Planning First Smoke--Three Questions Please

Discussion in 'Pork' started by statgeek, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. statgeek

    statgeek Fire Starter

    OK guys... I've done some reading here on the forum, ran my new LP smoker through the paces to burn off whatever manufacturing crap may have been on the walls.  I discovered that the doors on my smoker could use a little help (leaking out smoke), so I ordered and installed high temp door seal, and so am ready for my first cook.  This Saturday is the day! [​IMG]

    I wanted to run this past the group just to build some confidence, and I have three questions for you all... 


    Jalepeno poppers 

    Phattie (low-fat version of a fattie, something I had never heard of before joining this group!)

    Pulled Pork--trying for about 7-9 lbs.

    Baked Beans

    Corn Bread

    Some sort of veggie (my weakness)

    The Cook Times & Temps:

    Plan to cook the Phattie for 2-3 hours until internal temp = 165

    Plan to cook the Boston Butt for 1.5h per lb until internal temp = 195

    Plan to cook the poppers for ?? amount of time (question 2 below)

    Plan to cook EVERYTHING at about 225 degrees if I can keep the smoker steady


    I have a few mixed bags left over from several years ago... some small chips of different flavors, but I've set aside apple wood chips  (only because it's about the right quantity) and I am soaking chunks of hickory in water as of last night.  I will dig into other bags of wood chips as needed...  so it'll be a mix-mash of diff woods.  

    My Equipment:

    I'm using a new LP Smoke Hollow smoker that I rec'd for Christmas from my wonderful wife.  I picked out this model mainly because of the two doors and two burners.  I felt like this model would enable better temp control (can use one or both burners) and steady temp (don't have to open the meat door to adjust wood and water).  It's also a beast, so I can cook a lot!  Here's a pix (from Sam's Club)


    I also have a digital thermometer that has a meat probe and a smoker/environment probe.  I have a second one of these on order too so that I can monitor the two meats.   I will be using one of these "air" probes to monitor the internal smoker temp, as I don't trust the temp sensor that came with the smoker.  (It did not match an oven thermometer that I used for my test smoke.)

    [​IMG]FIRST QUESTION:  CAN I USE THE SECOND "air" probe to measure meat too? Or is that ONLY for open-air use??  I don't think I'll need two air probes in the smoker, and would rather use one of them in the pulled pork so that I have two measurements of that meat (just to verify).

    Mechanics of the cook:

    Dinner time is... when the food is done!  But hoping for around 5PM

    Some night this week, I will roll up the Phattie and do the bacon weave thing, then refrigerate it wrapped up in saran wrap.  

    I have a rub that I've used for pulled pork a long time ago involving mustard coating first, followed by generous application of rub.  I will do that Friday night after the kids go to bed.  

    EARLY Saturday morning (4 AM ish) I will start the smoker up and put in the Boston butt near the middle of the smoker.  This will have one of my meat probes in it, and depending on your thoughts to my first question above, possibly one of the "air" probes too.

    Around 2PM--Phattie goes in with a second meat probe. 

    Around 4PM--Poppers go in.  ([​IMG]  SECOND QUESTION:  How long does it usually take for some poppers to cook up?  I'm going simple here, with jalapeno pepper halves filled with cream cheese and wrapped in turkey bacon.  

    THIRD--and MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION:  Do I have a good plan here?!  ARE THERE ANY CHANGES that you would make??  [​IMG]

    Much appreciated folks!  I'll shoot some pix throughout the process to share with the group.
  2. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sounds like a good plan. No real need to soak the wood.
    Poppers can go in with the fatty. They should take around the same amount of time, maybe slightly less. Basically when the bacon is crispy, they're done. Good luck!
  3. Most of the plan is good. You said pulled pork at 195°. Most people go to 200°-205° for pulled. Soaking the wood does nothing but keep it from smoking un till it dries. Get rid of the water in the pan and replace it with sand or gravel then wrap with foil. 13 hours is pushing it for a 9 LB butt at 225° it might go 2 hours per LB.You can bump the temp up some or start earlier. It is no fun with people setting around hungry. If it is done early you can wrap it in foil the put in a ice chest wrapped in towels and hold for hours.

