A panicking noob

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by resurrected, Jun 6, 2015.

  1. Hi Guys,

    I only found this forum and group yesterday. It looks brilliant, just wish I'd found it earlier.

    So why the panic?

    Well, after moving into a new house in December I decided that when the good UK weather rolled in I'd buy a barbecue. That day is here.

    I'm a bit anal and research most things I buy. This led me to discover smokers. The pin dropped and I realised why all that bbq I've had in the deep south US tastes so different to anything I've had in the UK.

    So on Friday my ProQ Frontier smoker arrived. I gave it a dry run (burn in) on Friday but just about got the temperature to 200 before it started to slowly fall.

    Eek! I've invited friends over for a bbq tomorrow and am now worried it's going to go horribly wrong.

    It's only eight people and they'll be arriving at about 3pm.

    I'd be grateful for any advice on what would be the best thing to cook. I'd originally thought some beef, chicken and ribs. But I'm not sure if I might be over extending myself for a first cook?

    Oh yes, I also need to do some fish as the other half does not eat meat.

    Thanks for any help guys.
  2. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome to the board! Look up your smoker online and study the methods other people use for keeping the right temperature.

    You will love smoking your own fish, at a fraction of store prices.
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Welcome to the SMF Family. You are biting off more than a newbie may be able to handle. 4 different meats requires some major experience at timing and temp control. You have not even figured out how to get the temp you want on your new smoker. Are you talking 200°F or C??? 200F is a bit to cool for most meats. At a min you need 225-250°F for the Pork and Beef, the Chicken is happier at 325°F. The Fish can be smoked at these temps but goes much faster than the other meats. I suggest picking One meat and have the Mrs.' make the fish the way she likes in the kitchen. That smoker should have no issue making any temp you desire, especially if you leave the water pan dry. Leave the top vent wide open and then control the temp with the bottom vents. More air = higher temps. Chicken Leg Quarters are cheap and at the 325°F temp are done in about 2 hours. All you need is a flavorful Rub and make some heat and smoke to cook and flavor them. Brining the bird adds moisture, flavor and tenderizes the meat, highly recommended. To get going smoking, you simply dump a load of lit charcoal on top of a couple of Kilos of unlit charcoal mixed with 4-5 6cm X 6cm chunks of smoke wood. If Wood Chip are all you can get, soak a half Kilo in water overnight, drain well and mix with the  charcoal. Use no water in the pan but cover it with foil for easy clean up and open the vents wide open. The temp should come up quickly. When the smoker temp is between 325 and 350°F and you are smelling smoke, add the Chicken and shut the bottom vents down to 1/4 open and watch your temps, opening or closing the bottom vents as needed. looking  Smoke for 1.5 hours and start testing for an Internal Temperature (IT), in the thickest part of the thigh, of around 180°F for the legs to be fully cooked. If you don't have an Instant Read Thermometer, look for the juices to run clear and at 180F the meat should start to pull off the bone with a twist of a fork. Keep smoking if needed. Serve the Legs with some BBQ Sauce and an assortment of side dishes.

    Ribs are another easy option taking about 6 hours at 225°F. But it is critical you control your temps and to get 6 hours of heat, this will require you understand how to build a proper fire. You will need to follow the Minnion Method of fire building to get this done. 


    My last concern is what wood flavor you are planning? Few folks in the UK are used to the intense smokiness of American BBQ and may find your hard work too overpowering. I suggest some Fruit Wood, Apple should not be hard to find. Oak is another mild wood. Below are some recipes to get you started. Good luck...JJ

    Juicy Smoke-tastic Chicken and Turkey

    Here is a Brine and Rub that is a Favorite with members of my Family. I like Apple and/or Hickory with Chicken or Turkey. We determine doneness by measuring the Internal Temp (IT) in the thickest part of the Breast and Thigh, 165* and 175-180*F respectively. For a One Step Smoke with Crispy Skin the birds have to be smoked at a temp of 300-325°F. You can figure about 2 hours or less to get done.

    Families Favorite Brine

    1/2C Kosher Salt

    2T Paprika

    2T Gran. Garlic

    2T Gran. Onion

    2T Dry Thyme

    2T Black Pepper

    1C Vinegar (Any)

    1-11/2Gal Cold Water to cover Chix

    1/2C Brown Sugar, Optional

    1T Red Pepper Flake Optional

    Mix well and Soak the Bird over night or up to 24 Hours.

    Remove the Chix, rinse if desired and pat dry with paper towels.

    Place in an open container in the refrigerator overnight for up to 24 hours for the Skin to dry. Or if time is short, place the bird in front of a Fan for no more than 1 hour.This will give a crispier skin when Smoking or Roasting...

    Bubba Chix Rub

    1/2C Raw Sugar

    2T Paprika (I use Smoked if I'm just Grilling)

    1T Cayenne

    1T Gran. Garlic

    1T Gran. Onion

    1tsp Black Pepper

    1tsp Wht Pepper

    1tsp Allspice

    1tsp Bell's Poultry Seasoning or Thyme

    Mix well. You can put directly on the skin or mix with Butter, Oil or Bacon Grease and rub on and under the Skin.

