Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-23-2020, 12:52 PM
Lancia's Avatar
Lancia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Denial
Posts: 1,929

I've decided I'm going to take up smoking.


Several years ago I promised myself that, when I a) graduated from my MA program and b) finally found a full-time teaching position I would buy myself a decent meat smoker. Well, I was hired as a full-time teacher last year and was awarded my MA last week (sneak brag), so on Thursday I hied myself down to Home Depot and picked up the smoker that Iíve been drooling over for ~5 years:

Weber Smokey Mountain, 18Ē

Weber makes a 22Ē, which wouldíve been nice, but I couldnít really justify the extra cost for extra functionality that I likely wouldnít benefit from. The 18Ē model will cook anything up to and including a turkey, and thatís good enough for me.

I considered a propane smoker but I have never liked using propane for grilling; no matter what I do I cannot get the flare-up under control. Iíve only used one propane grill that Iíve ever been happy with (a Weber, incidentally), but Iíve never had a charcoal grill that let me down. I know smokers are different beasts, but I like the learning curve as well as not needing any extra equipment (like a couple of propane tanks). The WSM is simple, bombproof, and from everything Iíve read about it an absolutely marvelous bit of engineering. Some people make mods to it, but Iím going to use it for a season or two before I start tinkering with the stock configuration.

I have a 20lb bag of Kingsford Blue, a bag of apple wood chunks, and a backyard. I might start with some salmon as I havenít had smoked salmon in many years and Iíve been jonesing something fierce. Alton Brown has, as always, what looks like a good recipe I want to try. Iím also planting a big hot pepper garden this weekend so will have bushels of peppers to smoke. Iíll make some chipotle powder and sauce this fall. If anyone out there wants some, let me know.

So. Tips, tricks, hints, cheats, war stories, and good recipes are welcome. Iíve been waiting for this for 5 years, I canít wait to get started.
  #2  
Old 05-23-2020, 01:37 PM
Beckdawrek's Avatar
Beckdawrek is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Boonies??
Posts: 23,589
I hate you.
I'm so jealous.



(When's the dopefest?)
__________________
Bad, bad, bad!
  #3  
Old 05-23-2020, 01:40 PM
needscoffee is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 7,792
I love applewood smoke. Cherry wood is a close second - darker and heavier, in a good way.
  #4  
Old 05-23-2020, 01:44 PM
Ukulele Ike is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 18,805
Everybody knows that smoking makes you look cool.
__________________
Uke
  #5  
Old 05-23-2020, 01:56 PM
Gatopescado is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: on your last raw nerve
Posts: 23,741
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
I'm so jealous.
Why? I hear you been smokin' your whole life.
  #6  
Old 05-23-2020, 01:56 PM
silenus's Avatar
silenus is online now
Isaiah 10:1-3
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: SoCal
Posts: 52,521
The only problem I have with the Weber is that you can't really do a whole brisket on one. Other than that, it's a keeper.
  #7  
Old 05-23-2020, 02:05 PM
wolfpup's Avatar
wolfpup is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 11,739
Sounds like a fun hobby. I'd do a bunch of reading to get up to speed on various tricks and techniques -- it's not something I've ever done so you won't get them from me. I just wanted to say it sounds like fun. I love all kinds of smoked stuff.

There is a great upscale boutique grocery store I sometimes go to that carries a brand of smoked salmon that is reputed to be excellent, and indeed it is. One day I noticed that they also had their own varieties of smoked salmon at the deli counter in the seafood section, one of which they simply call their "house smoked salmon". I asked the guy the difference between that and the excellent prepackaged brand, and he just said "ours is better". And he was right! I can't quite put my finger on all the things that made it better -- it does seem to have a firmer texture -- but above all, it's definitely smokier in flavor and that's what really does it for me.

Enjoy your new culinary adventure, and congrats on the teaching job and MA. I'm a big fan of Weber, incidentally, but my only experience is with their gas grills. Mine must be nearly 20 years old and is still going strong with the original stainless steel burners. They make quality stuff.
  #8  
Old 05-23-2020, 02:35 PM
P-man is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Washington, DC area
Posts: 2,024
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
I hate you.
I'm so jealous.



(When's the dopefest?)
Dig up an old trash barrel, cut it in two, hose it out, and you're set.
  #9  
Old 05-23-2020, 02:53 PM
DrForrester is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 632
I was once required to go to a sports bar with a class of people. (This is when people were able to smoke in bars.) The teacher came up to me and asked why I wasn't drinking or smoking.

I explained that I don't drink, but I am trying to take up smoking. I'm using the nicotine patches to help me get started, but it's not going well.

The guy just looked at me and had no idea what to think. Then, I told him that I had had a small part in the "patch" technology many years beforehand, so I knew how to get the maximum dose in the minimum amount of time, and so forth. He just could not decide whether I was telling him the truth.

