Newbie with a TON of questions.

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by trykonxl, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. During the holiday weekend I purchased a new gas grill/charcoal smoker.  I know its not the best smoker on the planet but I'm sure it will serve me and my family well.

    I am a COMPLETE NEWBIE when it comes to using a smoker.  Please bear with me and the 3 million neophyte questions I'm sure I will have.  I'm really looking forward to leaning how to smoke meats to create tasty meals for my family and friends.  I just want to do it properly.

    Some of my initial questions are....

    1. Is there anything I need to do to "prep" my new smoker?  If so, what is the preferred method?  I believe I read somewhere that this is called "seasoning".

    2. When it comes to charcoal.  Is there an industry standard or a type that is a little more "newbie" friendly?  

    3. What is the preferred/easiest method to light the charcoal?  I'm sure that lighter fluid is completely out of the question.

    4.  When the smoker starts to "lose temperature" do I just add more charcoal to the initial charcoal?

    5. Brinkman makes a "smoker box".  Is this something I should purchase and put my soaked wood chips in? Or should I just add the soaked chips directly to the charcoal fire?  If I do use "the box", how do I add more charcoal?  Just move the box to the side?

    6. Is any of the hardwood that is used in smoking more "newbie friendly" than others?

    These are a few of the questions that I have been thinking about today.  I'm sure as I get further along into this new way of cooking that I'll have many many more questions.  ANY and ALL help, advice, and/or tutelage is GREATLY APPRECIATED.  
    Thanks for reading.
  2. jerseydrew

    jerseydrew Smoking Fanatic

    lets keep it simple. 

    1. seasoning is a good idea. either pam or peanut oil in a spray bottle or a package of cheap bacon to throw away (pam is easiest). spray down the entire area of the cooking chamber. start a fire (will get into that in your other question) and just leave all vents open and let it burn out on it's own, it may take a few hours.

    2. kingsford blue bag kingsford comp or royal oak lump, i would stick with briquettes at first to get used to it lump can take some fiddling and attention. 

    3. get a charcoal chimney and some lighting cubes from home depot in the grill area made by weber. put unlit coal mixed with your wood chunks or chips in the fire area and then add half a chimney of fully lit coal to it 

    4 temp management is kind of trial and error once you start the fire open the exhaust vent and control the fire with the intake vents. as the fire starts up you are going to start closing down the vents around 200 and remember the fire takes a little time to react so if you want to cook at 225 and start slowing down the air at 225 then it will likely shoot up to 275+ small increments and wait at least 10 minutes between adjustments to see how much it changes. once you get it honed in it should hold well for a long time with minimal attention. use your seasoning and maybe an empty burn to learn how to adjust and how much. 

    5. no need for box put wood right in with the coal. and IMO no need to soak wood. if your smoke looks heavy and white it is not ready to cook on. you want to cook with a thin blue smoke or no visible "smoke" at all. sounds counter intuitive to smoking but its the way it is. 

    6 woods hickory is heavy and  good for beef. fruit woods are great for poultry and pork. i like pecan for almost everything but burns fast. oak is also used a lot. you can look in the wood section for this. but for the most part wood is wood. 

    and you didn't ask but i suggest you you remove the thermometer and verify how far off it reads in boiling water. then you know how to adjust for how wrong it is. some can be up to 40 degrees off. 
  3. Thanks for all the info Jersey. I just left Home Depot with a cart full of goodies. Gonna do an empty burn this evening to season the smoker and fiddle with temp control. I do have another question (anyone feel free to chime in). Last night I was looking at my smoker and trying to picture a rack of ribs on there. My question it a MUST for me to smoke with indirect heat or can I spread the coals across the bottom of the grate and adjust the temps with the vents? The reason I ask is because it seems as if there isnt going to be much room for the charcoal and wood if I have to push it all to one side.
  4. jerseydrew

    jerseydrew Smoking Fanatic

    wait wait wait!!!!! you don't have the side fire box? that is probably the box you were referring to earlier. ahhhh yeah for smoking it is about indirect heat. i just went to brinkmann's site and it lists your grill as gas and charcoal grill. it's not really a smoker. but all is not lost neither is a weber kettle and many people set it up as a smoker. you are going to have to do something similar to what those guys do. i will let someone with a kettle explain that better. you can still season and get used tho temp control but you will have to figure out the indirect heat part or shoot over to u tube...

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