Advice for first smoke

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by mdm6, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. mdm6

    mdm6 Newbie

    Hi everyone.

    I've done quite a bit of reading around and I am feeling kind of ready to try pulled pork.

    I still have a question: should all of the charcoal be grey/white before adding food to smoke?

    Also, any general advice would be greatly appreciated.


  2. Hello and welcome to the fun.  Many good folk here with a load of experience that they are more than willing to share.  If you have specific questions just start a thread and someone with experience will be along soon to offer advice.  Spend some time doing some research on the forums, tons of advice and recipes already available there.  The trial and error method works well.  We will try to help you keep the errors to a minimum.  We look forward to your contributions.  I will assume you have seasoned your smoker and sealed every leak you can.  I always advise the same with this question.  Chicken leg quarters and maybe some burgers with just salt and pepper.  Easy to do and cheap to buy.  I know!  I know!  You have been reading for weeks, now have your smoker, you are ready to get started and this idiot says chicken legs and burgers??  WHAT??  The first few smokes are about learning to control temps in YOUR smoker.  Each one can be different.  If that first smoke burns, the dog gets a good meal.  If it ain’t done, finish it in the oven.  Little money lost and with luck you still get a good meal.  TEMP CONTROL!! IS THE KEY!!  Have fun.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  3. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Pulled pork is pretty easy and if you undercook you have good SLICED pork. And you can get pretty high over the finish temp before the meat is ruined. As long as you can monitor internal temp you'll be fine. For pulled pork get it to 200 to 205 finish temp and then wrap it in double foil and let it rest for a good hour. And pork butt or shoulder can take the heat so you can smoke it at 250 or higher with no loss of taste or tenderness. Best of luck.
  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Matt, not sure what type of smoker you have but let me try and answer the question in bold above.

    For charcoal in the chimney starter, make sure it is all hot and ashed over before you add it to the cold charcoal and wood in the smoker.  You want that hot charcoal to have maximum energy when you add it to the cold charcoal and wood chunks/splits loaded in the smoker.  The cold fuel itself DOES NOT have to be grey/white before you add food to the smoker. 

    What is most important is the smoke itself coming out of the smoker.  You want to see hints of blue in the smoke before you add food to the smoker.  If you add food while the smoke is grey or white it can build up a layer of ash on the meat that will taste yucky and make your food black.  That white/grey smoke is due to the wood chunks/splits carbonizing and burning incompletely while coming up to temp.  Once the hints of blue appear you have a fire that is burning more efficiently and cleanly, giving the smoke we all want to taste.

    When I first started smoking I waited until the smoke turned blue and the smoker was at my desired chamber temp before I loaded the meat.  It would take about an hour to 90 minutes for that to happen.  Now, I can reach temps fairly quickly and then watch for the hints of blue as a sign when to load the meat.  I can be smoking in 30-45 minutes most days after I dump the chimney on the cold charcoal and wood.  

    Have fun and keep us posted on the pulled pork!

  5. mdm6

    mdm6 Newbie

    Thanks a lot for the advice Ray, it's now making much more sense. I will let you know how things go. What's the coldest outdoor temperature you have smoked in?

  6. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Matt, you're welcome.  I'm in NorCal so the coldest was in the upper 30's, and that was just the other day when I double smoked a ham.  It warmed into the upper 40's by the time it was finished. 
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014

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