Originally Posted by B3
D-Master: Is Christmas early this year? That is more advise than any newbie deserves. I assure you, it is much appreciated. While my butt meditates in the cooler, I'll also make it write your name 100 times on the blackboard.
Quite the contrary, it's the type of advice we try to give any newbie that asks...
Originally Posted by Redheart
I use the Smoke n Grill all the time. I use the Minion Method for my coals. I also use a grate in my coal pan so there is a place for ash to fall. Further I do use the water pan with beer & water or other liquids to help deflect the heat and moisten the meat. Because I use the water pan my smoke coming out the top is usually a little on the white side because of the steam.
Good luck and share the pron id not the product!
A rack for the charcoal is GREAT adivise. You can pick one up at most hardware and home improvement stores. Make sure that it is an inch or so larger than your coal pan so it sits on top. Later you can make up a coal basket to make your life easier. While you are there, pick up a pair of leather welding gloves. Trust me, they make a HUGE difference when you need to lift out a hot water pan or need to empty the ash pan while hot coals are on the rack.
Originally Posted by Skidder
B3 my advice to you is bbq is all about temperature control. Two things are a must. You have to know the temp of your cooker and you have to know the temp of the product your cooking at all times. Take your pork butt or shoulder. It has to get to an internal temp. of at least 195 or so before it will pull same goes for brisket. As for rubs and sauces well that there is a personal thing. Nobody here knows what you like but you so good luck and feel free to ask all the questions you have to. We're all here for ya.
I agree that temperature control is extremely important, but by doing a pork butt for you first cook, you are going to have a fair amount of forgiveness. The Maverick ET-73 recommended earlier is a fantastic thermometer (I use 2 of them when working on my big cooker) but not required for your first cook so don't panic if you can't find one before this weekend. There are kitchen timers that also have thermometers built into them. If you use one of these, you don't want to just lay the probe on the grate. Insert the probe through a small potato and then put it on the rack about one to two inches away from the meat (this is known as getting the 'grate temp'). This is going to give you more accuracy than using just to thermometer found on the lid (dome) as these are far less accurate.
I also thought about a couple of other things...
Instead of just putting water in your water pan, use a 50/50 mix of apple juice and water (or a beer/water mix as motioned above). To quote Emeral, "I don't know where you get your water, but mine don't come seasoned." You are going to need to make sure that you keep the water pan about 60-75% full so it doesn't burn but on the plus side, it's going to give your meat a little extra flavor than just water. Also, don't use cold water in your water pan, it's just going to take away the heat of the cooker while the water pan is warming up. On the other hand, if your fire really gets way from you and you can't cool the cooker down fast enough, add a hand full or two of ice cubes to the water pan to cool down your cooker in an emergency.
Don't bother soaking your wood chips. Yes, they are going to burn faster but they are also going to burn cleaner thereby giving you a better flavor.
If your butt gets done earlier than expected, just let it sit in the cooler for longer (it can stay there for up to 6 hours as long as the meat remains above 140* (safety zone)). Remember you are cooking a natural product that is going to be a little different based on how active the pig was... Heck, I've even seen differences between a shoulder taken from the left side vs. the right side. My only thought is that it made more left turns than right....
Again, have fun, don't stress over it (people have been smoking meat for thousands of years and if they can do it, so can you), take pictures of your cook (and post them here!), and most important, take notes so you know what worked and didn't work for next time.