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first time smkoker...some questions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

uestions from my first time smoking

Hi all, i just bought and used a vertical water smoker for the first time  and i'm hoping you guys will still help me out. 

Smoked ribs the first time this weekend and have a few questions..
1) after 5 hours my babyback ribs were cooked but not exactly fall off the bond. Not dry but not perfectly moist. Should i have cooked them longer or shorter?
2) i used hickory chips soaked for a good hour. when i put them on, i'd get a lot of smoke but found the chips would burn up pretty quickly (15-20 min) and i'd lost smoke so i kept adding more, eventually putting them in an aluminum pouch which lasted a ittle while longer. Are the chips supposed to die that quickly? Do i need to keep adding chips throughout the cooking time or just the first few hours since most of the smoke is absorbed early on?
3) my smoker doesn't have vents at the bottom but does have an access door. I was trying to bring up the heat by opening the door but it seemed like when i did that the temperature dropped instead of rose...any thoughts? should i drill some holes in the bottom grate to let some air in? i'm worried ash will fall through though...

thanks everyone

post #2 of 9

Hello dan bon.  Sorry you have had no reply before now.  Sometimes queries fall through the cracks especially round holidays.  Please don't be discouraged.  Repost the question if you haven't heard something in 2-3 days.  Sometimes no one has an answer but most often it just got missed.  I see you have not gone by Roll Call.  Would you mind swinging by and introducing yourself so that we can give you a proper Howdy.  Also if you include info on your smoker and location it will help us to give more specific answers.  Afterward, try posting this again with more specifics.  Where they baby backs?  Did you try 2-2-1?  3-2-1?  Do you know what either of those terms are ( don't worry if you don't, ask and help will be given )?  Did you foil ( used in both methods ).  There is probably no need to soak the chips.  Did you use water in the pan or just use it as a drip pan?  What vert. smoker are you using, as our members can give you tips and modifications for that particular smoker.  You see where I'm going here.  We need all details we can get ( without you having to write a novel ) to advise you properly.  Picts. are a BIG help.  Hope this helps you.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan bon View Post

uestions from my first time smoking

Hi all, i just bought and used a vertical water smoker for the first time  and i'm hoping you guys will still help me out.

Propane or Charcoal?

Smoked ribs the first time this weekend and have a few questions..
1) after 5 hours my babyback ribs were cooked but not exactly fall off the bond. Not dry but not perfectly moist. Should i have cooked them longer or shorter? What was the temp?
2) i used hickory chips soaked for a good hour. No need to soak.  when i put them on, i'd get a lot of smoke but found the chips would burn up pretty quickly (15-20 min) and i'd lost smoke so i kept adding more, eventually putting them in an aluminum pouch which lasted a ittle while longer. Try Propane or Charcoal? Are the chips supposed to die that quickly? Do i need to keep adding chips throughout the cooking time or just the first few hours since most of the smoke is absorbed early on? Food will acquire smoke flavor the entire time it is added.
3) my smoker doesn't have vents at the bottom but does have an access door. I was trying to bring up the heat by opening the door but it seemed like when i did that the temperature dropped instead of rose...any thoughts? should i drill some holes in the bottom grate to let some air in? i'm worried ash ahhh it's charcoal! will fall through though...

thanks everyone

Photos and a description of your smoker will help, then try a search on your type of smoker for mods and troubleshooting.

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

hi guys, thanks for the answers. the throw in some details..

the smoker i used was a Master Chef Vertical Charcoal Smoker...basically a cheap knockoff of the WSM.  It has no vents in the bottom, just an access door, which makes me wonder if i should drill some holes in the charcoal pan to increase air flow...also noticed quite a bit of ash build up which i couldnt do anything about (suggestions?)

 

I did babybacks, temp was around 225 most of the time, though it took an hour or so to get up from about 190 to 225 while the ribs were in there. i didn't try 2-2-1 yet, i wanted

 to see how they'd come out using the old school way first. used water in the drip pan which i had to refill twice after i noticed the water level going down by quite a bit. 

