Smoking using a water pan... from BBQ certified judges..

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by daveomak, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Interesting opinions from Certified BBQ Judges... Especially the last comment....

    Do judges notice the difference between "wet smoking" & dry" smoking?

    I was wondering, is there a difference that can be noticed between a wet smoke and dry smoke?

    Brice Mitchell
    Lacona, Ia

    Mike S.; KCBS MCBJ &,BBQ-Brethren RJ

    If your question is weather judges can tell if you use dry or moist heat, that is a difficult question to answer, since judges are not sure what method was used. In theory, more moisture the better the smoke penetration and adhesion, but an experience cook would know the right application in either method. Also I don't believe in the theory of moist heat equals moist meat.

    As far as appearance that is also difficult to answer, since almost everyone uses sauces..

    Doug KCBS Master CBJ / CTC

    This is a difficult question. I might be able to tell the difference as with moist heat you shouldn't get as much bark as with dry heat due to the extra moisture. But a lot of teams will wrap their meat in foil once it hits a certain time/temperature/color/cooking point/etc. and add some liquid so that the meat will braise to make it tender and moist. This can also affect the bark. Once cooking is done some will place their meat, still in foil, in a cooler or cambro. Others will take it out of the foil, sauce it, and put it back on the smoker. And I'm sure there are many, many other variations out there.

    Can a judge tell when the box reaches them. Maybe 50% of the time I could. The question you should ask yourself is, "does my cooking method produce, moist, tender, juicy meat." That is the main thing I am looking for when I judge.


    Wet Smoke/Dry Smoke?
    What the hell is that? Smoke is smoke... I think
    Are you wondering if having water in your cooker or not makes your meat more moist or not?
    I'd say absolutley not. The moisture in your meat is from rendered fat. If you don't cook it long enough there will not be much moisture in your meat. If you cook the hell out of it, there will not be much moisture in your meat.
    If you cook your meat to the perfect temperature it will be perfectly moist and will score well, and Ray will be putting a water pan in his cooker.


    Brice, If you are reffering to a cooker that has a large pan of water that is heated thereby basicly steaming the meat, my answer is yes,yes and yes. I can very definately taste the difference with pork. It will taste washed out and have little flavor. I am not reffering to a cooker that has a smaller water pan only to the cookers that the water pan almost completely covers the heat source. We have some whole hog cookers who also use this method and the entire hog lacks flavor. I believe the water prevents the natural wood smoke and flavor from reaching the meat. I also think many judges have also had "water steamed" pork and score it down on taste without knowing why it lacked taste.
    noboundaries likes this.
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dave, I thoroughly enjoyed reading that post.  Thanks for sharing.  I actually found it a bit surprising though, especially from judges.  Not being a judge though I can't imagine they think much about the process someone used when smoking their meat.  I think their points are based upon  appearance, moisture, tenderness, and taste.   

    Interesting concept too by the one judge about moisture coming from rendered fat.  It helps, but there is SO much more to moisture than just rendered fat.  Is the water pan part of that?  My experience says poultry-no, pork-no, beef-still undecided.      

    I too liked the last comment. 

    I've said before my wife, a confirmed "super taster," can tell the difference between a wet and dry smoke.  I'm an engineer by education only, with some professional trend analysis experience, so I'm constantly aware of big picture patterns all around me, including my wife's response to what I put on the table.  I wet smoked a lot when I first started.  Then I noticed she didn't care much for the leftovers, and we LOVE leftovers.  When I switched to dry smoking she'd eat the leftovers with me until everything was gone.  I mentioned this to her once and she said "Sometimes the flavor is too smoky, but lately it has been great!"  The only thing I had changed was I switched to dry smoking.  That's why I dry or wet-to-dry smoke all the time now.  I only use the water pan when I want to lay down more smoke flavor quickly on a relatively short smoke, or on long smokes but only with enough water for about 3 hours.  I never refill or add water to a dry pan.      
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
  3. Interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

    Happy smoken.

  4. FWIW: I am a KCBS CBJ. I don't use water in my WSM. I get very moist tender meat (or I've failed).

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