Success with the Orion

At some level I have to call this a success. I set out today to try my hand at using my Orion "cooker" as a smoker, something that everyone on the Interwebs says can't be done. I didn't have high hopes, and used a small, cheap piece of 3.5 pound pork shoulder to give it a try today.

After a generous rub on the pork and stuffing it with as much garlic as I possibly could, I lined the bottom inside of the Orion with some large mesquite wood chips, ensuring that the wood was in contact with the walls of the cooker. I actually wedged them between the walls and the drip pan, keeping them in place. I also stacked them a couple high where I could, convinced that I couldn't get enough smoke anyway to do the trick. Note that I did not soak the chips in anything - I left them dry, knowing the cooker generates enough moisture on its own.

After putting the shoulder on the top rack and sealing it up, I used less charcoal than it normally calls for, and to compensate I cooked it longer (5 hours instead of 3). The result? A wonderful, black, fall-apart-in-your-hands hunk of meat rich with smoky mesquite flavor. In fact, I think it's a little too smoky. Looking forward to how it tastes with a generous helping of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce during tonight's neighborhood gathering.

Now, I'm not going to argue that this is smoked to perfection. I'd certainly rather have a real smoker to do the trick. However, I challenge the blogosphere that claims you can't get any smoke out of the Orion. And, I still say with the Orion that most of the time I'd rather have 95% flavor in a third of the time (and a tenth of the work). Today was actually an exception - I did have the time to attend to a full bbq, and I wished I had a real smoker. Sigh.

Next time, I would probably do the following:

  • soak some of the wood chips a little. A little steam won't hurt. But, need to have enough dry ones to create the smoke.
  • find smaller wood chips. Chunks of wood really don't help when trying to wedge between the drip pan and the outer wall.
  • sprinkle the wood chips with some seasoning. I think the chips will get hot enough to do the trick for this.

Bon Apetit to moi.

1 comment:

CDP said...

When you decide to man up and get a real smoker, get the Weber. Fantastic piece of equipment that will make absolutely KILLER barbeque.