Problems trying to get a good smokey flavor.

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by nopeda, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. nopeda

    nopeda Fire Starter

    In a recent post about thermometer problems I mentioned a Boston Butt which was my first long smoke. It went for about 8 hours holding pretty stedily at 250 degrees and it stayed smokey with misquite the whole time since I added wood often enough to keep it going. The meat cooked well and was nice and tender and still fairly juicy, but even though the smoke kept going I couldn't taste much of a smokey flavor to the meat. Certainly not enough to be worth the effort...I'd have done as well to cook it in an oven. Also in a video about it they took the juice from the pan, put it in a container in the refrigerator, later skimmed the fat from the top, heated the juice that was left and poured it over the meat. With the one I cooked there was no juice left, but only thick white fatty stuff about the consistency of melted ice cream after cooling it in the frig.

    I'm wondering now if the smoke never really is able to get deep inside thicker cuts of meat like that? The pork chops and hamburgers I've smoked for much less time have had a good smokey flavor to them. The much thicker Butt developed a black crust around the outside which seemed that it would prevent the smoke from getting deep inside if that were even possible without it. At this point I don't know what to think. I cooked some ribs at the same time, and they pretty much charred up with very little edible meat right beside the bone after cooking about 4 hours at 250 degrees. They were individual ribs though, not all still attached like the ones in the vids I've seen. I had some great smokey tasting chili a guy made in a smoker once, but chili seems like it would allow the smoke to penetrate through it better than a piece of meat with a hard black crust surrounding it.

    Is it possible to smoke things medium rare? I tried a chuck roast, but it turned out well done after only about two hours. I've tried ribeye steaks, but they end up pretty tough after about an hour....tougher than when I cook them on the stove for a lot less time. The best success I've had so far is with pork chops cooked for about an hour at 250....everything I've tried so far has been at about 225 to 250 degrees. 

    Finally, can anyone tell me an exact URL for ordering Jeff's rub? I've tried to find one, but so far haven't been able to find a specific page where we can order it.

    Thank you for any help figuring this stuff out!
  2. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  3. nopeda

    nopeda Fire Starter

    I have a Master Forge vertical charcoal smoker that I modified and have been keeping at between 225 and 250 degrees when smoking, and I live about 40 miles north of Atlanta GA. 

    Today I checked the store pages 1, 10 and 15 for Jeff's Rub and found it's not available on any of them. 
  4. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014
  5. nopeda

    nopeda Fire Starter

    Does ordering the recipe include a container of rub and of sauce, or just the recipe of how to make them, or both?

    This looks like the smoker I'm using:

    It says it's a Brinkmann but it doesn't look anything like the Brinkmanns I've seen at Home Depot. It does however look almost exactly like the Master Forge that I'm using except the one I'm using has a better thermometer that tells the actual temperature instead of looking like the one in the photos. The Brinkmanns at HD do have that type of thermometer but the one I bought does not, and that's what I've been using. It seems okay to me. I made and installed dampers like it shows at that page, but instead of just closing off the original hole in the bottom that came with it I made a sliding damper for that too so I can close it off or open it as I want to.
  6. radioyaz

    radioyaz Smoke Blower

    That is pretty curious?? If you had wood smoke going for 8 hours it really should be smokey tasting. Especially since you said you had "dark crust" or bark.

    Did the meat have a smoke ring?

    Were you using chips? chunks of wood?

    I don't use much mesquite but have heard that much mesquite smoke would tend to make things get bitter or acrid since mesquite is a very strong wood for smoking.
  7. nopeda

    nopeda Fire Starter

    I don't know what a smoke ring is. The meat seemed to be cooked pretty well, and pulled off nicely and was tender, but I didn't taste any smokey flavor. I used chunks of mesquite, and added some about every 20 minutes so it kept smoking. I taste the smoke in thinner cuts like pork chops and sometimes it is pretty acrid. Maybe I'll try hickory next time. 

