Hello every one,
I'm Travis and I am pretty new to the process of smoking meats. I am definitely not new to eating them though. I am an avid amateur cook and BBQ is hands down my favorite genre. I could BBQ 4 times a day if given the opportunity. Since I just moved and am fortunate enough to have a new place with a nice sized deck, my first order of business was a new grill/smoker. I bought the Char Broil 590 because I like the coal door and the crank that raises and lowers the charcoal grate.
My first attempt was just a 4lb brisket. I got every lit via the chimney starter, was using lump coal and get a nice burn going. I added soaked applewood chips at the start and then went back and added them every hour or so. The brisket was OK at best. I had trouble maintaining a low temp and in turn the brisket cooked too quickly to be really tender, though it did have some nice smoke flavor.
I realized if I could just get the heat down I may have a shot at doing this right.
Second attempt I upped my ante and went with an 11lb picnic shoulder. Here are my rookie mistakes: First, I did not remove the skin and rubbed over the skin. What a waste of rub and the smoked skin was rubbery and hard to remove after the fact! Next time I'll either remove the skin or just not rub it. Second, I laid the cut of meat skin side up on the grate. Next time, I'll probably remove the skin but if I don't I will definitely lay it skin side down. Third, I didn't get it in the smoker until 12:00pm. This was the mistake that killed my second time out. I realized its easier to start with a lower heat and make it hotter than it is to start hot and make cool off. I got the heat just perfect and was hovering in between 230-250 for the entire smoke time. And there's the problem. Since I got the heat nailed down, I didn't realize the whole cut of meat would take almost 15 hours. Thus, starting it at Noon with a work day the next day forced me to pull the meat out at 10:30 pm and well before it was ready to be stopped. The flavor and moistness was great, but pulling it off so early (temp of meat was 170) did not allow it to coast up to 195-200 to actually pull the meat properly.
It seems to me that my process for the second attempt was the process to use, but that I did not treat the meat nicely. I don't have a problem getting the coals lit, arranging everything properly and getting the smoke going but here is what I am doing in my smoking process so far:
Coals in chimney starter, getting those lit
Coals arranged on coal grate and a handful of soaked chips on unlit coals off to one side.
Lit coals on top of unlit coals and chips when ready. One more handful of woodchips on top of lit coals
Rubbed meat on grill rack over empty side of charcoal grate so not over direct heat.
4x8 tin pan of cool water over coals to help keep grill cool
I found that this set up works great, and then I just pop open the smoker every hour or hour and half and add a few coals and some more wood chips. The max temp I saw on the smoker during the 10 1/2 hours was 250, when the hood would open it would drop to about 180 and then as soon as I added the coals and chips it would climb back up to about 240 until I was ready to add coals and chips again.
I welcome any and all advice and tips from every one here who is clearly more knowledgable than I. Thank you!