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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 03-20-2013, 08:59 PM   #1
aevanlloyd
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Default How much smoke is too much?

I know it's a subjective question but I was taught that after 2 hours of smoke the meat has basically absorbed all the smoke its going to absorb. Assuming we are talking about ribs,butt, and brisket, is there a point were you should stop adding smoke?

Note: I'm cooking on a Webber with charcoal and small chunks of peach or applewood.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 09:05 PM   #2
HeSmellsLikeSmoke
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I regulate the amount of smoke by the amount and type of smoke wood I mix into the charcoal.

I also believe that meat absorbs smoke to a diminishing degree all the time it is exposed to smoke, so I mix in chunks throughout the charcoal. I typically use 6-8 chunks.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 09:18 PM   #3
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Probably the most common misconception in bbq. Meat will take in smoke flavor for the entire length of the cook, or till it is wrapped in foil. The reaction that forms the smoke ring stops happening when surface of meat reaches ~140 F. So depending on temp of meat when put on and cooking temp, that could vary quite a bit time wise.

I try to regulate smoke, and overall flavor by making sure I have a clean fire burning. That means light blue to invisible smoke coming out the exhaust. Many people make the mistake of thinking that since they can't see smoke billowing out exhaust that it's time to add more wood. Not true. You can hover palm of hand over exhaust for a moment, then smell hand. You will know that it's still rockin'.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 09:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Ropo View Post
Probably the most common misconception in bbq. Meat will take in smoke flavor for the entire length of the cook, or till it is wrapped in foil. The reaction that forms the smoke ring stops happening when surface of meat reaches ~140 F. So depending on temp of meat when put on and cooking temp, that could vary quite a bit time wise.

I try to regulate smoke, and overall flavor by making sure I have a clean fire burning. That means light blue to invisible smoke coming out the exhaust. Many people make the mistake of thinking that since they can't see smoke billowing out exhaust that it's time to add more wood. Not true. You can hover palm of hand over exhaust for a moment, then smell hand. You will know that it's still rockin'.
Right on el ropo! Small particle smoke is what makes the meat happy
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Unread 03-20-2013, 09:35 PM   #5
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We talk about blue smoke here alot. That blue is always my goal and where I believe the best flavor derive. But getting there and away from from a cloud, can be difficult and takes practice in fire management. Just ask the stick burner folks. I've served my share of creosote.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 09:41 PM   #6
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I have found that it's better not to put the meat on while the charcoal is billowing white smoke. let the coals settle if you are doing low and slow. I do not have a wood burner. Mainly K-Blue.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 09:45 PM   #7
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There's no real good answer to this from the perspective of someone new to all this.

What El Ropo said is true, but not in all cases because making clean thin blue or even clear smoke when using wood in your fire is mostly only possible with offsets or cookers that likewise have a small, clean burning fire.

For all other smokers, or anyone using the Minion method, then you're not making such a fire. Instead you are making bed of charcoal burning in a controlled directional manner with a few wood chunks mixed in along the way. In those cases, those chunks aren't necessarily burning in a clean hot fire, and may produce a bit of white smoke as they light up. What saves them is that the surrounding coals should ignite a fair portion of those volatile compounds being released, and the ones that remain simply won't be in high enough levels to negatively affect your food, yet still impart a smokey flavor to the food.

So, in that regard, you could oversmoke your wood by having too high of a ratio of wood chunks to charcoal with a Minion burn that has too few lit coals to burn off the crap released from all that wood.

When you boil down, in essence, what I just said though..even that is saying it wasn't a clean fire. But that does not mean you have to use an offset and make a small, hot, clean burning fire. You can use a vertical smoker and the Minion method and make great BBQ. You just have to make sure you are allowing for however much wood you are burning to burn as clean as possible.

It sounds more complicated than it is, really. You'll get it.
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Duh.

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Unread 03-20-2013, 09:46 PM   #8
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It didn't take me long to learn that white smoke is a bad thing and that it is easy to oversmoke. As others say the clear or "blue" smoke is a good indicator that things are well and I hardly ever use more than a fist sized piece of wood for anything anymore.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 09:59 PM   #9
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Another aspect relates to vertical cookers using a water pan (eg. any Backwoods smoker), which release a certain amount of visible water vapor... Maybe there are some keen BBQ-eyes out there that can discern white vs. blue smoke quality within the steam emissions, but mine ain't among them.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 10:04 PM   #10
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Ill put my meat in the UDS... (HAH) when there is white smoke, BUT, ill put my hand over the vent for an extended period and take in a deep smell of my hand, if its bitter, i wait. If its woody/sweet smelling ill throw my meat in it (HAH) Sorry...

And after about 45 minutes of starting my UDS all i get is thin blue/clear. No matter how much wood chunks i put in.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 10:06 PM   #11
HeSmellsLikeSmoke
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I rarely put the meat on before the smoker has settled in at least an hour.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 10:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigabyte View Post
There's no real good answer to this from the perspective of someone new to all this.

What El Ropo said is true, but not in all cases because making clean thin blue or even clear smoke when using wood in your fire is mostly only possible with offsets or cookers that likewise have a small, clean burning fire.

For all other smokers, or anyone using the Minion method, then you're not making such a fire. Instead you are making bed of charcoal burning in a controlled directional manner with a few wood chunks mixed in along the way. In those cases, those chunks aren't necessarily burning in a clean hot fire, and may produce a bit of white smoke as they light up. What saves them is that the surrounding coals should ignite a fair portion of those volatile compounds being released, and the ones that remain simply won't be in high enough levels to negatively affect your food, yet still impart a smokey flavor to the food.

So, in that regard, you could oversmoke your wood by having too high of a ratio of wood chunks to charcoal with a Minion burn that has too few lit coals to burn off the crap released from all that wood.

When you boil down, in essence, what I just said though..even that is saying it wasn't a clean fire. But that does not mean you have to use an offset and make a small, hot, clean burning fire. You can use a vertical smoker and the Minion method and make great BBQ. You just have to make sure you are allowing for however much wood you are burning to burn as clean as possible.

It sounds more complicated than it is, really. You'll get it.
I couldn't agree more well stated.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 10:23 PM   #13
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Default How much smoke is too much?

If you have ever seen a pellet grill run thats about right, just a few chunks on top
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Unread 03-21-2013, 12:09 AM   #14
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Very interesting. I guess my question is when do you stop adding the wood chunks? I can get clean smoke using the minon method and adding one small chunk every hour or so. I usually stop adding smoke after 2-3 hours. I'm really wondering if I should keep adding wood throughout the entire cook or cut it off after X amount of hours? I've enjoyed my results flavor wise, I'm just wondering if it could be better.

Thanks for your help.
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Unread 03-21-2013, 01:11 AM   #15
El Ropo
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Yes, it's not necessary to keep adding wood. When I use my weber kettle, I bury a few smaller chunks in the unlit pile of coals when doing indirect, then dump the handfull of lit coals on top of pile. Or if using fuse method, I'll bury a few smaller chunks within the circular "worm" of unlit charcoal, then light one end by dumping a handful of lit briqs on it.

When I say handful, I mean like 10-12 fully lit briqs from chimney starter.

When I say smaller chunks, I'll take a fist sized chunk and split into 3 or 4 smaller chunks. This is plenty when doing stuff like chicken or pork loin.

With the fuse method, I'll setup the wood chunks so they will burn up during the first several hours of the cook, then never add any more.
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