 

i added some pics here. I was very (very) happy with the flavour and the crust especially, just the tenderness im worried about. as i mentioned i found soaked wood chips burned up very quickly, and after about 15 min i had no more smoke so i kept adding more throughout the 5 hours of cooking...i'll probably switch to chunks but as a general rule should there be smoke the whole time?

Photos and a description of your smoker will help, then try a search on your type of smoker for mods and troubleshooting.

 

I'll be installing a new temp gauge in the hood but aside from that its hard to find info on this particular smoker (not sure if they sell it in the US and us canadians dont do BBQ as much or as well as you guys).

 

any suggestions would really be appreciated

post #5 of 9

Looks like you done OK.

post #6 of 9

Welcome. From your original post I was gonna guess you were using an "El Cheapo Brinkmann" (ECB) and I guess I was close. I see more and more about these Canadian Tire Smokers, so maybe we need a new acronym, maybe the ECC (El Cheapo Canadian).

In any case, the most useful mod you can do is to add a grate that will sit 1"-2" above the bottom of the charcoal pan, That will elevate your coals and allow your fire to breathe. Next, get some All natural briquettes. They'll burn hotter and longer than Kingsford, but more predictably than lump. Next get a probe thermometer to monitor your pit and meat temps. Next, toss that baggie of wood chips in the trash and get some chunks.

As for the ribs, they look to me like they might not have been quite done.

That being said, there are roughly 1 million posts on this site by roughly 50,000 members. You can bet your bottom dollar (Loonie?) that each of those 50k people has posted at least once or twice concerning ribs. Let's be conservative and say that 10% of the posts are regarding ribs. Of those 100,000 posts, how many do you reckon contain the one, absolutely perfect method for the universally accepted standard for THE PERFECT RIB?

 

I'll give you a hint, the answer is ZERO!!

There are just too many variables in methodology and personal taste. Ribs are one of the most hotly debated topics on Earth, right up there with Obamacare, the lone shooter vs conspiracy debate and whether Ginger is hotter than Mary Anne.

 

Following advice on here will get you close, but the right ribs for you and your family will be the product of trial and error and dialing in what you all like. For me, it's St. Louis cut spares, smoked at 275˚ with an 80/20 mixture of cherry and hickory chunks. I use a variation of the 3-2-1 method in which I only foil for about 40-50 minutes and then put back on the grate only to set my glaze. These are what we like. I'm not a fan of fall off the bone tender, and if I see the meat pulling back more than 1/2" from the bones I feel that I've failed. But that's just me. I figure in another 15 or 20 years I'll have it down pat. But of course, by then my tastes may have changed and it'll be time to start over...

Spend some time reading on here about the various methods of foiling, not foiling, glazing, saucing and even Johnny Trigg's multiple grand champion winning recipe, which Johnny Trigg has admitted he doesn't like very much, and then start experimenting. You'll eventually get it dialed in. Until your tastes change.

 

And by the way, Mary Anne is WAAAAY hotter than Ginger. It's the quiet ones, you know....

post #7 of 9

Looks good.

As far as water. If you are adding water. Make sure it is hot water. If you add it right out of the tap. It will cool things down. A lot of people put sand in the water pan. Then wrap with foil. It will take some experminting. But use chunks instead of chips. Then find out what size chunks work best for you. You might half to split the chunks to the right size. You have to be able to control the heat or you will never have great Q.

Happy smoken.

David

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

gilligan's island references? i'm way out of my league here. 

 

i have a great already on the bottom of the pan but even that choked up a bit, i'll see what if anything i can do about that. along with the new temp guage i bought and replacing wood chips with chunks, we'll see what happens. 

next time...smoked trout and chicken thighs

 

"you can bet your bottom dollar (Loonie?)"....that line killed me

 

thanks for your help guys

post #9 of 9

Chicken is always good to learn your smoker with. It will take big temp swings and still end up tasty.

Happy smoken.

David

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