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Big_AL
05-30-2010, 09:53 AM
What is the single best tip you can give to someone looking to improve his or her Q? I'm sure there are a lot of folks reading the forum this weekend (including me) who would like to learn a trick or two from the bbq enthusiasts here.

For me, I think it would be the brining process. My chicken and pork chops improved vastly when I learned how to brine. (I have leg quarters brining right now). :-D

Thanks to all the veterens out there and everyone have a safe, happy grilling/smoking weekend.

big brother smoke
05-30-2010, 09:54 AM
Practice!

MilitantSquatter
05-30-2010, 10:14 AM
Practice!

Steph - you nailed it...

I'd also add that what I also think happens too much is that newer cooks will read five different methods, techniques etc. and then try to incorporate all of that to try an develop a mega technique that really doesn't work so well.

The more I cook, the more I have learned to take a step back and keep things much simplier rather than try to make things overly complicated.

cameraman
05-30-2010, 10:21 AM
If you're lookin' you're not cookin'. Get a Maverick.

bbq54321
05-30-2010, 10:28 AM
my .02: master temperature

thirdeye
05-30-2010, 10:30 AM
Boy, the first four replies are pretty good ones.... I would have to say time management is my tip.

Give yourself plenty of time for selection of food, prep and to get a good fire going. Once your food is on the cooker, don't try to rush something that is cooking a little slower than usual, be sure to slow down something that looks like it's cooking a little faster than usual. Don't pick a definite sit down time, eat when everything is ready.... not when you are.

MRI_Guy
05-30-2010, 10:31 AM
Don't run out of beer.......

Then sanitation. Nothing ruins a weekend cookout faster than sick guests.

Bartstop
05-30-2010, 10:41 AM
my .02: master temperature

I'll second this. My BBQ has come a long ways since the ECB days and I attribute my failures to lack of temp control. Not only the fire but internal meat temps as well. Now that I have a WSM and digital meat thermometer, no more disasters.

Working on brining perfection now.



Bartstop

Grillman
05-30-2010, 11:00 AM
Don't make it a chore....just have FUN!

qnbiker
05-30-2010, 11:10 AM
Patience. It's done when it's done.

Alan in Ga
05-30-2010, 11:17 AM
Have fun nothing better in life than cooking

JD McGee
05-30-2010, 11:20 AM
Learn your pit...:becky: When you can control your burn...you can cook anything just the way you want it...:cool:

1_T_Scot
05-30-2010, 11:24 AM
www.bbq-brethren.com (http://www.bbq-brethren.com)

JD McGee
05-30-2010, 12:00 PM
www.bbq-brethren.com (http://www.bbq-brethren.com)

Perfect! :thumb:

SmokeJumper
05-30-2010, 12:04 PM
Learn from your failures and enjoy the ride.

Skidder
05-30-2010, 12:08 PM
Temp control of your cooker and the product being cooked. All the marinades,sauces and dry rubs are useless if your food is under or overcooked.

LMAJ
05-30-2010, 12:10 PM
All good advice.
I would add, cook to your tastes. If you like it and are happy with it, that's what matters. Unless of course you are in competition or vending, but that's a different story.

Leeper
05-30-2010, 12:10 PM
temperature. And buy a thermapen.

K-Barbecue
05-30-2010, 12:11 PM
Knowing when its DONE. Not relying just on internal temperature. As said many times before but worth repeating "It's Done When It's Done".

namodio
05-30-2010, 12:16 PM
Learn your pit...:becky: When you can control your burn...you can cook anything just the way you want it...:cool:
This is a good one! If you don't know your pit and can't control your fire you're going nowhere fast!:thumb:

Big_AL
05-30-2010, 12:45 PM
Sage advice.

But when I hear 'practice' I can't help but think of AI (edited slightlly for the bbq crowd)...

...not a comp, not a comp, not a comp...but we're talking about practice...

Meat Burner
05-30-2010, 01:13 PM
Lots of good advise above. One thing for me has been having patience. Change one thing or variable at a time and keep good notes.

Willie's BBQ
05-30-2010, 01:18 PM
keep things simple, and learn from what DIDN'T work

Phesant
05-30-2010, 01:42 PM
Patience, as said befor "Its done when its done"

Smokesman
05-30-2010, 02:01 PM
Great idea for a topic!

Get to know your smoker and trust your instincts! Both take practice so like the very first reply - PRACTICE!

