First time smoker today...couple questions!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by lombardi23, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. lombardi23

    lombardi23 Newbie

    So today was my first smoke. I bought the propane charbroil smoker, got a maverick thermometer, read reviews and watched videos on my certain smoker and bough Jeff's Smoking Meat cookbook. Followed everything correctly. Today I wanted to do 2 beer can chickens. I followed the recipe, prepared my chickens then went and turned the smoker on to get to 225 degrees. I put the chickens on, then loaded up the drawer with pecan and apple wood chips. Not long, I had major temperature issues. It would spike up, I'd make adjustments with the flame and vents, then it would go down. Happened all day really, times I was turning the burner off just to get the temp down. I couldn't keep the temperature consistent. I didn't soak the wood chips, I read some forums on here and decided not to.

    What was my issue? Too much wood chips? Soak them? They came out good, I personally think there was too much of a smoke flavor, but everyone else liked them.

    Any tips would help! This was my first time, so I do understand it takes some time to learn everything. But that's why I'm on this forum!
     
  2. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    Was there a lot of wind?
     
  3. siege

    siege Smoke Blower

    Here's a couple of thoughts for you. You may have these areas covered, but for what it's worth.....
    I like to get my smoker up to temperature, then give it a half hour to settle down before I load it up. Let the meat, chicken or whatever you're going to smoke come up to room temperature, or at least lose some of it's chill while the smoker gets regulated.
    You probably have a waterpan, or something to prevent dripping fat from reaching your burner, but if not, it could cause your fluctuating temperatures.
    A remote reading thermometer makes it easier to sit and relax. The less often you open the door, the better your finished product will be.
    Sounds like, after all was said and done, your food turned out well. That's reały what it's all about. Make small changes in one thing at a time, and enjoy the ride ! It will all work out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2015
  4. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I'm experimenting also with the smoke on chickens.  I've done a few smokes, thighs, wings, whole chickens, and found the smoke flavor too strong for my liking.  Poultry absorbs the smoke!

    Mike
     
  5. siege

    siege Smoke Blower

    Mike, start the chicken in the smoker for the first 45 minutes or so with no smoke, then smoke as usual. Cooking time will be the same, but the flavor will be much milder.
    I don't know what wood flavor you're using, but fruit woods or alder produce a milder smoke than oak, hickory, or mesquite.
     
  6. siege

    siege Smoke Blower

    Mike, start the chicken in the smoker for the first 45 minutes or so with no smoke, then smoke as usual. Cooking time will be the same, but the flavor will be much milder.
    I don't know what wood flavor you're using, but fruit woods or alder produce s milder smoke than oak, hickory, or mesquite.
     
  7. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I will try that seige, thanks for the info.  I always use hickory for my smokes.
     
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Congrats on your first smoke! Some Gasser's can have a hard time running below 300°F The most common fix is the Needle Valve Mod. This lets you fine tune the gas for lower temps. Wind can play a part too. Look into a location away from wind or some sort of wind break. Next, Chips smoke a short time then Burn, spiking the temp in the smoker. Look into Chucks. You may have to modify the existing wood pan or switch to a small Cast Iron Pan, also common around here. You read correctly, soaking wood is a waste of time. The chips have to dry before they smoke, so why bother. People have different tastes. Me, I like strong smoke. They Wife and Girls, not so much...I lose that argument! Stay with just the milder Apple for now. As you get into eating smoked food more you will find a flavor of wood or blend that all like. Pecan is good but somewhat sharper than Apple. Ease in. Try different fruit woods. Maple is nice and smooth. Hickory and Mesquite is much stronger. Lastly, Jeff's recipe is good and Chicken at 225° comes out juicy and tender. But if you like Crispy Skin, the low temp won't get you there. The advantage of a Modified Gasser, is you can go low for pork and crank the temp to 300-325°F for great Birds. All is not lost! We are here to help...JJ

    Here is some reading for you...

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/newsearch?search=charbroil+propane+smoker

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/newsearch?search=needle+valve+mod
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
  9. lombardi23

    lombardi23 Newbie

    Thanks everyone! I'll keep trying for sure!

    It was a little windy, but not a real strong wind or anything. Maybe I should just cook the birds without smoke for half the time then start with the chips? The skin definitely wasn't crispy
     
  10. lombardi23

    lombardi23 Newbie

    I think I have this whole process wrong while, then just simply finish it off with smoke for the last hour or so? When I did these two birds, as soon as they went on, I started adding the wood chips. Then whenever the smoke went away I would add more...
     
  11. You might want to skip the pecan, or use a lot less. It's almost as strong as hickory. Stick to fruit or maple for poultry.
     
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Smoke does it's work from the Start. If your smoke was too strong, use just Apple and try it just the first 30 minutes to 1 hour. Finish with just heat. Also, forget what you see on the Food Network! The smoke should not be Billowing White. You want Thin Blue Smoke. See the smoker on the right...JJ

    [​IMG]
     
  13. lombardi23

    lombardi23 Newbie

    Okay, so only smoke for an hour or so, then just use heat for the rest of the time? That could be where I messed up. I did smoke the whole time lol
     
  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yes start with an hour...There are a lot of folks, me included, that smoke the whole time. But, I been doing this a long time and that is what the family is used too. You are new and need to see what works for you and yours. Start with an hour and go up as desired. When I stared out I used strong Hickory all the time and the family banned me from smoking anything for a few months. Switched to Apple and less time and all was good. Eventually used a Hickory, Cherry, Maple blend and worked up to more time. The family is happy...JJ
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
  15. lombardi23

    lombardi23 Newbie

    Okay cool. I'll try with just apple or cherry if I can find it next time. I want to do another beer can chicken this weekend to see the difference!
     
  16. Peach is also very good for poultry. Really, any of the common woods are good if you get the right amount of smoking down, but it's common to use 1/2 the cooking time as a rule of thumb and then find the right wood, which is where the stronger woods like hickory, oak, and pecan get ruled out for lighter meats.
     
  17. lombardi23

    lombardi23 Newbie

    For those that cook whole chicken, what temp do you cook at? I've heard people cook at 225 and some people all the way up to 350
     
  18. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    To get nice bite through skin you need a higher chamber temp than 225F.  275F minimum or you will get rubbery skin.  325-350F is just about perfect for me, no water in the water pan. 

    Everything else I'm about to write is just personal technique.  I brine all poultry, then I make sure the skin is dry.  I don't put anything on the skin except for some rub.   I've found that using oil or butter on the skin works nicely gives me a darker skin than I prefer, at least in my smoker.  I use a 50-50 mix of hickory wood for flavor and cherry wood for color. 

     
  19. lombardi23

    lombardi23 Newbie

    Hmm interesting. No water pan? What will this cause? Dryer cook for crispy skin?
    I rubbed them down with olive oil, then used my rub all over them. My skin was rubbery, that's for sure
     
  20. lombardi23

    lombardi23 Newbie

    Where do you guys go and get your wood? I've found it at my local Lowe's and Walmart...
     

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