Because I'm exactly that type of asshole.
  #10  
Old 05-23-2020, 03:09 PM
pulykamell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 49,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
The only problem I have with the Weber is that you can't really do a whole brisket on one. Other than that, it's a keeper.
I do full packer cuts on my WSM all the time. In fact, when I got married, I threw one on there at like 8 am with as many briquettes as I could pack (as briquettes burn longer than lump) and when we got home for the after party at 6 pm or whatever, the brisket was perfectly smoked, both point and flat.
  #11  
Old 05-23-2020, 03:14 PM
silenus's Avatar
silenus is online now
Isaiah 10:1-3
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: SoCal
Posts: 52,521
I sit corrected. I wouldn't have thought there was room.

I still prefer my custom 55 gal. smoker, but that's just me.
  #12  
Old 05-23-2020, 04:26 PM
Beckdawrek's Avatar
Beckdawrek is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Boonies??
Posts: 23,589
Quote:
Originally Posted by P-man View Post
Dig up an old trash barrel, cut it in two, hose it out, and you're set.
Ummm? Have you been spying on me? Was that your drone?

Son-of-a-wrek has a smoker made from a barrel*. He's finessed it to work for him. I'd never have that kinda luck.
I want a Weber.

(*It was a new barrel that he cleaned impeccably)
__________________
Bad, bad, bad!
  #13  
Old 05-23-2020, 05:08 PM
longhair75 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: omaha, ne
Posts: 3,361
T Roy Cooks Smoky Mountain set up and technique

Harry Soo smokey mountain set up and technique
__________________
Per tutto i mali, vino. Per tutto bene, lo stesso
  #14  
Old 05-23-2020, 05:33 PM
solost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 996

Ent results


I bought a Weber 18Ē smoky mountain 5-6 years ago and I freakin love it. I had an el cheapo Brinkmann before that and it never gave me good results. The WSM holds its temp like an oven and gives really consistent, amazing results.

Couple tips: use sand in the cooling pan instead of water. Itís a better heat sink than water, and you can put foil over the sand to catch the drippings in the foil and not have an unholy mess of water and grease afterward. Tip 2: if you donít already know what the ďminion methodĒ is for coals, google it.
  #15  
Old 05-23-2020, 05:56 PM
scabpicker's Avatar
scabpicker is offline
Yo soy pinche idiota
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Funkytown (Fort Worth)
Posts: 4,914
Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
I sit corrected. I wouldn't have thought there was room.

I still prefer my custom 55 gal. smoker, but that's just me.
Hehehe, ya just have to fold it over. When I was using a barrel smoker, I would always fold the point over the flat. I actually kind of liked my old barrel briskets better, but my family says they like the ones I do on the offset smoker I have now. It usually takes less time on the offset smoker, so I don't have any problem with that.

The only real trick is to go slow and keep the heat low, and be patient with any large cut. They can take a really long time.

I'd advise spending a bit on a good thermometer. Two channels, one for the meat and one for the smoker temperature. You can get by with just the dial on the outside, but a nice thermometer makes it easy. I went through a few thermometers over the years, but the Thermoworks Smoke seems just perfect. I've had to replace one probe, but other than that it's been rock solid.
  #16  
Old 05-23-2020, 06:13 PM
Xema is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 12,579
My one experience with smoking meat was about 10 years ago. I was hanging out at an airport in Canada (Invermere, BC) for a week or so, and found there was a brand new smoker (Weber), a bunch of recently caught trout fillets in the fridge, and no one ready to do anything with them.

So I stepped in, using a recipe similar to this one. I assumed there'd be a steep learning curve, and that my first efforts would be marginal at best; in fact they turned out great, and got rave reviews.

The two big things (as discussed in the recipe) seem to be getting the fish truly dry after brining with a proper "pellicle" coating, and using low heat for a longish time.
  #17  
Old 05-23-2020, 08:27 PM
Lancia's Avatar
Lancia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Denial
Posts: 1,929
Ha! I found both those videos yesterday and T-Roy in particular provides one helluva rabbit hole to get lost in. Both T-Roy and Harry have different smoking techniques. T-Roy places the lump wood directly on top of the unlit coals using the minion method, Harry buries them in the unlit coals to smolder. T-Roy's method makes more sense to me since the smoke flavor is imparted in the first couple of hours of cooking.

