New to smoking in NC

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by therapy, Apr 17, 2016.

  1. therapy

    therapy Newbie


    Been lurking for a while and learned a lot of good info.  I'm in NC and just seasoned my Meadow Creek PR36.  For my first cook, I had a difficult time keeping temps low (closed all vents and still maintained temps 325-350 measured at the cooking grate).  Decided to try some chicken breast @300 degrees, with Royal Oak briquettes.  Chicken was slightly overcooked. Stayed on for 45 minutes and pulled 190 degrees (cooked faster than I thought) but was still moist.  Unfortunately it was slightly over smoked....Good flavor but got a numb sensation/after taste (still edible). Per recommendation of the sales rep, I used the snake method of lighting coals.  Started some coals in a chimney with news paper and placed them on the ends of the grill, lighting the unlit coals in the middle as they burned.  I waited about an hour to settle temps (never had white billowy smoke). Got a 8 hr. burn and played with the vents to get the temps up and down.  I was surprised how smoky the chicken came out without using wood.  So, my guess is too much coal, over cooked chicken, didn't leave the top vents open. ...Wondering if I should light all the coals first? Next try will be ribs using less coals and top vents remaining open.  Any recommendations would be appreciated.

  2. one eyed jack

    one eyed jack Master of the Pit

    Welcome to the site and congratulations on that great looking smoker.  It is a little confusing in your description of lighting your snake as to whether you lit both ends of the snake?

    I use the snake often in my Weber kettle and have no trouble keeping temps down but I light only one end of the snake.  If you light all of your coals at once you will likely have more trouble keeping your temps down.

    Did you start shutting down your vents early on as your smoker temps were climbing?   It can be difficult with many smokers to get temps back down if you let your fire build up too big a bed of lit coals and a well built smoker made from heavy gauge metal, will hold high heat a long time.

    I would be taking too large a guess as to speculate on your "too much smoke flavor" problem especially considering that you didn't use any wood.  That can be caused by a large bed of coals damped down to the point that they are smoldering but that's a wild guess on my part.

    Chicken is a good choice for the learning process.  I would keep on trying chicken till I learned about the smoker.

    Here's a picture of a typical snake the way I set them up in my kettle.  I use a small size Weber chimney and usually light 10 to 15 briquettes to start the snake.  This looks like more lit briquettes because I used small used coals in the chimney.

    Best luck with your beautiful new smoker.  [​IMG]

  3. therapy

    therapy Newbie

    Thanks for the tips....Your picture really helps, especially how you staggered the wood

    Yes, I lit booth ends of the snake. When the temps were climbing too fast I shut down the vents (hence the strong smoke flavor). 

    Tried some ribs last night...3-2-1 method, wrapped ribs in honey and brown sugar (ended up with a 3-2-15 min ribs were way done)....Will try 2-2-1 next time.

    Temp management was better 250-275 range (backed off the coals by half)

    Ribs never pulled back from the bones, meat pulled too easily off the bone and not much bark. Smoke flavor wasn't as strong. 

    Seasoning is very interesting...Seasonings and sauces taste one way in the store and taste so different on the meat... thought the brown sugar and honey would bee too sweet...not at all...Need either to add more seasoning or need to try something more bold as the flavors weren't prominent

    I'm Having fun and can't wait to try again 

    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
    mike5051 likes this.
  4. one eyed jack

    one eyed jack Master of the Pit

    Good looking ribs.  [​IMG]

    I wrapped ribs through the first 4 or 5 times that I smoked them and then gave up on wrapping.  I would suggest that you reduce the amount of time you leave the ribs wrapped rather than reducing the unwrapped time.  Steaming in the foil is the fastest portion of the cook.

    What I usually do is keep my smoker temp as close to the 225 - 250 range as possible, put the ribs on and don't even peek in there for 4 hours.  (This method is for Baby Backs).   At that point I will start checking done-ness by probing the meat between the bones and start mopping with sauce,  (If I have decided that I want to sauce).

    The probe test is a learned method and so you want to start testing early ion the cook.  Meat not yet done will have a fair amount of resistance to the probe and as the meat becomes closer to done the probe will go in with lessening resistance.  When it is done there will be almost no resistance.  (Similar to probing warm butter).

    Temp control is different with each smoker but early control is key.  I would suggest that you start closing your draft,  (Air intake), when your smoke chamber hits 175* and just keep an eye on it.  the idea is to "sneak up" on your goal temp.  If you find that you have stalled the temp simply open the draft a bit.  I try to leave the vent, (Exhaust), fully open but some cookers will not work that way.

    I have found that bone pull back will vary from rack to rack.  The probe test for done is a very good one but another is a bend test in which you lift one end of the rack with your tongs and look for at least a 45 degree "droop" in your rack.  (It will be a pretty pronounced bend right beyond the end of the tongs).

    Best luck on your next smoke.  Let us know how it goes.
  5. therapy

    therapy Newbie

    Ok...So I'm addicted....I'm at it again. (Ribs)....Following your snake method pictured above (lighting one end of the snake) and its working perfectly for controlling my temps.  Trying some apple and peach chunks staggered like above.  Not sure how many to use (trying two baseball sized chunks) because the coals give off a bit off smoke flavor....Trail and error right?

    I like things spicy so I used he above seasonings and added some cayenne and paprika 
  6. one eyed jack

    one eyed jack Master of the Pit

    Good to hear that the snake is working out for you.  I hope your rib smoke came out perfect.  [​IMG]
  7. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Nice ribs therapy!  [​IMG]   I like your style!

  8. therapy

    therapy Newbie

    Ribs came out perfect...My wife who isn't a fan of smoked meat enjoyed them and mentioned they were better than restaurants.

    I took the above advice and basted till the color/bark was the way I wanted.

    I'm not a fan of sweet sauces, but I am amazed by how much brown sugar can be used and not have a sweet product.

    Need to figure out the seasoning and balance out the sweet/heat far too much heat and not enough sweet.
  9. one eyed jack

    one eyed jack Master of the Pit

    Perfect is hard to beat.  Time for the next round, right?
  10. therapy

    therapy Newbie

    Hmm...gotta try to finish off what I've cooked...four slabs for 2 and a couple chicken breast...I really want to try a smallish brisket....Probably try it with simple seasonings and no injections
  11. smokinal

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

    The ribs sure look good from my house!

    therapy likes this.

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