    All of the rest sounds good.

    I don't know what you are calling a "air" thermometer?

    Happy smoken.

  4. Got my attention, I'll be watching

  5. smokin-q

    smokin-q Smoke Blower

    Really good tips from themule. Seems to be one absolute in smoking -  It will  take longer than you think!

    Ge the butt finished early, wrap in foil then wrap in towels and place in cooler until it's time to eat.

    Happy smokin!
  6. statgeek

    statgeek Fire Starter

    Ok guys, thanks a ton!

    I'll start earlier on the pork and cook it to 200-205 instead of 195.  I agree that nobody wants to sit around and wait for dinner, so I'll give myself 14 hours of smoke time.  I like the idea of wrapping it in foil and towels and tossing in a cooler if it's done early.  Much better that, than feed everyone "snacks" until 8PM when the dang thing finally finished!

    Tonight I'll dump the water out of my soaking wood chunks too.  I guess soaking the wood is not necessary, and one less thing to worry about.

    I am intrigued by the idea of not using water in my water pan, and using sand or gravel instead.  I've never heard that idea...  

    My understanding is that the water pan prevents temps from climbing and adds moisture to the cook.  In the past, when I had a really crappy and small smoker that got too hot too quickly, the water pan was the ONLY thing that kept my temps from soaring.  I would love not to have to monitor the water pan if sand or gravel will keep the temp stable. 

    Will sand or gravel in the water pan keep temps from climbing, like water does?  [​IMG]

    If so... any old sand?  As in... stop at Lowes on the way home and grab a bag??

  7. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I always try to get the main meat done early. If we are planning to eat at 5 I shoot for having it done a 2. That way I have some play if it takes longer and still have enough time for it to rest (For pulled pork I let it rest at least an hour).

    The Jalapenos depend entirely on the bacon. When I use cheap thin bacon they are done in 2 hours or less. I haven't used turkey bacon so you might want to give it some extra time. You can always reheat the jalapenos in the oven for a few minutes right before serving.

    Also, I have been putting fatties in first thing when I fire up the smoker that way I can eat them for breakfast. It is a nice treat to reward yourself for getting up that early.
  8. statgeek

    statgeek Fire Starter

    Oh... and my"air" thermometer  question...

    Here's one of the digital thermometers that I have on order.

    If you don't want to go to Amazon to look at that, here's the description.  I colored the text referring to the MEAT probe blue, and the BBQ (what I called "air") probe RED.

    BBQ Thermometer The New Maverick Remote ET-732 Smoker Thermometer is the second generation model of the very popular ET-73. The ET-732 Barbecue Thermometer Set has a range of up to 300 ft and can withstand temperatures of up to 716°F! Another great new feature is an alert on the receiver that lets you know if you are out of range. The Maverick ET-732 Remote Smoker Thermometer for high heat monitors internal temperature of meat from 300 feet away!! The wireless receiver with LCD beeps and flashes when meat temperature goes above your programmed temperature. Now feel confident while monitoring barbecue temperature. The receiver beeps and flashes if temperature falls above or below your programmed range. The thermometer has a count-up and count-down timer while the LCD of receiver has back light for use at night. The receiver displays barbecue temperatures up to 572 degrees Fahrenheit and features a convenient belt clip and built in stand. The transmitter has a removable wire stand that also becomes a hanger. The food probe wire can be inserted 6" into meat; both probe wires are heat resistant to 716 degree Fahrenheit.This unit can be used in oven or smoker too! The lost like alert warns you if your transmitter is out of range or has lost the radio frequency signal. Your meat, barbecue, and timer settings are stored even if the unit is turned off. Components 1. 1- Receiver unit 2. 1- Transmitter unit 3. 1- Detachable stainless steel FOOD probe 4. 1- Detachable stainless steel BARBECUE probe with clip 5. 4- AAA batteries. Magnet: It includes the latest USDA recommendations as well as chef recommendations as well as color photos of the different stages of doneness for red meats. Designed for grillers' quick reference, the temperatures are the same for both indoor and outdoor cooks.