But I'm going to try both and see which method is better, if indeed there is a difference.
  #18  
Old 05-23-2020, 09:20 PM
jnglmassiv is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chicago's Northside
Posts: 3,561
Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
The only problem I have with the Weber is that you can't really do a whole brisket on one. Other than that, it's a keeper.
Long racks of ribs can also get a little too close to the hot edges. I've been able to make do by either cutting them in half or foiling the outer 4 inches or so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solost View Post
Couple tips: use sand in the cooling pan instead of water. Itís a better heat sink than water, and you can put foil over the sand to catch the drippings in the foil and not have an unholy mess of water and grease afterward.
I also skipped water shortly after getting my WSM. I use a foil wrapped terracota flower pot saucer in the water pan, great solution.
  #19  
Old 05-23-2020, 09:27 PM
Siam Sam is offline
Elephant Whisperer
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posts: 42,068
Smoking will kill you. Bacon will kill you. But smoking bacon will cure it.
__________________
"Hell is other people." -- Jean-Paul Sartre
  #20  
Old 05-24-2020, 12:01 AM
Deeg is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,715
Quote:
Originally Posted by P-man View Post
Dig up an old trash barrel, cut it in two, hose it out, and you're set.
Even easier, just cut a hole in the bottom and make yourself an ugly drum smoker.

I've done a fair amount of smoking. I've built a couple of drum smokers (see above) and some temperature controllers. Here are my tips/suggestions (I'll try to put the important ones first so you read them before your eyes glaze over):
  • Learn the Minion Method for setting up your charcoal. I don't do it any other way.
  • If you plan on doing long smokes (which is pretty much everything other than ribs) get a remote thermometer with an alarm. You'll eventually smoke things overnight and this is very nice to have. Lots of people like the Maverick thermometers.
  • Start with pulled pork. It can take a while (8-12 hours) but it's very hard to ruin.
  • My go-to site for BBQ recipes, technique, and reviews is amazingribs.com. As much as reasonable he tries to incorporate science (like proving that beer-can chicken is a waste of a beer) along with the subjective.
  • There are lots of BBQ forums and I've learned plenty from them. I'm partial to the BBQ Brethren.
  • I prefer hardwood lump over briquettes because they produce less ash, which means less cleanup.
  • I have learned to foil (wrap the meat tightly in foil; AKA the Texas Crutch) pretty much everything I smoke roughly half-way through. There's plenty of debate on how much it helps (AmazingRibs above says it's largely unnecessary) but I consistently get much better results when I foil. Maybe there's some technique that I'm missing that makes it unnecessary. I do note that most competition bbqers foil.
  • There are rumors that the red Thermapen thermometer is the fastest color but that's nonsense. My blue one is the fastest.*

(* - An inside joke with smokers.)
  #21  
Old 05-24-2020, 12:12 AM
China Guy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 12,147
What's the feedback on a pellet smoker versus the Weber Smokey (or a drum smoker)? Are these apples and oranges or pretty comperable?
  #22  
Old 05-24-2020, 12:31 AM
pulykamell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 49,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by solost View Post
I bought a Weber 18Ē smoky mountain 5-6 years ago and I freakin love it. I had an el cheapo Brinkmann before that and it never gave me good results. The WSM holds its temp like an oven and gives really consistent, amazing results.

Couple tips: use sand in the cooling pan instead of water. Itís a better heat sink than water, and you can put foil over the sand to catch the drippings in the foil and not have an unholy mess of water and grease afterward. Tip 2: if you donít already know what the ďminion methodĒ is for coals, google it.
Yep. I use sand in my pan, and, yes, the Minion method.
  #23  
Old 05-24-2020, 12:53 AM
nightshadea is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: a condo in hell 10th lvl
Posts: 6,454
lol i thought this was about cigarettes or pot lol

I had a Brinkman kettle smoker and it was ok only used it a few times and never got quite what i wanted tho id like to get a real smoker and try again
  #24  
Old 05-24-2020, 05:50 AM
longhair75 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: omaha, ne
Posts: 3,361
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancia View Post
Ha! I found both those videos yesterday and T-Roy in particular provides one helluva rabbit hole to get lost in. Both T-Roy and Harry have different smoking techniques. T-Roy places the lump wood directly on top of the unlit coals using the minion method, Harry buries them in the unlit coals to smolder. T-Roy's method makes more sense to me since the smoke flavor is imparted in the first couple of hours of cooking.

But I'm going to try both and see which method is better, if indeed there is a difference.
One can spend hours watching people barbecue on YouTube. I don't have a Smokey Mountain though I cook on an Oklahoma Joe Longhorn
__________________
Per tutto i mali, vino. Per tutto bene, lo stesso
  #25  
Old 05-24-2020, 08:54 AM
pulykamell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 49,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeg View Post
[*]Start with pulled pork. It can take a while (8-12 hours) but it's very hard to ruin.
Pulled pork is definitely the easiest, but in my WSM, I always expect an 8-9 lb butt to take 8+ hours, but it seems to always finish faster with my sand set-up and with the way I set up my coals (fill up the coal ring, bury some oak and pecan or hickory wood in it, and dump lit coals on the top.) Like every single time, I budget 10 hours for it, and it always finishes at closer to 6 or 7 hours. So, yeah, you gotta know your meat, and use your senses. Thermometer helps, but you can tell when that sucker is done by the way it looks (it kind of slumps in on itself) and by sticking a fork in it. And if it finishes early, ain't nothing wrong with that. Let it rest (which you should, anyway) tightly wrapped in foil in a cooler, maybe with towels around it for more insulation. A one-to-two hour rest is actually nice for the meat.
  #26  
Old 05-24-2020, 11:23 AM
jnglmassiv is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chicago's Northside
Posts: 3,561
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeg View Post
Start with pulled pork. It can take a while (8-12 hours) but it's very hard to ruin.
I think I'd recommend a shorter cook for an confidence-boosting introduction. OP mentions salmon which should only be a couple hours. Other shorter smokes are chicken wings, cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped jalapenos, or meatloaf.

