First Time with WSM

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by gwschenk, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. Three weekends ago I smoked a chicken on our ECB. I used Kroger lump charcoal and a whole bird rubbed with olive oil, then salt, pepper, garlic, onion and paprika. Stuffed an onion quarter and some celery in the bird, lit it and did yard work for 5 hours. The ECB gauge went to 'hot' and stayed there for a while, then dropped down to 'low' as the coals became smothered in ash. The bird came out great, the skin was nice and crispy with a light color, and the meat was super moist, juicy even. Best chicken ever.

    I decided to see if it could be improved.

    Picked up a Weber Smokey Mountain and some Stubbs charcoal. Got two slabs of baby back ribs and two chickens which I had the butcher spatchcock. Was expecting to feed 6. Rubbed both with salt, garlic, onion, pepper and paprika. I did not put olive oil on the birds this time.

    Used the Minion method, which I discovered here. Put almost a full ring of briquets and then lit lump charcoal in the middle. Three chunks of apple wood. Water and a bit of white wine in the bowl. Placed the ribs on the lower grate and the chickens above.

    All I used for monitoring was the stock thermometer on the Weber. It came up to temperature quickly and at about 225 I put the meat on. It held steady at 265. After a bit, when it began to rise, I shut off two of the bottom vents, closed the third about half way, and kept the top vent open.

    For the first 45 minutes, the smoke was a bit white, then it was clear. More yard work, while checking the thermometer from time to time. It was very stable, a big difference from the ECB.

    After 4.5 hours the chicken was about 160 by an instant read thermometer. So I glazed one chicken and the ribs with some store bought sauce. I like Stubbs, so used that. Too lazy to make my own!

    A half hour later the chicken was 170. So everything came off. The unglazed chicken had a dark skin and looked good. The ribs, which had not been foiled, but just set on the grate and forgotten, also looked really good.

    The ribs were fantastic. I wish the Old Man was around, he would have been impressed. They were just as good as anything he made, and his were the best. The bones were completely clean. The meat just fell off. So good!

    The chicken was good, but not as good as the ECB chicken. A bit dryer, and the skin was not crispy, but sort of chewy. I probably over cooked them a tad. The leftovers did taste good in a salad the next night.

    I shut off all the vents after pulling the meat. There was charcoal left over.

    Sorry, no pictures! Five people with smart phones, and I couldn't get anyone to take a picture!

    So, for the next time:

    I'm going to leave the chicken whole, no butterflying, and try the olive oil again. I'm going to monitor it all with a thermometer. The Weber has a port for a remote thermometer.

    Wouldn't do anything different with the ribs, they were superb. Maybe it was all luck.

    The Weber worked really well on it's first time out. Steady temperature and easy to control.

    Many thanks to all the posters here. Reading this forum really helped a lot with my successful barbeque. Can't wait to do it all again.
  2. figjam

    figjam Meat Mopper

    My guess is your temp was hotter using the ECB.  That is good for getting the skin crispier, which is why it was not as crispy using the WSM.

    You used way too much charcoal.  Full rings are more for longer cooks, like on a brisket.
  3. Figjam, thanks for the ideas. The temperature on the WSM stayed around 265 most of the cook. And you're right about the amount of charcoal.

    Maybe chicken and ribs is not a good combo for smoking at the same time?
  4. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If you want crispy chicken, you are going to have to be in the 350* range (which would have been way too much for those ribs).   A WSM does not excel at crispy skin chicken, but it makes up for it in may other areas.  

    You can get a WSM into the 350* range, but you probably need to be only cooking the one food at that temp and not like you did with chicken & ribs. Some people will pull out the water pan and let the chicken fat drip directly on the coals in a WSM and run it at the higher temps (works like a UDS or pit barrel cooker that way).  Another option is do what you did and set a grate on top of the fire ring at the last minuted to crisp up the skin directly over the coals.  Just don't walk away if you go that route.

    Did you brine the chicken before cooking?  That helps with moisture also.  I've taken a brine before smoking and then a very light rub with mayonnaise to give the rub something to stick to.  It melts into the chick as it cooks (and is mostly oil anyway).  The mayo rub works great on boneless/skinless which is how I discovered it.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
  5. Dave,

    Did not brine. Thanks for the tips, though, it's all very much appreciated. Definitely no more chicken and ribs. At least not on the same smoker. :)
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    As mentioned higher temps are best for poultry. So as mentioned doing ribs and chicken at the same time may not work super great for you. That being said I've done runs at high temps too, and yes you can get your WSM temps up. Few tricks for that. No water in the water pan or remove it all together. Start with more lit briquettes, do not use the minion method. I actually like to use a propane torch to light all my charcoal smokers/BBQ's. No wasted heat and no wasted fuel.
  7. Ha! More good tips. Thanks. I can't wait for the next chicken!
  8. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'll be watching to see if you do better . :Coffee:

    Have fun and . . .
  9. pictures. :)

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