What's your biggest BBQ challenge?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by maverick88, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. Hey Folks, 

    I'm new to this particular forum, but I've been smoking meat for about 15 years since I was a teenager in Kentucky. At this point, I'm pretty sure that if you cut me, BBQ sauce would start bleeding out of my veins. What kind is probably up for debate... probably some weird combination of the Worcestershire based stuff from home or something ketchup or peach based as I currently live in Georgia. 

    I'm curious for those of you on the ring, what about BBQ do you find the hardest? Where do you get the biggest challenge? I'm curious for both pros and folks who are new to the craft. 

    I'm especially interested in hearing from new folks who are just getting started -- what has been the hardest thing about starting out?
    bauchjw likes this.
  2. GaryHibbert

    GaryHibbert Smoking Guru OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    For me the biggest (and yet to be overcome) challenge is cooking pork chops so they are juicy.  No problem with tenderloin, loin,butt.  But not pork chops.  [​IMG]

  3. Patience during long low and slow cooks is still my biggest challenge. I am not a patient person normally so combine that with still learning how long a cook will really take, deciding or sometimes guessing when to have the dinner guest arrive and then having a delay in the finish time and I am sometimes a mental mess by the end of the night...
    Oh wait bbqing is supposed to be fun right:)
  4. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    This will go away if you start cooking at higher temps, in the 280°-325° range. Cooking at higher temps make butt and brisket cooks more predictable in terms of when the meat will be done. It also results in a better finished product IMHO. Just say no to "low and slow" and you'll have an easier time, more fun and less anxiety about not being "done" on time.

    My biggest challenge lately is being able to afford to cook, but now that gas prices are headed down and heating season is winding up that should improve.

    All threads need a gratuitous BBQ pic-

  5. Most everything in the smoker was a challenge to provide consistency for me until recently.  I had a couple "events" while reading many articles on this site that made big changes for me.  I was cooking a brisket one cold night and after a few beers I guess I forgot to set my two hour check timer.  Woke up the next morning several hours past my expected take off time, The coals had burned out and the cold air had brought the brisked down to near freezing.  That turned out to be the best brisket I had smoked ever.  Wonder why?

    The second event was when I was going to put a pork butt in the cooler for an hour while running a short errand that did not turn out so well.  5 hours later when I took it out of the cooler it was still steaming.  Again very juicy and tender.  Wonder why?

    I was leery of smoking almost anything too long.  I thought my meat was tough because I had overcooked it.  Scouring this site gave me a lot of in site.  Now I smoke virtually everything at 225.  Put it on and forget it till the IT beeper goes off.  Low and Slow works for me.

    Changing my habits to only cooking to internal temp completely changed my product.   Also cooking two almost identical pork butts side by side rotating them and them being done over an hour apart woke me up to the fact that every piece of meat will cook differently.. 

    Yes you can approximate time it should take to smoke, but it may be off a couple hours one way or the other on a larger piece of meat.  I have found by getting the meat done plenty early for an event I can put a large brisket or PB in a cooler for up to 5 hours if I need to and it will still be almost too hot to handle.

    When cooking explicitly for a special meal, I get it ready early.  Keep in the resting cooler it appropriate or reheat if necessary.  Your life will be much easier with a lot less stress..

    You can always throw in some small predictable appetizers to be ready when your company arrives to make sure the air smells appropriate when you open the lid.

    Good luck with your smokes, just keep practicing, it keeps getting better.
  6. Fitting a 20+ lb brisket onto my 18.5" WSM[​IMG]
    boboso likes this.
  7. chad e

    chad e Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Hardest part for me is temp control and the patience to let it adjust. I prefer instantaneous results and that is exactly opposite of smoking in general. Other than that, the hardest part is portion control!
    rabbithutch likes this.
  8. Cliff carter,
    That is the first time I have heard about cooking hotter. I will give it a try.
  9. 801,
    I need to plan to finish cooking earlier and trust that the cooler rest will keep the meat ready.
  10. My biggest challenge is definitely chicken wings.  I've only tried it a couple times, but each time they usually came out too bitter.  I'm assuming it was taking on too much smoke and getting soot (is that how you spell it?) on it.  That plus the one time I added a little bit of garlic in the rub, and it probably ran too hot causing the garlic to become bitter.  The other challenge for me is being able to able to afford it, mainly beef.  Around my area beef is so expensive.  Just for a whole brisket it runs around $90.
  11. Meal planning done by grilling, smoking or in the kitchen, all depends upon the "cook" knowledge and practice.

