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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 03-29-2011, 02:45 PM   #1
kcmike
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Default Inaugural First-Smoke on My New 22.5" WSM - Ribs and Spatchcocked Chicken PRON

My Lang 84D has served me well the past 7 years I've owned it. However, due to my new neighborhood HOA not allowing me to park it in my driveway so I have to store it across town and the fact it's really just too farkin' big to whip out just for a couple chickens and two slabs of ribs... I finally broke down and purchased a lightly used 22½" WSM off of CL a couple weeks ago.

This past weekend was a balmy 33º with a steady NW wind at 15 knots with spitting snow and freezing drizzle, so I figured what better time than now to give the ol' WSM a true Trumpy-style break-in. Besides, I wanted to learn the cooker's temperament in adverse conditions.

I started off with two 3½ lb. chickens. First, I removed the neck and innards from the body cavity and rinsed them off real good. Then, using my kitchen shears, I spatchcocked them by doing the following:
  • Removed the tail.
  • Removed the backbone by cutting right along both sides with the shears.
  • Clipped the "Y" bone in the neck on both sides so the front of the bird would also lay flat.
  • Finally, I clipped the wing tips off. I don't eat them and they usually burn any way, so who needs them...

Then I applied some rub liberally to both sides. Usually, I would apply a coating of olive oil to the entire bird before the rub, but I was pressed for time and kinda' wanted to see what would happen if I skipped the oil. So, I skipped the oil. Next time, I won't skip the oil.

I also picked up a double-pack of spares from the local grocery store since they were running a $1.99 per pound sale on them. They got the usual St. Louis trim special along with a light coating of yellow mustard and rub to both sides.

WSM was preheated to 250º Minion-style using a eclectic mixture of RO lump, Wally-world briquettes and Best Choice 100% Hardwood briquettes, with a generous helping of fist sized chunks of hickory sprinkled throughout. Water pan went "Commando" with no water and only a single layer of foil lining.

The chickens went on the top grill and the ribs both fit on the bottom grill. I placed a digital remote probe thermo between the ribs on the bottom grate and compared it's readings vs. the stock thermo in the lid periodically throughout the cook.

Final thoughts on the cook...
  • The new-to-me 22½" WSM did great. It held temps like a champ for a little more than 8 hours on one load of charcoal.
  • The wind and cold seemed to have little effect on it. Once I got the vents dialed in, it would hold 250º-255º with no problem.
  • Recovery time was great. I tested it several times and average time between "lid-on" and temp re-stabilization was a mere 2.25 minutes.
  • There is about a 25º temperate difference between the bottom grate and the stock thermo located in the lid. This is to be expected and in no way seen as a negative.
  • No water in the water pan worked just fine. Next time, I think I will use some sand, though. I think my ribs got a little too crispy on the bottom for my liking.
  • Chickens turned out great. Had great flavor and were very tender and juicy. As I alluded to earlier, I should have oiled the skin down before applying the rub (which I usually always do). And I should have given the rub a tad bit more time to dissolve on and into the meat. I always recommend at least 30 to even 45 minutes of rest time once the rub is applied before putting the meat on the grill. I was pressed for time this time around and the rub didn't quite setup like it usually does.
  • The ribs tasted great, but I overcooked them about 45 minutes too long. The temps also got away from me one time, reaching upwards of 300º for probably a half hour or more when I forgot to come back out and check on the temps after making a minor vent adjustment. This is one drawback to the WSM in my opinion. When cooking on the bottom grate, it's difficult to test doneness without completely dismantling the entire thing.
  • But by a huge margin, I am very happy with how this first cook turned out and I'm looking forward to firing it up again an again. Given the temps and wind, it should only get better from here.

Well, like you guys always say "No pics means it didn't happen"... So, here's some pics...

Comments welcome.

Mike Trump
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Last edited by kcmike; 03-29-2011 at 04:11 PM..
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Unread 03-29-2011, 03:22 PM   #2
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I saw "first cook", kinda skimmed & saw the pix & thought "first cook my arse!" then I read more closely & that it was the first cook on that particular cooker - then it made sense 'cause you've obviously done it before - looks great! I'll never not spatchcock a chicken again.

I'm thinking about getting a small wsm for smaller cooks - something that goes between firing up the Klose and doing a smoke on my kettle. Great pix - lighting is really good - thanks for posting!
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Unread 03-29-2011, 03:34 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtr View Post
I saw "first cook", kinda skimmed & saw the pix & thought "first cook my arse!" then I read more closely & that it was the first cook on that particular cooker - then it made sense 'cause you've obviously done it before - looks great! I'll never not spatchcock a chicken again.

I'm thinking about getting a small wsm for smaller cooks - something that goes between firing up the Klose and doing a smoke on my kettle. Great pix - lighting is really good - thanks for posting!
Thanks gtr! Yeah, I'm a huge fan of spatchcocking chicken. Only took 2½ hours @ 235º and the entire bird was done perfectly. The thigh and breast were done completely through and both were super juicy.

After getting used to the capacity of the 84, I just didn't feel comfortable getting the 18" WSM. This 22½" WSM seems to fit the bill really nicely for something in between my Lang 84D and my Weber kettle grill. It's still on the small-ish side, but not too small. And I didn't have to sell the Lang to offset the purchase of this cooker, which is a huge positive...

Thanks for the kudos on the pics too.

Mike
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Unread 03-29-2011, 03:46 PM   #4
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Wow, those birds and ribs look amazing! My 22.5 WSM is still sitting in the box on the back porch - haven't had time to put it together yet, but you've given me ample motivation to do so...
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Unread 03-29-2011, 04:08 PM   #5
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Looks perfect to me!
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Unread 03-29-2011, 04:13 PM   #6
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Great lookin' stuff!
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Unread 03-29-2011, 04:17 PM   #7
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Looks great.
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Unread 03-29-2011, 04:20 PM   #8
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Everything looks great. Love My WSM.
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Unread 03-29-2011, 04:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moose View Post
Wow, those birds and ribs look amazing! My 22.5 WSM is still sitting in the box on the back porch - haven't had time to put it together yet, but you've given me ample motivation to do so...

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Unread 03-29-2011, 04:35 PM   #10
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Wow that looks amazing! A WSM is still on my to do list.
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Unread 03-29-2011, 10:20 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone. Just finished up the last of the ribs tonight. The chicken was a big hit as usual, too. Looks like the new 22.5" WSM is a keeper.
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