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Old 01-19-2008, 12:59 PM  
Buehler445 Buehler445 is offline
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HELP! I have a smoker and don't know how to use it!

OK. Here's the deal. I got a smoker for Christmas. But the deal is that I have no idea how to use it. I know there are some excellent smokers on the Planet, so here is my plea for help.

Description of smoker here

Basically, I know nothing about smoking meats. I'm looking for advice from you guys as basically a beginners guide to smoking. I know the recipe supercenter is out there, but as far as how to smoke something, I have no clue.

As far as what kinds of meat to use, how long to cook it for, what to season it with, what kind of wood chips to use, and what to do to keep it from drying out. As well as any tips for me to get started.

Any recipes that would be good for beginners would be very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

(I already know that antifreeze makes an excellent marinade)
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Old 01-21-2008, 08:21 AM   #46
Fried Meat Ball! Fried Meat Ball! is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tooge
Do NOT use mesquite. It will overpower almost anything other than beef done rather quickly. It is great for grilling, but not for smoking. My favorites are cherry and apple. Here is a great rub recipe also:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
2 tbsp garlic powder
2tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsn pepper
1 tspn cumin add cayene to taste.
Buy one of the BBQ books at smoke and fire. Steve Raichles is good, so is the BBQ Bible. They have tons of marinades, smoke times and temps, and rubs for all kinds of meats. Bottom line though is once you really get into it you will probably buy a stick burner (wood fired smoker) and come up with most of your own rubs, mop sauces and bastes. Have fun with it. It is addicting. I started with one vertical brinkman (still my favorite) and now have three smokers and compete in 3 competitions a year. It is too much fun.
That sounds like a good rub for ribs, but maybe not for brisket or pork butt. That much sugar might burn in those longer times.
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Old 01-21-2008, 08:29 AM   #47
tooge tooge is offline
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It is great on Butt. It carmelizes real well, however, I typically do my butts around 225, not higher so it is fine. It is Ok on brisket, but my favorite for brisket is just pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Then mop it with apple sider vinegar, soy sauce and beer. Sometimes I will throw in some oregano and chili powder too.
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Old 01-21-2008, 09:19 AM   #48
Braincase Braincase is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tooge
Do NOT use mesquite. It will overpower almost anything other than beef done rather quickly. It is great for grilling, but not for smoking. My favorites are cherry and apple. Here is a great rub recipe also:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
2 tbsp garlic powder
2tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsn pepper
1 tspn cumin add cayene to taste.
Buy one of the BBQ books at smoke and fire. Steve Raichles is good, so is the BBQ Bible. They have tons of marinades, smoke times and temps, and rubs for all kinds of meats. Bottom line though is once you really get into it you will probably buy a stick burner (wood fired smoker) and come up with most of your own rubs, mop sauces and bastes. Have fun with it. It is addicting. I started with one vertical brinkman (still my favorite) and now have three smokers and compete in 3 competitions a year. It is too much fun.
I prefer cherry, apple & pear for poultry, pecan for most beef & pork. Hickory is kind of a "universal", meaning if I can't find a specialty wood, I fall back on hickory due to it's availability and wide-spread appeal. Some guys will do beef with oak as well. I absolutely agree about avoiding mesquite, as it adds a strong burnt taste. Anybody that tells you that mesquite is their favorite must have the taste buds of an 8-cigar a day smoker.

As I mentioned earlier, the one book I use as a reference is "Smoke & Spice". Great variety of rubs and recipes, as well as alot of useful general information. There are some other books out there, and a number of respected authors. Some folks swear by Bobby Flay, but it's all very subjective, kind of like the difference between wet & dry, and whether or not you want to use aluminum foil or not. I'm a fan of using aluminum foil, because there's alot of ash that gets kicked up during the process, even with an offset firebox. That, and I'm not reall good about getting all of the kreosote peeled off the interior of my cooking chamber, so using foil helps me from a cleanliness perspective.
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Old 01-21-2008, 09:26 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phobia
I'm not jealous at all. It's the equivalent of boiling your ribs and then carmelizing some sauce on them on your grill. It still tastes pretty good but it's not really BBQ. You can't derive near the pleasure a purist enjoys by using fire and smoke. I'm not mad at the cheaters because it makes no difference to me. I just feel sorry for them.


