I got my Camp Chef LP vertical water smoker for Christmas and I couldn't wait for prime smoking weather for my first smoke, so I picked the first day with a sunny forecast. Unfortunately, that day in February in Northern New Jersey was about 20 degrees with 20-30 mph winds. I had asked around about what people thought a good first smoke would be, and the best advice I got was smoke something that you want to eat. After poring through a few cookbooks, Bourbon Ribs was the way to go.
I ran into quite a few problems that day. Aside from the learning curve, keeping temp was the most difficult thing. If I kept the flame high, the smoker would get way too hot. If I kept the flame low, the wind would blow it out. It took a lot of standing out in the freezing cold monitoring my temp. Fortunately ribs are a shorter smoke so it wasn't too painful. I made a few beginner mistakes like not refilling my water tray often enough or letting the wood run too low (although, my ribs were quite smoky, so not a mistake after all). Also, this recipe had quite a few steps. As an aside, I did not remove the membrane (a mistake in my opinion) and I did not foil the ribs (questionable). In the end my ribs were just a little tough, though still tender, possibly due to too many heat spikes. The membrane was a bit annoying, but the flavor was amazing. It was hard to tell if the ribs were "fall off the bone" because the membrane was holding everything together. I used pecan wood and was pleased with the result.
Overall, it was a lot of fun and I learned that if I could get a successful result in those weather conditions, then it is possible to smoke in any condition. Truly a year round hobby with a fantastic pay off. Attached is a picture of my first smoke and my first rack of ribs. I completed my second smoke today which I will post about next.
Bourbon St. Louis Ribs 1,375k .jpg file