The Barbecue Deck – Part 2

As you may remember, I built a deck back in the Fall of 2014, to support my barbecue efforts. It wasn’t anything extraordinairy, but I thought it was rather nice.

I built it from pressure treated wood, so according to all I read, I needed to give it at least a year for the wood to be ready to finish. Then, it would be a matter of cleaning and painting.

So in the Fall of 2015 I bought a pressure washer, and got ready to do the work. But about that time, I started having some sinus infections, and I didn’t feel like doing anything on the deck.

Come Spring of 2016, though, we found out that the sinus thing was symptom of a bigger problem, which we now call The Late Unpleasantness. You can read about that on my other blog, Plumb Mad Dog Mean.

In any case, I’m now in remission from the Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and doing much better, so I finally got around to finishing what I started.

First I pressure washed it

then painted. I think it turned out nice.

Now to enjoy it!

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The Swineapple

The Swineapple.   It seems that social media is covered with pictures of boneless pork ribs stuffed inside a pineapple and smoked over indirect heat.   Barbeque aficionados grasped the concept; it seems relatively simple.  Purchase boneless pork ribs and a large pineapple. The actual process to meld the pineapple and pork is far more involved than one might think.

On Memorial Day 2015, my wife and I took on the Swineapple challenge and came out with a satisfying meal.  As background, I am an engineer and she is a designer. We took copious notes on the process from beginning to end.  Photographs and techniques were posted during the day on Twitter.  With a bit of luck, @fillyerhands noticed our efforts and asked for our thoughts. In this article, we’ll cover the preparation of the pineapple, ribs, grill, cedar planks and  charcoal.


We used standard cedar planks available from Lowe’s Home Improvement. The planks were soaked for several hours in a mixture of apple juice and water.  Soaking the cedar planks serves two purposes; the planks should not catch fire during the smoking process and the apple juice soaked cedar planks add flavor and juiciness to the Swineapple.
1 Soaking Cedar Planks

Living in South Carolina, we are bound by state law to barbecue, grill, or smoke every meal, weather permitting, twelve months of the year.  While grilling, we save larger chunks of lump wood charcoal for the times when we need a longer stained heat which briquette charcoal cannot provide.  Cowboy Charcoal and Royal Oak lump wood charcoal are better for salmon, steaks, chicken, and burgers. The house lump wood charcoal from Publix or Fresh Market provides larger pieces of coal for turkey, ribs or a Swineapple.  For this test subject, we used Western Real Wood lump charcoal and Royal Oak lump wood for the firebox.  During the last hour, we added chunks of Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrels for flavor.


We have a Chargriller with an offset firebox for smoking.  The primary ash pan of the grill was emptied of any old debris.  The grill grates were scrubbed with a stainless steel brush.  The secondary firebox was emptied of old ashes and the pan was lined with aluminum foil.  The top vent and side vent were both opened to allow maximum air flow over and around the meat while it is cooking.

8 Grill


Now we’re getting to the core of the project (no pun intended).  The pineapple selected should be the largest one available in your market.  Take a sharp knife and remove the outer layer. Remove the stem. Leave the top and bottom covered by the scaly exterior.  Placing the pineapple on its side, slice the pineapple parallel with the core.  I cut our first one with a 90/10 ratio.  The second one was 85/15 ratio. Don’t throw away the lid. You’ll need it shortly.

Using a serrated knife, gently cut the core from inside,removing the top and bottom. The pineapple flesh between the edges will be relatively simple to remove. The flesh along the core, as well as the between the core and the bottom of the pineapple, is a bit more difficult to remove.  Remember that to maximize the available space for the pork ribs; cut as aggressively as possible while retaining the structural integrity of the pineapple.
3 Hollow Pineapple

I purchased seven pounds of boneless country cut St. Louis style pork ribs from Publix. I could only fit five pounds into two pineapples.  I used my standard Pulled Pork rub; the mix was too salty for this technique. Rather than post a mixture I will not use again, I’ve adjusted the ratio for what we will use in the future.  The ribs can be coated in the following mixture:

1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp black ground pepper
4 tsp paprika
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs brown sugar

The eight spices were blended together and then liberally applied to the ribs.

2 Boneless Pork Ribs

4 spice mix

5 Ribs with spice rub

I was able to fit between 32-40 oz of ribs into each pineapple.  The side of the pineapple was placed over the boneless ribs and secured with kitchen twine.  I recommend soaking the twine in water before smoking so that it does not catch fire during the process.
6 Ribs in Pineapple7 Ribs with lid
We covered the outside of each pineapple with thick sliced honey bourbon bacon.
9 Pineapple on Grill10 Bacon on Pineapple
The planks were placed perpendicular to the grill grates next to the firebox vent. The Swineapple was placed parallel to the fire, to allow for the most even exposure to the heat possible.

We closed the lid at 3pm and checked the firebox every 45 minutes, adding chunks as needed. The temperature remained between 225-250 degrees.

Two hours in the process, we used wooden spatulas with a large surface space to rotate the Swineapple,  The pineapple was soft and fragile; metal tongs were a mistake.