Quote:
I prefer hardwood lump over briquettes because they produce less ash, which means less cleanup.
I gave up on briquettes a few cooks after I got my first grill. The lower cost is tempting but the final product is never as good. Lump smells like a wood fire. Briquettes smell like briquettes. And that's even before the buckets of ash briquettes leave you with.
Quote:
There are rumors that the red Thermapen thermometer is the fastest color but that's nonsense. My blue one is the fastest.
I've been using similar thermometers from Lavatools for years. It looks like what they used to call Thermowand (what I have) is now called Javelin. They're great tools and less expensive than Thermapen while having similar specs.
  #27  
Old 05-24-2020, 11:48 AM
silenus's Avatar
silenus is online now
Isaiah 10:1-3
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: SoCal
Posts: 52,521
This is a pretty good approximation of my smoker. Mine has the pipe on the left, and since our Auto Shop built it, the pipe is off a semi.

Mine also has side shelves made from expanded steel mesh. The barrel originally held malt extract for brewing.
__________________
Sometimes it feels like all the booze in the world wonít make a dent in the bullshit. But you know, you still gotta try.
  #28  
Old 05-24-2020, 12:31 PM
Lancia's Avatar
Lancia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Denial
Posts: 1,929
Quote:
Originally Posted by China Guy View Post
What's the feedback on a pellet smoker versus the Weber Smokey (or a drum smoker)? Are these apples and oranges or pretty comperable?
Based on what I read before I purchased the Weber, pellet grills basically:

1) suck at smoking
2) suck at grilling too unless you're just cooking some Costco hotdogs for a kid's birthday party or something.

Since they use pellets in a specially designed cooking chamber, it doesn't really... smoke. Companies such as Traeger make various flavored pellets, but to me that sounds like a poor work-around. Ultimately the grill can't smolder a nice chunk of hardwood like a dedicated smoker can.

Additionally, most pellet grills don't get all that hot. Not a big deal for smoking, which they can't really do, but if you want to sear a steak before grilling? Sucks to be you. Weber is coming out with a pellet grill that they claim can get up to 650į, but I'd like to see that independently verified. They also have a price tag north of $1K.

Pellet grills also take extra work to keep them clean and in good shape. There are electronic components (thermostat, fans) that can wear out and some models and manufacturers have a reputation for the hopper and auger that feed the pellets into the combustion chamber getting clogged. This problem is exacerbated by moisture. Woe be to the Traeger owner who leaves the pellet hopper half full during an overnight rain.

For me, they're more trouble than they are worth. I guess some models can be fired up and brought up to temp remotely using Bluetooth or wifi, which is great... I guess. Not for me. I've heard people rave about the food that they produce but really it doest sound like they're anything special. A "wood" fired convection oven is all it is.

Maybe a Traeger owner will pop in and tell me how wrong am I am.
  #29  
Old 05-24-2020, 12:36 PM
Lancia's Avatar
Lancia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Denial
Posts: 1,929
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeg View Post
Even easier, just cut a hole in the bottom and make yourself an ugly drum smoker.

I've done a fair amount of smoking. I've built a couple of drum smokers (see above) and some temperature controllers. Here are my tips/suggestions (I'll try to put the important ones first so you read them before your eyes glaze over):
  • Learn the Minion Method for setting up your charcoal. I don't do it any other way.
  • If you plan on doing long smokes (which is pretty much everything other than ribs) get a remote thermometer with an alarm. You'll eventually smoke things overnight and this is very nice to have. Lots of people like the Maverick thermometers.
  • Start with pulled pork. It can take a while (8-12 hours) but it's very hard to ruin.
  • My go-to site for BBQ recipes, technique, and reviews is amazingribs.com. As much as reasonable he tries to incorporate science (like proving that beer-can chicken is a waste of a beer) along with the subjective.
  • There are lots of BBQ forums and I've learned plenty from them. I'm partial to the BBQ Brethren.
  • I prefer hardwood lump over briquettes because they produce less ash, which means less cleanup.
  • I have learned to foil (wrap the meat tightly in foil; AKA the Texas Crutch) pretty much everything I smoke roughly half-way through. There's plenty of debate on how much it helps (AmazingRibs above says it's largely unnecessary) but I consistently get much better results when I foil. Maybe there's some technique that I'm missing that makes it unnecessary. I do note that most competition bbqers foil.
  • There are rumors that the red Thermapen thermometer is the fastest color but that's nonsense. My blue one is the fastest.*

(* - An inside joke with smokers.)
Thanks for all this. I see HD has those thermometers on the shelf, I'll go check them out.