    Reduce Cayenne to 1 teaspoon if less heat is desired. Add 1T Kosher Salt if the bird is not Brined.

    KC Bubba Q Juice

    A sweet BBQ Sauce great on anything!

    2C Ketchup

    1/2C Brown Mustard (Gulden's)

    1/4C Apple Cider Vinegar

    1/2C Molasses

    2C Dark Brn Sugar

    1T Tomato Paste

    1T Your Rub

    1-2tsp Liquid Smoke

    1tsp Worcestershire Sauce

    Combine all and warm over low heat just until it starts to bubble. Simmer about 5 minutes, stirring very frequently, to combine flavors and to thicken slightly.

    Use or pour into a sterile jar and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.

    Makes 3 1/2 Cups.

    Just in case...

    Smoked Ribs as easy as 3-2-1

    A full rack of Spare Ribs will take about 6 hours at 225*F...The 3-2-1 smoked rib recipe is a good way to smoke ribs and tends to turn out perfect ribs every time whether you are using the meatier Full rack spare rib or the Saint Louis cut. Baby Back ribs use a 2-2-1 method. The ribs are smoked at 225 - 250 degrees for best results...
    The 3 stands for the 3 hours that you initially smoke the ribs with nothing but your favorite rub on them and some smoke with your favorite hardwood such as hickory, apple, pecan, etc. After the 3 hours you remove the ribs and quickly double wrap them in heavy duty foil.. just before you seal them up add some Foiling Juice or Apple Juice and close the foil leaving some room around the ribs for the steam to be able to flow around the meat and the juice to braise the meat which Flavors/Tenderizes it.

    The ribs cook in the smoker wrapped for 2 hours undisturbed. There is no need for Smoke at this point... After 2 hours remove the ribs from the smoker, unwrap, saving any juices in the foil, and place back into the smoker for the final 1 hour, with smoke if you wish.This firms them up, creates a nice Bark and finishes the cooking process. You can add a glaze or sauce at this point if you like. The meat will be pretty close to fall off the bone and be extremely juicy, tender and flavorful...JJ

    Foiling Juice / Sweet Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce

    Foiling Juice

    For each Rack of Ribs Combine:

    1T Pork Rub, yours

    1/2 Stick Butter

    1/2C Cane Syrup... Dark Corn Syrup...or Honey

    1/4C Apple Cider...or Juice

    1T Molasses

    Optional: 2T Apple Cider Vinegar. Add 2T Mustard and 1/4C Ketchup to make it more of a KC Glaze.

    Simmer until a syrupy consistency.

    Allow to cool for 5 minutes, pour over foiled Ribs and

    run your 2 hour phase of 3-2-1. For the last phase return

    the ribs to the smoker BUT reserve any Juice remaining

    in the Foil. Simmer the Juice over med/low heat to reduce to a saucy thickness. Glaze the Ribs for presentation or service.

    Mild Bubba Q Rub  (All Purpose)

    1/2C Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado)

    2T Sweet Paprika (Hungarian)

    1T Kosher Salt

    1T Chili Powder (contains some Cumin and Oregano) Ancho Chile is same without cumin, oregano etc.

    1T Granulated Garlic

    1T Granulated Onion

    1tsp Black Pepper, more if you like

    1/2tsp Grnd Allspice

    For more heat add Cayenne or Chipotle Pwd to taste, start with 1/2tsp and go from there. Makes about 1 Cup

    Apply your desired amount of Rub to the meat, wrap in plastic and rest in the refrigerator over night.or longer. The day of the smoke, pull the meat out, add more Rub and go into your pre-heated Smoker...
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
    resurrected likes this.
  4. Thanks for the welcome and many thanks for that reply Chef Jimmy.

    I thought I was being a little over ambitious when I started reading more into smoking :grilling_smilie.

    The temperature I mentioned was 200F.

    I think I'm going to go with some beef ribs and some chicken legs or thighs.

    Then do the missus salmon on the kettle bbq over direct heat.

    You definitely recommend using a dry bowl? I only ask as the booklet that came with the smoker says to fill with hot water.

    This is the smoker being compared with a WSM.

  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The dry bowl is more specific to getting the high temp for Chicken. Water requires a lot of fuel and cools the smoker temp frequently causing temps to hold in the low 200's unless you build a monster fire. Do some reading and see what members are doing to get the desired temps. The 3-2-1 method will work for Beef Side Ribs but Beef Short Ribs usually require longer cook times to get tender. You can also smoke Chicken at 225-250F but will require pulling it 10° early of the final IT and finishing on a grill to crisp the skin and finish the cook. Salmon is great smoked but I think you are making a good move saving that for another day. Check out Bearcarver's Step-by-Step for his awesome Hot Smoked Salmon...JJ

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
  6. Well, I've bought the chicken thighs and legs but could not get ribs anywhere!

