1st Smoke on WSM 14in & Q-view

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by phillychick, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. phillychick

    phillychick Newbie

    Hi All,

     Well, I finally did my first smoke and it was something else!! I was initially nervous because I wasn't used to using charcoal as I have a gas grill. I assembled all of my supplies and thought I was ready to go.  After reading through the forum, I decided to splatchcock the chicken. The bird was seasoned the night before and had been marinating in the refrigerator overnight.  When I tried to light the lump charcoal that I was using, it seemed to take a long time.  Although I purchased a chimney starter, I didn't use it because I didn't think that I would need that much lump charcoal. [Wrong!!]  I put the chicken on the top shelf and used apple juice in the bowl and apple wood chunks.  Since this was my first time using my WSM, I didn't really know if it was going to hold the temperature for the entire time I used it. To my delight, it did.  This is when I must say that I didnt' have enough lump charcoal and I had to add some more because the temperature wouldn't get high enough.  Once the bird got on the smoker, I was mesmerized by the temperature gauge.  I put a chair on the deck and just kept watching it, like it was a baby. I was excited and couldn't wait until it was finished.  Here are the things that I believe I need to work on or did wrong:

    1. I kept the chicken on the smoker way too long, especially since it was splatchcocked. It was on there about 6 hours.

    2. Tried to eyeball the chicken to see if was done since the meat thermometer that I have is broken.  I need one.

    3. I opened the vents with my fingers,not thinking that 225 degrees is very hot. Burned my fingers. Rookie mistake.  I need some gloves.

    4. The skin of the chicken was tough.  I couldn't eat it.  

    5. Since it was cold and windy, I need to take that into account when smoking. 

    6. I was confused because the Weber manual says to use briquettes and I had lump. I wasn't sure how much to use and I didn't put enough in the first time.

     Overall, I don't think that I did too bad especially since I didn't burn down the deck,LOL.  My family like the flavor and I can't wait to put a pork butt in the smoker.  

    Thanks for reading and any comments are appreciated≥
    mike5051 and disco like this.
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The chicken looks very good from here, but 6 hours?

    It just had to be dry.

    You need to get a thermometer with a probe so you can see the internal temp of the meat your cooking.

    This is a must especially with chicken. You don't want to make someone sick with under cooked chicken.

    Otherwise this is how I start my WSM. Charcoal & chunks mixed up, with about 12-14 lit briquettes in a little pile.

    If you have leftover charcoal when the food is done, just shut all the vents & the fire will go out. Then shake the ash off the next time & use the leftover charcoal.


    Hope this helps 

  3. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    That chicken looks great!  Like Al said, a quality thermometer is a must.  I've smoked two turkeys on my WSM and they took less than 4 hours each time.  6 hours for a chicken sounds extreme.  Points for a great first smoke!  

  4. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Allow me to say that you had one of the best first cooks that I have ever read. Reason: You know exactly what you did, how it worked for you and how you can improve. What an awesome learning experience. I think Al and Mike have you on the right track. I light my lump with hot briqs and it gets going really good. Use as much lump as you want to. You can close all of the vents when you're done and save what coal is left over for the next cook.

    Good luck and good smokin', Joe Thumbs UpThumbs Up
    phillychick likes this.
  5. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey, PC, your first chicken looks sooooo much better than my first one did. The advice about the thermometer is spot on. It makes the whole process so much easier and really takes the guess work.

    Continue to meditate on your rigs thermometer, learn the zen of smoking and have fun!

    Points for a great first smoke!

    phillychick likes this.
  6. phillychick

    phillychick Newbie

    Thanks for reading my long post and responding. It really helped me.
  7. keitha

    keitha Smoke Blower

    That looks really good!

    I have used a wsm with a stoker for a while, and as you have already found out, it holds heat like a champ.

    A few points from my own small experience:

    1. Stick with the lump. Load your ring up with the lump and a few chunks of wood (don't overdo it!) and hit in a few spots with a blow torch. It will run for hours like that. At the end, you can just close the vent and re-use what's left, if you want.

    2. My personal feeling about the water pan is that it's primary job is to be a heat sink, and secondarily to add some humidity to the heat. No need to flavor it, imho.

    3. A remote thermometer will really make your life better.

    4. I feel you on the "cold and windy"..an old blanket is your friend.

    Good luck!
  8. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    PC & Keith, Use the bowl a few times with water, then a few times with sand. That way you will understand what everyone will say. Then, just get a clay saucer from your Lowe's garden center and put it in the water bowl. It gets hot, holds the heat, doesn't need a lot of cleaning and really works well.
  9. keitha

    keitha Smoke Blower

    I actually just foil it when it I use the stoker. I agree that sand would be just fine, although I do like the addition of the moisture from the pan. I didn't like putting the meat on the lower rack, right over the water. I felt like it interfered with the development of the bark. My solution was to loosely lay a piece of foil over the water pan, which deflected the water vapor to the edges. That worked pretty well.
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    In my mini-WSM's and my 18.5" I use the "side light method". As mentioned above you fill the charcoal basket/ring full with fuel and add your smoke wood. I use 3-4 2"-3" chunks of wood. Assemble the smoker. Open all vents. Light a propane torch and stick it through one of the holes in a lower vent. Let it run until your pit temp is about 30-50 degrees above your targeted put temp. Shut it off. The temp will drop. If it drops more than 20 degrees below your targeted temp repeat. If you are 20 or less let the smoker come up to temp by itself. Adjust lower vents as needed. Always leave your exhaust wide open.

    For higher temp 285+ degree pit temps I will light through two different vents to get more fuel burning.

    When your cook and s done shut all vents to snuff fire. Next cook shake ash off, empty ash out of base add more fuel.

    I am a dry pit smoker. The water is counterproductive when trying to smoke when weather conditions aren't ideal. I always just foul the water bowl for easy clean up and let it be dry.

    Using the side light method I can get 12-14 hours or cook time using briquettes in my mini-WSM. 20-22 hours in the 18.5". Using lump I can get 6-8 hours in the mini and 14-18 in the WSM. When using lump you need to tight pack it and not just dump it in.

Share This Page