Southern Style Slow Cooked BBQ – in your own back garden

This last weekend was just superb weather. A bit of sunshine can make all the difference to how everything feels. And with the good weather should always come BBQ. I love barbecued food and would eat it every day if I could. Two years ago we bought a proper beast of a grill. None of this gas fired nonsense. A proper coal barbecue with (cos we’re fancy like that) an offset smoker. We loved the idea of getting a hunk of meat and slow cooking it the way they do in the Deep South, ’til it’s charred on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside.

I won’t lie, it’s not as simple to do as turning on a slow cooker and leaving it. It takes quite a bit of looking after, but both times we’ve done it it’s been simply amazing! When I posted the pictures of last night’s dinner so many people asked how we did it I thought I’d try and explain here.

So I’m sure there are a hundred different ways to slow BBQ but we use an offset smoker barbecue. The idea is that the coals sit in that little attachment at the side. There’s a vent through to the main body of the BBQ and the heat, and the smoke from the wood chips, is pushed through, keeping the BBQ at a constant temperature over an extended period.

Once the coals have heated the drum up to around 200 degrees F, we add a couple of handfuls of hickory wood chips (soaked in water for at least an hour beforehand), and the smoker is ready to start slow cooking.

You can smoke almost anything, but I’ve only ever done Beef, brisket to be precise, so that’s what I’ll explain here

Slow Barbecued Brisket

Get the meat out of the fridge to warm up to room temp at least an hour before cooking. You can flavour it however you like. I’ve tried premade rubs, but yesterday I used my own mixture and it was bloody lovely. I coated the meat generously just before putting it on the BBQ. I didn’t do it sooner as the rub had salt in it and I didn’t want it to draw out too much moisture. I used:

  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 or 1tsp smoked paprika (depending on the strength of your preferred brand)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds slightly bashed to release the flavour
  • Sea salt to taste

Once the meat is happily coated, place it on the grill, with any fat facing up. We coat the base of the drum in foil like this, as the meat drips as it cooks and it’d be a bugger to clean if we didn’t!

Then close the lid. And keep it closed! The hardest part is not opening it to check the meat, but seriously, every time you open it you’ll lose heat and slow barbecuing is all about consistent temperature (in our case of around 200 degrees F or 120 degrees C). To achieve this you need to top up the coals in the smoker every hour, or hour and a half, of cooking. And the first three times you do that you should also add another handful or so of the soaked wood chips. Then let it do its thing, while you relax in the garden!

How long it takes to cook will depend on the size of your piece of meat, but I reckon you’re looking at anything from four to eight hours. This size took about six hours and a smaller piece we did about five.

When you think it’s done, it needs to come off the grill and rest. Honestly, if you don’t let it rest you won’t get the melting texture inside. To keep it warm, we double wrapped ours in foil and then wrapped that in a tea towel. Again, resting time will depend, but we left it for at least half an hour and it was fine.

When it’s rested, slice it as you would a roast and tuck the hell in!

Last night’s dinner was BBQ brisket with balsamic dressed leaves and chilli swede chips. Yep you heard right; SWEDE chips. Someone suggested them at Slimming World last week, so I thought I’d give them a go and I can’t believe I’ve not done them before!

Chilli Swede Chips

Peel a raw swede, cut into thick slices and then cut into chips. Spray a oven tray with Frylight and add the chips. Spray again with Frylight, sprinkle with sea salt and dust with chilli powder (if you like chilli, omit if you don’t). Whack them in the oven at gas mark 9, 240 degrees C for 45 minutes, turning once or twice in the process. And voilà. Delicious, low carb (if you’re interested in that) chips. Perfect for an Extra Easy SP day.

So there you go. I’m not suggesting everyone run out and buy a smoker, but if you are interested in slow barbecuing with a standard BBQ a quick Google will come up with loads of suggestions of how to do it. I particularly liked this one. But if you’re in the market for a new BBQ, and fancy having a go at slow cooking, maybe consider one with a smoking function.

Can’t wait until the weather’s good enough to do it again. Hmmm, what to slow cook next do you reckon?