    Can you tell me if you get a container of Jeff's rub when you order the recipe? 
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014
  8. radioyaz

    radioyaz Smoke Blower

    The smoke ring is the small pinkish line near the surface of the meat, it is a sign that smoke has penetrated the meat. You will see it when you slice it or pull it. From my brief experience and research, large cuts of meat will only absorb smoke until the 140 degree mark or two hours of a long smoke.

    As far as Jeff's rub, you are only buying the recipe to make it yourself, same for the sauce.
  9. nopeda

    nopeda Fire Starter

    Thank you for the explanations! I was of the apparently false impression that we could order containers of Jeff's rub.
  10. major que

    major que Newbie

    I am new here and have been smoking meats myself for the past couple of years and this is what I have learned.

    First off, the "dark crust" you got on the butt is called the bark and that has a lot to do with the flavor.

    Second, the smoke ring is the pinkish layer, as already mentioned, at the top of the meat. Usually the smoke ring is about an 1/8th to 1/4 inch wide when you cut into the meat. From what I know, smoke will not penetrate much deeper than this no matter how long you smoke it. All the smoke flavor basically comes from the smoke ring. If your smoke ring is smaller or all but nonexistent, you might want to try keeping your meat cold until you put it in the smoker. There are those, myself included, who think that cold meats seem to absorb smoke better than meat brought to room temperature (figure of speech - it would take hours for a butt to reach room temperature and then you run the risk of bacteria).

    Third, I smoke with mesquite and hickory and have found that if I only smoke using these woods I do not get the heavy smoke flavor that I want when I smoke. When I got started and did my first couple of smokes, I used oak chunks (got a lot of oak trees on my property) and that gave me the heavy smoke flavor. After the first couple of smokes I started experimenting with different woods, but as far I have found that oak gives me the best smoke flavor. 

    As already mentioned, trying to get a heavy smoke ring using mesquite could ruin your meat. To much mesquite smoke can leave your meat tasting bitter. If you are looking for a heavier smoke ring, mix your woods. I would suggest trying oak mixed with the mesquite. I would also suggest you use wood chunks when you smoke. For the mesquite and hickory that I use, I buy Western brand chunks that you can order at .

    There are some good tips for beginners learning to smoke at that you might find helpful and a place to learn more about woods and mixing them for the best results.

    As for your ribs having very little edible meat after a four (4) hour smoke, you might want to try dropping your heat down to around 225 degrees. I smoke a lot of ribs and mine come out juicy and tender. I try to smoke everything at around 225 degrees. For me, this seems to be the magic number/temperature. I smoke ribs for three (3) hours. After three (3) hours, I wrap them in heavy foil and put them back in the smoker for at least another 2-3 hours or until they reach an internal temp of around 165 degrees. Once they hit 165 degrees, they come out of the smoker and are left to rest for at least an hour before serving.

    If you are finding that your meats are drying out, you may be overcooking them in a dry smoker. If your smoker came with a water bowl, you might want to try filling and keep it about half full of cold water. This will help keep your meat moist and make sure that you do not overcook whatever it is that you are smoking. If your smoker did not come with a water bowl, you can always use a heavy metal bowl to put water (using fruit juice such as apple juice will give your meats a nice flavor) in. Simply put it in the smoker and keep an eye on it. You can also get yourself a spray water bottle that you can use to spritz your meat.

    In regards to rubs, why not make your own? There are plenty of free recipes that you can try. If you find one you like, you can tweak it to suit your taste. I personally would not buy someone else's recipe. I am looking for particular flavors and tastes when I smoke to suit the tastes of me and my wife so we do a lot of experimenting with our rubs, sauces and techniques. For me, that is part of the fun of smoking my own meats.

    I realize this might be a lot of information, but I do hope you find at least some of it helpful. No matter what, don't give up. Experiment until you find what works for you and enjoy the final results. 

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