Hi Danny -
Is there no door on the cooking chamber or is that the door leaning against the cooker in the picture?
Yes, the door is leaning against the cooker - the door and top of my smoking chamber are wood and the front is not hinged, but rather you simply lift it off. I've been meaning for the past 15 years to re-do the top and front door. It's number 1,657 on my to-do list......
Where is your exhaust?
My exhaust is a 3" metal pipe that exits horizontally out the upper right hand corner of the smoker chamber. It goes out horizontally about a foot to clear the roof and then turns upward and is five or six feet taller. That's another thing I want to improve.......
How many hours before putting your meat on do you preheat that large amount of brick? I have never used a brick smoker but in my mind the whole idea of a smoker like yours is that you preheat that brick for several hours before putting the meat in and then that sucker holds heat like an oven for a couple days with only the addition of a few small sticks now and then, about 1/4 size you are adding now.
If I have my act together, I like to burn the fire for at least three to five hours before putting meat on. Not so much to heat the bricks (although, obviously that does happen), but rather to make the fire more mature (less white smoke). If I don't have my act together, then maybe a little less time. Whereas I'm sure you are correct that the bricks "hold heat" better than a steel drum, If I don't add the wood I am adding, the fire would burn out and the unit would cool down. Let's say I smoke a pork butt for 20 hours - I'd first get the fire mature, then maybe every three or four hours I'd be adding two sticks of wood (14" x 3").
Unless you would like a fire pit, before I would spend the time and money to build a fire pit I would go to Wally World and buy a cheap BBQ to use as wood burner.
I presume you are speaking here of something to pre-burn wood in so that I am adding red coals to my smoker - correct?
You asked how to minimize the white smoke. Maybe stupid question but you didn't say why. White smoke isn't always a bad thing. Do you and the family like the final product? Is it too smoked or does it have a bitter acrid taste? There is a difference between it tastes nice but way too smokey for me and YUCK! I can't eat that. Two different problems.
Not a stupid question at all. Long before I read anything on one of these forums, I always felt that lots of white smoke tended to give a tart or acrid flavor to the meat. That seems to me to be true. I agree with you that some white smoke isn't necessarily bad. But the general concensus at my house is "honey, this pork is really good - but I wonder if you could make it just a little bit less smokey next time" - and I agree with that. What comes out of my smoker is always good, but sometimes I think it could be better.
If you like your smoked food then unless you are experimenting, keep on keeping on.
Experimenting - that's it. I like to learn. If there is a way to exert more control over my smoking process, I want to know how to do it. I may choose to not do it in the future, but I'd like to know how to do it if I can. Ya never know, I may like it better if I do it a little bit differently!
Don't worry about how John Doe does it. It's all about individual taste. There is no "wrong" way to smoke food so long as food safety precautions are followed. Cook it the way you like it.
I agree. I don't worry. But then again, I pretty much never have the chance to taste someone else's real BBQ, so it is difficult to know whether I am smoking my food as well as I can.
Thanks for your input.