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Thread: Help with my new toy.

  1. Back To Top    #1
    TimS's Avatar
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    Help with my new toy.

    Everyone here has been very helpful in making me an expert with my pool. (OK, maybe I'm not an expert yet, but everyone's still been very helpful. ) First, I moved from charcoal to gas almost 10 years ago, so am a bit out of practice with charcoal. Over the past few years, most of my grilling has been ribs (beef or pork,) hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks, or chicken breasts (boneless and skinless have worked best for me.) I'll typically throw a foil pouch of hickory chips on the grill, but it isn't doing as well as I'd like.

    I got my Father's Day present a week early, and need a bit of guidance with it. After several years of looking at smokers and drooling, I finally have one. The one I have was fairly inexpensive, and purists would probably consider it a "starter" smoker, but hey, it works for me at this point. For those interested, it's the Char-Griller that Lowe's has on sale this week. (At least here in Central MO.) I have the Grill and the Side Fire Box. The whole thing was under $200 on sale. Since this was my first smoker, and I'm not sure how much I'll really wind up using it, I wasn't willing to spend several hundred on one at this time.

    Since this has cast iron grates, I spent most of the afternoon today seasoning them. Once I was done with that, I threw a bunch of hickory chips onto the charcoal I'd been using along with on a few beef ribs I had in the fridge, and wound up with the best ribs I've ever had. Even DW and my son were impressed, so it wasn't entirely the newness or the beer. (In this case, the fire was actually in the grill, as opposed to in the firebox.)

    Anyway, the first question I have is this: When building the fire in the firebox, do I use charcoal along with wood chunks or just chunks of hickory, apple, mesquite, or whatever smoking wood I'm using? Which do I use to supply the actual heat?

    How do you typically light it? I don't have one of those charcoal-lighting chimneys, but can easily get one if I need it. I'm assuming that you don't want to use lighter fluid to get it started. The little manual that came with the grill doesn't address this. It does have a few recipes/guidelines for smoking various things, that made me very hungry while waiting for the seasoning to complete.

    My second question is what tips would you have for a complete novice? I know that it takes a long time to smoke something as opposed to standard grilling. I also know that the temp is much lower for smoking than for grilling, but that's about the extent of my knowledge (Yeah, complete novice. )

    I'm hoping to smoke a pork shoulder next weekend. (Probably way too advanced for me, but hey...) Unfortunately, I won't have the time to invest in it tomorrow (Sunday) or I'd already be planning for that. I'm assuming that it will take most of the day, and I'm planning to start it pretty early.

    Finally, what recipes do you recommend for a newbie? Anything you really enjoy that's fairly straightforward?
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    Here's my "go to" shoulder/butt recipe. http://www.troublefreepool.com/pork-...ade-t5988.html

    IMO, the key to making pulled pork, if that is your goal, is that 190 degree point. That's where the meat falls apart. Wrapping it in foil helps keep the meat from drying out on the way to 190, and the "soak" in the cooler after smoking helps the juices redistribute.
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    first an foremost..like pools, you have ALOT to study and learn..I highly suggest www.meatsmokingforums.com..I am a member there and it is invaluable and a wealth of info. For your first smoke I'd suggest a pork butt or if you are into beef, a packer brisket.

    For your smoker you DO NOT want to start it with charcoal..most charcoals have lighter fluid in them, and give a horrible taste. If you can find it, good old lump charcoal is best to start your heat with. Now..depending on what you are smoking will depend on what wood you use for smoking. Apple or Pecan or Cherry are all good for pork. or even some hickory..you don't want to use mesquite for pork..as it leaves far too strong a taste. I use a mix of hickory and apple wood for my pork butt or beef briskets. Next you have to know how to prepare these cuts of meat. You'll want to learn things like what the flat of the brisket is, and what the point or tip is. What fat to remove and what to leave on.

    Next, smoking is NOT grilling. you will start your smoker, and it will heat up..but then needs to cool down and then you add your smoking wood...you will need to adjust the damper between the smokebox and meat chamber to maintain a nice even temp of about 225-250 depending on what you are smoking. Get a GOOD dual guage thermometer that measures not only the temp of the smoker, but also the internal meat temperature. This is probably your most important tool

    Lastly...there are many schools of thought on brining, marinating, basting, brushing, mopped...to sauce or not to sauce...It really is up to you. But as a purist..NO BBQ sauce for marinade or smoking. First, most all bbq sauces have sugar which when it gets hot enough carmelizes, and blackens the outside of your meat..this blocks the smoke from pentrating your meat further, and also leaves a bad, charred, burnt off flavor to the meat. If you feel you need to baste or marinade use a cider or malt vinegar based home concoction to mop or spray on.

