I recently purchased some apple wood chunks with the dream of roasting a pork joint on my Weber BBQ. I originally purchased the Weber knowing that it is a versatile BBQ, capable of so much more than simply barbecuing meat.
I have previously roasted chickens (initially attempting a beer-bottom chicken), but since purchasing the apple wood chunks became interested in doing something for which the flavour of smoked apple wood would complement.
Roasting a joint on the BBQ requires the use of special separators which keep the coals away from the underneath of the joint – this is called indirect heat. These were supplied with my BBQ, but in case you don’t have them, there is a link below to some.
I wanted a meat which would be “safe” to cook in this manner. For me, this meant something which I could rely on to cook through (so longer and thinner) and something which would remain tender. Having chatted it through with my local butcher, I had settled on some loin. In order to keep the meat moist, my butcher also supplied me with a section of skin for crackling, which he scored for me.
The chunks need to be soaked in water for two hours before they are used (this makes them smoke more and enhances the flavour).
There was very little i did in order to prepare the meat for this style of cooking. I simply placed the skin on the top of the joint, rubbed it with oil and then rubbed in some large sea salt granules.
If you, as I did, use a piece of skin separate to the joint, you may want to tie the two pieces together, otherwise the crackling may bend away from the joint as it cooks.
When lighting coals for a BBQ, I prefer to use a chimney starter. These are relatively inexpensive to buy and can cut the time it takes to get the coals to temperature in half, also making sure they are more evenly heated.
There are other ones which are available cheaper, but of the reviews I have read online, the suggestion seems to be that the cheaper build quality results in a quick-rusting product. I have used my chimney starter on multiple occasions over a number of years and as you will be able to see from the image gallery below, my starter is still in great condition.
Once the coals have reached their ideal temperature, they will have a thin covering of grey ash. They can subsequently be placed into the BBQ. Use a pair to tongs to make sure that the coals are distributed evenly on either side of the BBQ.
Place the drip-tray in-between, to sit under the meat and place the cooking grate into position. The meat should sit directly over the drip tray and away from the hot coals.
I expected the cooking to require two hours (my joint weighed 1.6kg). After about an hour, the temperature inside the BBQ will have dropped a little, and the cooking will benefit from additional heat. This can either be supplied by placing unlit coals in the BBQ after about half an hour of cooking, or alternatively lighting a second (much smaller) batch of coals in the chimney starter
(another great reason for having one).
I would not risk timing a joint of meat on a Weber based on how long it would normally take roasting in an oven, as the heat generated in the BBQ can vary and be somewhat unpredictable. As a result, a meat thermometer is a real must. I have the one on the left. All it requires is to be inserted a couple of inches into the meat (so as not to be taking measurements of surface temperatures). If you feel as though you are running out of time, a quick blast in the oven will help ensure things are cooked through. When I did this meal, I had roast potatoes and yorkshire puddings roasting, so it would not have been a problem to finish off the cooking for 15 minutes in the oven.
The meat was absolutely delicious – well worth the effort. There really was a good flavour of the smoked apple wood (if you’ve ever had smoked apple wood cheese, you’ll know the flavour). Certainly something worth trying.
The packets of wood chunks contain further information about the kinds of meat which are suited to being smoked with each of the woods that it is possible to buy. I’ll probably have to check some of the other meats out too.