    So my outstanding question to the Forum--do you think i'd be ok to use that BBQ probe in meat too?  So I'm essentially using one of these units to monitor only meat, and not the BBQ temp?  
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I would get the Sterilized sand-----I think it's called "Play Sand".

  10. Let us know how it goes !

  11. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Water is not needed in the water pan. It robs your smoker of heat, does not add any moisture to the meat and can cause issues with creosote drip. Sand or Pea gravel is your friend. Double wrap that in foil for easy clean up. No need to soak wood, as said earlier. Wet wood does not smoke or burn until it is dry wood. You are smoking meat not steaming it. Good luck and take lots of pictures. Your dead on about getting the maverick dual probe thermometer. Do not trust the unit therms. They have been known to be 70 degrees or more off either way. At least check them against another therm that you have boil tested. Water boils at 212 degrees. Temperature control is the most important thing to turning out great Q. As said earlier Butts are best at 200-205 internal. I would plan 2 hours per pound for that Butt at 225 degrees. If you foil it at 165 with some apple juice it will be done a little sooner. I can not tell you how many times I did not plan for enough time on a Butt. Better to be done early than have to order pizza. Just saying. The voice of experience.
  12. I don't know where the temp is taken with your "air" probe. The meat is at the very end which makes it easy to know that your taking the temp in the middle of the meat. Not knowing where in  the probe it is taking the temp might be a problem. It is also a shorter probe that is rounded on the end. That would make it harder to get to the center. Now with all of that said If you can get it to the center of the meat and don't tell it that it is in meat it will probably never know the difference.

    Play sand from the store will be fine.

    Happy smoken.

  13. I've never used a propane smoker so I'm really not sure how much different it cooks then my electric or my WSM 18.5.  I must confess, I'm not sure I'll use my electric one much anymore since I got the WSM because the last few smokes I've done were OUTSTANDING.  Anyways,  I take my pork butts to 205 degrees and I don't go by time, I go by what the meat tells me.  All bets are off since every cut gives you a new challenge.  This last smoke, my WSM held the temp between 240 and 250 all night.  I smoked a 9 lb and 8 lb and one was done around 13 or so hrs (8lbs) and the other done around 14 hrs or so...... The last 20 degrees from approx 187 to 205 TOOK forever!

  14. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Also, a lot of guys I see on here that have that unit seem to have the wood catching fire all the time. I suggest you make a foil pouch for your wood if it is in chip form. Poke some holes in it and it will smolder rather than flame up. If you are using chunks you can wrap them tight and poke some holes too. This might be why your temps kept creeping up on you before. You will get a better quality smoke this way as well. Better tasting.
  15. Only thing I have propane is my grill and fish cooker, sorry !!

  16. statgeek

    statgeek Fire Starter

    Wow--you all are providing great suggestions.  I'm really glad that I found this forum, though  I suspect if I get much more help, I may feel guilty for claiming to be the chef this weekend!  [​IMG]

    ...nah... I'll still claim credit!!

    I'm following Timerjet's advice on making foil packs for the wood chips and I made several last night.  I haven't wrapped up the chunks yet, but I'll get around to that too.  

    I'm also following his advice on using sand instead of water... bought a bag last night on the way home from work already, and will double wrap it in foil to hopefully be able to use it for several smokes.  I did a search on this forum on water vs. sand, and my conclusion is that there are probably as many for as against this practice, but the idea of not having to constantly replenish evaporating water is seriously appealing to me!  Also, I live South of Houston, so we are plenty humid down here, albeit more so in the Summer than now.  

    Bmaddox provided the very cool idea of making the fattie for breakfast instead of dinner, and my wife is particularly keen on that one, so I'm doing that too!  It's going to have an egg scramble, red bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cheese filling.  I bought lean turkey sausage and will weave half regular bacon with half turkey bacon. 

