New to smoking from the UK

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by daveoxforduk, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. Hey everyone,

    So i notice that the etiquette is to introduce yourself on these forums before asking here is my introduction.

    I'm 26, from Oxford, United Kingdom and a complete newbie to smoking meats. I've always loved real authentic BBQ, we have some great places in the UK, but nothing compares to the BBQ I've had in the states. I've wanted to get smoking for a long time, and finally decided to buy myself an offset smoker last week.

    I bought an extremely cheap offset smoker online, I know that this really isnt the place to admit that i bought a cheap offset smoker, but I really am just wanting to get started as I'm getting impatient, but cant afford an expensive one just yet. Lets just say the smoker i bought was less than £200.

    Today I had my first smoking experience...I smoked a rack of st louis style ribs using the 3-2-1 method and using applewood.

    After 6 hours, i ended up with some great looking ribs with a suprisingly good smoke ring. They tasted amazing, however...the problem is they were not tender. I like fall off the bone ribs, and these were really quite tough. The temperature never went above 250. Although i may have a very inaccurate thermometer (a better quality one is on the way) i'm pretty sure it wasnt much hotter than im not sure what went wrong?!

    Are there any tips (other than spending money on a real smoker, i will buy one AS SOON as i have enough money) you could give to a new guy? possibly around fire management, or ensuring the meat is tender throughout?

    again, im from the UK, so its not easy to get your hands on a smoker here. Its either a £200 Landmann offset smoker, or a £300 weber smoky mountain it seems.


  2. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave, welcome to our "Family" and "Addiction"

    The first thing I would suggest, is search Groups for the UK Forum.

    There is a growing number of Smokers here in the UK.

    You will get all the help you need from both sides of the pond here.

    Quick question about your temperature, was you reading a built in dial thermometer, or a digital thermo?

    Have a look at a Maverick or similar digital thermometer as these are far more reliable than a dial thermometer.

    Smokin Monkey �
  3. Hi Dave.  Smokin Monkey has you covered.  There are other smokers available.  BUT!  You have what you have and we can make it work!  You do not need to join the U.K. Group; we will offer all the advice we can.  Our American members will also offer help whether you join or not.  We have many American members of our group.  Whether you join or just post in the open forum just start a new thread and ask specific questions about the smoker you have.  You will get TONS of ideas.  WELCOME to the "family" and the fun.  Keep Smokin!

    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
  4. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Hiya Dave, hope you are OK , welcome to the forum and all that,  

    Danny is the Group lead of the UK  Smokers, as you can see from his post  he is having problems with his fingers on the keyboard. here is the link to the UK forum.  where you will find a group of like minded individuals in the UK who are into smoking chunks of meat and other stuff.  We get plenty of support from our American cousins but there are thing that we do differently in the UK, so that's where the UK forum comes into it's own.

    I look forward to seeing you there, and feel free to post on the UK forum.

  5. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave

    Welcome to the Forum. There are a growing number of us from the UK on here and we are having our second annual meet near Lincoln in two weeks time. If you are free you are welcome to join us.

    Also if you get a chance please say hi in the UK group ( This is still part of the main SMF forum and posts there can be seen by everyone, but sometimes you will get a faster response if the question or comment is more related to smoking in the UK specifically.

    In reply to your comments...
    I think that is how many of us became addicted. I was working regularly in the US over a 10+ year period and once you taste good BBQ you cannot help but become addicted [​IMG]

    As Danny mentioned there are a number of good smokers available and these do not need to be expensive. You can even make your own UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker).

    Which one did you buy in the end?

    When asked I usually recommend going for a Weber 57 cm Kettle - available from about £135. I was at Grillstock a couple of weeks ago in Bristol and almost all of the BBQ teams that were competing there were cooking something for the competition on one of these.

    With any smoker one of the most important things is temperature control. To achieve this you need to be able to finely control the amount of air that is passing over the burning charcoal/wood. This can be a challenge with the cheaper smokers (without modifications) as they are not usually designed to do this effectively.