    Again..this just lightly touches on how to get a good smoked end result. There is lots of reading and studying for you to do..but I'd be more than happy to answer more questions.

    Dan
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    Ok..I just had to reply a bit more after reading John's post. Yep 190 is golden. for a pork butt, watch the temp (fat side up on the smoker) when internal temp hits 165F..wrap in foil and continue to smoke until internal temp reaches 190...at 190...pork butt is still able to be sliced actually.....once you pull the foiled butt..wrap it in a heavy blanket, or towels, and put into a cooler and let set another 2-3 hours...it will continue to cook and redistribute it's juices. When the meat reaches a temp of 200-205..that is when the meat falls apart and will become pulled pork.

    Also..when you smoke a butt..you NEED more than 1 day. Smoking is a lengthy process if done right. Take the butt out the day before...rub down with cheap yellow mustard (don't worry you won't see it or taste it when the smoking is done, but it holds on any rub you may use) after you rub with yellow mustard...pick any dry rub of your choice or make your own. again stay away from stuff with alot of salt and sugar in it. Use natural herbs and spices. then wrap in plastic and throw in the fridge for 24 hours. Pull it out the next day..and let sit out for a few hours to come to room temp. A fridge cold butt does not accept smoke well. While the butt is coming to temp..start your smoker, and get it up to 225. Once there, you can put your butt on and start smoking. Your ideal smoke is thin, blue smoke..not big wafty clouds of white smoke.

    Hope that helps a bit more
    Dan
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    I have the very one you purchased, also a Bradley smoker. Lot's of fun, and like nails on the chalkboard at the same time...lol

    To do a decent pork butt, or brisket you may want to take a look at these "mods" for the CharGriller. Very inexpensive, but really worth the trouble for your finished product.

    Link To Mods CharGriller Mods


    Link To Some Great Recipes Great Recipes
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    This is what I like about this site - plenty of helpful advice. So much, in fact, it took quite a while to formulate responses. Thus, my responses to the responses are rather lengthy. Thank you for all the help.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    Here's my "go to" shoulder/butt recipe. pork-shoulder-tried-a-new-marinade-t5988.html
    Sounds good. I'll need to find a rub, and get an injector

    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    first an foremost..like pools, you have ALOT to study and learn.
    I'm sure. So far I know enough to really mess things up, just like I did when I first got a pool.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    I don't find http://www.meatsmokingforums.com, but I do find http://www.smokingmeatforums.com. Is that the one you meant? I assume so, since there is a "flyweed" registered there, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    you will start your smoker, and it will heat up..but then needs to cool down and then you add your smoking wood.
    When you first heat the smoker up and then allow it to cool down, what are you trying to accomplish? Is it simply to get the grates/body hot? Is there some reason you want the body of the smoker to be hot before you start? (After giving this a bit of thought, maybe it's because at a lower heat, it would take longer to get the cooking chamber body hot, thus reducing the amount of heat available for cooking.)

    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    Get a GOOD dual guage thermometer that measures not only the temp of the smoker, but also the internal meat temperature. This is probably your most important tool.
    Any suggestions on which one(s) while not spending a fortune? I assume that the thermometer in the lid of the smoker is not considered sufficient. (I also have no idea if it is anywhere near accurate.) A regular meat thermometer is probably not the best bet, if for no other reason than because you can't read it without opening the chamber. I therefore assume that you need one with a remote display.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    NO BBQ sauce for marinade or smoking. First, most all bbq sauces have sugar which when it gets hot enough carmelizes, and blackens the outside of your meat..this blocks the smoke from pentrating your meat further, and also leaves a bad, charred, burnt off flavor to the meat.
    I discovered this a long time ago. BBQ sauce (on the rare occasions I use it) goes on at the very end. Typically only long enough to get the sauce warmed up.