    And everyone's telling me to allow a longer cook time, so as much as I'd rather sleep in a little, I'll start this cook earlier and go to 205 degrees!  

    Thanks guys.  Any more advice for me--keep it coming!  
  17. [​IMG]  Remember to keep the lid closed or [​IMG]. Don't for get the Qview [​IMG]  .

    Happy smoken.

  18. statgeek

    statgeek Fire Starter

    Um... so what is "qview?"  
  19. donr

    donr Smoking Fanatic

    Qview=pictures of your bb"Q".  Both while cooking and plated, ready to serve.

    BearView is extreme close up pictures of your food.
  20. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Welcome to the SMF Family. Lots of good advice above. Water in the pan is needed for the charcoal smoker you had to maintain temp easier. But in a Gasser, you set and maintain temp with the adjustment knob and if needed the tank knob. Take a look at this thread... At some point you will need to do this for greater control. Make sure you have a Wind Break, some plywood or your smoker location, so there is no risk of the fire being blown out. Wind can also cause temp fluctuations. Before this big cook get some Chicken legs, clip the short, blunt BBQ Probe (air probe) on the same shelf as the meat, the Meat Probe (the longer pointed one) in the center mass of the meat, not touching bone or in fat and PRACTICE maintaining temp. Small changes in the controls can make Big changes in the smoker temp and will take 15 to 20 minute to register on the therms so make small changes and be patient. It may be difficult to keep at 225 in an un-insulated gasser, wind, sun, weather, time of day, opening the door, will all effect and cause changes to the temp you set. Your goal will be to keep the temp between 200 and 250°F for an overall average of 225. 

    For the big cook place the BBQ Probes on the upper and lower shelves, if you are going to use both thermometers, to measure the average temp in the smoker. Place the probe on the middle shelf if using one. The BBQ probes can not be used in meat but you can purchase an extra Meat Probe and plug it into the BBQ port of the ET732. If using one therm, put the Meat Probe in the Phattie since that will be coming out first then move it to the Butt. The rest can go by look. At 225 I have found ABT's (Atomic Buffalo Turds aka Bacon Wrapped stuffed Jalapenos) take about 2 hours. Poppers around here are cheese filled Jap's that are Breaded and get Baked or Fried so I want to make sure we are talking about the same thing. You have some choices to make. If you are smoking the Phattie, the Butt and the Beans in Pans, it don't matter much which shelf you put each on. If you like to smoke meat directly on the Grate, no pan, " I " would place the Phattie on the upper grate, Butt in the Middle and the Beans on a lower shelf to act as a drip pan catching all the fat and flavorful juices from the meat above. Since you seem to be a Low Fat kind a Guy and still wanting to smoke on the grates directly...Place the Phattie on top, Beans in the middle and the Butt on the third grate with a Drip pan on the forth grate below it or let the Foil covered Water pan catch the drippings but that can get messy. 

    I ran a poll a couple of years ago and the overall majority found that at an average of 225°F, a Butt will take 2 hours per pound to get done and it is not a bad idea to add 2 hours to your estimated time to CYA and give it a rest wrapped in a cooler. I HIGHLY recommend you follow this especially since this is a New Smoker for you. Once the Butt hits an Internal Temp (IT) of 195-200°F, double wrap in foil and some towels or old blanket and put it in the cooler. I suggest pulling at an IT less than 205 because it will continue to cook and the temp will rise above 205F. Some folks find going in the cooler at 205 causes the meat to way over cook and get mussy. Anyway, it will still be ready to pull and serve Hot (140-160°) 5-6 hours after it goes in and will be falling apart tender. That means for your 8lb Butt plan on 18 hours for this cook and you will be guaranteed to be serving at precisely the time you want. Just last weekend a member was smoking an 8 lb Butt at an average of 250 and after 17 hours it was only at 165°!!! Now in spite of the fact that the member said all went well except for temp fluctuations between 180 and 320, I am confident something went wrong and apparently he didn't plan for it. Good luck with the new Smoker and the cook...JJ
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
    statgeek likes this.

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