    Without knowing which smoker you have this is difficult to say for sure but you seem to have been doing everything right. The 3-2-1 method will usually give you good fall off the bone ribs. I think your problem was that you did not have the temperature hot enough at the cooking grate. Where did you have the thermometer? Was it in the lid or somewhere near the top of the smoker? In any smoker there is a temperature gradient to some degree within the cooking chamber and, depending on the type of smoker you have, this usually results in the very top of the smoker being the hottest part. If you were measuring 250 F at the top it is possible that the temperature around the meat was lower than this - maybe by as much as 10-20 degrees depending on the smoker. You also mentioned that it never went "above" 250 F. This suggests that maybe it was below that for some of the time.

    Even before you buy your new Smoker I would suggest that you do as Smokin Monkey suggests and invest in a dual probe Maverick ET-732 or 733 digital thermometer. With these you can clip one of the temperature probes on the cooking grate right beside the meat and you then know precisely what temperature it is smoking at.

    I hope this helps and we are looking forward to seeing photos of your next smoke. Do not be embarrassed with your current smoker - It may not look like Stevenson's Rocket on steroids (very few smokers actually do) but if it can be used to produce good tasting food then it is perfectly fine. 


  6. Hey guys,

    Thanks for all the responses. Its nice to see a forum where people arent getting butchered by more experienced people.

    In response to all of you, i actually went for an offset smoker from ebay which came to about £100. Its unbranded, but i'm pretty sure its the same build/build quality as the landmann kentucky smoker.

    I'll go and get involved in the UK forums now, and share some pictures of my first smoke! Maybe that will help you guys with understanding where i went wrong.

    Thanks again for the warm welcome

  7. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave, you will never get Slaughtered on here.

    We have a bit of "Friendly Banter" but no one will have ago at you for asking a question. Remember we all started somewhere.

    Smokin Monkey
  8. Wade, thanks for the response! really useful stuff.

    Interesting you said that there is a chance i didnt have hot enough?? i was under the impression that having it too cold would just result in undercooked ribs, rather than ribs that would end up too tough? i thought if anything, i had the smoker too HOT?

    Interested to hear more about the smoker not being hot enough??? because that was my initial thoughts after feeling the inside of the smoking chamber...but they looked great (cooked) and didnt taste under cooked...
  9. drewhanbe

    drewhanbe Newbie

    Welcome Dave. I started on a cheaper Smoker also and they can cook great meat!! They are really susceptible to wind killing your cook. Was it windy? I have let my cheap Smoker get too hot at times and didn't affect my cook the way the wind does inside the chamber. I'm thinking lack of heat in some way. Happy smoking from Perry in Ohio!!
  10. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave

    Looking at the picture that you posted of the cooked ribs there was no pull back of the meat from the bone and no sign of the meat splitting. The safe cooking temperature for pork is only 145 F and with the ribs being quite thin they will reach this relatively quickly in a smoker at 200-250 F. The ribs could well have been "cooked" but they did not look "done". The meat will be "cooked" when it has reached the required temperature but it will not be "done" (in the case of ribs) until it has been at that temperature for a period of time. It is the length of time that allows the fat, cartilage and fibres in the meat to soften to give you that fall-off-the-bone texture.

    When the ribs are done the rib tips will usually look something like this. You sometimes do not get as much pull back than this but you would expect to see some.

    My comment about the low temperature was taken from your post in the main forum Roll Call where you said that the cooking chamber had not gone over 250 F. With the temperature gradient in the smoker chamber and the thermometer being right at the top (and probably not particularly accurate), it is possible/probable that the cooking surface was actually considerably lower than you think. The use of your new digital thermometer will really help. When it arrives you should rely on it and ignore the built in thermometer.


    Last edited: Jul 21, 2015
  11. Thanks very much wade.

    There has been a slight change of plan…last night I found a Bradley 4 rack digital smoker, used, for £270…I snapped it up. Its in great condition, and its only about 30 mins away from me too so im picking it up tonight.

    Thoughts on this?

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