Dumb newbie questions about smoke

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by jkindgren, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. jkindgren

    jkindgren Newbie

    I am new to this and just got a Masterbuilt propane smoker for my birthday.  I just seasoned it today and am wondering how much smoke I am supposed to have coming out while cooking.  Is it supposed to be rolling out of there or just a light amount of smoke, and do you typically have to add chips every half hour to 45 minutes?  I thank anyone for any advice I can get.  I am getting excited to actually be able to smoke something.
  2. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Repeat after me....TBS  Thin Blue Smoke..... failure to compy will get you sent to the board where you'll have to write it 100 times.  Welcome aboard.  If you haven't already, wander over to the 5 day course and pickup some excellent information.  Others will be along to give you other leads to follow on your startup on this site. 

    New propane user, eh.  OK, thin blue smoke is the gold standard, rolling smoke is bad juju.  You'll be putting all kinds of soot on the meat and it will get bitter.  Remember, low and slow gets the job done and of course  TBS.
  3. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No such thing as a 'dumb' question - only dumb answers; don't ever be afraid to ask something!  This is a whole strange world you're entering into and everyone has lots of questions, and with the price of meat today none of us can afford to make too many mistakes, that's the wonder and result of all of us coming together here to share and listen and learn!  The only 'dumb' question is the one you failed to ask and got less than great results!  We all bring something to the table and can contribute, whether it's in smoking or welding or paperwork or planning or just enjoying being part of such a great group of people!  Thanks so much for joining us!

    Have you been over to Roll Call and introduced yourself? We'd love to see pics (known as 'Qview') of your smoker and setup and get to know you and properly welcome you!  You'll find you'll fit in just fine with all of the rest of us obsessive smokaholics, lol!
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First off, welcome to SMF. Some call it Ninja smoke or TBS. What they mean is you don't even have to see the smoke, if you can smell it so can the meat. The worst thing you can have is billowing white smoke.
  5. jkindgren

    jkindgren Newbie

    Great thanks for the replies.  I guess two more questions.  How often do you typically have to add more wood chips in a gas smoker and when you do, do you remove the used up chips or just add more fresh chips on top of the old ones.  I just want to get prepared, my wife an I are having some freinds over for dinner next saturday and i am going to attempt to smoke something, havent decided what yet, for the first time.  I guess if i mess it up, there is alway delivery.  Any suggestions on an easy newbie dinner?
  6. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Not sure on the chips question as I have never used a gasser.... but rule of thumb is if you smell smoke your getting smoke. So use your nose, and generally most folks apply smoke to the meat for the first 3-4 hrs. then just let the heat do its job.

    As for an easy dinner I suggest spare ribs - if you can have the butcher at the store cut them to St. Louis style (or look up the wiki on this site about doing it yourself). Get your smoker going at a steady 220-240°, put a thin coat of plain yellow mustard on the ribs (glue), then apply your rub. Put the ribs in the smoker for 3 hrs., then wrap them in two layers of heavy foil (1x rack of ribs per pack), put them back in the smoker for 1.5 hrs., take them out of the foil, give them a coat of BBQ sauce, and put them back in the smoker for another hour. Serve with some other great food! [​IMG]

    You only really need to have the smoke going for the first 3 hrs. This method is known as 3-2-1, each number is the number of hours in the step of the cooking process. Most of us cut the 2 hrs. in the foil down to 1.5 hrs. because 2 full hours makes the ribs so tender that they fall apart when you go to put them back on the grills for the last hour.

    Good luck and don't forget the Qview! [​IMG]
  7. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Welcome to SMF, Glad to have you with us.

    This is the place to learn, lots of good info and helpful friendly Members.

    For those of you new to Smoking, be sure to check out Jeff's 5 Day Smoking Basics eCourse.

    Click Here it's "FREE" ... 5 Day eCourseE
  8. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Back again.  Since I use a gasser, I guess I can answer your more direct question about when to add chips.  For the most part, I usually add chips or chunks for about half the anticipated smoking time.  If you figure 3 hours for applying heat to get the product done, I'd put the smoke to it for about 1 1/2 to at most 2 hours.  The thermometers in the doors of the gassers are notorious for being off the mark from a little bit to a lot off.  If you can remove the thermometer from the door, give it the hot water test.  Boil up some water, to where you've got bubbles, stick the probe in the water and see what temperature you get.  If you're at sea level, it should be close to 212*.  Write down the difference, you'll need to know what that is.  Then let the probe cool off and do the same trick with ice water, and see what it is.  If you've got a meat thermometer (usually, a little more accurate)  to compare it with, all the better.  Plus, you have to remember, the door thermometer is only measuring the temp at the level where the probe is mounted.  Higher up, the temp will be higher.

    Chips.  Better if you can get chunks or better yet, big chunks, but you gotta work with what you got available.  If you have a decent chip tray made of cast iron, you're off to a good start.  I usually just throw in a fair hand full of the flavor for the day (more an emotional decision than a scientific one), let that smoke )(gently, of course), then when its done generating smoke, I'll toss more in, on top of the old embers.  Remember TBS.  You gotta watch your temp like a hawk.  It is preferable to keep the chamber temp in the 215 to 230 range (chicken or other poultry, with skin attached, I like to bump it up to 250-270 range).  Top vent should be wide open.  Bottom vents, on my GOSM (a big block smoker) I like to run fully open or no less than half open.  As you become more familiar with the quirks of your smoker, you'll get more comfortable with what it can and can't do for you. 

    Since you've got some time before your dinner, I'd suggest running your smoker in some trial runs to get the feel of the beast.  Yes, you do want to put hot water in the water pan.  It will help stablilize the chamber temp and add some moisture to the cooking process.  Remember, when adding meat to your smoker, expect a temp drop as the meat will be adding what we call a cold mass.  Once the meat comes up to chamber temp (the chill of the meat disappears) your chamber temp will come back up.  Don't be tempted to crank the gas flow up......if you have the smoker stablilized at your target temp before adding meat, it'll get back to it.  If it hasn't within about 30 mins or so, I'll increase the glow, just a bit, but generally it's not a real problem.  Got a remote thermometer?  Don't stick the probe into the meat until the surface of the meat has been exposed to a minimum of 140* for a minimum of 30 minutes.  Myself, if I know it's going to be a long smoke.....like 3-4 hours, I won't stick it until about 2.5 hours have passed.  No point in any earlier, it'll just tell you your meat is still sorta cold and you've got a long ways to go yet anyway.

    The real thing you want to take away from all this is that the foregoing is just the way I've been playing with my GOSM's (propane smoker) for the past few years and have had reasonable success with it.  Other smokers will have their way of doing things and of course, that's perfectly acceptable. 

    Now, what you gonna smoke?  We stand ready to help you through the whole procedure......it's our thing... you might say.

    And, as was mentioned earlier, there are no dumb questions.  If you don't know, it would be foolish to pass up the wealth of knowledge (or opinions, which there seem to be a lot of lately) here.

    Remember TBS.

  9. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Edit: since Huddler program is acting funky and won't let me edit the normal way.

    substitute FLOW for glow in the 3rd paragraph.

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