Beginner needs help

Discussion in 'Pork' started by mdsmith, May 21, 2008.

  1. mdsmith

    mdsmith Newbie

    I just bought a charcoal grill. Its a rectangular one with a lid on the top, a door on the front to add coals and a charcoal grate that move up and down by turning the crank on the front. I plan to attempt smoking a pork shoulder this weekend. I got a nice 17 lb. one that is cut in two pieces. I'm only planning on smoking one piece for now. I got my hardwood charcoal and a bag of hickory chuncks. My question is how to arrange the meat and coals. If I crank the grate all the way down it's at least a foot from the cooking grates. Should I spread out the coals evenly and crank the grate all the way down or put the coals on one side and the meat on the other? Also, once I get the coals going, how many wood chuncks do I need to add at a time? Sorry for being so long winded.
  2. ron50

    ron50 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the forum. You want the coals so the temperature at grate level is between 225 and 250. Make sure your thermometer is calibrated and see at what level the charcoal need to be to maintain that temp in your smoker.

    If you have a water pan between the coals and the meat I wouldn't bother with pushing the coals to the side. You can just mound the charoal and put a piece or two of smoking wood directly in.

    Remember you want a thin blue stream of smoke, not a white billowy smoke. Use the amount of wood you need to maintain that and replenish as it burns up. Usually 1 -3 chunks at a time is plenty and adjust as necessary.
  3. mdsmith

    mdsmith Newbie

    Thanks for the reply. Where would I put the water pan? On the cooking grate of on the coal grate? I figured I'd need to put the water pan directly under the pork and the coals next to the pan. So the position of the coals is really just a way to control the temp? Underneath the meat or off to the side doesn't really matter as lon as the heat is at the right temp? Sorry for all the questions, but I have people coming over for a cook out and I don't want to make an *** of myself
  4. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    sounds like ya got one of them "kingsford bbq cookers" I have seen at lowes. I would shove the coals off to the side, and get the grate as far away as you can to start with, then adjst it to what will get you into the 225-250 temps near your food.

    Don't oversmoke your first bit of meat, just a chunk or two every hr for a couple hrs. The Lump will also add some flavoring(smoke). Read some of the "sticky's" in the pork forum and be prepared for a 10-14 hr smoke session, that means a lot of fuel, and some babysitting.

    As hard as it will be, try not to open the lid very much, only when necessary, or it will take alot longer.If you are planning on serving this shoulder to your guest the same day as you are smoking it, better get up very early to be sure it is done in time.

    Have fun, hope you have a wonderfull smoke, and the food turns out great!
  5. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    almost forgot, you might wanna head over to the "roll call" forum and introduce yourself. Probably get more replies if ya do![​IMG]
  6. mdsmith

    mdsmith Newbie

    Thanks, I'm headed over there now[​IMG] . Oh, and I plan on doing the smoking on Saturday, and the cookout on Sunday.
  7. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have smoked on something like that a couple of times before (Brinkmann Dual Zone). Put the pork on one side and the coals far as you can to the other side.

    Do you have a way to control the air flow in that model? If so, you can probably do a minion method/snake kind of thing, if you can't, be prepared to add some fuel every 30 to 45 minutes. On the DZ more fuel just meant bigger fire since there was no way to control the air, so I was forced to mess with stuff constantly and also had to be satisfied with temps being from 225 to 300. It was quite a challenge and honestly it was fun.......but only becuase I didn't have to use that all the time. [​IMG]

    You can do it, but fire management is key. Make sure you can babysit the thing and don't get too worked up over keeping a steady temp. Find a temp range you can live with and give it your best shot.
  8. stacks

    stacks Smoke Blower

    I might suggest using your grill a couple of times to get a feel for it. I've got a Kingsford built much like yours. With ALL the vents closed there is no way to regulate the heat. The charcoal will get enough air to reach its max temp (sometimes over 400 degrees) then die out to ash. I only use mine for grilling and indirect heat for chicken. For me it would be too difficult to do a long low slow smoke.
    Hope this helps.
  9. mdsmith

    mdsmith Newbie

    Should the wood chunks go on or next to the coals? And I thought I also heard something about soaking them in water before using them. Is that true?
  10. mdsmith

