Failing at smoking meat

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by kbear102, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. kbear102

    kbear102 Newbie

    Hi there. I've tried, and tried, but I just can't seem to get this smoking thing right. I live in MA, and have a small smoker with an offset smoke box. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. I've tried both applewood and hickory in conjunction with lump charcoal. No matter what I've used my meat always has an overwhelming off putting smoke flavor. Never do I end up with that nice smoky flavor, and fantastic fall apart texture I love when I buy barbecue. I really want to get this right, but I'm stumped. Hopefully, someone can help me out.
  2. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Welcome Kbear !!!

    Sounds like you're definitely putting too much smoke on.

    Light (TBS) smoke for many hours is Great.

    Heavy Smoke for any amount of time is bad.

    I'm a Watt Burner, but somebody should be here soon to tell you how to put a lighter smoke on with your smoker.

  3. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Hey man , why don't you just try charcoal by itself a few times and see how you like it? I do mine that way a lot because the wife is not a big smoke fan and I find the food tastes plenty smoky (but not overwhelmingly so).
  4. bkleinsmid

    bkleinsmid Smoking Fanatic

    Kbear........I agree with Bear. Sounds like you have too much smoking wood with the doesn't take much. I think it is better to throw in a little chunk now and then and watch to see what the smoke looks like.

    Hambone has a good point also. Just KB may be plenty until you get the hang of it.

    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  5. Hello.  I would only add: leave your top vent wide open.  Control your temp with the intake vents.  For more help please provide us with pictures of your next smoke and the exact method you are using.  Good luck.

  6. Hey Kbear hello and welcome, lets see it we cant figure this out. Some more information is needed. Post some pictures of your smoker, and tell us what your procedure is, A few things come to mind, I am assuming you have a straight flow (SF) smoker  fire box on one end smoke stack on the other. Are you trying to control temps and smoke by using the stack damper?,  is your wood properly seasoned ? and have you checked your temp gauge to make sure it is reading correctly?,

    Gary S 
  7. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I agree with hambone, try running just plain charcoal to get the hang of your rig. (edited to add, make sure the charcoal is gray because it can have nasty flavors as it lights)  Learn the temps and behavior.

    I noticed in the South, the BBQ places serve meat that just barely tastes like smoke; it's more like oven-roasted meat. Shoot for that first. Then tinker with the smoke flavoring.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  8. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    What size wood chunks are you using and how many do use? Do you put more than one at a time on the coals ? I assume that you are buying bags of hickory and apple at a store rather than harvesting your own, so the wood is probably well seasoned. If that is the case then your food is too smoky it is because you are using too much wood. As stated in previous posts you need to tell us more about your procedure- ie, cooking temps, brand of pit, how much charcoal you are using, how much wood you are using before we can do much more than give you educated guesses.
  9. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You need to tightly roll the meat and wood into one neat and satisfying package.

  10. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    [​IMG] When I use my weber its easier to over smoke the meat than when I'm using my wood burner. Reason is wood fires are hotter and it gives off less bad smoke. Charcoal fires are not as hot so the wood will sit there and smoke, usually heavily. So when using charcoal use a small chunk of wood. You don't need smoke all the time to have excellent Q.
  11. Hey BlueWhisper, where about in the South you talking about, Not here in Texas at least not REAL BBQ places, not sure about the big franchise places with all those automatic smokers, I don't eat there. I like a mild smokey flavor no oven roasted BBQ here at my house.

    Gary S
    elky327 likes this.
  12. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I would first like to recommend doing the E=course Jeff has on this site. It is free and will get you started off on the right foot. All the above advise is good too. You want to know accurate temperatures for your smoker and what you are smoking as well. So you might want to invest in a digital thermometer of some kind so that you know what is going on with the heat and the meat. Also I find that if you make a foil pouch for your wood chunks and poke some holes in it you can control the amount of good thin blue smoke you get better especially if your smoker is not performing perfectly. Sounds to me like you might have billowing white smoke going for some or all of the cook. There are modifications you can do to make your pit work better. We might have a better understanding of what you have going on if you include a few details about your smoker and a picture is worth a thousand words. Happy smoking and keep at it. It is a learning process for sure.
  13. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I was in North and South Carolina, training commissary staff at military bases as they switched to wireless barcode inventory readers. Glad I got the chance to see that territory.
  14. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome, glad ya joined us !
  15. kbear102

    kbear102 Newbie

    Wow! Thank you all for your responses. I have been using store bought chunks or chips, soaked. I have also been trying to make sure there were constantly chunks/chips going. I'm thinking this was my mistake (or at least a good sized part of it). I guess less is more when it comes to smoking? I will try to post some pictures of my rig in the near future.
  16. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to SMF.  You're on your way to getting your problem solved.

    Lets assume you have a charcoal smoker with a side fire box.  Not exactly clear from your description.

    Chips put out a lot of smoke and have to be constantly replaced.  Chunks are better with charcoal, burn slower, and put out a smaller amount of smoke for a longer time because a smaller total surface area is burning than with chips.

    Don't bother soaking your wood either.  Load it dry.

    You'll have great tasting meat in no time flat with the advice you've been given above.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  17. Think about investing or making a charcoal basket to get a better fire.

  18. Well get those pictures up. Here is a good example of good smoke TBS(Thin Blue Smoke) and bad Thick White Smoke.

    TBS is on the right. Even though technically that is thick blue smoke. The white stuff is from the wood burning and off gassing tars. You want to choke the intake to achieve the temp you want then allow the fire to stabilize until you get thin blue smoke, then add your meat.
  19. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome aboard Kbear!

    You've gotten a lot of good advice here already. What works for me to avoid the thick nasty white smoke is a simple variation on the "Minion Method". I line the bottom of my fire basket with one layer of unlit briquettes. Then I'll sit 2 or 3 chunks of wood on that. Then I'll cover those with more briquettes. Then I'll hollow out the middle of the pile by just removing the briquettes there and putting them in my chimney. Usually 10-15 total. Then I light the briquettes in the chimney and let them ash over. THEN, I take one chunk of wood and put it at the bottom of the depression I've made in the middle of the pile of coals. Then I dump the  lit coals on top of that chunk of wood, filling in the hole in the pile. It'll start billowing thick white nasty smoke. But, as if by magic, 15-30 minutes later, it'll settle into the most beautiful, barely visible sweet smelling blue smoke you'd ever want.

    Pics loaded a little out of order, but here's the process.

    This should be the 3rd picture, as it thins out. This is when you'd want to put your food on.

    Immediately after starting, it looks like this. YUCK

    Starts to settle down and the smoke thins.

    Then it almost disappears. It's still smoking your food though.
  20. kbear102

    kbear102 Newbie

    Haven't posted pictures yet due to the rain we've been having for the past two days. Sorry, you guys have been helpful, and I feel I'm not doing my part. Will deliver soon..

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