View Full Version : Super Noob Question

11-01-2012, 09:27 AM
OK so I'm faily new at BBQ and smoking. Last pork shoulder I did DW said perhaps a little too smokey for her liking. I can appreciate that "smokeiness" and a person's enjoyment of it in their food will vary person to person.

So I know this probably a real noob question but what is the best way/ways to regulate smoke flavour. My limited knowledge would be, type of wood e.g. mesquite vs. cherry, amount of time smoking vs. just cooking. What about temps??? Types of meat??? Any advice is appreciated, thanks.

11-01-2012, 09:33 AM
For starters what type of wood did you use? Was it chips or chunks? What did you cook it on? and How much did you use? I like to Q with fruit woods. like cherry, peach, apple, or the like. If you dont want as much smoke flavor dont use as much wood.

11-01-2012, 09:44 AM
I used a few hanfulls of cherry chips over the 2 1/2 hours. Charcoal was all natural briquettes.

11-01-2012, 09:46 AM
Remember you are going for a thin blue smoke... if you have white clouds of smoke rolling out then you are over smoking! My rule of thumb when smoking; you should smell it, not see it!!

11-01-2012, 12:14 PM
Now that's a great tip thanks. There were some times when the smoke was heavy. How can I reduce this or focus on thin blue?

11-01-2012, 12:27 PM
You want a clean burn. Billowy white smoke is not good. As for woods, mesquite is very strong and you have to be careful with it - it has a great flavor when used in the right way. Hickory and Oak have a pretty strong flavor - these 2 are my favorites. The fruit woods are less dominant and very nice as well. I did a couple racks of spares on the UDS with some cherry chunks this weekend and the smoke flavor was fantastic.

11-01-2012, 03:46 PM
Also, any "enhanced" or "solution added" words on the meat label means it already had some salt in it which can help multiply a hammy/over-smokey effect.

11-01-2012, 03:54 PM
all very good advice above. Stick to fruit woods for now. Apple and pork go together like Tito's and Club Soda. just throw a chunk in for starters, then add another next time if you feel it's not enough. She will come around.

Love the line above that smoke should be smelled, not seen. That's the way I do it too. You can see it a little but it's bluish clear, not white.

11-01-2012, 04:04 PM
I prefer lighter smoke as well, here's a few of my observations --

- Pecan often has a lighter flavor, so another good one to experiment with
- Poultry tends to suck up smoke compared to pork or beef so use very sparingly
- Consider your airflow. In a kettle, closing down the top vents may well smoke around the food longer before it vents away. I try to regulate temps with bottom vents first, only going to the top if I have to.

11-01-2012, 04:16 PM
I think we can offer you more specific help if you can tell us what you are cooking on and how you ran your cook. That being said, the first thing to learn is fire control. You want to work on getting a clean fire, just large enough to get the heat level you want.

Most of us believe in controlling heat by controlling the intake of air to the fuel and fire. That means, the exhaust, or top vent are run wide open, the bottom vent is used to restrict air to the fire. If you close the vent, you are trapping smoke and snuffing your fire, creating creosote and forcing stale smoke onto the meat. This does vary a little based on cookers though.

If you used wood chips, and still got too smoky, I have to believe you had a poorly burning fire, as a clean fire will burn the chips up. It is very unusual for a clean fire to smoke at all with chips. By the way, you didn't soak those chips did you? Most smokers do not like wet wood in the fire chamber.

I like to let my fire 'settle' for an hour before putting on meat. I use chunks and not chips and it takes that long for the smoke to almost disappear from my smoker.

11-01-2012, 04:37 PM
I agree with Bob. What are you cooking on? The way I manage my fires in my wsm is different than my bsk. Give the fire and the smoke wood time to burn off all the nasties that make the billowy white smoke and it'll be thin sweet blue and better tasting 'que.

11-01-2012, 05:55 PM
You guys are awesome thanks. I already feel better prepared to go back'ater this weekend. If I understand your questions about what I am cooking on I'm using a Weber Performer at present. I purchased a couple of fire bricks and had all the briquettes on one side and a water pan under the shoulder.

Thinking back to this last cook it was windy as all hell, raining and I fought a bit to keep the temps up. The last shoulder was quite good IMHO. However DW is going to take a bit to come around to the whole BBQ thing so I'm trying to learn how to control the smokiness and you guys have given me some great advice thus far.

Not going to lie I found a guy locally selling a WSM 18 with a Cajun Bandit door I was thinking of picking up this weekend. DW would likely make me sleep on the patio with it if I brought a "true" smoker home. Maybe I should just keep working on the basics with the kettle for now. So far other than wrestling a bit with the temps I have been very pleased with the product I've turned out. The old Napoleon gasser is missing me a lot.

11-01-2012, 06:28 PM
Though it pains me to say this because I never use it "ALUMINUM FOIL" or transfer to the oven dialed in at the same temp to complete the cook.

11-01-2012, 08:40 PM
My family started to like my q once i switched to apple chunks. In the performer I would use only 2 or three chunks (fist sized or smaller) After a while you will be able to tell by both sight and smell when the fire is "right" Keep on trying. Btw, the wsm is the bomb... might be worth a few nights on the porch.:oops::wink:

11-01-2012, 09:16 PM
Nothing wrong with a performer, many a cooks done on kettles, key is to learn how it runs and you will be fine. Now with that said ain't nothing wrong with a WSM either :thumb: Key is to learn your pit:mrgreen:

11-01-2012, 11:34 PM
Unacceptable on the left.....approaching passable on the right...


Settling down & close to reasonable here ~~>


Hope the visuals help some.....:heh:

This is maple for a medium smoke infusion on a 10# shoulder


Just peachy....

http://i1223.photobucket.com/albums/dd520/1buckie/Egg%20Project%20%20%20Pulled%20Tip%20%209%2018%202 011/LastSundatSept2011005.jpg

11-02-2012, 08:55 AM
Wow 1buckie..............and my wife thinks I have too many Q's on the patio with one gasser and one char-coal unit :roll:.

Thanks again to all.....really you've given me some great tips. Going to really pay attention to the smoke next cook. I'll be honest, not ashamed to admit my noobness......never knew thin blue smoke which is barely visible was the goal. I also think I threw smoke at the meat too long thinking back. Going to start with smoking for about 1/4 of the cook time and see what that produces for flavour. I guess it's safe to say there is a fair bit of trial and error in the climb to BBQ excellence :thumb: - that's OK I love the challenge and the learning.

Funky D
11-02-2012, 12:17 PM
Though it pains me to say this because I never use it "ALUMINUM FOIL" or transfer to the oven dialed in at the same temp to complete the cook.

No shame here. If I've had a bout with over-smoked foods, wrapping to lock in the smoke at a certain level is perfectly fine. Just remember to adjust your cook times as needed....