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Bperkins01 01-03-2014 10:07 AM

3rd cook, 2nd Pork Butts, 1st Brisket - and thoughs from a new guy
Hi Everyone,

My 3rd cook went pretty nicely..
But it started like this:

It was in the low 20's outside and sunny, not too much wind.

It didn't take too long to get to this point, all fired up, cleaned up and warming.

Using Chris Lilly recipes - I rubbed up a pair of butts and a brisket the night before and got them going.

I learned something new during this cook vs. my last cook - Position of the fire in the firebox matters it seems..

Here is the fire at the back of the box:

Looks good - small, hot - but as far as the temp gauge goes - seems to swing up/down quite a bit. I keep the sensor about a foot away from the firebox - however the swings are pretty dramatic +-30-40 deg sometimes.

This part of fire management I figured out with a little experimenting and getting a nice burn mark on my forearm. (just after the end of my welders glove)

- I moved the fire to the front of the firebox near the door and the vent openings - it gets much better flow there from below too.
- Used even smaller chunks of wood. I had been cutting my splits in half, now I'm doing 1/3rds - The smaller chunks seem to dry/warm up on the firebox better and smoke less during startup.

The added bonus was the heat is more indirect into the chamber from the door end of the firebox. The temp swings (whether real or imagined) stopped. I kept it locked in at 225, 250, 275 pretty easily.

At this point - they were ready to get wrapped up - I'm liking the color.

I even tossed a chicken that I had in there for a few hours and cooked it perfectly as far as internal temp, flavor and moisture goes.

You can see the temp probe in the foil.

That said - 225 deg chicken skin is terrible... peeled it off and gave it to the dogs. Next time I'll finish the skin up on the gasser or under a broiler. Blek!

When it was all said and done, got this:

and this

Resulting in this:

Things I learned this time:

- Pulled pork is the favorite around here. It doesn't last long and has been coming out very good IMHO.

- The Brisket came out OK I think. Seemed a bit chewy to me. I will have to do more research (eating) on that. Learning the feel of probe tender may be part of this issue. I thought it was right, temp was at 203.. or maybe not a good cut of meat.. Supermarket choice cut.. or maybe it didn't rest long enough. But a good first effort.

- Put the fire by the door - this should have been obvious I suppose - but this was huge in terms of fire quality and control. The temps stayed so much more even. I used the extra temp probe at the far end of the firebox and they stayed +- 10deg from each other.. So this works nice.

Thanks everyone for the help along the way,

sliding_billy 01-03-2014 10:23 AM

Nice write-up. Thanks for sharing.

ShencoSmoke 01-03-2014 10:25 AM

Great cook! I will let the brisket pros comment on what might have been the deal with the brisket, looks good though. My guess is that is needed more time.

As far as the temp swings on your pit let me tell you a story of my experience. When I got my jambo I wanted to know what the temps were at different points in the pit and had digital probes and wires running everywhere. To me, it was way to complicated and I stopped using everything except the thermo on the pit. You will eventually learn where your hot and cold spots are and can adjust meat placement accordingly without getting tangled up in wires. Once you learn the fire management part of the equation (which it looks like you have a good start on) you will realize that you will enjoy cooking more when you simplify. Stick burning is very rewarding and I enjoy it even more without the probes and wires.

This was my experience and it may or not be the way you want to go. If you are a tech guy that loves fiddling with digital equipment than by all means go for it. Either way, you are doing good so far, keep it up.

ncstan 01-03-2014 10:36 AM

Sharp cooker and very nice cook .

SmittyJonz 01-03-2014 12:30 PM

Ya Brisket needed just a lil more time. Overcooked Brisket Tastes a Great it just crumbles when you slice it so let go...... Chicken Skin is Always for the Dogs at my House......Pulled Pork is a Good but I like Brisket Better...... That's a nice Pit and that looks like a Qaulity cover. :thumb:

Smok'n n Joke'n 01-03-2014 01:31 PM

Was this your third cook ever.....or the third cook on this cooker? :confused:. It all looks darn good :grin:

legendaryhog 01-03-2014 03:49 PM

Ditch the probe thermometers and you will have more successful brisket (probably better pulled pork too). Cooking brisket by temp will just mess with you. It is never the same. I say again, it is never the same. The cooking time will always vary, the thermometers will just deceive you. Don't pull until the thickest part of the flat is probe tender. Push a probe, chopstick, whatever, into the thickest part of the flat. If it doesn't go in without resistance, it is not done. If it starts getting too dark you can wrap it in butcher paper to hold the color.

Once you pull it let it rest on your counter top for at least an hour (if you want to use a thermometer now you can, but I usually don't. Rest until the temp comes down to about 180 degrees).

Search this site with the words "probe tender brisket" and you will get a whole, whole, lot of threads on this method if you want more details.

Diesel Dave 01-03-2014 04:13 PM

All in all it looks like it was a great cook :thumb:

Brisket is a bit tricky to learn, but once you get it there's no stopping you.

Keep on smokin

jeffturnerjr 01-03-2014 04:16 PM

Great looking cook!

On your brisket, from the looks of the fat in your pics above, I'd say it needed another hour or two to finish. I'm cooking 12-14lb briskets for 10-12 hours at 300. I'll let the brisket rest for 2 hours after I finish on the pit. I don't even go by internal temp anymore. Just on feel and probe tender. A fork makes a great brisket tester!

Fwismoker 01-03-2014 04:17 PM

^^^^^ Yea If Dave can learn brisket anyone can! JK Dave. ;)

Great looking cooker and chow!

Diesel Dave 01-03-2014 04:20 PM

No seriously if I can anybody can :thumb:

It's all good Kieth I'd never think you'd be makin fun of me..........more than twice :laugh:

Bperkins01 01-03-2014 05:02 PM

Thanks everyone!

I will definitely learn to get the feel for it.. Maybe take a class just so that I'm not guessing or find a local expert. :)

And to clarify - 3rd cook ever on a real smoker. I had tried a few ribs, etc on the gass grill but could never really get them to be descent. They were dry or over cooked or had no smoke flavor. I know it can be done that way, but that was not what I was looking for..

I jumped on the deep end by getting a good cooker so that I could step up the game.

You guys are a good crew and I've learned a lot from the forum.
My next brisket I'll do more probing!

Offthehook 01-03-2014 05:07 PM

My opinion on everything, good start but personally I would try to get to the 250-275 range and the fat on the 3 meats would render a lot better. Wont hurt to try.

Bperkins01 01-03-2014 05:10 PM


Originally Posted by Offthehook (Post 2752588)
My opinion on everything, good start but personally I would try to get to the 250-275 range and the fat on the 3 meats would render a lot better. Wont hurt to try.


Diesel Dave 01-03-2014 05:13 PM

Just to add, put a stick of butter out on the counter tonight.
Tomorrow morning, push whatever you probe with into it.
That's how the thickest part of any meat you're cooking to probe tender should feel.

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