Trial by Fire (No Pun Intended)

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by ddave, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, after having my new smoker for about a month, I think my wife was getting a little frustrated with the amount of time I was spending reading this forum, tinkering with the smoker, doing trial runs and smoking stuff. After yet another box arrived from she asked "How many damn thermometers do you need?"

    I did a small batch of country style ribs last Saturday. After three hours of good temps, I realized that the ash was not dropping through the grate that my ugly no-weld charcoal basket was sitting on. (I thought the Royal Oak was burning awfully clean -- hardly any ash in the bottom of the firebox when I was checking.) At that point, I foiled and FITO (finished in the oven. Maybe FITO should turn green like ABT and the phrase that appears could be Finish In the Oven.) They turned out delicious and my wife no longer questioned my desire to mix Jack Daniels and apple juice in a spray bottle.

    I had planned on doing another small batch of country style ribs this weekend and working on the fire management thing a bit more. When I felt like I was comfortable with the fire management, I was going to try some baby backs. Well, lo and behold, my wife returns from the store last night with a rack of spare ribs and asks me "Will those work?". Yes, those will work, I tell her, but I will need about 6 hours and hadn't really planned on trying something like that yet.

    Sooo . . . it looks like I will be attempting some spare ribs this weekend. I plan on trimming them St. Louis style and rubbing them on Friday night. I will fire up the smoker on Saturday (after my son's karate lesson) and spend the afternoon with the smoker trying to get the fire management thing down. My wife will be at her neice's baby shower, so it will be just me and the kids.

    Hopefully, they will be deliciously done just in time for my wife's return around dinner time.

    Wish me luck.

  2. I am sure you will be fine Dave. Walking Dude has a good link to a you tube video that shows a guy trimming ribs st louis style. I am sure he will be along to add the link here. Its a good video if you can get past the guys heavy breathing and slapping the meat

    Read up on the 3-2-1 method...get yourself a nice rub and dont forget the mustard slather prior to the rub. Sounds like you have your sprtiz mixture....JD and apple juice. I think you are going to do fine and with proper time management they will be done in time for your wifes return.

    I like the idea of making FITO a new highlighted word. We'll see if it catches on. [​IMG]
  3. I sent WD a PM, hopefully he can post that trimming video...[​IMG]
  4. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  5. Thanks WD, I knew you were the man with the plan!!![​IMG]
  6. earache_my_eye

    earache_my_eye Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Easy there or WD won't be able to get his cap on his head anymore....[​IMG]
  7. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    OR any less [​IMG]
  8. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks, guys. I used Jeff's rub on the country style and will use them on the spares as well. I almost forgot about the mustard. Thanks for reminding me.

    I bookmarked the videos for future reference. Thanks, WD.

  9. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    way to go u 2-helping the new guy so mamma will look the other way when a new smoking toy arrives.
  10. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yeah, and depending on how the fire management thing goes, the new toy could be an Afterburner. I see now why my dad put a propane burner in the refrigerator smoker he built. He started out with an electric hot plate and then moved up to propane.

    But I keep telling myself that I like tending a fire so I will give charcoal a chance.

  11. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, they weren't ready in time for dinner because after my son's karate lesson, he had baseball practice, then the kids wanted to go to McDonald's for lunch. it was 1:30 before I lit the smoker and 2:30 before it recovered from putting the meat on the grill.

    I followed the 3-2-1 method pretty strictly figuring it was a great starting point. Fire management was easier than I thought it was going to be. From time to time I would open the firebox door, tap on the bottom of the basket to tap off the ash and rake it out. Dumping a lit chimney in the firebox from time to time worked out pretty well.

    The ribs (one rack of spares and some country style with Jeff's rub) came out fairly well. The outside was a little dry but the inside was moist. My son loved them although my wife and daughter found them "too smoky". I think they actually had a fair amount of creosote flavor. I was using the 46 oz juice can as recommended by the Afterburner people but had some difficulty keeping the chunks from catching fire. I capped the top with heavy foil and punched a couple of holes in it and it made TONS of smoke -- probably too much. I had the stack 1/2 open but have since read here that it should be open all the way which it will be from now on.

    All in all a good test run with LOTS of room for improvement.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.


  12. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    ahh.........dude..........i don't think creosote flavor is what you need to be looking for.............creosote flavor = bad

    smoke flavor = good
  13. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just went to the fridge to snag another bit of the leftovers and, upon further review, maybe it is just REALLY heavy smoke. The color is good, it looks like Jeff's rub -- doesn't look black or anything. The smoke didn't exactly "gently kiss" the meat on its way by, it was more of a full on body slam. Hell, at this point I find myself second and third guessing myself alot. Who knows? Just another reason to try again. The good news is even when things don't go exactly as planned, the finished product still tastes good!

  14. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    always leave the stack 100% open when there is a fire in the box. Only close it when done cooking! Thats 80 % of your problem. The other part is you only want a lil teeny bit of smoke for most osf the time!

    this is yesterday with very little wind and I am burning LOGS! There is 4 of them in the fire box, all on fire!
  15. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks, Dan. I would say, based on your picture, I had WAY too much smoke going.


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