As for instincts, don't change your technique every time a new gadget comes along or you hear how someone had success doing this or that. They aren't cooking on your setup and vice versa. There is no silver bullet that will suddenly give you perfect bbq except experience and you get experience how??? PRACTICE! There it is! Enjoy.

jeffboyette
05-30-2010, 03:03 PM
Leave the hell alone.
Don't move it, poke it, constantly spray it, wrap it, unwrap it. Just let it cook. Leave the meat and the fire alone. If temps drop add air before you add fuel. If you keep adding fuel your going to soot up you meat and not keep your temps right.

I would also say keep the rubs simple. Especially when your learning. How you going to taste nuances in your meat and smoke when you have 9 ingredients in your rub!?

landarc
05-30-2010, 03:14 PM
Choose one thing to do, develop one plan to do it, learn to do it well. For instance, learn to cook pulled pork, find out how to do it and practice and cook pork shoulders until you do it well. Master one thing at a time instead of trying to do a dozen methods and a dozen meats.

Captain Dave
05-30-2010, 05:19 PM
The three most important things are temperature control, temperature control and temperature control.

1_T_Scot
05-30-2010, 05:20 PM
Choose one thing to do, develop one plan to do it, learn to do it well. For instance, learn to cook pulled pork, find out how to do it and practice and cook pork shoulders until you do it well. Master one thing at a time instead of trying to do a dozen methods and a dozen meats.



One of those guy's acvertising a buisness advice service says Paraphrase Sucessful people do 12 things 1000's of times not 1000's of things 12 times.

My interpertation is find out (or learn) to be really good at something then do it very well. Instead of being just ok at a lot of things.

anygrill
05-30-2010, 05:36 PM
When I first started taking BBQ serously. I learned about zone cooking since all I had was a 22.5 Webber kettle. I still use this methoed to this day

monty3777
05-30-2010, 05:46 PM
Understand the meat you're cooking and what constitutes doneness. A brisket ain't a ribeye and can't be cooked like one. Cooking ribs is nothing like cooking a porkchop. That took me a while to get - but once I did everything changed for me.

SuperQue
05-30-2010, 05:48 PM
Keep a notebook of you r favorite recipes, rubs, sauces, entree and appetizer ideas. That way you have one point of reference to look to instead of sorting through bulletin boards and cookbooks. If you like something, write about it. If you mess something up, write about it.

h20loo
05-30-2010, 05:53 PM
Get a UDS- they make heros out of any dummy!!:-P

barbefunkoramaque
05-30-2010, 06:02 PM
In an official brethren poll for a little thread I am going to do in July, thread not article, I solved this little question by asking to place significant mastering benchmarks in priority.

Here are the Polls

1. http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=77123&highlight=poll+master
2. http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=77127&highlight=poll
3. http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=77128&highlight=poll
4. http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=77141&highlight=poll+master


This managed to place in order the priorities of what you master first before you go on.

First we want to Create BBQ that EATs well for many to an 81 to 3 margin over BBQ for Judges.

Second we never resolved that Taste, by a huge margin, is what we master first. Of course EVERYONE (66%) who had the opinion that taste was first is dead wrong and I will prove it as soon as i rearrange the new poll so that the proper answer comes out.

Third - Texture won out with some of people (24.62%) correctly voting it should be second. Thats right the question asked "whats second."

Lastly the hardest thing for people to master was Elements of Texture and Moisture - Wood, House Temps, Internal Temps etc. This was probably due to some people's opinions being wrong on whats first priority.

So what does all this mean, the best tips will be how to get your texture and moistness right (as long as am fixing the poll number anyway). Also note that although people wrongly responded to taste being the first thing you should master before going on to step two, a large margin said it was the hardest element for them to get down, even over taste.


The key in all that controversy is because I separated moistness and texture and split the poll.

Also in my signature a silly poll was conducted as to what screws up otherwise great BBQ.

Chef Jim
05-30-2010, 06:03 PM
Great thread, and lots of good advise. It looks like you all came pretty much to the same conclusion.

Danny
05-30-2010, 06:48 PM
Learn the "Fork Tender" method for cooking tough cuts of meats, esp. briskets, butts, ribs, chucks, etc. More folks ruin these cuts by using the "I'll cook the ______for X hours at X degrees pit temperature", then take if off . That just doesn't work most of the time and if it does, you got real lucky.

