My friends and I have been smoking meat every sunday now for a few months and have put out some awesome food.
There's a pic from a couple weekends back. Big slab of spare ribs, a nice fattie, prime rib, shoulder, turkey breast, drum sticks and jalapeno poppers.
Everything usually comes out great, but one of the things we really struggle with is maintaining a consistent temperature. We always shoot for the 220º-240º range, but with this massive smoker we have, it's always a struggle to maintain that temperature range.
This smoker is a beast. It's built in concrete and stone in the backyard of my friends' house, and it can clearly handle a lot of food. This past weekend I had 3 racks of baby backs and 2 racks of spare ribs fitting comfortable across the top grate. The top grate is probably 3.5 feet off the ground, and the fire is built at ground level, with two vents on the top grill hood and two at the bottom.
I'd like to get some tips you all might have for how to best regulate the temperate in here. I recently bought a Maverick wireless meat thermometer, and this weekend we saw some pretty wide swings. Our current method is to lay a small layer of lump charcoal on the bottom of the smoker, fill a chimney, let it get hot, and add the hot lump to the cold lump. We then add soaked apple, pecan and/or cherry wood to the hot coals throughout most of the cook which can be 6-12 hours depending on what we're cooking. We also add more lump as needed throughout. I set an alarm on my Maverick for when temp goes below 195º or above 255º, and that thing was beeping non stop.
Does anyone have any good tips for fire building and temperature regulating for a smoker of this size? I've read some about pyramid method and the Minion method, but I'm not sure which, if either, of those methods are best suited to a grill like this.
Any advice or wisdom from all you seasoned smokers is appreciated! Happy smoking!
-Grill Master Mike