New To Smoking and Hoping To Learn!

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by centercitysmoke, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. Hello every one,

    I'm Travis and I am pretty new to the process of smoking meats. I am definitely not new to eating them though. I am an avid amateur cook and BBQ is hands down my favorite genre. I could BBQ 4 times a day if given the opportunity. Since I just moved and am fortunate enough to have a new place with a nice sized deck, my first order of business was a new grill/smoker. I bought the Char Broil 590 because I like the coal door and the crank that raises and lowers the charcoal grate.

    My first attempt was just a 4lb brisket. I got every lit via the chimney starter, was using lump coal and get a nice burn going. I added soaked applewood chips at the start and then went back and added them every hour or so. The brisket was OK at best. I had trouble maintaining a low temp and in turn the brisket cooked too quickly to be really tender, though it did have some nice smoke flavor.

    I realized if I could just get the heat down I may have a shot at doing this right.

    Second attempt I upped my ante and went with an 11lb picnic shoulder. Here are my rookie mistakes: First, I did not remove the skin and rubbed over the skin. What a waste of rub and the smoked skin was rubbery and hard to remove after the fact! Next time I'll either remove the skin or just not rub it. Second, I laid the cut of meat skin side up on the grate. Next time, I'll probably remove the skin but if I don't I will definitely lay it skin side down. Third, I didn't get it in the smoker until 12:00pm. This was the mistake that killed my second time out. I realized its easier to start with a lower heat and make it hotter than it is to start hot and make cool off. I got the heat just perfect and was hovering in between 230-250 for the entire smoke time. And there's the problem. Since I got the heat nailed down, I didn't realize the whole cut of meat would take almost 15 hours. Thus, starting it at Noon with a work day the next day forced me to pull the meat out at 10:30 pm and well before it was ready to be stopped. The flavor and moistness was great, but pulling it off so early (temp of meat was 170) did not allow it to coast up to 195-200 to actually pull the meat properly.

    It seems to me that my process for the second attempt was the process to use, but that I did not treat the meat nicely. I don't have a problem getting the coals lit, arranging everything properly and getting the smoke going but here is what I am doing in my smoking process so far:

    Coals in chimney starter, getting those lit

    Coals arranged on coal grate and a handful of soaked chips on unlit coals off to one side.

    Lit coals on top of unlit coals and chips when ready. One more handful of woodchips on top of lit coals

    Rubbed meat on grill rack over empty side of charcoal grate so not over direct heat.

    4x8 tin pan of cool water over coals to help keep grill cool

    I found that this set up works great, and then I just pop open the smoker every hour or hour and half and add a few coals and some more wood chips. The max temp I saw on the smoker during the 10 1/2 hours was 250, when the hood would open it would drop to about 180 and then as soon as I added the coals and chips it would climb back up to about 240 until I was ready to add coals and chips again.

    I welcome any and all advice and tips from every one here who is clearly more knowledgable than I. Thank you!
  2. Welcome. I'm new as well. Not much I can add since I use a pellet smoker which helps me control my temps for me.

    My only advice would be to plan well ahead on recipes. The first few times smoking I didn't really plan ahead that much. Now I have a spreadsheet and google docs I use to plan my cooks. Ribs 3 hours, then 2 more hours covered, then 1 hour uncovered. Then I have steps peppered in between which help me prep for the next steps. For instance, during the first 3 hours, I have steps to prepare the items I will be adding when I go to wrap (so that takes less time). Then while wrapped I warm up my sauce and other items I will need for the last hour, you get the idea. Having all of these items down on paper or in a list help a ton so I'm not scrambling at the last minute to do something I forgot. 

    The pulled pork was harder. I had to plan out a bit in advance since the last time I cooked it took about 14 hours to cook. That had me putting them on at 3am to give them 14 hours to cook, then 1 hour for me to let sit and then pull prior to us eating. If I would have put them on at 6am when I normally wake up, I would have had hungry guests or would have had to ramp up the heat at some point to try and get it hotter near the end of the cook to finish on-time (I don't like to do that).

    Just some info from the field.
  3. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    [​IMG]to SMF!  We are so glad you joined us! Would you mind updating your profile to show the other SMF members where you are located?  Might meet a few neighbors!

    You should sign up for Jeff's Free 5 day E-Course, and it's great!  This is chock full of great matter what your experience level might be!

    If you didn't read the "Terms of Service" notes.....please do.  There are a few things that everyone should know about those pesky little rules before plunging into the forums and some guidelines of how to interact within the forums. Off site links are not allowed here at SMF per Jeff in Rule #11. Not that you have done anything wrong....just a little bit of FYI for new members!

    If you need any help roaming around the forums....just holler!  Happy to help out!

  4. Thank you! I will definitely give those a read and I will indeed update my profile (I live in center city Philadelphia). Already signed up for the course too, so I suppose my next move is to start reading over this wealth of knowledge!
  5. Glad you joined the group. The search bar at the top of any page is your best friend.
    About anything you wanna know about smoking/grilling/curing/brining/cutting or slicing
    and the list goes on has probably been posted. Remember to post a QVIEW of your smokes.
    We are all smoke junkies here and we have to get our fix. If you have questions Post it
    and you will probably get 10 replies with 11 different answers. That is because their
    are so many different ways to make great Q We all have our own taste.

    Happy smoken.

  6. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hi Travis, and welcome! It sounds like you're learning something each time you cook, which is good. You've found a great place to get and share ideas on smoking and grilling great food. There are plenty of friendly and knowledgeable people here who really enjoy helping each other. Just ask when you need help and you'll get plenty!


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