A meat thermometer was used four hours into the process; once the meat reached 160 degrees, we removed them from the heat.

Following standard grilling procedure, the meat was placed on a wooden cutting board and covered with aluminum foil, allowing the pork to rest.

11 After12 Finished Product
Final notes:

This was our first attempt at Swineapple and we will do it again.  That said, the procedure takes almost as long as smoking a turkey or racks of ribs.

We found that the citrus enzymes marinated the pork nicely.

Coring the pineapple and then removing the outer layer of pineapple might allow for more flavor infusion instead of a horizontal cut and scooped out the pineapple.  Another thought is to cut the pineapple down the middle and place the boneless pork ribs in either half, then tying the halves together before placing them on the grill.  Lastly, we would add the bacon much later in the smoking cycle.

I used too many Jack Daniels chunks in the firebox at once; the fire spread rapidly to the cedar planks, hence the blackened planks in the photographs.

We did not add barbecue sauce to the Swineapple. We used traditional offset heat, smoke, and a rib rub for flavor.

Good luck!

Categories: BBQ Pr0n, Deck, Pork, Prep, Ribs, Smoker, Wood | Leave a comment

The Barbecue Deck

I’ve written off and on about my plans to build a deck at the back of my house as a home for the new grill the Smoke Wagon. I am happy to report that Phase 1 of the deck is complete, and the results are great!

Deck complete

This all started as an extension of the landing for the stairs down from the back porch, which was sorely in need of repair, and eventually, replacement. The stairs lead down into an area surrounded by a chain link fence, where our dog lives in the warmer months.

Step Zero: Design

So, how big to make this deck? Without taking the fence down, after rebuilding the landing I would have about 14 feet from the current 4-foot wide landing out to the fence.

One thing to consider, of course, was whether I needed to have a building permit, or have the work inspected. As it turns out, in Cobb County, GA, I do not need a permit or inspection if

  • The deck is 144 square feet or smaller
  • The deck is not connected to the house
  • The deck is less than 30 inches off the ground
  • The deck does not have electrical power run to it

So, I decided to build the deck 12 feet by 12 feet, with the deck boards laid perpendicular to the house.

Of course, then the thing to consider was how to support the deck. Living in the South, I have the advantage of no ground movement to speak of, and that is made doubly sure by the nature of the Georgia red clay. So, I really didn’t have to dig any support footers, or pour any concrete, unless I wanted to. I did not.

So some on-line research led me to a really neat product, concrete deck blocks. There is even a web site that will design the deck, and give you the amount of materials needed. So, with the design web site open, and the local home center web site open in another tab, I copied and pasted materials, placed an order, and went to work on the ground while my order was being readied for pickup.

Here’s the tally:

  • (18) Deck blocks
  • (8) 2×10 joists
  • (30) 2×6 floor boards (yes, 2×6, not 5/4 x 2. These are stronger and allow longer joist spans, saving in joists and deck blocks)
  • (4) precut stair stringers
  • (4) joist hangers for the stairs

All told, probably $700 in materials.

STEP 1: Clear the site

Deck Before 1

My first work was to remove the old grill site, made of concrete blocks, and use a string trimmer to knock all the grass down to nothing. It’s not really necessary to strp the whole area, since it will soon be in the dark, and nature will take care of that.

Once I had it clear, I got an email from the home center, and went off to the store to pick up all the materials.


STEP 2: Set the corners

Deck corner stone

I first set the cornerstone of the deck, and made sure it was where the plans said it should be.

Deck second pier



Next came the second corner, which is leveled with the first. There are 2 ways to level the corners, either with 4×4 support up to the joist, or by digging the high corner in, which I chose to do here.

Deck thrid pier

The third corner is then added from the second. As you can see, in this case I used the 4×4 method.

The fourth corner is added the same way, leveled from the first corner.

STEP 3: Set the joists

Deck all joists

Once all 4 corners were set and the joists leveled, I added the two end boards, then all the intermediate joists. Since my deck is 12 feet by 12 feet, using 12 foot boards meant no cutting, and no fitting. Thank you to the mill personnel who keep 12 foot boards exactly 12 feet long – you made my job easier!

STEP 4: Set the remaining deck blocks and level the joists

Deck all piers


Next, the rest of the deck blocks were set in place, and 4×4 supports were cut to bring them all up to the joists, so all the joists were level in both directions. Once they were in place I could start on the easy part, laying the decking, using 2-1/2 inch self drilling deck screws.

STEP 5: Add the decking

Deck decking 1

It went pretty easily from there, except for 4 days of rain in between.

Dek decking 2

Finally, one board remained.

Deck decking 3

STEP 6: Enjoy

Deck complete

Finally, with all the deck boards in place, out came the Smoke Wagon and supporting equipment. Then came the true test on Father’s Day:

Deck fire in the hole


Deck cooking


All in all, a successful project.



The deck took longer than I thought, cost more than I thought, was harder to do (mostly because of lifting everything over the dadgum chain  link fence), but I am very pleased with it all. Looking forward to Phase 2, the stairs (already bought) and Phase 3, the landing.

Categories: Deck | Leave a comment

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