A cinder snob revealed!



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Old 01-21-2008, 09:37 AM   #50
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There are many good books on barbecue available but if I had to own just one it would be The Barbecue Bible by Steve Raichlen, as Tooge had mentioned. This book isn't just recipes. It's also about the equipment, tools, fuels.....basically everything involved in the process. Also, the recipes have versions for gas grills, charcoal grills and smokers, and most of them come with a story about the origins of the recipe. This book is both informative and interesting and at times entertaining.


http://www.amazon.com/Barbecue-Bible.../dp/1563058669
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Old 01-21-2008, 09:50 AM   #51
tomahawk kid tomahawk kid is online now
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Ok - I'm going to piggyback on this thread.

I bought a wood / charcoal Weber smoker last fall, and have failed miserably twice trying to cook meat on it.

The main issue is that I can't seem to get the fire to stay hot enough. It's always just below the where it needs to be per the dial on top of the smoker.

That usually leads me to add coals, which leads to the meat tasting like fuel.

Any help would be most appreciated.
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Old 01-21-2008, 09:52 AM   #52
Fried Meat Ball! Fried Meat Ball! is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomahawk kid
Ok - I'm going to piggyback on this thread.

I bought a wood / charcoal Weber smoker last fall, and have failed miserably twice trying to cook meat on it.

The main issue is that I can't seem to get the fire to stay hot enough. It's always just below the where it needs to be per the dial on top of the smoker.

That usually leads me to add coals, which leads to the meat tasting like fuel.

Any help would be most appreciated.
Is it an offset smoker or is it a large grill?

Check your vents and open them more, if possible.
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Old 01-21-2008, 10:09 AM   #53
tomahawk kid tomahawk kid is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire Me Boy!
Is it an offset smoker or is it a large grill?

Check your vents and open them more, if possible.
It's not a grill.

It's one of those cylinder shaped red Weber smokers.

Only vent on the thing (other than the fire door) is the garden variety circle vent on the lid.

I thought about drilling holes in the bottom of the charcoal pan to get more airflow.
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Old 01-21-2008, 10:16 AM   #54
Fried Meat Ball! Fried Meat Ball! is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomahawk kid
It's not a grill.

It's one of those cylinder shaped red Weber smokers.

Only vent on the thing (other than the fire door) is the garden variety circle vent on the lid.

I thought about drilling holes in the bottom of the charcoal pan to get more airflow.
I'd say it's almost assuredly a ventilation issue. You need something on the bottom to bring air in.

The garden-variety vents work perfectly, if you have them.
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Old 01-21-2008, 10:18 AM   #55
RJ RJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomahawk kid
It's not a grill.

It's one of those cylinder shaped red Weber smokers.

Only vent on the thing (other than the fire door) is the garden variety circle vent on the lid.

I thought about drilling holes in the bottom of the charcoal pan to get more airflow.


How are you starting your charcoal?
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Old 01-21-2008, 10:18 AM   #56
tooge tooge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomahawk kid
It's not a grill.

It's one of those cylinder shaped red Weber smokers.

Only vent on the thing (other than the fire door) is the garden variety circle vent on the lid.

I thought about drilling holes in the bottom of the charcoal pan to get more airflow.
A couple of suggestions. First, regulate the amount of water you are using. too much can really cool it down. Next, add quite a bit of coals at the beginning, fill that sucker up. It is easier to add water to cool it than to add heat. Next, when you add coals, never use lighter fluid. Start your coals on a chimney then just add them when they are ready. In fact, never use fuel. If you want easy start, then buy an electric igniter and put it in your chimney lighter to start. It is a piece of cake. Finally, you may need to insulate it with a moving blanket, those arent real thick. It should do fine with the holes and vents it already has. The top vents should make it almost too hot if fully opened with a decent fire and about 3/4 full of water. Oh, did I mention, dont use lighter fluid!
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Old 01-21-2008, 10:21 AM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomahawk kid
It's not a grill.