    John mentions letting a butt sit in the cooler for 15 minutes and Dan recommends 2-3 hours. Showing my ignorance here, but it would seem to me that 15 minutes is too short to accomplish much, but that 2-3 hours would allow it to cool down too much. In what little resarch I've done in the past, I've seen numerous comments about allowing the meat to "rest" after cooking, but have never had any idea what the point was. Is there a difference in the goal between the 15 minutes and the 2-3 hours? My best guess for the 2-3 hour method is that by the time the internal temp hits 190, the surface has presumably gotten to the point where further cooking will cause it to burn before the internal temp gets much higher. Allowing it to sit, well-wrapped, in an insulated space (cooler) will allow the heat to distribute throughtout the meat (along with the juices,) to make the temp more uniform throughout the whole thing - surface temp goes down, but internal temp comes up. Is that even close?

    On allowing it to "redistribute its juices," why does sitting in a cooler do this? My best guess is that the external heat has caused the outer portions to dry out, and that by sitting, the juices will migrate from the juicier center back to the outer layers. Is that close?


    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    Also..when you smoke a butt..you NEED more than 1 day. Smoking is a lengthy process if done right.
    I knew that it took a long time to cook on a smoker, but didn't know it took this amount of prepartion. I'd have just fired up the smoker in the morning, and thrown the meat on it, figuring it would be done by evening. This description combined with the instructions in John's recipe show me that there's tons to learn here.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    ...rub down with cheap yellow mustard...
    When I mentioned to DW that I needed to "...get some mustard to rub on my butt," she looked at me like I was nuts. The kids then jumped in with comments like "You're gonna eat a pig's butt???? Ewwwww!" That ranks right up there with the reponses to a "rump roast." The people in my house get pretty immature sometimes (except me, of course. I'm the very essence of sobriety. )

    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    A fridge cold butt does not accept smoke well.
    Assuming that this is also true of most cuts of meat, this would help explain some of the failures I've had in the past. I'll typically pull the meat out of the fridge and throw it on the grill with a few seasonings. I've never let it come to room temp.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyweed
    Your ideal smoke is thin, blue smoke..not big wafty clouds of white smoke.
    The manual that came with the smoker carried this mnemonic "If the smoke is white, the fire's right. If the smoke is black, add more draft." So, puffy white smoke it not good, after all. OK, does that mean add even more air and/or remove some of the smoking wood when when the smoke starts to turn white? I'm getting that you probably don't want the wood directly on the coals, but rather off to the side or otherwise sequestered so that it doesn't burn, but chars instead. Being completely clueless, I always thought you wanted those great clouds of white smoke.

    Quote Originally Posted by MyBad
    I have the very one you purchased, also a Bradley smoker. Lot's of fun, and like nails on the chalkboard at the same time...lol
    To do a decent pork butt, or brisket you may want to take a look at these "mods" for the CharGriller. Very inexpensive, but really worth the trouble for your finished product.
    Link To Mods CharGriller Mods
    Link To Some Great Recipes Great Recipes
    Why two smokers? The mods for the Char-Griller look interesting. I assume you've tried one or more of them? Even after simply seasoning the grates, I'd figured out I would need to do something with the ash drawer before I could do an all-day smoking project. I like the idea of pulling the drawer out to clean without disturbing the fire.
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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    OK, not to start fights, but I disagree with some of the advice here!

    Quote Originally Posted by TimS

    Anyway, the first question I have is this: When building the fire in the firebox, do I use charcoal along with wood chunks or just chunks of hickory, apple, mesquite, or whatever smoking wood I'm using? Which do I use to supply the actual heat?

    I use charcoal to start it. I usually will put a big pile of charcoal 1-2 hours before I want to put the meat on, and let it burn all the way down (it DOES NOT impart a bad flavor unless you put the meat on while it's still fresh and black). Offset smokers can be difficult to keep hot enough if you don't have a good bed of coals before you start the real smoking. After the charcoal is almost completely gone, I just use wood for the smoke+heat. For me, it's mesquite from the arroyo behind our house. The chunks from the store work fine, but logs (up to about 4 inches across and about as long as you can fit in the firebox) will make things easier. They will burn longer and more evenly. Using the chunks typically results in fluctuating temperature; that isn't all that bad really, but is kind of a pain since you have to keep checking on it at least every half hour.