Danny

firecracker jack
05-30-2010, 08:13 PM
Boy, the first four replies are pretty good ones.... I would have to say time management is my tip.

Give yourself plenty of time for selection of food, prep and to get a good fire going. Once your food is on the cooker, don't try to rush something that is cooking a little slower than usual, be sure to slow down something that looks like it's cooking a little faster than usual. Don't pick a definite sit down time, eat when everything is ready.... not when you are.

Yes...patience!:thumb:

firecrackerjack

Big_AL
05-31-2010, 10:31 AM
Thank you to everyone who responed. I think anyone new to the art of BBQ might want to give this thread a read. I've been perusing the Funkmasta response for about 8 hours now and I'm only half way through. :grin:

There is SO much information out there now, us newer Q'ers may be overwhelmed at times. We also might have a tendency to jump in and follow an advanced recipe that's laid out for us step-by-step without knowing the basic techniques involved. My thoughts are learn the basics first, practice them until you get the simple techniques 'right', then move forward with your own adjustments.
It is GOOD to fail if you learn from your failure and you have a back-up plan.

qndummy
05-31-2010, 10:57 AM
When I first started, my biggest failures were due to too much smoke. I wanted to see smoke bellowing from my cooker. The smoke flavor over powered the flavor of the meat and basically ruined it. My tip would be light on the smoke.

WC BBQ
05-31-2010, 11:30 AM
All great replies, but most important for new cook is to keep a journal to record all your cooks. In order to be consistant learn from what works and what doesn't. Even making sauces and rubs measure or even better weigh your contents for repeatablility. Once recorded that great recipe will come out perfect every time.

Sean "Puffy" Coals
05-31-2010, 12:02 PM
Less is more.

Less opening the lid = better quality results
Less air going in = get more out of your fuel
Less complicated design = more ease in control & fine tuning
Less complicated your cooking method/recipe = easier to remember & get it right
Less smoke wood used = more flavor from the meat itself
Less research & knowledge = more fail!

Basically, except for knowledge, less is almost always better.

dadsr4
05-31-2010, 12:15 PM
The indirect method. When I learned about it, within months, I went from burgers, hotdogs, and chicken pieces to smoked turkeys, ribs, roasts. Same Weber grill and tools.

GeauxBigRed
05-31-2010, 02:29 PM
Don't try something new out for guests. Give a trial run or two first.


For instance, don't try a hot and fast brisket on your WSM for the first time when you have 16 people coming over to eat said brisket. Then don't start drinking before everyone gets there and then have to move the brisket into oven because you can't keep the temps up on the WSM...and then certainly don't start eating when about 15% of the flat doesn't quite pass the probe test. You know, just saying, not that I did that yesterday or anything...nope, purely hypothetical.

Harbormaster
05-31-2010, 02:49 PM
Keep a notebook of you r favorite recipes, rubs, sauces, entree and appetizer ideas.
Don't stop there. With BBQ, there's plenty of down time when cooking at home. Log your cook, record air temp, winds, fuel usage, vent settings, etc...
Someday, you'll be able to look back in your log and know how your cooker performed in similar circumstances. I did that with my WSMs when I first got them. It forced you to pay attention to what you were doing and how the cooker reacted.

Oh, and it's done when it's done.

Just sayin'.

Forrest
05-31-2010, 02:50 PM
Keep pushing yourself. Getting good at cooking something a certain way doesn't mean that varying your technique in some way wouldn't make an improvement. Get good at one method (good meaning consistent) so that you have a solid baseline to measure how changes in your technique affect appearance, taste, moisture, and texture; then make a change to ONE part of your technique and compare the results to your normal technique. From there you can either incorporate this change into how you cook, or know to discard that method from future trials.

Old Porker #1
05-31-2010, 02:54 PM
Have fun with it, keep it simple, don't rush through it, and don't run out of foil.

wheelterrapin
05-31-2010, 03:04 PM
Big Al I would love to have your brining recipe for chicken and also pork if you care to share it. Thanks,

Paul


What is the single best tip you can give to someone looking to improve his or her Q? I'm sure there are a lot of folks reading the forum this weekend (including me) who would like to learn a trick or two from the bbq enthusiasts here.