    So I've bought a 3lb pork shoulder joint and thought I'd give that a shot as I didn't just want to serve up chicken.

    This could all go great or be a disaster :yahoo. The experiment will start tomorrow.....
  7. the black spot

    the black spot Fire Starter

    Give your self time for the cook.
    My last pork shoulder took 14 hours to get up to temperatures... And that's not unusual! You can shorten that time by wrapping it in foil (a Texas crutch) after the first 4 hours on the smoker as it will have picked up flavour by then, but I've as yet to try that method, I just let them take their time. I take my pork butt off when the IT is about 195f, then foil and rested it for half hour. Purrrfect pulled pork!
  8. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Resurrected - Welcome to the forum. Where in the UK are you from?

    The simple answer to your question is yes - I think you have been a little ambitious for your first smoke on the ProQ. It is a fine smoker and will do you well, however you do need to spend some time learning about its temperature control. With low-and-slow (or any cooking really) the temperature is critical. You need to get to understand your smoker and learn how to manage its temperature effectively. Also, as JJ has mentioned above you need to be getting the smoker temperature a little higher than you are - 225-235 F (around 110 C). To help with this i would suggest the following:
    • Get yourself a good digital thermometer that gives you both the smoker and meat temperature at the same time. A Maverick ET-732 or 733 will be ideal.
    • Use good quality briquettes that will burn long and hot. Either Heat Beads or Weber Premium briquettes. You can add the flavour by using lumps of wood on the briquettes or by using pellets.
    • Use sand in your water tray. This will act as a heat buffer and will help to avoid temperature spikes.
    • Look up on here about using the minion method for burning your charcoal/briquettes
    The important thing to remember is that you do not cook by time as each cut of meat will smoke at different rates. If you are doing your pulled pork today then just make sure it gets up to 195 F (90 C) and be sure to wrap it in foil and leave it to rest for about an hour before pulling.

    I am sure others will also respond but for the next smoke you may like to try something a little less ambitious. Ribs are a lot more forgiving.

    It will not take you long to master the temperature control (maybe 2 or 3 runs) but it is something that you will need to do.

    resurrected likes this.
  9. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Well, for a first attempt at very short notice I was pretty happy. It was hard work and a long day prepping and cooking but well worth it.

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  10. markuk

    markuk Smoking Fanatic

  11. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I am glad it worked out well. It certainly looks tasty [​IMG]
  12. Thanks Wade, I never expected it to work out as well as it did.:sausage:
  13. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nice looking food for your first Smoke and the pressure you put yourself under so much pressure!!!

    Trying to give you Points, but not managed it yet???


    Smokin Monkey
  14. Thanks very much.

    I never realised how different (difficult) smoking was compared to a straight forward direct flame bbq. That's where the pressure came from :wife:. I did research on what smoker to buy but not on the technique of using one. DOH!

    So, having read a few things above I'm just a little confused and I think it's going to help on my journey if I ask a few things.

    Is it best not to use water in the Proq? Answers above say bowl empty and another says put in sand.

    Wade says to use briquettes or heat beads? Never heard of heat beads. Also most places I've been reading recommend to use lump charcoal and not briquettes, as they can have nasty stuff in. Can you see where my confusion is coming from......

    Oh and Wade you asked where I'm from. I live just outside of Lichfield, Staffordshire.

  15. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Paul, ask a question and you will get several different answers, it all personal preference.

    I have only recently starting using a Kamado Egg, which uses Charcoal or equivalent.

    Do not use Brickets or easy light charcoal. I have used Heat Beads, Wade and Danny swear by them, I could not get on with them, you can get them from The Range. Lump Charcoal for me.

    Water Pan? I used one once but now use it with sand in, it retains the heat, but water adds moisture. See what I mean about personal preference.

    Lichfield, just down the road from me, I am at A38 and M1 Junction 28 Sutton In Ashfield.

    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
  16. I used this stuff from Homebase http://www.homebase.co.uk/en/homebaseuk/garden/bbq-fuel-and-accessories/lump-wood---8kg-917980

    I fired the smoker up at about 10:30 am and it ran until about 10pm and I added to the basket two or three times to raise the temperature after it had dropped a little. My first thoughts after this was how can people keep temperature high overnight. As I've read about people starting a smoke before going to bed!

    I'd guess Sutton in Ashfield is about an hour or so away. I keep meaning to get across to Nottingham for a pub crawl (good beer is a vice :Beer:).
  17. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ahhh Grasshopper - I can show you the path but I can not walk it for you.

    Whilst some amongst us seek instant fulfillment, others have leaned the value of patience.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  18. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thank you for those wise words O Great One! :77:
  19. However, they still have to learn the value of spelling :yahoo:
  20. Spelling???  Do we have an educator here??  An educator who needs educating??  No surprise there then.  As in a teacher?  "He who can DOES.  He who can not do, teaches".  Have eaten Wade's food.  Don't really care how he spells it.  It is GOOD!.


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