Regarding hardwood lump v. briquettes. Someone online -- probably one of the youtubers I found -- claimed that hardwood burns a lot hotter and less consistently than briquettes. Have you experienced that? Do you have a preferred brand?
  #30  
Old 05-24-2020, 01:33 PM
solost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 996
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancia View Post
Thanks for all this. I see HD has those thermometers on the shelf, I'll go check them out.

Regarding hardwood lump v. briquettes. Someone online -- probably one of the youtubers I found -- claimed that hardwood burns a lot hotter and less consistently than briquettes. Have you experienced that? Do you have a preferred brand?
Yeah, I find lump hardwood burns through too quickly for long bbq times. I use briquettes (Kingsford is good) and briquette-sized chunks of wood in about a 70/30 ratio for long bbqs. Using the Minion method it can go for Up to 10 hours without needing more coals added.

Last edited by solost; 05-24-2020 at 01:35 PM.
  #31  
Old 05-24-2020, 01:45 PM
robardin is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Flushing, NY
Posts: 4,980
I, too, have been considering taking up smoking.

I have a Weber natural gas grill - Genesis E-435 - and got a "smoker box" to put wood chips in, pre-soaked in water from what I can tell, to then place between the fire burners and the grate while cooking with indirect heat at low temps. So like, a spatchcocked chicken at 250-275F for about 3 hours. Then maybe to finish with a reverse sear.

That's the plan anyway. I have only just gotten the smoker box for the wood chips, and have no idea if this would produce the right amount of smoke, if a gas grill can maintain that low a temperature (I don't see why not), or how this would compare to using an actual smoker, be it gas or charcoal.

Anybody do this before, and could say if it's worth buying a whole 'other thingy, much less a differently fueled thingy? I mean it's not like I'm averse to a charcoal smoker, I've helped to use them before (other people's), but if I could save the money and equipment space, I would.
  #32  
Old 05-24-2020, 02:41 PM
jnglmassiv is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chicago's Northside
Posts: 3,561
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancia View Post
Regarding hardwood lump v. briquettes. Someone online -- probably one of the youtubers I found -- claimed that hardwood burns a lot hotter and less consistently than briquettes. Have you experienced that? Do you have a preferred brand?
Lump *can* burn a lot hotter than briquettes (great for grilling & searing) but that's overcome by proper vent control. The coals simply cannot burn faster than the air allows.
  #33  
Old 05-25-2020, 08:18 AM
phungi's Avatar
phungi is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: on the spinning sphere
Posts: 3,033
In addition to T-Roy, watch any video from Malcom at HowToBBQRight (and his basic rub is pretty damned good).

Make your own rub in large batches, and save in a good shaker (I use this one).

Good/cheap mods: Add handles ($5) and wheels ($25; video).

Stick with Kingsford (white bag, blue top) briquettes, which are usually on sale (2 bags for $18-20).

Keep a good log of times/temperatures so you can refer back when things don't go the same...
  #34  
Old 05-25-2020, 09:57 AM
Deeg is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,715
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancia View Post
Thanks for all this. I see HD has those thermometers on the shelf, I'll go check them out.

Regarding hardwood lump v. briquettes. Someone online -- probably one of the youtubers I found -- claimed that hardwood burns a lot hotter and less consistently than briquettes. Have you experienced that? Do you have a preferred brand?
Briquettes are basically ground up lump that is pressed into briquettes, with a bonding filler to hold it together; the filler does not burn as efficiently as the lump dust. When open-air grilling the uniform size and slightly lower burn rate of briquettes make it easier to maintain consistent temperatures.

The Minion Method, however, maintains temperature by manipulating how much oxygen reaches the coals; the various sizes of the lump chunks make no difference and the bonding filler just ends up as ash in the bottom of your smoker. You should be able to get longer cooks with the same volume of lump because it burns more efficiently.

I tend to use Wicked Good Charcoal but that's largely because it's (somewhat) local to me. If you have three or more BBQers together you can start a good-natured argument by asking which lump is best. If you're a nerd like me and have too much time on your hands you can peruse this DB of lump reviews. I've used a number of different brands and in the end I've never observed any difference that had a material effect on the results, even the lower-rated brands like Cowboy. The only thing I've noticed is that some brands (e.g. Cowboy) have a higher variation of chunk sizes and you'll occasionally see pieces that look like scrap lumber. This drives some BBQers nuts but IMO as long as it's all hardwood the Minion Method makes it moot. (Some BBQers claim to have seen pieces of treated wood--e.g. stained or painted--in bags of the cheaper brands. That would be bad.)