    My second question is what tips would you have for a complete novice? I know that it takes a long time to smoke something as opposed to standard grilling. I also know that the temp is much lower for smoking than for grilling, but that's about the extent of my knowledge (Yeah, complete novice. )

    Lets see if I can explain this...you want to be careful that the meat can't "see" the fire at all, or that side of the meat may burn. There are lots of ways to make sure that this doesn't happen, but I think the easiest is just to strategically place some aluminum foil to block the direct heat but still let the smoke through. To keep things extra moist, I like to put a disposable pie pan on the grill right above the hole to the firebox, and fill it with water/beer/vinegar/whatever. Generally 200 degrees is about perfect. It does take a while, depending on how thick your meat is. Ribs are pretty quick (about 3 hours) but a turkey or thick roast could take all day.

    I'm hoping to smoke a pork shoulder next weekend. (Probably way too advanced for me, but hey...) Unfortunately, I won't have the time to invest in it tomorrow (Sunday) or I'd already be planning for that. I'm assuming that it will take most of the day, and I'm planning to start it pretty early.

    Yep, I would plan for most of the day. I'd probably put the meat in about 8 hours before I wanted to eat, so maybe about 10 AM. That means I'd start the fire about 8:30. No fear; a pork shoulder was the first thing I ever did, and it turned out pretty well! It's a pretty fatty cut of meat, so it's difficult to dry it out! Use a meat thermometer to check doneness, just remember you can't just put it in the meat at the beginning or it will be smoked over and opaque by the time you actually want to read it!

    Finally, what recipes do you recommend for a newbie? Anything you really enjoy that's fairly straightforward?
    Just make/get some rub, apply it, and go for it! Don't be intimidated; there are lots of fancy tips and tricks that help a little, but it's not rocket science. For your first time, I wouldn't worry about butt mustard, injecting, refrigerating, etc. Keep an eye on the temperature, and you will be happy with the results.

    Whoops, more posts since I started typing (too slow! ). The thermometer in the lid will work just fine for now. I've been using it for 4 years now, and haven't bothered to replace it. I just open the lid (sacrilege, I know ) to stick in the meat thermometer near the end, then every half hour or so if it's not quite done. Resting after cooking is a good idea with thick stuff, like a butt or shoulder or bird, etc, but isn't necessary for thin stuff like ribs, since they cool off too fast anyway!

    I don't believe that fridge temperature vs. room temperature matters at all with grilling, since the temperature difference between 40 and 500 and 75 and 500 is small enough to not matter. With smoking, I think it matters a little, but really just makes the cooking time longer.

    Smoking most things does not take more than one day, even to do it right!! I think you're being overloaded with information that you really don't need at this point. For a first smoke, a shoulder is a great idea, and you needn't worry much about it.
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    "at least 15 minutes" You'd be surprised how long it will stay hot in the cooler, especially if you wrap it in old towels too. I've pulled one off the smoker, wrapped it and put it in a cooler, hauled it an hour and a half to my sister's, and still found it uncomfortable to pull the meat. It can be hard to wait very long after you've been smelling it all day. I usually throw some old newspapers in the bottom of the cooler to make cleanup easier.

    Any instant read meat thermometer will do. The remote reading models are handy, but you can open the lid to check the temperature. You want a thremometer for smoker temperature and for meat temperature. One thing to be aware of is that the meat will hit a plateau temperature where the temperature quits climbing like it has been. The temptation is to crank up the heat to get things moving along (After all, you been smelling this thing, and you are hungry!) Patience.

    Cooking meat like this is half art, half science. My recipe will get you good meat. Techniques etc. can make it better, but everybody has their own preferences, and quirks of their equipment. Unless you totally ignore the smoker, the worst thing you cook on it will be delicious.

    To get good pink smoke ring on the meat, you need to have plenty of smoke before the meat really starts cooking. IIRC the ring stops forming at 140F, so if you don't have a good smoke going at first, you'll miss out. The smoke flavor that is acquired after 140F is, IMO, not as pleasant.

    Don't forget to throw a couple of sausage fatties on too to have something to snack on during the smoke.
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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    Oh, and one more thing!! Since there's LOTS of space in an offset smoker, every time I smoke something, I also experiment smoking various random things. Last time, I put some jalapeno ranch beans in a shallow pan and just left them in there. Turned out really well! You can also make your own chipotle peppers, just don't forget about them. If you make beer, you can smoke some hops too!
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    I will agree with one thing meltinthesun said.."it's not rocket science" I know it sounds like there is alot to it, but you'll get it all figured out and it'll become second nature.

