As far as smoke ring goes, pitmasterT (Donnie) were talkin on the phone the other day. He said he doesn't get good smoke rings on his UDS like he does on his stick burner. Wood has lignens just like meat, and wood has nitrates just like curing salts, and smoke contains guaicol which flavors your meat, so you get where I'm going with this? I told him to lightly sprinkle some tender quick on for 15 minutes, rinse well, pat dry, never a problem with smoke ring ever again. He said f*** that!!! My response was you wanted to know how to get it perfect every time, and that's the answer. Your not leaving it on so your not eating the curing salt, so what's the problem? He still said F*** that. My response to that is "we'll then I guess it's not that important after all, keep doin what your doin then.
There are three camps of people on the smoke ring subject:
1. Those that don't care if there is one because it doesn't reflect the flavor of the meat
2. Those that amsolutely must have one and the above stated method is the cure for lack of
3. The comp cookers that do it as a fail safe that have perfected the method and get stellar results. Also another method is to go to a well know sausage making place and ask for "sausage seasoning with cure for 25lbs", and they will give you Baggie of seasoning. Sprinkle a little of that on the brisket before you season. About the same amount you would garlic powder. Problem solved again.
I bench rest my brisket overnight in the cambro, so it's usually 60-65 degrees before it goes on the smoker, and as Hott as I cook its out of the 140 degree range in 2 hrs so I get little smoke ring formation. And that's how I do It
Now onto the smoke flavor fix:
1. You can add a small pan of water to the drip pan of the smoker. A steamy environment makes smoke stick better to the meat.
2. Switch from kingsford to lump fill the basket up and add a 12" mini split of wood. Light just the corner of the basket and control your temps from there. If you have a tight and well sealed pit and have a good general knowledge of how to control fires in pits this should be easy.
3. Smoke your salts first in the smoker on a sheet pan till its light brown if you make your own rubs. Or if you buy store bought, add hickory powder which is a tip that I got out of the "wicked good BBQ" book. That will be $24.95 for that tip btw