That's a long-winded way to say that I'll use any lump if necessary but prefer WGC, Royal Oak, and Basque, in that order. I've never had a cook ruined because of the lump.
  #35  
Old 05-25-2020, 10:20 AM
Deeg is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,715
A while ago I put together an Ugly Drum Smoker FAQ. A Weber Bullet is similar to a UDS so most of the information is apropos.
  #36  
Old 05-25-2020, 10:49 AM
pulykamell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 49,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeg View Post

The Minion Method, however, maintains temperature by manipulating how much oxygen reaches the coals; the various sizes of the lump chunks make no difference and the bonding filler just ends up as ash in the bottom of your smoker. You should be able to get longer cooks with the same volume of lump because it burns more efficiently..
That's interesting. I've found exactly the opposite. I used to be a purist about ONLY using lump, and would go to a commercial distributor on Goose Island specifically to buy giant bags of lump. (A place simply called "Charcoal Supply." It's at 1186 N Cherry for the Chicago dopers reading this thread. Great place.) I use the Minion method, but I've always found I've had to replace the coals at around the 6 hour mark or so with lump. One day, being too lazy to make the drive to Goose Island, I just got some Kingsford Briquettes (and also because they were on sale 2-for-1). And that cook lasted 8-10 hours on one load of coals. Now, generally, I do smoke with the vents all fully open -- sometimes I'll have them 2/3 open, but never any more closed than that. I like to make my barbecue a little on the hotter side, which I guess is why I get a whole butt done in 6-7 hours.
  #37  
Old 05-25-2020, 10:59 AM
longhair75 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: omaha, ne
Posts: 3,361
Lump burns hotter and faster than briquettes. Also the irregular sizing of the individual pieces produces an unpredictable result. I found a quarter of a brick and a handful of nails in my last bag of lump leading me to believe that it was made from construction scraps. I even suspected that it was possible that some of these scraps could habe been from chemical treated lumber.
__________________
Per tutto i mali, vino. Per tutto bene, lo stesso
  #38  
Old 05-26-2020, 12:19 AM
Tilt-A-Whirl is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 59
A couple people have suggested using sand instead of water, I'd never heard of that, and have no opinion on it. But if you do use water, start with hot water, not cold. I would boil a large pot of it. Starting with cold water seemed to overwhelm the heat source, slow things down too much.

If you use aluminum foil, be careful during cleanup. The foil can really stick to the metal parts and slice you like a razor as you try to get it off.

I smoked a lot of things, but found the very most satisfying and delicious was hamburgers.
  #39  
Old 05-26-2020, 07:29 AM
pulykamell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 49,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilt-A-Whirl View Post
A couple people have suggested using sand instead of water, I'd never heard of that, and have no opinion on it. But if you do use water, start with hot water, not cold. I would boil a large pot of it. Starting with cold water seemed to overwhelm the heat source, slow things down too much.
When I used water, I never had this issue. I just used the water from the garden hose.
  #40  
Old 05-26-2020, 07:55 AM
solost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 996
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilt-A-Whirl View Post
A couple people have suggested using sand instead of water, I'd never heard of that, and have no opinion on it. But if you do use water, start with hot water, not cold. I would boil a large pot of it. Starting with cold water seemed to overwhelm the heat source, slow things down too much.
As pulykamell said, when I used water in the pan I just got it out of the tap or the hose and it didn't seem to take a lot of time to get the smoker up to temp. I also used to try adding stuff like apple juice or wine to "add flavor" to the meat as it evaporated. Never made a bit of difference I ever noticed. And afterward the leftover water mixed with grease drippings was a huge mess to clean up. So I started using sand and never looked back. I fill the pan with sand to about an inch from the top, then I put foil over the sand to catch the drippings. Easy peasy cleanup after.

The only time water might be better than sand is really hot Summer weather-- sometimes on hot days I've had to close down the vents so much to keep the temp down I was afraid I would cut off oxygen to the point it might stop the burn.

