Yesterday I did my first smoke ever (do you call it a smoke?). My wife and kids gave me a Master Forge smoker for Christmas and I've been chomping at the bit to fire it up. I had a recipe and some tips from a friend to start with, and some folks on this forum, SmokinAl, ChefJimmy and others, helped me get through the day. I made a bunch of mistakes, but I had a blast running the smoker all day and I ended up with some pretty good 'cue anyway. I smoked a pork shoulder, two pork butts and two chickens. I used my friend's dry rub recipe on all the meat the night before, got the meat out early in the morning and started smoking about an hour later. The target temp I had was 195. I was using a 2:1 mix of hickory/mesquite in chunks and chips to generate the smoke. All seemed to be going well, but the chickens (which of course were on the top shelf) just were not coming up to temp. I learned here that I should shoot for around 175, the chickens were stuck at 159. At a forum member's suggestion I increased the heat to 225. Still couldn't finish the chickens. After 7 hours in the smoker I pulled them out and stuck them in the oven for an hour at 350. Well, I may not have cooked them perfectly, but those chickens came out down-right tasty and they looked just like the pics I've seen here.
We had chicken for dinner and I let the pork continue to smoke. Later in the day the outdoor temp dropped and it seemed like the smoker had a hard time maintaining much over 200 degrees. I closed the firebox dampers about 80% and that seemed to help a little. I was shooting for meat temp of 195 and just couldn't get there, so after 12 hours in the smoker I put the pork in the oven 45 minutes at 350 to finish it off. That worked and I finally got the temp to 195. After letting it sit for about a half hour I pulled it all and got a nice big bowl of pork. Very tasty and very tender.
Much thanks to the members here who helped me. I'm going to take the online course here before I do my next smoke.
The pulled chicken
Pork butts and shoulder
The pulled pork. I like spice so I left some of the black crust in there.