    I hope I didn't "bog" you down with lots of info. This is my (and many other folks) basic procedure..it's nothing fancy or "over the top"...but it works, and it makes a good smoke even better. I don't know about other folks who smoke, but I ALWAYS try to improve each time...so average, is not good enough for me.

    Lastly..I didn't say you couldn't use charcoal to start it..but if you DO..get some plain old lump coal..that hasn't been "processed" and other garbage to it to get it to light faster. Again, maybe you'll taste it in your food, maybe you won't..but it'll also impart thos "chemicals..into the walls of your smoker and can leave off flavors...since your unit is new, I'd hate to have build up a ton of nasty garbage on your smoker walls instead of good natural smoke by product.

    Lastly....a good thermometer to use is the Maverick ET73...I love it...works great.

    And yeah..It was late, and I screwed up the forum name. it is indeed smokingmeatforums.com

    Dan
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    Lots of good advice here, I compete and cater professionally in BBQ. We started with a few of the SFB offset smokers like yours, even won some events. Some things I picked up from the posts here to confirm, or otherwise:

    - Use charcoal to start the fire, LUMP charcoal. I avoid briquettes. Also use a charcoal chimney starter, no fluid. For smoke flavouring, use wood chunks, or pieces, avoid the chips, they burn too fast. Check out www.smokinlicious.com for wood info.

    Once we got the temp up, we kept it up with cherry wood or apple wood pieces, adding chunks of cherry, apple, hickory for flavour. (I personally hate mesquite)

    250 is pretty much your "go to" temp for most meats. we do 225 for ribs, 250-275 for butts/shoulders and briskets, 275-325 for chicken.

    Like others of have said, get good thermometers, the Maverick ET-74 is a great dual probe that will show you the grill temp and meat temp, also its wireless.

    Have patience, the old addage "its done when its done" is true with BBQ, and if you're lookin, you ain't cookin. Keep that lid SHUT!

    Learn the hotspots on the griltop, and use them to your advantage.

    Read the BBQ forums! LOTS of great info there
    ie: BBQTalk.ca , http://www.bbq-4-u.com/forum/, www.thesmokering.com to name a few.
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    Molson...some great advice there my friend! I didn't know Maverick had an ET74.....I've got the ET73..and it is dead on accurate for both smoke box temp and internal meat temp.

    Also..agree....keep the door SHUT...don't open it up to stick in a temp probe..you loose your smoke and some of your heat. It'll only prolong the smoking process for you.

    By the way..I do compete as well...never entered anything smoked..but I have a line of my own BBQ sauce that I enter into lots of competitions. someday I'll enter some smoked butt and ribs comps.

    Dan
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    On the subject of charcoal briquettes, additives, and flavor, does brand matter? Obviously I don't want something like "MatchLight" since I know (or at least think I know ) that it is infused with lighter fluid. Since it's so far been hard for me to find lump charcoal around here, I may be stuck with briquettes unless I make a trip to "da big sitty." In the past I always used Kingsford and didn't really notice a bad flavor unless I overdid it with the lighter fluid. (Not that it wasn't necessarily there, just that I didn't notice it.) Since I'm not planning to use lighter fluid to start the fire, I'm not worried about that. I see that several of you much prefer lump charcoal, but if I can't get it, are Kingsford briquettes really bad enough to make it not worth doing? (Yeah, that's a serious question, not sarcasm.)

    The local Lowe's does carry one brand of lump, but it seems a bit on the pricey side - about twice as high as plain-old Kingsford briquettes. It's priced on a par with Kingsford Competition briquettes, or Professional, or whatever it's called, which it twice the price of normal Kingsford. If the answer is "never use briquettes," I'll just have to make it a point to pick up several months worth at a time, when I get the chance. (Sam's Club in "da big sitty" supposedly sells lump charcoal #40 for $14.95, which is only slightly higher than what I paid for a #10 bag at Lowe's yesterday. I'll have to stock up next time I get up there. May even have to make a special trip. Not that it's that far away, but it's not exactly a trip to the corner store, either. )