For me, I think it would be the brining process. My chicken and pork chops improved vastly when I learned how to brine. (I have leg quarters brining right now). :-D

Thanks to all the veterens out there and everyone have a safe, happy grilling/smoking weekend.

chambersuac
05-31-2010, 03:37 PM
I can't believe none of you farkers have said it yet. The best tip: Build a UDS! <ducking mod>

Everyone is giving good advice. My biggest hang up when I joined the Brethren is that I thought I had to cook by internal temperature. I soon found out, thanks to the folks here, that temperature is not that important, but texture and doneness are. I still use a thermometer, but only pull the Q off when it probes "like butta".

Big_AL
05-31-2010, 04:26 PM
Big Al I would love to have your brining recipe for chicken and also pork if you care to share it. Thanks,

Paul


I go simple but it's done me well...

XL Zip Top Bag
1/2 Gal Water
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Teriyaki Sauce

ThomEmery
05-31-2010, 04:41 PM
organization

vr6Cop
05-31-2010, 10:26 PM
When it comes to smoke, less is more. :thumb:

Braddog
05-31-2010, 10:38 PM
Patience. It's done when it's done.

+1

Cheers,
Braddog

luke duke
06-01-2010, 10:28 AM
Light the fire an hour before you think that you need to.

Saiko
06-01-2010, 12:15 PM
Unless you have something like a Stoker, give yourself a range of temps instead of a single temp. You'll have a lot less aggravation.
For ribs, as long as I'm between 225 and 275 I'm happy. For high heat brisket, anywhere between 270 and 325.
I used to be so anal about temps that I could never relax. Took me years to figure out that ribs cooked at 275 taste just as good as ribs at 225, so now I have more time to drink beer instead of freaking about temps.

buzzin
06-01-2010, 01:47 PM
Watch other people cook and ask them a ton of questions.

Smokin' Gnome BBQ
06-01-2010, 01:54 PM
foil (foiling) is good!

Big Jim BBQ
06-01-2010, 05:14 PM
I like to wrap my ribs and butts in foil for the last hour or so of the cook.This really tenderizes them.

UNTSIG
06-01-2010, 05:45 PM
The three most important things are temperature control, temperature control and temperature control.

What he said!!!:clap2:

Beyond that, for me it was learning the look and feel of what I was cooking and letting that be my guide.

Old Smoke
06-03-2010, 01:43 PM
All good answers :thumb::thumb:
My advice:
"Never ever give up"
It take a lot of misteaks to get it right. (aka practice, practice, practice)
Learn something every time ya cook.
Most of all have fun and enjoy the ride :-D

PatioDaddio
06-03-2010, 01:44 PM
Read, rinse and repeat.

John

Ford
06-03-2010, 01:48 PM
Best tip - practice and keep a log of temps, wind, weatehr conditions and of course results.

bam
06-03-2010, 01:53 PM
Practice,Practice,Practice Practice makes better there is no perfect.

bbqnano
06-03-2010, 02:24 PM
every thing said is great advice , in my expirience my bbq got a lot better with fresh ingridients. Im talking about fresh spices, peppers everything grinded up at the moment. Fresh meat going to the butcher shop and getting the freshest meat avalible. That just turned it up a notch. You cant imagine how much flavor bottled spices loose.

Ribbin' Randy
06-03-2010, 02:47 PM
temperature. And buy a thermapen. What Color!!!:confused:

FretBender
06-03-2010, 03:14 PM
Enjoy eating and have a big freezer or ALOT of friends/family

McGurk
06-03-2010, 03:31 PM
Not so much for smoking, but "If you are going to grill, then grill. Don't do anything else while you have meat on that heat." That includes setting the table, getting the sides figured out, pre-meal cleaning and the like. Alcohol consumption does not apply. :becky:

jswordy
06-03-2010, 03:33 PM
You guys have hit on the Big 3: patience, temps and smoke. But here's four more:

1.) Putting a piece of raw meat over a smoky, low-heat fire ain't rocket science, so don't make it so.

2.) A bunch of high-dollar equipment is not required. I know and learned from a lot of rednecks who cook great cue with only a homemade smoker, a knife, a fork and aluminum foil. On the other hand, I know gadget gurus who can't turn out a decent pork butt to save their soul.

3.) Rubs are fun, but optional. Same with mops. A hunk of meat with salt and fresh-ground black pepper on it, tossed on a grate and left alone for hours, can be the best-tasting you have ever eaten.

4.) The range between "perfect" and "awesome tasting" is wide, so don't sweat it, just eat your "mistakes."

smokemaster1
06-03-2010, 03:39 PM
Keep it simple. Learn the basics...temp control, patience and practice.