It's one of those cylinder shaped red Weber smokers.

Only vent on the thing (other than the fire door) is the garden variety circle vent on the lid.

I thought about drilling holes in the bottom of the charcoal pan to get more airflow.
From your description, it doesn't sound like you have the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker (that has an air vent on both the top and the bottom). Instead you probably have Weber's version of the ECB (El Cheapo Brinkmann) which you probably paid less than $50 for. Those are notoriously difficult to keep up to temperature, especially on a long cook. Here is how I modified mine when I had one:

As it comes out of the box, you will have a hard time keeping the temperature up into the cooking range (200 F) on this smoker, unless you add hot coals every 30 to 45 minutes. The problem is that the fire does not get enough oxygen with the fire pan provided. To increase air flow, I drilled about 30 half-inch diameter holes in the bottom of my fire pan. Then, I bought a charcoal grate from Home Depot. I set on top of a 3 inch tall collar made of aluminum flashing that sits in the drilled out fire pan. Many of the barbecue sites on the web have other detailed instructions for modification of water smokers.
As the fire burns, ash will drop through the fire grate into the fire pan. Eventually enough ash will accumulate to block the air holes, so it is important to keep these open by poking a stick around to keep the air paths open. Be careful of hot coals dropping from your smoker and starting a fire. I put my smoker on top of a large shallow pan filled with moist sand to protect my deck. Also, I heat up the water to boiling on the stove before adding to my smoker. With these modifications, I can keep the fire in a reasonable temperature range by adding wood chunks and cold briquettes a few at a time.
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Old 01-21-2008, 10:25 AM   #58
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Yeah, or you could get a WSM (weber smokey mountain) on line for about $179. They are one of the easiest to use and many of them are on the competition circuit. I frequent a site called bbqforum.com and there are lots of very nice informative folks there.
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Old 01-21-2008, 11:42 AM   #59
tomahawk kid tomahawk kid is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
How are you starting your charcoal?
Instant light.

Stacking it in pyramid style like you would a grill. Lighting it up - letting it burn off.
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Old 01-21-2008, 11:47 AM   #60
tomahawk kid tomahawk kid is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdcox
From your description, it doesn't sound like you have the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker (that has an air vent on both the top and the bottom). Instead you probably have Weber's version of the ECB (El Cheapo Brinkmann) which you probably paid less than $50 for. Those are notoriously difficult to keep up to temperature, especially on a long cook. Here is how I modified mine when I had one:

As it comes out of the box, you will have a hard time keeping the temperature up into the cooking range (200 F) on this smoker, unless you add hot coals every 30 to 45 minutes. The problem is that the fire does not get enough oxygen with the fire pan provided. To increase air flow, I drilled about 30 half-inch diameter holes in the bottom of my fire pan. Then, I bought a charcoal grate from Home Depot. I set on top of a 3 inch tall collar made of aluminum flashing that sits in the drilled out fire pan. Many of the barbecue sites on the web have other detailed instructions for modification of water smokers.
As the fire burns, ash will drop through the fire grate into the fire pan. Eventually enough ash will accumulate to block the air holes, so it is important to keep these open by poking a stick around to keep the air paths open. Be careful of hot coals dropping from your smoker and starting a fire. I put my smoker on top of a large shallow pan filled with moist sand to protect my deck. Also, I heat up the water to boiling on the stove before adding to my smoker. With these modifications, I can keep the fire in a reasonable temperature range by adding wood chunks and cold briquettes a few at a time.
That's what I thought.

Thanks for the tip.

Is the aluminum collar something you have to make yourself?
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