    I've also learned recently that way back when I did use charcoal, I was using waaaay too much. One of the biggest reasons I switched to gas was because it would allow me to control the heat better. I prefer low and slow for most things, and I was often getting crispy outside with cold raw center. While researching something else a few months ago, I came across some guidance for using charcoal that told me I'd been doing it all wrong back then. (Figures)

    Quote Originally Posted by Melt In The Sun
    ...you want to be careful that the meat can't "see" the fire at all, or that side of the meat may burn.
    I assume that this means no direct, unimpeded line (line-of-sight) between the meat and the fire.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    It can be hard to wait very long after you've been smelling it all day. [snip]Don't forget to throw a couple of sausage fatties on too to have something to snack on during the smoke.
    Isn't that the truth. When the neighbor used to do brisket, we'd all be going nuts while he was demanding patience. I run into it myself, and often have to chop off a few small chunks before I start so I can can "taste test" when it starts getting close. (Really, it's all in the interest of making sure it comes out right, not because I can't wait.)

    What's a sausage fatty? Is it something like a brat or Italian sausage?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    The smoke flavor that is acquired after 140F is, IMO, not as pleasant.
    Does this mean that if you run out of smoking wood at that point you won't replenish it, and just rely on the charcoal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Melt In The Sun
    After the charcoal is almost completely gone, I just use wood for the smoke+heat. For me, it's mesquite from the arroyo behind our house.
    In my case, without a ready supply of wood, charcoal is going to be cheaper for me, I think.

    Since I'm not a big mesquite fan, I use a lot of hickory. I really like hickory on beef and chicken, but so far, prefer apple for pork. This morning I discovered that I have a source for it (one of the local pool stores, of all places.) They also can order cherry, so I can give that a shot at some point, too. (I'd never heard of using cherry or pecan before this thread.) If there's another source in town, I haven't found it yet.


    Quote Originally Posted by Melt In The Sun
    If you make beer, you can smoke some hops too!
    Smoked beer??? I've heard of a few different beer-making techniques, but that's a new one on me. (Hops are not edible, are they?)

    Dan, no you didn't overload me. It's a lot of information, but I don't need to try it all at once. (Kind of like the first time I read through Pool School. )

    So far, I'm having trouble finding the ET-73. Every place I've look is sold out. That must be the one I want since this ad for it (http://www.partshelf.com/maet73.html) has a picture of my smoker in the background.
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  14. Back To Top    #14
    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    Sam's Club carries lump charcoal, for sure.

    There is not much simpler than a Sausage Fatty: Take a roll of breakfast sausage of your choice. Strip the plastic wrap off and smoke it.........

    If you like, roll it in your favorite rub before smoking ( I use Famous Dave's), or flatten it out and add whatever sounds good like jalapenos or cheese and roll it back up. Normally takes about an hour and a half, turning it once. Make at least two if you like sausage at all, because they disappear quickly. The texture will be different than standard fried sausage.

    Sunday afternoon was a heck of a hot day in Indiana, and I started smoking a brisket about 11 Saturday night. Put a couple of fatties on the rack at about 10:30 Sunday morning and nothing could have tasted much better with a cold beer by the pool for lunch.

    The deal with the 140 degrees is, IMO, you want the fire to be smoking when you first put the meat on. If it's hot and not smoking, the meat will warm before the smoke can penetrate and you get a less pleasant smoke flavor. There's a tendency to figure you can adjust the burn later, but I believe it's most important to have the burn right before the meat goes on. Later, smoke is not as important and you have some leeway.
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  15. Back To Top    #15
    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    I must admit I've used briquettes to start the smoker a couple of times , just when I'm too lazy to go out to get lump charcoal. We always have briquettes around since DW likes using them when she cooks. It doesn't impart any off flavor, but I do make extra sure that it's all burned to ash before putting the meat on.

    That is what I meant by "see" the fire. I learned that the hard way the first time I used my offset smoker since the vertical type I had used before doesn't have that issue.

    You don't smoke the beer per se, just the hops. I'm not a homebrewer, but my brother is, and I've smoked some hops for him once. He was making a smoked porter, which tastes like...porter + wood smoke. I've seen some for sale at liquor stores; it's worth a try if you like dark beer and barbecue.

