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Old 12-31-2013, 12:15 PM   #1
IlliniQ
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Default Little help for a new guy (sorry, it's kinda long)

Let me start by saying I'm VERY new to smoking. I have done a few chickens on a gas grill with indirect heat a little metal smoker box full of soaked chips, but I have never smoked anything over charcoal. I'm excited to get started, though, and I'm really enjoying everything I've been reading on this forum so far! Also, this post is rather long...I tend to ramble a bit...

My wife got me a brinkmann gourmet charcoal smoker (seems to be essentially the ECB I saw at Home Depot, but with a bit of an improved set up for the coals). I fired it up empty just to get a feel for how it would behave in the cold (I live in the Chicago burbs) and how well I could keep the coals going. Seemed fine, but I only kept it running for about 2 hours so as to not waste too much charcoal with no meat on the grate.

I have a 7 lb boston butt in the fridge that I was planning on using to inaugurate my new smoker, but temperatures are dropping sharply and we're looking at snow in the area. I'm not sure that trying to keep the smoker at the optimal temperature for 10-12 hours is the smartest idea given my complete lack of experience.

As a backup plan, I'm thinking of either doing a slab of spare ribs (i have a rib rack). However, when I picked up the butt, my butcher also showed me a 3 lb pork "roast" which he said is basically the first piece behind the shoulder. It looked fairly well marbled, not as lean as a typical loin. Has anyone had any luck smoking one of these? Seems like it might take less time, and I might have more success in the crummy weather - I suppose that also leaves me less margin for error since it's smaller.

If anyone actually read this far down (Thanks!) do you have any suggestion as to what would be a good first try for me. I'm pretty comfortable cooking in general, and I realize I could always move something to the oven to finish it, but I'd really like to do it all outside if possible. So...should I suck it up and stick to the butt? Do the spare ribs (thinking the 3-2-1 sounds like a solid place to start)? Or, the boneless "roast" from the shoulder?

Thanks in advance for any tips - Looking forward to many weekends wiht the smoker!
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:23 PM   #2
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Hard to go wrong with a pork butt ( shoulder). They are not sensitive to the temp they cook at. Anywhere from 225 to 300 is a good starting point. I'd suggest you make an expanded metal coal basket and do the minion method to get the most extended time from that smoker. I'd use wood chunks not chips for your smoke flavor, but that's me.
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:37 PM   #3
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Yep. Use the chunks, a few spread amongst the unlit coals, on the butt. If there's room, as that "roast" is from the shoulder, no reason you couldn't smoke that as well, and it would be done a wee bit sooner. Good luck keeping temps on the ECB (Former unmodified ECB assassin - yes, I killed my original with a VW Rabbit - don't ask...)
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:47 PM   #4
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I agree with ebiJack. Toss that butt on with some of your favorite rub, and let it go! Google the minion method he talks about, and it will help with temp control. The butt/shoulder is very forgiving, and you can be high or low on temp and it will still be fine. Maybe wrap at the 160 degree mark or so, and pour some apple juice mixed with some bbq sauce over it. Run it to 195ish if you want to slice, 202ish if you want to pull. You'll have a great time on your first cook......have fun!!
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:54 PM   #5
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Read this entire article, and go from there. This should really help you
http://home.comcast.net/~day_trippr/smoker_mods.htm
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebijack View Post
Hard to go wrong with a pork butt ( shoulder). They are not sensitive to the temp they cook at. Anywhere from 225 to 300 is a good starting point. I'd suggest you make an expanded metal coal basket and do the minion method to get the most extended time from that smoker. I'd use wood chunks not chips for your smoke flavor, but that's me.
I agree. I just did one on Friday and they are not sensitive to temp, so if it varies it won't matter much.
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:55 PM   #7
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Butt for sure. They are very forgiving of temp swings and are really hard to mess up. Get a bone in. Cook until the bone wiggles loose easily (normally around 200 degrees internal).

One recommendation for the ECB... There are a ton of mods that can be done (bottom damper, top damper, sealing holes, etc), but the one that I think is essential is putting a charcoal grate in the bottom. Without it, the charcoal will quit getting air as it burns out (since there is nowhere for the old stuff to drop) and will snuff itself out. The easy way to put the grate in is to get 4 s-hooks and hang it from the air holes in the charcoal pan. You can also install some bolts as a dhelf, but the s-hooks are quicker and easier.
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:57 PM   #8
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Have at it, Very forgiving, pork butts that is, we Brethren too! Welocme
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:00 PM   #9
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Relax and enjoy the experience. After 2 hours on the ECB, little more smoke will be absorbed. From that point on, the smoker acts as a charcoal burning oven. It is quite acceptable to do any further cooking indoors in the oven. Many people here do it when conditions are against them for some reason. 17° with wind is not the time to fuss with a new smoker. Happy New Year.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:02 PM   #10
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http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=104545
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:02 PM   #11
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What dadsr4 said. Exactly. But the main point, don't worry or overthink too much, and don't chase the temps around. Let that baby ride to it's sweetspot as long as it doesn't get too hot and the butt will essentially take care of itself.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:10 PM   #12
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I should add that the charcoal grate that fits in the ECB is the one from a Weber 18.5" grill. They are available for about $10 at Lowe's and/or Depot.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:15 PM   #13
IlliniQ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmittyJonz View Post
Thanks for posting this - it seems I always find write-ups on modifying the brinkmann with the longer silver legs, but haven't seen anyone specifically showing what to do with the model I've got. This is awesome!
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:18 PM   #14
IlliniQ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sliding_billy View Post
Butt for sure. They are very forgiving of temp swings and are really hard to mess up. Get a bone in. Cook until the bone wiggles loose easily (normally around 200 degrees internal).

One recommendation for the ECB... There are a ton of mods that can be done (bottom damper, top damper, sealing holes, etc), but the one that I think is essential is putting a charcoal grate in the bottom. Without it, the charcoal will quit getting air as it burns out (since there is nowhere for the old stuff to drop) and will snuff itself out. The easy way to put the grate in is to get 4 s-hooks and hang it from the air holes in the charcoal pan. You can also install some bolts as a dhelf, but the s-hooks are quicker and easier.
Excellent advice - thanks! I like the s-hook idea.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:20 PM   #15
IlliniQ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Draw BBQ View Post
I agree with ebiJack. Toss that butt on with some of your favorite rub, and let it go! Google the minion method he talks about, and it will help with temp control. The butt/shoulder is very forgiving, and you can be high or low on temp and it will still be fine. Maybe wrap at the 160 degree mark or so, and pour some apple juice mixed with some bbq sauce over it. Run it to 195ish if you want to slice, 202ish if you want to pull. You'll have a great time on your first cook......have fun!!
I read about the minion method - this was what I was planning on trying, glad to hear this is the way to go.
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