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-   -   WSM vs Stick Burners: Too much wood? (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=157461)

ColdFyre 03-30-2013 02:08 PM

WSM vs Stick Burners: Too much wood?
 
I've read several posts both here and on the VWB forums about how "less is more" and how easy it is to oversmoke your food (especially chicken). Even heard a podcast from Harry Soo about how he won chicken comps not using any wood in a WSM.

How does the 'less is more' theory apply to stick burners who do nothing BUT smoke?

My guess is that's the main reason things get wrapped... but how about chicken thighs? Those don't typically get wrapped, do they?

Personally, I love the smoke flavor. I've tried none, less, medium and more. Seems like when I use 'medium' (4 chunks for a brisket), there is no where near enough smoke flavor (I prefer oak for my brisket).

buttburnersbbq 03-30-2013 02:17 PM

I have a WSM and I use hickory chunks with the charcoal . I made a reverse flow smokers which I burn all hickory logs. Now I see a big difference in taste and smoke flavor between the 2 smokers. Since the WSM has to be choked down with air intakes to maintain the desired temp. The smoke taste is more bitter. In the reverse flow it burns clean blue smoke and you get the flavor without the bitterness. I see a big difference between the 2 different pits. Nothing beats the reverse flow pit stick burner.

GOHOGS 03-30-2013 02:52 PM

I cook on a stick burner and you are absolutely right about foiling. My guess is someone foiled out of necessity (too much smoke flavor) and it turned out that it helped push through the stall and possibly keep the meat more moist so now people using all types of cookers have started foiling. I think the key to cooking on a stick burner is fire management. A clean burning fire produces less smoke. It makes sense to me that cooking hotter makes it easier to keep a clean fire and also cooks the meat faster which means less time exposed to smoke. I cook my chicken on the hot end of the smoker so it takes as little time as possible which seems to give it about the right amount of smoke flavor

landarc 03-30-2013 04:04 PM

I would not guess that foiling has anything to do with the type of smoker.

A offset stickburner has a totally different air flow characteristic, and that is all the difference in the world in how the flavor builds in the meat. Now, I doubt, given a skilled WSM guy and a skilled Off-set guy that I could blind taste the difference. But, you use different amounts of wood, because the smoke drafts over the food differently. A side burner moves a lot of smoke carrying air over the meat, but, it is moving quickly through the cooker. A WSM is a much smaller cooker, and with a vertical draft, the smoke hangs around the meat a bit more. That all makes a difference.

I suspect the foiling was more about getting through the stall and controlling color. It has a negative effect on the smoke flavor, and thus, I doubt that is why folks went to it. It does make timing the cook a lot easier and controlling the color a lot easier. And we all know, a braised piece of meat is almost always going to be more moist.

dwfisk 03-30-2013 04:39 PM

i've got a home made reverse flow offset stickburner and pretty much exclusively use kiln dried hickory splits. I don't foil anything unless I'm wrapping to hold in a cooler or cambro. To me its all about air flow & controlling the fire and, of course a high quality wood. I like to run a pretty hot fire to get a good clean blue/clear smoke and I really pay attention to minimize that nasty white stuff, especially when adding wood. If I need more or less heat I adjust the size of the fire, but try to keep even a small fire burning hot. I find the combination of a smaller hotter fire works with my rig and I can easily do long cooks if necessary without over smoking. More recently I've been cooking hotter & faster and as long as I pay attention to managing the fire I dont' have any problem with to much smoke.

BBQ Bandit 03-30-2013 04:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ColdFyre (Post 2429109)
I've read several posts both here and on the VWB forums about how "less is more" and how easy it is to oversmoke your food (especially chicken). Even heard a podcast from Harry Soo about how he won chicken comps not using any wood in a WSM.

How does the 'less is more' theory apply to stick burners who do nothing BUT smoke?

My guess is that's the main reason things get wrapped... but how about chicken thighs? Those don't typically get wrapped, do they?

Personally, I love the smoke flavor. I've tried none, less, medium and more. Seems like when I use 'medium' (4 chunks for a brisket), there is no where near enough smoke flavor (I prefer oak for my brisket).

Here's another point of view...

Any manufacturer of charcoal is only a further processed form of wood... known as char. That reference by Harry Soo was using a form of charcoal.

Stickburners use massive amounts of air to keep the stick-fueled fires hot and clean to achieve the Thin Blue Smoke.

Now here's the ironic part... back in 2011 at the Pork in the Park comp in - Salisbury MD, a borrowed Lang 60 offset (stickburner) was burning Kingsford (blue bag) with wood chunks - finished 3rd in brisket (and placed better than Tuffy Stone in brisket).

Have cooked brisket on my stickburner only, on the WSM alone, and have had two pits lit for one brisket.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=150304

Chicken has been done over charcoal for only the last 100 or so years... so it does deduce the resulting conclusion - cooking with sticks since the beginning of mankind.

As the old saying goes... there's more than one way.

ColdFyre 03-30-2013 06:08 PM

thanks for all the feedback. This site and you folks are, by far, some of the best sources of info around.
It's a great read.... especially when I have some time on my hands while the birds finish in the WSM. About an hour to go!


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