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View Full Version : Small Things I Have Learned...Tips for Rookies (Like me)


JacksonsDad
01-06-2005, 11:14 AM
OK, on my road to becoming a Smoke Master (insert silly chinese background sounds here..) There are some small tips I have either read about on this site, or experienced myself...I thought we could all post some here. Also, feel free to dispute or comment on these or any other listed herein...

1) Unless you really know every inch of your smoke chamber, keep rotating your meat to avoid 1 piece sitting in a hot spot too long.

2) Feel free to finish off in the oven (Hey, this secret was only revealed to me recently) And, if I remeber correctly, I read that meat only takes smoke under 140 degress...is this true?

3) More oven tips...a water bath helps, but consider how long it will be in...1" of water in a shallow pan may be all gone by morning.

4) More oven tips...keep a large drip pan under your meats, they will drip and cleaning ovens can be a bitch!

5) If possible, try to monitor chamber AND internal meat temps.

6) If using wood, keep it warm by placing on top of your firebox prior to inserting it. Wood ignites once it reaches a certain temperature, the hotter it is when you put it in, the quicker it will ignite and the less temperature drop you will have.

7) Back to that oven thing...when finishing overnight, keep it really really low, or set an alarm, better to wake up and have to wait for it to finish than to have it already done several hours ago.

and a coule of questions for you Masters...
1) for smaller cooks, are wood chips worth a sh!t? I had a friend tell me he soaks them in water before putting them on the fire? Thoughts?

2) How much fat cap do you leave? I know thoughts on this vary...but what are the reasonings?

3) I use a piece of expanded metal shaped into a box and placed on the first shelf in the firebox for my coals and wood (moded firebox mod). The coals and wood still seem to clog the airflow. I had considered stating 1 fire on the floor of the firebox, then later drop the shelf and moded firebox over the coals and drop fresh charcoal and wood on there...the coals below would ignite the fuel on top. Thoughts?

jminion
01-06-2005, 12:58 PM
By the numbers
1. Try using cheap oven therms set around and you can find hot and cold spots, understand that it will change as you load up with meat.

2. The formation of smokering stops at aprox 140* but as long as you put smoke on meat it will lay on and effect the flavor. I personel don't oven finish much meat and I normally don't foil as soon as a lot of other cooks do.

6. The reason for heating wood before adding to fire helps you from getting large heat spikes, I would rather have the pit temp drop some than take a big jump.

7. Yes and no, you can dry out meat by cooking at low temps for very long time. Brisket as an example you are better taking it to 190* internal, foil and place in dry cooler. The advantage is there is no longer any heat being supplied only the equalization of the heat load in the meat. This helps keeping the meat from drying out during the hold period.

Soaking wood is not a good plan and does not achieve what you want, it only prolongs the flash point of the chips a short time. Use chips in foil packages or invest in an iron box that you can put the chips in. I almost never use chips, I find chunks much better choice.

Fat cap answer changes based on the meat, brisket leave it all on to protect the meat from the heat and it's drying effects. This means you will not cook fat side up.
Butts I remove the fat cap because I get better bark and there is enough internal fat to keep butts moist.

If you sart a fire on the floor of the firebox you will have more of an airflow problem than you have now. You may want to put a second piece of expanded metal in the bottom which can help keep the hot coals from falling through as soon.

spicewine
01-06-2005, 01:53 PM
Rule # 1 Know your cooker! You can place cheap oven thermometers throughout your box to find hot spots ect. DOCUMENT YOUR COOKS taking into consideration outside air temps, wind speed and weather conditions. Use these as your reference. Know your PAT (pit air temps.) and PGT (pit grid temps. ) they are different!

2. Any woods smoke contains acetic acids (the sour taste in vinegar) too much smoke will make meat taste bitter or sour. On the other hand smoke contains other compounds that react with meats protien that produce some of meats more beneficial properties ( browning, carmelizing and sweetening.) meat will not take on smoke untill it's surface is dry. The dryness acts as a sponge to absorbe the smoke. This can be achieved by useing dry rubs or patting the meat surface with a paper towel.

I never finish in the oven, but then again most of my cooks are at competition where you can't use an oven anyway.

Invest in good cuts of meat----1/2 the battle

Sauce must complement and never over power the meat.

Reference: Culinary Institute of Smoke Cooking

kcquer
01-06-2005, 02:41 PM
Stacey, Great thread Bro. I've been wanting to post this list for a while and this thread is a great place for it.


12 Essential Smoker Accessories

1-Chimney- Never use lighter fluid in a smoker, a good chimney is a must.

2-Gloves- You'll want 2 types, heavy leather for handling fire. Long cuffed welders gloves are great, but leather work gloves will do. You'll also want a pair of neoprene gloves for handling cooked or partially cooked meats.

3-Tongs- At least 2 pairs of these also, one for the firebox. Sometimes you'll want to move some coals or remove some fuel, don't try it without the tongs. Another pair for small cuts of meat. Buy good resturant quality that will last.

4-Thermometers- Digital Probe Type, use these for either food temps or pit temps. Essential for meat as these allow you to check the status of the food without opening the pit. As the Poo-Bah sez, "if you're lookin' , you ain't cookin'". A good quality analog door therm to monitor the overall action inside the pit is a must for me. Have extras so you can do a "calibration by consensus" periodically.

5-Grill Brush- A nice brass grill brush to keep grates clean. If you want it to last only use on cold grates. I find them easiest to clean this way. If there is some stubborn stuff, let them warm up and use crumpled foil in a pair of tongs.

6- Heavy Duty Foil- You'll use this for everthing from wrapping meats to making improvised heat shields. Just don't put foil over the opening between the firebox and smokebox :wink: .

