Q-view will be here later today. Internet connection was dodgy at best at the beach, so couldn't update over the weekend. Then our router crapped out on us at home. Once I can email the pics from the phone to the computer they'll be here.
As for the weekend smokes, I learned a thing or two. Most importantly, I've learned I'm never using lump charcoal again, at least not in a smoker. I had been given a 20# bag of Cowboy lump (yeah, I know it's the worst there is apparently) and had purchased another bag, so didn't want to waste it. I had had pretty good results with it before, but had cherrypicked the biggest most uniform pieces. This time what was left in bag #1 was mostly smaller pieces. It's just too unpredictable. The overnight butt smoke was a bit of a disaster. Couldn't get the temp under 300˚ Ended up pulling the butts off the smoker after 2 hours and finishing in a foil covered roasting pan in the oven. Took a little over 12 hours total and the result was good. Surprising amount of smoke flavor for such a short time in the smoke. I was using hickory chunks.
Next day, I did some ABT's and 2 racks of ribs. Put the ABT's on 1st, at a deliberately high temp. After an hour they were done, so I added water to the pan and got the temp down to 225˚. Was pretty stable for a short time, but then started dropping. Finally after fighting with it for 2 hours, I dumped the coals and went and got some blue bag. With the briquettes I was able to hold 220˚-230˚ for a 5 hour rib cook, no problem. To me, the natural random nature and high heat of lump is great for grilling, but when I want a stable, predictable temp for a long time, there's no substitute for briquettes.
I also learned that I REALLY want a WSM. The ECB has been a trooper, but knowing there is something out there that addresses all the shortcomings of the ECB and provides SO MUCH MORE cooking space just makes me jealous. And the long, stable smokes you WSM owners are getting make me really jealous.
The ribs were absolutely the best I've ever done, and quite possibly the best I've ever eaten. I started out with 2 full racks of very meaty spares in the cryovac bag from Costco. Trimmed trimmed them down to St. Louis style and rubbed about an hour before going on the smoker. The rub was pretty basic, turbinado sugar, salt, chili powder and a few other things til I got the flavor I wanted. Used a fairly light rub, and a drizzle of honey. Then on to the smoker for 2 hours of straight smoke. Then foiled for an hour with more sugar and honey, and a shot of apple juice mixed with cider vinegar. Then glazed with my homemade glaze and back onto the smoker for another 2 hours. I was looking for good smoke flavor, a little zing from the rub and the glaze and tender meat with just the right amount of bite. I hit the mark on all counts. The meat was moist as can be, and perfectly tender. The consistency was about what you'd get from perfectly cooked pork tenderloin if that makes sense. Not mushy or stringy, and not fatty at all. Had a very nice smoke ring, and a perfect smoke flavor. Not too much and not too little. The glaze was just enough. It gave a little bit of heat, and just enough caramelization so you knew it had been cooked over a fire. Most importantly it enhanced the flavor of the meat without overpowering it. In addition, it looked absolutely gorgeous. Had that perfect mahogany color and a nice satiny sheen. I just hope I can repeat it.
A funny side note. I am no chef. and have had no formal training of any kind. From reading on here what to look for and how to achieve it, I'd formed an idea in my head of the perfect rub and glaze. One thing I was sure of was that both were to be missing a key ingredient, and that that wouldn't be added by me. That ingredient was smoke. Both the rub and the glaze were pretty awful in the kitchen. My wife was doubtful at best. She smelled the rub and said something like "Oh boy, can't wait to taste those ribs. They're gonna taste like Christmas cookies" then rolled her eyes and shook her head. Same thing with the glaze. In the pan it was way too spicy and had almost a muddy aftertaste. The plan was that once mixed with each other and subjected to smoke and heat, they would transform and give the taste I wanted. I'm happy to report it worked perfectly. This is not bragging, as I'm as surprised as anyone else that it worked, I'm just incredibly happy it did.
I will add pics as soon as I can get a new router and xfer them to the computer.