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first time smoking pork and brisket

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Can anyone tell me how long to smoke a pork shoulder and brisket?  I'm using Brinkman gourmet charcoal smoker.  I would like to do both at the same time.  The thermometer that comes with the unit only has 3 temps.  warm, ideal, and hot.  Is the "ideal" setting 250 deg?  the 1st time I used it the meat seemed to get done very quickly.  


post #2 of 14

Hi Steve, and welcome to the family!


I have a heavily modified gourmet, so I can relate to what you want to achieve.


First, the temp gauge is good for nothing more than a baseline reference after getting reasonably accurate cooking grate temps. You need a a fairly good reading, either with a digital probe (cheapo from hardware/dept stores will work fine), or, a long stem fryer thermometer inserted through a hole in the side of the barrel between the grates. Do a boil-test with the therm to verify it's boiling water reading (212* @ sea-level and approx. 0.9* less for every 500 feet above sea-level. A great reference chart can be found HERE.


If your temp reading is off, you can either just reference the correction or in some cases calibrate the thermometer to read correctly.


Second, time required for cooking is dependent on a barage of variables, so internal temp measurement is the best route to go, however, for a bone in shoulder/butt, a bone tug will tell you when it's ready to wrap/rest before pulling. Typically, for the tougher cuts of meats such as the shoulder and brisket, ~180* will give a tender slice and ~200* will be fall-apart tender. Oh, and don't stab the thermometer into a whole-muscle meat until after the first several hours...this helps you fall under the whole muscle meat guidelines for internal times/temps regarding the "danger zone".


Also, in the gourmet, the grate directly above the water pan is for steaming, not smoking, so whatever you put on it will actually get very little smoke. Temps between the two grates can vary significantly, with the area outside thewater pan running much hotter than insideof that water pan diameter, and the upper grate running hotter than the lower in the center of the grates.


Here's the main concern I have: the gourmet is a factory modified version of the smoke n grill, with the main improvements being made in the lower end. The charcoal pan is still not up to the task on longer smokes. Ash will build up and smother the fire. Also, there are a few ways to control temperature, being, amount of burning charcoal in the fire pan and amount of water in the water pan. More coals = hotter, less = cooler, more water = cooler, less = hotter. The addition of cold water mass is a temporary fix for too hot of smoke chamber temps. Evaporating water helps to keep the chamber temps cooler and adds humidity to aid in keeping foods moist.


If this is your first smoke in the gourmet, and especially your first smoke ever, you have chosen what I would consider to be one of the easiest cuts and one of the hardest cuts, butt and brisket, respectively....just so you know. I have smoked several butts and briskets in my gourmet, but I can only imagine what the frustration may be like without modifications. The ash build-up can be your worst night-mare, and if you need to add to the fire, you also need to remove the barrel from the fire pan to avoid air-born ashes from getting onto your meat. I always add preheated/burning coals to avoid the heavy coal smoke.


You may want to check out the food safety forums, if you haven't already...paying close attention to the low & slow discussion found way back towards the first threads (bottom of the last page). Also, drop us a line in roll call, if you don't mind. 



Edited by forluvofsmoke - 8/20/11 at 1:05pm
post #3 of 14

welcome1.gif    Glad to have you with us!



Sounds like Eric has you covered.

post #4 of 14

Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview.  icon14.gif

post #5 of 14

    Steve, Eric said it, he's gonna lead you in the right directionbiggrin.gif. Of course more Gormet owners will be here later ;so hang and you will be rewarded.icon14.gif.

Meanwhile,read the 5 day course and look through the Wiki section.

Glad you chose us,welcome1.gif

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the info. I did a pork butt yesterday and was happy with the results. I had a helluva time keeping the temp up in my Brinkman gourmet smoker. I was really starting to panic. I purcahsed a deep fry thermomoeter and that was a huge help. Everytime I added chips the temp would drop to 150 deg. and I couldn't get it back up. I finally went ot Lose's and bought a charcoal chimney to add more fire.  It was very humid yesterday so I wonder if that effected the charcoal.  I figured on 10 hrs., but I was afraid  it wouldn't get done so I put the pork in the oven at 300 deg for the last 2 hrs.  Of course after I put the prok in the oven, the temp on my smoker finally stabilized at 250 deg.  I'm doing it again this weekend for friends so I'll start it earlier and use more charcoal to start.  To help control temp, I used a crumbled piece of aluminum foil stuffed in the air hole in the bottom of the smoker.  I think that worked.  We'll see.

It was a veery nerve racking day.  


post #7 of 14

Welcome !!!!

post #8 of 14
Hey, Steve, what mods have you done do far? The elevated charcoal will help get your temps up and keep your coals burning. I forgot to mention it earlier, but I did a Wiki on my gourmet mods...found in the instructional section. There's a dimple intake draft control mod that will help a ton as well.

Another thing that can effect temp control is the fit of the barrel om the rim of the charcoal pan. A good test for fit is to shine a flashlight at the lip of the pan and look inside (at night).

Once you get things controlled better you'll be able to walk away from it for an hour or two at a time.

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Were did you find the "dimple intake draft control"?  What did you use to elevate the charcoal?

Thanks for any info. 

post #10 of 14
That's a typo...should read "simple draft control"...home-made. It's in the Wiki with pics. Wish my computer wasn't having indigestion or I'd post the link...don't know of a way on my blackberry.

post #11 of 14
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 


thanks for the pics.  I'll give them a try.  especially the temp control.  Seems pretty simple.


post #13 of 14

I found this site when looking for brinkmann mods too, i don't know if this will help.  



post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 


I bought a Weber charcoal grate today for use in my Brinkman. (great minds think alike and all that), but I didn't know how to raise it.  I was going to get legs welded on, but LOVE your screw idea.  That will be done tomorrow.  I will work on the lid sealing after my party this weekend.  

thanks and keep the ideas coming.


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