7- Injector- Buy a good one and save a lot of frustration. A good vet quality injector with "udder infusion" needles should run less than $15.

8- Spray Bottles- These are cheap at discount stores. Have a few on hand for spraying meats. Better ones will spray oil, which is very handy for maintaining you pit.

9- Coal Bucket- Anything Metal will do. Most hardware stores carry 7 gallon mini metal trash cans with lids and bails. These are excellent for this.

10- Cook Log- Nothing fancy required here, a composition book is what I use. If you prefer use your computer or a binder. Keep track of what you cook, what it weighs and how long it took. When you have company coming and stuff has to be done at a certain time this will serve as a database you can draw on to determine when to start stuff.

11-Coolers, Not for your beer, but to hold finished or near finished Q in. Having a couple sizes available is sure handy as its best not to use one that's too big.

12- A good BBQ forum. Very few of us are fortunate enough to be able to cook everyday so experience comes slowly. The collective knowledge of a good forum can save you from making mistakes and answer questions you could only answer yourself through trial and error. The best of course is The Brethren!

I'm sure some of y'all will have additions to this list, I can think of a few already but they're mostly things I don't use so I didn't include them. Please add your favorite gizmos to the list.

MrSmoker
01-06-2005, 03:05 PM
I thought BEER was #1,i read somewhere never to start a fire with out it :wink:

spicewine
01-06-2005, 05:42 PM
thought BEER was #1,i read somewhere never to start a fire with out it


I stand corrected! Me of all people should have known this. If I ever have to stop drinking beer I will let you all know before hand so that you can run out and sell your shares of Anheuser Bush .

Market Crash Mod.

JacksonsDad
01-07-2005, 10:31 AM
Beer in hand,
Whiskey in the spray,
Oh how I live,
to smoke another day!

Loved the list KC. Sad thing is, I had to have my wife show me the foil to clean the grill part!!

Also, a couple of tidbits (I know I am probably stating the obvious for the regulars...)
1) Clean out your firebox!! The lye in the ash can promote rusting!
2) Check your side ventilation, air flow can really affect your temps!

Heimelswine
01-07-2005, 12:51 PM
I have a horizontal smoker and had a lot of firebox problems. The original grate for the firebox was about 2" above the ash pan and was built like a hamburger grate, all the runners inline from one side to the other. During charcoal loading and burning, a lot of coals fell through and, I feel, blocked the air from under the burning coals. I picked up a piece of expanded metal that was used for cat-walks and cut it to fit the ash pan. This lifted the coals 3/4" to 1" above the original height. But, the small coals still fell through. I picked up some thin, and small patterned expanded steel and lay it on top of the cat-walk stuff. Only the ashes fall through now. I added a second damper on the other side of the firebox also, one of the best mod's I'm made on my smoker. Hope this helps.

Roy

Heimelswine
01-07-2005, 12:55 PM
P.S. I tried to post pictures of the mods, but I'm too d@#$ dumb to figure out how to get the pictures to this site. I've made a lot of mods, and was encouraged by the members to share them through pictures, but can't figure out how to do it. I'll have to call my boy over to help me do this sometime. I haven't forgotten, just can't figure it out on my own. Soon.

bittertruth
01-07-2005, 01:12 PM
I stand corrected! Me of all people should have known this. If I ever have to stop drinking beer I will let you all know before hand so that you can run out and sell your shares of Anheuser Bush .


Anheuser Bush makes beer?

bittertruth
01-07-2005, 01:15 PM
Learn to say no, sometimes to friends. Maybe it's just me, but i sometimes get into trouble agreeing to cook for to many people.

roknrandy
01-07-2005, 02:30 PM
And my wife wonders why I'm always reading the post in this forum. Great Thread !! :D

Roy, I'd love to see your mods(let's not hijack the thread from here :shock: ), I use an offset also. I've made a few mods and they really help.

BigAl
01-09-2005, 10:22 PM
I stand corrected! Me of all people should have known this. If I ever have to stop drinking beer I will let you all know before hand so that you can run out and sell your shares of Anheuser Bush .


Anheuser Bush makes beer?

Yep and they Sell it too!

JacksonsDad
01-09-2005, 10:24 PM
I stand corrected! Me of all people should have known this. If I ever have to stop drinking beer I will let you all know before hand so that you can run out and sell your shares of Anheuser Bush .


Anheuser Bush makes beer?

Yep and they Sell it too!

See, that's where they went all wrong!!

Arlin_MacRae
01-11-2005, 11:07 AM
I stand corrected! Me of all people should have known this. If I ever have to stop drinking beer I will let you all know before hand so that you can run out and sell your shares of Anheuser Bush .


Anheuser Bush makes beer?

Not from where I'm standing, they don't!

Another tip: Keep your smoker oiled, inside and out. I use Pam and coat the crap out of it every month or so.

Bigdog
01-11-2005, 11:17 AM
[/quote]
I use Pam and coat the crap out of it every month or so.[/quote]

Do you think Pam would mind coming to my house to do mine, and then do me? :twisted:

kcquer
01-11-2005, 04:39 PM
Anheuser Bush makes beer?

Only the BEST!! Any non MOFO's don't like it that's fine by me, leaves more for us!!!

spicewine
01-11-2005, 04:52 PM
Only the BEST!! Any non MOFO's don't like it that's fine by me, leaves more for us!!!



PREACHIN' TO THE CHOIR MOD.

MrSmoker
01-11-2005, 05:02 PM
I'll Drink to That :wink:

Arlin_MacRae
01-11-2005, 05:30 PM
I use Pam and coat the crap out of it every month or so.

Do you think Pam would mind coming to my house to do mine, and then do me? :twisted:

I about blew a gut there, Big Dog. Would you like to guess what my wife's name is? !!! ;)