Happy New Year! I've posted on a few threads and yes, I am a noob. My smoker is a Char-Griller with the SFB. I will say at the outset that time, money and circumstance prevented me from making most of the standard CG mods before my first smoke. So I improvised. I did turn the charcoal pan upside down to serve as a baffle. And a little trial and error taught me that the POS temperature gauge that comes with the CG is about 75 degrees off (cooler) than what the grill surface actually is. I used a standard oven thermometer to figure this out. Once I knew that variance, I could use the on board temperature gauge just fine. Anyway, on to the smoke.... My cut of meat was a picnic shoulder. I really toyed with getting a whole shoulder, but the size deterred me. We were having a few folks over for NYD and I wanted to be sure I had the meat done in time for our guests to eat. Being from North Cackalacky, I had to inject an eastern NC style barbecue sauce that I made myself. This is what's in the bowl at right. I then slathered in mustard and used a local product I really liked called Grill Master's BBQ Rub. This one has a bit of a caramel tint to it that it really nice. See below; At 6am the next morning, it was time to get my smoke on! I actually didn't get any pics of that. When you're up all by yourself doing this for the first time, you've got other things on your mind! Suffice to say - I fed the SFB a bunch of lump charcoal, got it up to speed, threw on some hickory and then put my picnic on. Here's a pic of the halfway point; And finally, here's the finished product; At this point, I had a house full of hungry people breathing down my neck, so I totally forgot to get the "money shot" of breaking this bad boy open. Needless to say, it was tasty and everyone loved it. I could DEFINITELY taste the hickory and it looked like I achieved a decent smoke ring on the picnic. Now that I've done this once, I've got a few thoughts and questions. I think it came out good, but not great, there's a lot of room for improvement to make my smoking process more efficient. A buddy of mine told me that from a smoking standpoint, I only need to worry about the smoke itself for the first couple of hours and after that, it's all just low and slow heat. I hope that's correct. It seems to make sense. Because I blew threw a #$%@load of hickory. (at least to me). I used all of an 8 pound bag of chunks and a two pound bag of chips. The hickory seemed to burn much hotter, but also much faster. Next, I really need to get these CG mods done to hold in more smoke and heat. Besides using a lot of fuel, I also burned a little bit hot all day. The smoker hovered at about 250 and when I added hickory, that would spike to just under 300. When this happened, I would just lift the lid a little until the temp lowered, but I do realize that's not the way to do it. Probably, most of my temp problems were the result of learning to manage a fire for the first time. I didn't search the forums for this yet, but can anyone recommend a good source of information on cutting and slicing these things when you're done? I wasn't very efficient with that, and had to nit pick out a lot of fat. Which, gets to my other point - there was more fat in it because I absolutely ran out of time and pulled the meat at about 185. It plateaud on me and I just couldn't wait. That's obviously a lesson learned - I'll need to build in more time. It's better to have the thing done before your guests need it, and keep it warm, than to take it off early. Granted, it was totally "done", but had not reached the ideal temp for further fat breakdown, flavor and tenderness. But hey, it still came out pretty good, so imagine what will happen when I do this right! Thanks SMF for all the great information. Next up? RIBS!!