Last edited by solost; 05-26-2020 at 07:57 AM.
  #41  
Old 05-26-2020, 08:56 AM
pulykamell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 49,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by solost View Post
The only time water might be better than sand is really hot Summer weather-- sometimes on hot days I've had to close down the vents so much to keep the temp down I was afraid I would cut off oxygen to the point it might stop the burn.
Give the hotter cook a whirl. I don't really use a thermometer, but I'm guessing it gets close to 280 or maybe even a bit more during the summer. I know most people like to stay in the 225-250 range, but I actually do like my barbecue cooked a little bit hotter. Sometimes, I've even done no water pan or empty water pan. With no water pan, you get this nice, fat-in-the-fire flavor that I like. But the clean-up is a bit more messy.
  #42  
Old 05-26-2020, 09:10 AM
solost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 996
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Give the hotter cook a whirl. I don't really use a thermometer, but I'm guessing it gets close to 280 or maybe even a bit more during the summer. I know most people like to stay in the 225-250 range, but I actually do like my barbecue cooked a little bit hotter. Sometimes, I've even done no water pan or empty water pan. With no water pan, you get this nice, fat-in-the-fire flavor that I like. But the clean-up is a bit more messy.
Yeah, I've gotten good results at around 275, and it doesn't take 14 hours to get a good sized pork shoulder up to an internal temp of 190. More like 8-10 hours. Don't have to mess with foil wrapping to get past the "stall" either.
  #43  
Old 05-26-2020, 10:09 AM
pulykamell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 49,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by solost View Post
Yeah, I've gotten good results at around 275, and it doesn't take 14 hours to get a good sized pork shoulder up to an internal temp of 190. More like 8-10 hours. Don't have to mess with foil wrapping to get past the "stall" either.
Yeah, like I said above, for whatever reason, all my 8-9 pound pork shoulders finish in about 6-7 hours (probably closer to 7). I haven't checked the internal temp of my smoker in many years, though, so it probably consistently runs around 275. Like I said, I generally smoke with all the vents open. Next time I smoke, I might check to get an idea. And, yeah, I've never needed to foil with a Boston Butt. That cut just practically cooks itself.
  #44  
Old 05-26-2020, 10:37 AM
solost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 996
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Yeah, like I said above, for whatever reason, all my 8-9 pound pork shoulders finish in about 6-7 hours (probably closer to 7). I haven't checked the internal temp of my smoker in many years, though, so it probably consistently runs around 275. Like I said, I generally smoke with all the vents open. Next time I smoke, I might check to get an idea. And, yeah, I've never needed to foil with a Boston Butt. That cut just practically cooks itself.
If you're finishing 8-9 pound pork shoulders in about 6-7 hours your smoker temp must be pushing 300. Sounds like it's working for you though, and no getting up at 4 am to get the smoker going like I used to! I bet you get a nice thick layer of tasty bark.
  #45  
Old 05-26-2020, 11:03 AM
pulykamell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 49,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by solost View Post
If you're finishing 8-9 pound pork shoulders in about 6-7 hours your smoker temp must be pushing 300. Sounds like it's working for you though, and no getting up at 4 am to get the smoker going like I used to! I bet you get a nice thick layer of tasty bark.
Yeah, I certainly wouldn't be surprised. I don't think I've ever checked the temp with the sand pan, but when I was using water and starting out, the WSM stayed at a constant 250-265 max. I also used a smaller chimney starter back then, and I pack the new one to the brim with coals, so there's probably also a lot more heat being generated because of that.

But yeah, I get a nice bark, and the inside is still moist and juicy. When I have company over, I'll take it to the "pulled" stage, but when I make it for myself, I actually prefer chopped pork, so I take it to something like the low 190s, but not far enough so it shreds, which for me happens at around 197. Then I let it rest for a bit and hit it with a cleaver. I personally prefer that texture of meat. I also use my judgement and poke at the meat and not just go by temperature by itself. The fork should slide in fairly easily, but not to the point where the meat just falls apart and shreds. I've seen people say to do chopped pork at temperatures like the high 170s and 180s, but that's too firm for me for chopped pork. That's more what I might take sliced barbecue to.
  #46  
Old 05-26-2020, 11:09 AM
WildaBeast's Avatar
WildaBeast is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 1,389
I also just recently took up smoking in my backyard. I started a similar thread a few months ago, which I am too lazy to go look for right now. I had been meaning to post an update, and since this thread's here it seems like as good a place as any.

I got a Weber Smokey Mountain for my birthday in late March. After weeks of uncooperative weather (It seemed like every weekend during April was rainy around here), but eventually I tried a pork shoulder like many had suggested. All went well for the first four hours or so; it held a temperature around 250 or so. Then I noticed the temperature seemed to be dropping. I thought maybe I needed to add more fuel, so I added more coals, already lit in a chimney starter. I also decided to refill the water pan while I was at it. I wonder if that part was a mistake. I overfilled the pan and some water spilled out onto the coals, which I'm sure put some of them out. I opened up all the vents to try to get the temperature back up, but from that point on it was a struggle to get the temperature above 220, even with all the vents open. By 8 pm, after something around 10 hours in the smoker, and the internal temperature of the meat hadn't budged in over an hour (I take it this is the dreaded "stall"), I was getting very hungry and threw in the towel. The meat was edible, but definitely hadn't hadn't achieved the tenderness I was hoping for. Maybe I could have gotten it there with more time, but I didn't want to have dinner at midnight.

