First Smoke...WSM18.5...what do I need?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by doctroll, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. So I'm getting a WSM 18.5 for my birthday. Super excited after doing all the research and reading the reviews. But it's a little hard to figure out all the miscellaneous gear I need to go with it....

    I know the following

    1) WSM +/- seasoning

    2) Charcoal briquettes

    and then what? I see people talking about separate 3) temp probes, 4) charcoal chimneys, 5) wood chunks, 6) water pans, etc etc. What I can't tell is what I absolutely need for sucess and what is just going to give me an edge up as I become more "advanced", i.e. I can buy down the road.

    For a bare minimum what do I need to smoke my first pork butt and turkey on next Sunday if I get the grill, put it together, maybe season it, on Saturday.

    Thanks for your input.

    PS I tried to search for a starter thread but didn't find one that answered this question. If I missed it, kindly point me in that direction and I'll say no more!
  2. Your gonna need charcoal and wood.  For a butt maybe apple or hickory wood. You'll figure out what you like (taste) as you do more.  I recommend either Stubbs or Kingsford Competition coal.  Absolutely do not use match light under any circumstances. 

    For a nice 6-8# butt, I recommend a chimney to start about 20 coals and poor them over a completely full charcoal ring of coal and a few woods chunks with the vents 100% open.  Leave the top vent open 100% throughout the cook.  You can start the chimney with a cpl sheets of newspaper - I use those parafin cubes.  When the fire gets to 200* shut the vents to 50% open.  The goal is to get the fire to slow to between 225* and 250* and maintain that throughout the cook.  Once well seasoned it will be rock solid at a certain vent setting (you'll figure out your cooker).  when the fire is ready, put your meat on with the goal of getting from 40* to 140* within 4 hrs and let it go to about 200*.  If it stalls you can foil it to keep increasing the temp to save time, or let it go - the temp will begin rising again eventually.

    I recommend following the Renowned Mr Brown recipe for your first butt.  You're gonna need thermometer to determine when your food is done. 

    The water pan comes with the WSM so your OK there...but I recommend using heavy duty alum foil to cover the inside and outside of the water pan to make cleanup easier.  Just change the foil between cooks for a new start. 

    Good luck - you're gonna love the results!
  3. smokinal

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

    Sounds like Bama has you covered. Good luck & don't forget your camera!
  4. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'd say the only thing that's imperative other than charcoal and wood is a good dual probe thermometer. The thermometer in the lid of the cooker won't be accurate, and you'll really need to know what's going on not only in your cooker but your meat as well. As a new smoker, it's a lot easier to cook to a certain temperature than it is to try and gauge doneness by feel. I was convinced I didn't need the thermo, but having gotten one it's made everything 100% easier and more consistent. By the way, don't probe your meat til the 4 hour mark, just to be completely safe.

    Good luck!!
  5. Thanks everyone for the replies. Y'all rock! I think I'm gonna be set.

    1) Got a Maverick ET-73 coming with the smoker, and already some wood and charcoal.

    2) Gonna order a chimney today.

    3) It seems like from my reading that the general sequence should be: set the charcoal and wood in the smoker, fire up the chimney, once those coals are hot drop them in and then fire up the smoker, get it up to temp (~250F) and then throw in the butt and bird (turkey or chicken haven't decided) at the same time and just pull the bird earlier?

    4) What kind of internal temp goals should I have. And what's the time frame? I got a lotta beer and cigars so could do an all day smoke...

    5) What are the chances that I'll need to add charcoal/wood to the fire after I get it going? Anything else I should be thinking about?

    Working this weekend but already looking forward to next....!
  6. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  7. First off: thanks for all the replies and help on the forum. You made my first smoke a successful one!

    Q-Vue narrative:

     I fired up the coals at 730 and had the smoker up to 200 by 800. Minion method worked perfectly.


    Decided to do a slab a babyback ribs and six Southern style spare ribs instead of the bird I was originally planning. The pork butt was a nice 5# from the local grocery. Didn't go all out for the premium meat shop cut--I read too many horror stories about people throwing out their first butts after failed smokes...! Used the Renowned Mr Brown Dry Rub to start them all off. 


    Turned and basted the ribs every 2hrs and the butt every four hours. Ribs came off in 6 hours, sat foiled in the ice chest while everyone drank left over Guinness and enjoyed the unseasonably warm Maine weather! What a great day.


    A stogie or two later....

    We were hoping to have the butt done by dinner time but it stalled at about 165F around 8 hours in. I started to lose temps in the smoker after 9hours and fired up some more coals in the chimney to add to the fire. Not sure why since I started with a full bag of Kingsford. I think I ran the smoker a little hot the first couple of hours as I got a feel for the vents.

    Either way after 10 hours we brought the ET-73 receiver inside and cooked up some jalapeno macaroni, beans, slaw and cornbread and chowed down on the ribs. Amazing. The ribs simply fell apart in your mouth and had the best smokey flavor you could ask for. People couldn't stop talking about how well they turned out. 


    People started heading out around 8 (12hours after the meat went on). At 10pm, with my smoker temps dipping again and the butt stalled at 185, I cried "Uncle" and foiled it and finished it in the oven. Wife pulled it this evening and we had some amazing sandwiches with the Carolina style and Kansas style bbq sauces she whipped up. 

    [​IMG]  [​IMG]  [​IMG]

    And now...Suggestions for keeping my smoker hot enough to endure the 12+ hour butt stall next time?

    Thanks everyone!
  8. The stall happens.  What can I say.  If you want to avoid the stall altogther wrap it between 150* and 160* and it'll keep moving up.  Here's a good article about the stall that helps explain what's happening:  Looks like you had a great first try even though it wasn't ready for your guests.  I recommend using 1.5 to 1.6 hr per pound and adding 2 hours for risk mitigation.  For me, it always seems to be ready to eat somewhere in that time range.
  9. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    great looking Q... next time you do a butt.... I suggest you try to brine it first for 24 hrs... Brine helps with a faster cook and also keeps it VERY moist... I also foil mine at 165` and take it up to 205` for pulling... I put another wrap of foil around it when I pull it and then put it in a cooler with a bunch of towels around it for AT LEAST 1 hr.

    All in all... good first smoke

Share This Page