaller the pieces of meat, the easier they are to skewer! It also gets easier to attach the bacon, and that’s the part that I like. Really, the flavors of the Uruguayan beef go so great with all the accoutrements we have used, so I just concentrated them all together the best I could. Tenderloin has a significant portion that is not really steak shaped, which inspired the creation of the iconic dish Beef Stroganoff. 1 oz./30g. pieces create a convincing sense of proportion on the final sworded presentation, adorned with creamed cured spinach/kale, and tomato aioli. The Dark Side BBQ Sauce makes another appearance.
Presentation #4: Beef, Bacon, and BBQ!
Even though the filet has already been pasteurized once by sous vide, we wrapped two steaks and the chain trim in bacon and smoked in the RecTec 680@
The sticks have done their job, remove them. Sear the tenderloin hot and fast, and hit the sides too, crispy crusty! Finish crisping the bacon, if necessary. BACON.
I like to call this the Bowling Alley salad, but it would have to be one of the nicer bowling alleys. A shamelessly thick slice of iceberg, topped with shamelessly thick Ranch dressing (I substitute cream cheese for sour cream).
Heirloom tomatoes, buy them whenever you can. Sprinkle chopped parsley, S+P anywhere there’s a space, and drizzle with Dark Side BBQ. Arrange strips of bacon on the salad, and the fried chain pieces all around. The steak in the middle, a shameless amount of Dark Side sauce, and a dollop of the free standing ranch on top. No more sleepless nights, grate a little nutmeg over the whole thing.
WOOT? The steak still shows pink, even after pasteurization, subsequent low and slow smoking, and even searing. Some mysteries just reveal themselves ad lib. The flavor is positively amazing.
A late night supper:
Thank you for your patience.
Clearly, this is more than a recipe for how to cook a filet. These things occasionally take on a life of their own! Hopefully, these four models will flic your bics enough to create your own models! That’s really what a recipe is, for me, anyway. It’s not a destination. It’s a point of embarkation.