    I'm not a huge fan of mesquite either, but I don't dislike it and you can't beat the price! I would love to use apple, but it is a bit too expensive down here (we're a ways from apple country!).
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    TimS...if ya wanna try something different sometime..give a beef brisket a good smoke over a mix of peach and apricot wood....OMG!! yeah...making me drool now. it is my favorite wood to smoke beef with now. Now I gotta go get me a brikset tomorrow. ha ha ha

    Dan
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  17. Back To Top    #17
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    Brisket on peach and apricot. Now that sounds good!!! I don't care for apricots themselves, but the smoke (mixed with peach) I might actually like.

    Last night, I discovered why you recommend a good, dual-probe thermometer. I was trying to smoke a few 1"-thick pork chops. After reading a number of comments about the thermometer in the Char-Griller being mounted too high to be useful, I added a couple more to the lid at grill level. I had tested all three with ice water and boiling water, and they all read pretty accurately.

    Since I haven't yet been able to find the Maverick you recommended (and didn't find any dual-probe locally) I just picked up a single-probe from Lowe's. While trying to heat the grill up, I had the probe on the grill, near one the the new thermometers. It was reading anywhere from 50 to 75 degrees higher than the thermometers I had just installed (and tested.) This was a bit frustrating, I put the probe in the center of the grill, and got a reading over 300, while the others were reading closer to 200. I expected some minor variations between them, but not that much. I discounted the electronic one, since I'd verified the others, and just tried to keep the heat around 250 on the other three. That was a major challenge. I had a horrible time getting it above 250, which I attribute somewhat to poor charcoal management. (I did manage to hit the "thin blue smoke" target for a while, but since the only apple I had around was chips in a foil pouch, it took a lot of pouch movement to keep it there, and I finally lost it to puffy white clouds.)

    Anyway, with the probe actually in the meat, it seemed to work fine, as verified by my thermo-fork which was reading within 10 degrees of the probe. It took about 30 minutes to get from 65 to 160, which seems too short to me if my temp was really 250. Unfortunately, I'm sure that the heat in the center of the grill was indeed closer to 350 than 250, because they were starting to dry out, even with a pan of water and beer right next to the firebox. They tasted good, but were drier than I had hoped.

    This morning I verified the probe with ice water and boiling water, and it was spot on. Thinking about it now, I suppose that part of the discrepancy last night may have been that the probe was laying on the cast iron grates, while the others are all measuring air temp, thus the probe was measuring grate temp as opposed to air temp. Does that make sense? I wouldn't expect them to be too much hotter than the max air temp I was able to hit, but I'm not positive.

    Anyway, off the smokingmeatforums to see what more I can learn.
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  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    yeah...dont lay the probe on the grate..or even touch anything metal in the smoker...shove the probe through a potato so the end comes through the other side, and sits up off the grate..this will give you a spot on reading.

    Dan
    33' x 52" Swim and Play Inc. PARAGON AGP. Hayward H200 Heater. Hayward Power-Flo LX 1.5hp pump. Sta-Rite Cristal Flo T-210WF Sand Filter. Stenner 45M5 chlorine pump

  19. Back To Top    #19
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    A potato! I was looking through the various junk I have laying around trying to decide what would make a good stand for it. Never even thought about a potato. I almost always have a few (useless and mushy) potatoes sitting around.

    Finally found the Maverick ET73 on Amazon. For whatever reason I was unable to find it there previously, and could only find the ET7.
    24' AG Round (vinyl replaced 0909) - 13500 gal - Sand Dollar Filter (150lb) - Dynamo DYNII-N1-1 1HP - Hayward HP380 Heat Pump - TF-100.
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  20. Back To Top    #20
    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my new toy.

    Brining will help with the moisture content in chops. It's basically soaking the chops in a mixture of sugar, salt, water and any spices, fruit juices etc. that suit your fancy. Brining chops takes several hours vs. as much as a day for a roast. I tend to brine chops and loin only. It's as much of a personal taste as rubs and sauces, so enjoy experimenting with it.

    I often throw a half dozen thick chops on the smoker along with a couple of fatties when I'm doing a long smoke. The chops reheat relatively well and are good to pack for lunch at work. Beats all heck out of a bologna sandwich!

    Live by your thermometer to judge when the meat is done. Loin and chops are done at way lower temperatures than a shoulder or butt, and dealing with a loin or chops is like a totally different animal than the other roasts.

    Chili is another interesting thing to smoke!

    Here's one of my favorite sites: http://www.barbecuen.com
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