Hello from Eastern Iowa, along the bank of the Mississippi River, where we are having a heat wave, expected to get up to 48 today and melt some of our snow!!
New to the forum but signed up several months ago for the news letter/recipes, which I have been enjoying. This web site is great!
I have a "Great Outdoors", Smokey Mountain Series smoker....square vertical type with large rectangular door on the front. Bought it at WalMart several years ago and really enjoy using it. I did make a modification to my smoker concerning the fire box. The fire box was basically just a heavy gauge steel square shaped pan with about 3" tall walls. Problem had always been there was no place for the ash to fall to and the lower coals would get buried in ash, causing them to become insulated and not burn completely. I modified it by bolting on some heavy gauge pieces of steel on all 4 sides, extending the walls up higher by about 2". I then placed some brackets about an inch above the bottom on all 4 corners that would hold in place a square piece of expanded (heavy gauge) metal grate to place my charcoal/wood chunks on. I also drilled some 3/8" holes on the lower sides of the box to allow air flow. This allows air flow under the fire and allows the ash to fall through the grate, giving better, more even combustion, which allows for a longer more consistent fire. It actually allowed me to cut back on the amount of charcoal and wood chunks used. Also, I no longer have hot coals in the ash the next day when I clean up as I did before.
This minion method that was featured in this months news letter, is the method I have always used (actually, I read the directions...LOL). After and initial warm up, I cut the dampers back to about 25% open. Then I adjust as needed, especially after adding fuel/water. On windy days, I cut back to almost closed on the side damper that is facing the wind and open more on the damper that is shielded away from the wind. If it begins to rain, I just use a brick and a metal pan, positioning the pan upside down so one end is resting on the brick, with the body of the pan over the top damper, to keep the rain off the food.
I am a fair weather smoker and can't wait for spring to get back out there. I enjoy cooking our entire dinner on the smoker. Along with what ever meat I am smoking, sometimes I will place a dutch oven cooker type pot on the top rack filled with baked beans about 2 hours before the meat is expected to be done. I also at times will place some small, red potatoes in the water bowl to boil for a while towards the end. Makes great mashed potatoes! I have also cooked acorn squash on the top rack as well. Plus, whole fresh mushrooms and a stick of butter in a small bread pan during the last hour of smoking works great!!
Have a great day all.