first time smoking pork and brisket

Discussion in 'Pork' started by mgsteve, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. mgsteve

    mgsteve Newbie

    Can anyone tell me how long to smoke a pork shoulder and brisket?  I'm using Brinkman gourmet charcoal smoker.  I would like to do both at the same time.  The thermometer that comes with the unit only has 3 temps.  warm, ideal, and hot.  Is the "ideal" setting 250 deg?  the 1st time I used it the meat seemed to get done very quickly.  

  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi Steve, and welcome to the family!

    I have a heavily modified gourmet, so I can relate to what you want to achieve.

    First, the temp gauge is good for nothing more than a baseline reference after getting reasonably accurate cooking grate temps. You need a a fairly good reading, either with a digital probe (cheapo from hardware/dept stores will work fine), or, a long stem fryer thermometer inserted through a hole in the side of the barrel between the grates. Do a boil-test with the therm to verify it's boiling water reading (212* @ sea-level and approx. 0.9* less for every 500 feet above sea-level. A great reference chart can be found HERE.

    If your temp reading is off, you can either just reference the correction or in some cases calibrate the thermometer to read correctly.

    Second, time required for cooking is dependent on a barage of variables, so internal temp measurement is the best route to go, however, for a bone in shoulder/butt, a bone tug will tell you when it's ready to wrap/rest before pulling. Typically, for the tougher cuts of meats such as the shoulder and brisket, ~180* will give a tender slice and ~200* will be fall-apart tender. Oh, and don't stab the thermometer into a whole-muscle meat until after the first several hours...this helps you fall under the whole muscle meat guidelines for internal times/temps regarding the "danger zone".

    Also, in the gourmet, the grate directly above the water pan is for steaming, not smoking, so whatever you put on it will actually get very little smoke. Temps between the two grates can vary significantly, with the area outside thewater pan running much hotter than insideof that water pan diameter, and the upper grate running hotter than the lower in the center of the grates.

    Here's the main concern I have: the gourmet is a factory modified version of the smoke n grill, with the main improvements being made in the lower end. The charcoal pan is still not up to the task on longer smokes. Ash will build up and smother the fire. Also, there are a few ways to control temperature, being, amount of burning charcoal in the fire pan and amount of water in the water pan. More coals = hotter, less = cooler, more water = cooler, less = hotter. The addition of cold water mass is a temporary fix for too hot of smoke chamber temps. Evaporating water helps to keep the chamber temps cooler and adds humidity to aid in keeping foods moist.

    If this is your first smoke in the gourmet, and especially your first smoke ever, you have chosen what I would consider to be one of the easiest cuts and one of the hardest cuts, butt and brisket, respectively....just so you know. I have smoked several butts and briskets in my gourmet, but I can only imagine what the frustration may be like without modifications. The ash build-up can be your worst night-mare, and if you need to add to the fire, you also need to remove the barrel from the fire pan to avoid air-born ashes from getting onto your meat. I always add preheated/burning coals to avoid the heavy coal smoke.

    You may want to check out the food safety forums, if you haven't already...paying close attention to the low & slow discussion found way back towards the first threads (bottom of the last page). Also, drop us a line in roll call, if you don't mind.  

    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  3. smokinal

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

    [​IMG]     Glad to have you with us!

    Sounds like Eric has you covered.
  4. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview.  [​IMG]
  5. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

        Steve, Eric said it, he's gonna lead you in the right direction[​IMG]. Of course more Gormet owners will be here later ;so hang and you will be rewarded.[​IMG].

    Meanwhile,read the 5 day course and look through the Wiki section.

    Glad you chose us,[​IMG]
  6. mgsteve

    mgsteve Newbie

    Thanks for all the info. I did a pork butt yesterday and was happy with the results. I had a helluva time keeping the temp up in my Brinkman gourmet smoker. I was really starting to panic. I purcahsed a deep fry thermomoeter and that was a huge help. Everytime I added chips the temp would drop to 150 deg. and I couldn't get it back up. I finally went ot Lose's and bought a charcoal chimney to add more fire.  It was very humid yesterday so I wonder if that effected the charcoal.  I figured on 10 hrs., but I was afraid  it wouldn't get done so I put the pork in the oven at 300 deg for the last 2 hrs.  Of course after I put the prok in the oven, the temp on my smoker finally stabilized at 250 deg.  I'm doing it again this weekend for friends so I'll start it earlier and use more charcoal to start.  To help control temp, I used a crumbled piece of aluminum foil stuffed in the air hole in the bottom of the smoker.  I think that worked.  We'll see.

    It was a veery nerve racking day.  

  7. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Welcome !!!!
  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey, Steve, what mods have you done do far? The elevated charcoal will help get your temps up and keep your coals burning. I forgot to mention it earlier, but I did a Wiki on my gourmet mods...found in the instructional section. There's a dimple intake draft control mod that will help a ton as well.

    Another thing that can effect temp control is the fit of the barrel om the rim of the charcoal pan. A good test for fit is to shine a flashlight at the lip of the pan and look inside (at night).

    Once you get things controlled better you'll be able to walk away from it for an hour or two at a time.

  9. mgsteve

    mgsteve Newbie

    Were did you find the "dimple intake draft control"?  What did you use to elevate the charcoal?

    Thanks for any info. 
  10. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's a typo...should read "simple draft control"...home-made. It's in the Wiki with pics. Wish my computer wasn't having indigestion or I'd post the link...don't know of a way on my blackberry.

  11. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  12. mgsteve

    mgsteve Newbie


    thanks for the pics.  I'll give them a try.  especially the temp control.  Seems pretty simple.

  13. mgsteve

    mgsteve Newbie


    I bought a Weber charcoal grate today for use in my Brinkman. (great minds think alike and all that), but I didn't know how to raise it.  I was going to get legs welded on, but LOVE your screw idea.  That will be done tomorrow.  I will work on the lid sealing after my party this weekend.  

    thanks and keep the ideas coming.


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