Yesterday for the Memorial Day holiday I gave it another go, this time ribs. This time the results were much better. I didn't mess with the coals or water pan this time, and it held a temperature of around 250 the entire time, although it did seem to be dropping a bit at the very end. I left the ribs in a bit longer than the recommended 4 hours (partly due to the memory of the previous attempt), and basted with barbecue sauce during the last hour or so. The meat was absolutely falling off the bone. Perhaps a tad dry though, so maybe I didn't need to leave them in quite as long as I did. But still quite good.
  #47  
Old 05-26-2020, 11:42 AM
jnglmassiv is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chicago's Northside
Posts: 3,561
A good yet inexpensive accessory is an oven thermometer. Place it on the grate so you can peek inside the top vent with a flashlight to get a good temperature where it counts. Make sure you wipe it down after each use since it will get gunked up and difficult to read over time.
  #48  
Old 05-26-2020, 11:46 AM
solost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 996
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
I also just recently took up smoking in my backyard. I started a similar thread a few months ago, which I am too lazy to go look for right now. I had been meaning to post an update, and since this thread's here it seems like as good a place as any.

I got a Weber Smokey Mountain for my birthday in late March. After weeks of uncooperative weather (It seemed like every weekend during April was rainy around here), but eventually I tried a pork shoulder like many had suggested. All went well for the first four hours or so; it held a temperature around 250 or so. Then I noticed the temperature seemed to be dropping. I thought maybe I needed to add more fuel, so I added more coals, already lit in a chimney starter. I also decided to refill the water pan while I was at it. I wonder if that part was a mistake. I overfilled the pan and some water spilled out onto the coals, which I'm sure put some of them out. I opened up all the vents to try to get the temperature back up, but from that point on it was a struggle to get the temperature above 220, even with all the vents open. By 8 pm, after something around 10 hours in the smoker, and the internal temperature of the meat hadn't budged in over an hour (I take it this is the dreaded "stall"), I was getting very hungry and threw in the towel. The meat was edible, but definitely hadn't hadn't achieved the tenderness I was hoping for. Maybe I could have gotten it there with more time, but I didn't want to have dinner at midnight.

Yesterday for the Memorial Day holiday I gave it another go, this time ribs. This time the results were much better. I didn't mess with the coals or water pan this time, and it held a temperature of around 250 the entire time, although it did seem to be dropping a bit at the very end. I left the ribs in a bit longer than the recommended 4 hours (partly due to the memory of the previous attempt), and basted with barbecue sauce during the last hour or so. The meat was absolutely falling off the bone. Perhaps a tad dry though, so maybe I didn't need to leave them in quite as long as I did. But still quite good.
Congrats on the ribs! As for the pulled pork, did you use the Minion method? It's really the only way to go for long BBQ times. Here's a link that describes it (as mentioned, instead of all charcoal I use a mix of around 70% briquettes with 30% briquette-sized chunks of wood mixed in (for pork I like a mix of apple and hickory chunks).
https://www.virtualweberbullet.com/f...eber-bullet-2/
  #49  
Old 05-26-2020, 11:55 AM
pulykamell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 49,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
I also just recently took up smoking in my backyard. I started a similar thread a few months ago, which I am too lazy to go look for right now. I had been meaning to post an update, and since this thread's here it seems like as good a place as any.

I got a Weber Smokey Mountain for my birthday in late March. After weeks of uncooperative weather (It seemed like every weekend during April was rainy around here), but eventually I tried a pork shoulder like many had suggested. All went well for the first four hours or so; it held a temperature around 250 or so. Then I noticed the temperature seemed to be dropping. I thought maybe I needed to add more fuel, so I added more coals, already lit in a chimney starter. I also decided to refill the water pan while I was at it. I wonder if that part was a mistake. I overfilled the pan and some water spilled out onto the coals, which I'm sure put some of them out. I opened up all the vents to try to get the temperature back up, but from that point on it was a struggle to get the temperature above 220, even with all the vents open. By 8 pm, after something around 10 hours in the smoker, and the internal temperature of the meat hadn't budged in over an hour (I take it this is the dreaded "stall"), I was getting very hungry and threw in the towel. The meat was edible, but definitely hadn't hadn't achieved the tenderness I was hoping for. Maybe I could have gotten it there with more time, but I didn't want to have dinner at midnight.

Yesterday for the Memorial Day holiday I gave it another go, this time ribs. This time the results were much better. I didn't mess with the coals or water pan this time, and it held a temperature of around 250 the entire time, although it did seem to be dropping a bit at the very end. I left the ribs in a bit longer than the recommended 4 hours (partly due to the memory of the previous attempt), and basted with barbecue sauce during the last hour or so. The meat was absolutely falling off the bone. Perhaps a tad dry though, so maybe I didn't need to leave them in quite as long as I did. But still quite good.
You could have salvaged it. Just throw it in a 250 or 275 oven to finish. The pork takes up pretty much as much smoke as it will after a couple of hours.
  #50  
Old 05-26-2020, 11:55 AM
WildaBeast's Avatar
WildaBeast is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 1,389
Quote:
Originally Posted by solost View Post
As for the pulled pork, did you use the Minion method?
No. That was actually another thing I forgot to mention. That was another thing I changed up on the second attempt. With the ribs I used the Minion method (even though they only require about half the time). With the pulled pork I didn't.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:45 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017