Originally Posted by thirdeye
This is a good idea for a thread. Two of the biggest errors I see are
1. Not evaluating your own product and making small changes to improve it. Too often other folks are just plain too polite and will always tell you to your face how good your Q is. Ask a few of them what do they really like and also ask what could be improved. Get opinions from folks that are good cooks, they have no reasons to lie to you. Compare that information to how you size it up yourself. I'm not saying to always cook for the other persons taste, but I have a few small changes I make depending on who I'm cooking for.
2. Using smoke correctly. I just cringe when I see a guys pit that is puffing white smoke and he sez something like .... "my butts are really smokin' NOW!!!"
I edited some of the other things I think are important from an article on my site called Introduction to Barbecue, and here is the short version.
First off, you need to allow plenty of time for barbecuing. Don’t get in a hurry. You will find that many times, preparation the day before will be worth the extra effort.
Great barbecue is a journey, not a destination. Barbecue may look easy when someone else cooks it. The recipes generally don't have a lot of ingredients. The cuts of meat are very common. Don't be fooled, there are a lot of hidden variables. There is a BIG difference between good barbecue and great barbecue. You will be very lucky if you make good barbecue on the first couple of cooks. It may take years before you make great barbecue. So before you serve barbecue to a house full of guests or the preachers wife...practice, practice, practice.
Do get in the habit of recording the details of your cooks. If you make changes, change one or two things at a time.
Many pit masters agree that “it’s the cook, not the cooker” but you must figure out your cooker and its capabilities.
Use a good quality hardwood or hardwood charcoal. Let the fire become established before adding food to the pit. Until you get the hang of overnight cooks, keep an eye on the fire.
Make sure to let the smoke from wood chunks or chips settle down before loading your cooker. Keep a watchful eye on your top vent or stack. A white smoke plume, billowing from your vent will most likely impart a bitter flavor and maybe a residue on your product. A light gray or blue smoke whiff is what you are after.
The goal is to compliment the flavor of the meat, without overpowering it. Use good quality seasonings or rubs. DON’T apply sauces too early during the cook, wait until the end or serve them at the table.
Start out with easy cooks. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature at the grate as well as your product.
Allow your meat to rest before slicing or pulling. The juices need time to re-distribute into the meat.
Ok, now you are ready to dig in. If you are slicing beef, pay attention to the grain and cut across it for tenderness. When pulling or chopping beef and pork, remove some of the fat but be sure and mix some of the crust or “bark” in with the meat. Don’t be alarmed if the meat, especially chicken, has a pink color. Don't be too eager to slather on the sauce, it is not always necessary. I like to serve a couple of kinds at the table.
For reheating barbecue use an aluminum pan. Add a diluted sauce, CocaCola, apple juice, broth or a mixture of any of these to keep the product moist, cover and place in a 250° oven for about an hour or until warm.