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Unread 04-15-2013, 06:39 AM   #8
Lake Dogs
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Join Date: 07-14-09
Location: Lake Sinclair, GA
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You'll find lots and lots of techniques, tips, and recipes here to help you get started. Search on. However, I've always been of the opinion that the first few (yes, more than one) should be without "hosting a party", so I suggest having your local pizza delivery on speed dial. I dont want to sound defeatist, but the first few cooks you're going to spend lots of time and effort learning fire and smoke control. Sounds simple enough, but honestly, the devil is in the details. Otherwise there would be no bbq-brethren; there would be no competitions, etc.

I would stay away from unnecessarily low n slow as it tends to smother the fire, makes it tougher to get sweet blue smoke the whole way, could have creosote laiden meats, and just take longer than necessary. Let you smoker find it's sweet spot and cook there; most are in that 240 to 280 range, give or take...

When we talk cooking temperatures, know that we're talking about cooking surface temperatures; not the temperature shown on your external mounted thermometer; they need to be as much as 50 degrees high or low... If you want to know what temperature you're cooking at, get you a $5 oven thermometer at Wally World and set it on the grate next to the meat.

Put only small amounts of wood on your fire, and not wet or soaked wood. Think hot clean-burning fire. White billowy smoke IS NOT good smoke.

If you are trying this, I HIGHLY suggest that you smoke your meats for 3 to 5 hours in your smoker, then remove them, foil them, and put them in the oven for the remainder of the cook (in a pan deep enough to capture their juices). By putting them in the oven you've reduced the likelihood of a flame flair-up or a flame out scenario and you're not constantly trying to adjust intakes, etc. trying to maintain some temperature as you're learning your smoker.

Good luck.
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Hance - Lake Dogs Cooking Team - MiM/MBN/GBA CBJ and comp cook
Lake Sinclair, GA (strategically about an hour from darn near anywhere)
Started competing in chili cookoffs back in the 1990's and have competed in more than I care to count. I became a CBJ in MiM in 2005, then MBN and in GBA in 2010. I've probably judged 130+- BBQ comps (sanctioned and unsanctioned) over this time. That said, I really enjoy competing more than I enjoy judging, and hope to get back to doing 4 or 5 a year in the near future.
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