    mdsmith Newbie

    Why would I keep all the vents closed? I though you need circulation.
  11. memphisbud

    memphisbud Smoke Blower

    I agree with Capt. Dan, mound on one side, and put the meat on the other. I would also (and I've done this with great success), put the water pan directly under your pork so the fat and rub get in there, and essentially baste the meat while it's smoking. I sometimes also put an quartered sweet onion, sometimes a quartered granny smith apple, and to really sweeten it up, put some sprite/7 up in there with the water...makes a really sweet smoky taste![​IMG]
  12. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Make sure the exhaust vent is all the way open always while cooking.
    You can soak your chunks if ya want to, but the water really only gets about 1/4 inch into them chunks unless you soak them for days. Lay the chunks close to the coals, you want them to smolder without lighting on fire if you can!

    If this cooker gets too hot and its not easy to do the whole smoke in it, just do the best ya can for a few hrs, and finish in the oven if you have to.
  13. stacks

    stacks Smoke Blower

    Since I don't know the type of unit your using, only the description; I'm going on the assumption it is similar to mine. To keep your temps within range, you give or take away the amount of air the fire can have to burn. More air flow = hotter fire. Less air flow = cooler fire (a smoking fire) with plenty of air, your fuel (wood, lump, or charcoal) will burn very hot very fast and burn out. For smoking most meats you want heat in the 220 to 260 range. When folks talk about "tending the fire" on their smoker they are talking about opening closing their air vents as well as adding fuel.

    My point is; on "My" grill with the vents open or closed the fire is getting enough air to reach 400 degrees which is waaaaay to hot to smoke. [​IMG]

    When I bought it and started using it I tried to regulate the air flow for cooler temps and slower cooking but found it to be impossible. I dont even try the vents anymore and leave them closed all the time.

    Since your grill is brand new (and you will want to season it anyway before your first cooking venture) play with the vents to see how the temp reacts to different amounts of air. Then you will have an idea of how each adjustment effects your fire.

  14. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    May i ask how you control your heat then??? [​IMG]
  15. mdsmith

    mdsmith Newbie

    That sounds awesome !!! I can't wait. Now I have a reason to sit outback all day and drink some beer with my buddy.
  16. mdsmith

    mdsmith Newbie

    Gotcha. Thanks for the advice. If it wont work, maybe there's someway I can build a fire box on the side. I weld for a living, so I should be able to come up with something[​IMG]
  17. stacks

    stacks Smoke Blower

    Hey Bubba - In short - I don't. But as I said in an earlier post I mostly use the thing for grilling. The Kingsford Masterbuilt has a large cooking area. I build my fire as far to one side as possible and cook on the other side when needing indirect heat. Don't get me wrong, opening the air vents will make the fire hotter but there is no "control." With the vents and the lid closed the factory installed gage will spike around 400 and then start going down if I don't add coals. It's annoying and limits the versatility of the cooker but in my search for a grill with a large cooking area I've gone through three in as many years. I'll muddle along with this one for a while to keep peace in the family.
    I smoke on my Brinkman Cimarron offset
  18. keenbbq

    keenbbq Newbie

    I have several friends who have asked the one question that I see almost everyday "what is better gas or charcoal?". The answer to this question is simple "neither". When you look into purchasing a new barbecue you simply need to look at how much you intend on using it. A charcoal barbecue is great for people who only use it a few times a year as they are very cheap and easy to setup. People who are intending on using the barbecue on a weekly basis are better buying gas. Gas barbecues are cheaper but cost less to run over a long period. The most important thing that anyone should take into account is to make sure your barbecue comes with a ten year warranty this show that the product is of good quality and if you have any issues you will be able to get them resolved with ease. I have met alot of people who have gone out and brought a cheap suppermarket brand barbecue only for them to have to go out and buy a good quality one two weeks later. My personal favourite barbecue would have to be the Smokey Joe Portable. This barbecue comes with a ten year warranty and only costs £24.99. I have used my Smokey Joe Portable at home and when away at music festivals and camping trips. Take my advice and invest in a well known brand barbecue and you will still have it in years to come.[​IMG]
  19. jbchoice1

    jbchoice1 Smoking Fanatic

    annnnnnnd, welcome. you just figured out the secret.

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