    Culinary knowledge is not gained by osmosis. It is a discipline all to its own for any type food preparation. We

    (hobby chefs) must be concerned with the ethics of protecting our dishes through proper preparation cleanliness

    and proper temperatures observed through out the entire time from beginning to serving. There are many articles

    and books for one to study about all of the absolutes in food preparation. Be sure to acquire any and all of these

    important materials to make yourself more of a trusted hobby chef.
  12. Keeping your smoked dish warm and fresh can be hard unless one accepts the fact that using

    an oven too is not bad karma. Prepare your smoked items as usual on the outside smoker, then

    it can be foil wrapped and placed in the oven at 165-200f. Use an aluminum roasting pan like we

    place our turkey in, lay the wrapped meat in that and add a small amount of water to the pan for

    moisture. It also is not a sin to finish your meat item in the oven once you have the smoke and

    bark effect accomplished. The fun and humor will evolve as you realize the simplicity is what

    makes for good meals. If you're not sure about a particular idea, then use a small piece of meat

    (whatever it is) add your rub, or other seasoning that you're in question about and cook it. You

    can always eat your mistakes or the dog will out willingly too!! HA! Be sure to ask others about

    the idea you have. One idea I have thought about is going to your favorite Q restaurant and ask

    about a part-time job. If you're not too obvious about your intent, you may be able to learn a lot

    about the business especially when you're working in and around "THE PIT." Even busing the

    tables you're bound to learn something. Point is, don't be too proud to ask and learn. 
  13. Every body every where need to adapt their cooking to the local factors. 

    The "ambient temperature" is critical to smoke cooking. Higher temps

    may be recommended on some dishes but not all. I just did a local

    preparation on Friday cooking two 8lb Pork Shoulders and 1/2 pork loin.

    I got the temp started just above 200f and then brought it up to 350f.

    Then the temp came back down to 225f. This was all over a 5 hour

    period. When I had the bark and smoke done, I wrapped all items then

    let them finish in the oven near 280f to make certain the interior was

    cooked to the minimum of 170f to 180f. The result was done, moist

    and flavorful meats at 175f when I took it from the oven and got it

    prepped for the delivery process. The aluminum roasting pans were

    still hot, the meat was moist and bounding with flavor....It's a study

    of all elements that goes into the process. Watch, Read, study and

    practice. Good Cooking to the "Hobby Chef's" out there.
  14. My biggest bbq challenge is all the non bbq chores in life ( like work, sleep, ect.) that interfere with quality bbq time. 
    bbqbrett, chad e and johnboybaker like this.
  15. larryfahn

    larryfahn Newbie

    Consistency. For 2 reasons.

    First, No matter how accurate I keep my temps, rubs, types of ribs etc... I rarely get the same exact taste/texture.

    Second is recipes. I googled bacon and found amazing ribs website. I loved that stuff was explained in full. The difference in curing salt #1 and #2, why to use the #1, why he doesn't recommend cold smoking, temps to achieve, how long to cure, etc... When I asked about it on another website though? Holy spit! The results were-
    I always cold smoke
    I use tender quick
    I dry cure
    165 is way too hot. You'll render out all the fat!
    I cold smoke for 72 hrs straight
    Cold smoke for 8hrs a day for 7 days
    I cold smoke for 6hrs then gradually increase the heat till it's 140*
    I cold smoke for 4hrs then increase till the temp is 137*...

    Cold smoking cheese -
    Hickory is too strong.
    I only use hickory.
    It taste like an ashtray the day of, seal it up for 2 weeks.
    Mine taste great the next day.
    Let it mellow out for 2 weeks.
    Let it mellow out for at least a month.
    Let it mellow out for 6 months.
    ... A year!

    What the hell? I'm just looking for a starting point!
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
  16. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    the cooler rest works great. I wrap my brisket in a towel and place in the cooler and keep the lid shut till ready to slice and serve. Stays hot 5 hrs easily.
  17. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    My biggest BBQ challenge is going to work and not staying home and firing up Black Betty (my lang 36) everyday!

    Happy Smoking,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  18. cats49er

    cats49er Meat Mopper

    Just finding time to smoke is hard for me.So when I do it's even more enjoyable.
  19. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Here are some starting points for a lot of things:

    Just click on "Bear's Step by Steps".

    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
  20. paul6

    paul6 Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    For the 1st time in 20 years I did the cooler rest for 3hr's WOW tender and juicy !!!!

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