Hoping for some personalized advice

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mrbucket101, May 30, 2015.

  1. mrbucket101

    mrbucket101 Newbie

    I first got into smoking meat a year ago. I saw a youtube video of it and converted my propane grill into a smoker, using some woodchips and aluminum foil pouches. It got the job done, but very poorly. I've been lurking here off and on ever since.

    So for xmas this past december, the parents got me this exact smoker. http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/products/cb-cb600x-lp-vertical-smoker

    It's great, but I'm having some difficulty with it. I went ahead and purchased the ChefAlarm from thermoworks as the temp gauge on the door is worthless. I also purchased an air temp probe to help me monitor the internal temperature of the smoker. I didn't want to buy a more expensive alarm, so I just hot-swap the cables into the alarm to get a good reading. It works, saved a couple bucks.

    The waterpan on this sucker is terrible. I have to open the bottom drawer and add more water every 30-40mins. This is with the burner set to high. Even on it's best day when it is 80 out, the internal temp hovers around 250. This is with me refilling the waterpan when it gets empty. I have tried pre-heating the smoker to 250, and then turning the burner back down to medium or low, and this just fails miserably. The temp won't hold, and it drops down to 180-200. I have found that without water in the pan, I can get the temp up 325ish. But that blackens the skin after a while and I just don't find it desirable.

    The first chicken I smoked, I was not aware that I needed to refill the water pan. So I proceeded to smoke the meat for 2.5-3hrs without any moisture in the air. The skin got very rough and blackened, and was just not pleasant to eat. The meat underneath was delicious though. Ever since then I make sure to keep the water pan full, and I've always got delicious skin that tends to fall off the meat. Sometimes I won't refill the water pan before it's nearly done, and I'll get a delightedly crispy skin. Just depends on what I'm in the mood for.

    Having only smoked poultry, the temp limit isn't that big of a problem for me. Most of the recipes I've been following only call for 250. So it kind of works out. I'd like to branch off and smoke some other kinds of meat. Do you guys have any recommendations of meat/cuts for a beginner? Something I could marinate/brine, rub and just throw in the grill. I love the simplicity that comes with smoking chicken. Anyways, some of the pork recipes I've seen call for 300,325 and even 350. This just doesn't seem possible in my case.  

    I primarily use wood chunks when smoking. They're easier to use than chips, and I find I don't need to soak them at all. My favorite is one large chunk of apple wood, surrounded with tiny chunks of hickory. It gives a nice flavor, with a little pepper to it. 

    Couple things I'd like some expert advice on.

    Can I place an additional aluminum pan in the bottom of my smoker, on a rack? Would this keep the air nice and moist, and prevent me from needing to refill every 30-40 minutes? I'd love to be able to setup the smoker and just come back in a few hours to hear my temp alarm going off. Would make the whole ordeal effortless.

    When cooking other kinds of meat, is the water pan not necessary? Is this how I will achieve the desired temps?

    EDIT: Just thought I would mention I went out and bout a book called "Smokin' with Myron Mixon". So I have access to a wide range of recipes, and so far the book has never led me wrong. 
    Last edited: May 30, 2015
  2. robcava

    robcava Meat Mopper

    Refilling the water pan so often is keeping your temp down. Its putting its energy into heating all that water.Really the water pan doesnt do as much as you think to add humidity. You can either put a larger water pan for water on the bottom shelf so you dont have to fill it often- and filll with hot water or better yet, use sand in the water pan. This will help your temp. Also, most recipes in the smoker will be at 225 to 275. I dont really smoke anything above this. Its all about slow and low.
  3. mrbucket101

    mrbucket101 Newbie

    Thanks for the reply!

    Really? Sand? This is news to me. is there a certain kind of sand I should get, or does that not matter? Would filling it with sand help me regulate the temperature better? Like would I be able to back the burner down from high once it got to temp? The place I get my propane from is making a killing off me lol

    You are right about the humidity though, I really didn't enjoy the blackened skin. It was a little TOO much for me. Was there something else I could have done wrong to result in the charred skin? Or do you think it was from the temperature going to 300, for the duration of the smoke, that caused it to be burnt?
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    There are the hot and fast guys, Myron Mixon, that smoke everything above 300° but the majority around here smoke Birds at 300-325 but everything else goes the low and slow 225-275°F. The sand in the stock pan with water in another pan is a good choice. Lastly for Temp control on a gasser nothing beats the Needle Valve Mod. Kids Play Sand is clean and has no unknown contaminates...JJ


    More info...

    Last edited: May 30, 2015
  5. mrbucket101

    mrbucket101 Newbie

    wow thanks a lot for the links! VERY informative. I can't wait to try some of these out for myself

    I will definitely be going to home depot or lowes tomorrow to purchase some insulation. I like that idea a lot, plus I never would have thought of using some bricks to build up a wall to block wind. Great ideas all around!

    The needle valve mod-kit looks very easy to do, I just purchased it off amazon. I can't wait to report back with results. Especially after filling the stock pan with some sand.

    Have another question which is sure to spark some debates, but when a recipe calls for apple juice in the water pan. Do they mean all natural organic apple juice, or does it not matter what kind? I would think using something like Motts, or Kroger brand would be loaded with sugars and corn-syrup, so that it wouldn't really produce the same results as just water.
    Last edited: May 30, 2015
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Juice, Booze or whatever in the water pan does JACK!!!. Waste of Juice. All that happens is the water evaporates and you end up with apple syrup in the pan. If you want to add moisture and flavor to the meat, Brine, Spritz or place the meat in a pan with a flavorful liquid then use the defatted pan juices as a Finishing Sauce. Here is the recipe that I use most often...JJ

    Foiling Juice / Sweet Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

    Foiling Juice

    For each Rack of Ribs Combine:

    1T Pork Rub, yours

    1/2 Stick Butter

    1/2C Cane Syrup... Dark Corn Syrup...or Honey

    1/4C Apple Cider...or Juice

    1T Molasses


    2T Vinegar, 2T Mustard and 1/4C Ketchup to make it more of a KC Style Glaze.

    Simmer until a syrupy consistency.

    Allow to cool for 5 minutes, pour over foiled Ribs and

    run your 2 hour phase of 3-2-1. For the last phase return

    the ribs to the smoker BUT reserve any Juice remaining

    in the Foil. Simmer the Juice over med/low heat to reduce to a saucy thickness. Glaze the Ribs for presentation or service.

    For a Sweet Finishing Sauce for Pulled Pork:  Make a Double batch, skip the Butter. NOTE* If you are not into sweet sauces, add the Vinegar. Apple Cider Vinegar works best.

    Add 1/2 the batch to the Foil Pack or place it in a Pan with your Butt, when the IT hits 165*F.

    Cover the pan with foil and continue to heat to 205*F for pulling.

    At 205* rest or hold the Butt in a cooler wrapped in towels until ready to serve.

    Pull the Pork and place it back in the pan with the pan Juices and any additional reserved Foiling Juice to moisten and Serve...OR... Bag and refrigerate until needed.

    When re-heating place the Pulled Pork in a Pan or Crock pot and add reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider, as needed to make up the Juice that was absorbed while  the pork was refrigerated. Cover and re-heat in a pre-heated 325-350*F oven or on High in the crock pot to 165*F and Serve.

    Note: the addition of the reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider should make the PP moist but not Swimming.

    I was AMAZED...No additional sauce needed. ENJOY...JJ
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

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