I'll swing by HD in the morning to see if the one in this area carries chunks.
Fritz's mini WSM build - Page 4
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This is what my store has. They also carry some smaller bags during BBQ season. These are $20.00 a bag. The larger pieces I split into smaller ones. 1"-2" thick seems to work best for the mini. For a full basket of charcoal/lump I usually put 4-6 chunks in depending on the smoke.
Well, my first smoke is under way. It's 29F outside and fairly windy. I set up in the car port.
I was surprised to see how much moisture condenses in the lid.
I have no idea how long the coals will hold, so I put a full chimney of coals in the basket. It took more than a half hour to bring the temperature up to 230F. I put the fatties on at that time and the inside temperature dropped all the way to 180F. It's 15 minutes later and the temperature was only up to 192F, so I opened the vents a little.
Here's a before shot of the fattiers. They are both ground beef. One has spinach, provalone and a little mozarella cheese on it. The other has spinach, sauteed onions, garlic, sharp cheddar and some mozarella. Obviously both have a bacon weave on them. That was kind of fun. I was lucky to find the bacon on sale 2 for 1. It took almost an entire pack of bacon to wrap each one.
I'll post more pics as I get them.
The smoke was a success. Here's a shot of the fatties. I kept the temperature around 225F and cooked it until the internal temps were 165F. This took about 2 hours 15 minutes.
I was very happy with how they turned out. There are a couple of things that I learned. First is that the clay saucer is too heavy for cold temperatures in my mini. After adding the food, I was not able to get the temperature above 190F. I swapped the clay saucer out for a pie pan and had no problem hitting 250F.
Next is that I was able to set the bottom vent at about 1/3 open and it kept the temperature at about 225F, it did drift up and down a little but never below 220F and never above 230F. At the end it did jump up to about 250F but that was the grease that dripped into the coals and flared up.
I will need to do the side vent mod. I didn't like laying down on the ground to see the vent as I adjusted it If I did this on a table that would help, but the side vents would be the easiest way to adjust. It also sets it up so I can use a auto temperature controller thing.
Finally, I need to cut down on the bacon. I know that's almost sacrilegious, but it was too much bacon for us. I never thought I'd ever say that. Next time I'll wrap it with bacon, but only a single layer the whole way around. We didn't like the layers of non-crispy bacon, it also made the entire thing taste like bacon instead of tasting all the ingredients.
Here's what was left in the charcoal basket. I'll go through in the morning, but it looks like there's plenty of charcoal left to do another 3 hours.
I may not be able to do the paint job. There is some discoloration on the pot now that I've used it. I haven't looked closely, but it looks like burned fat. I'll see what I can do with it, though.
Question about the wood chips. Are they or no use to me in the mini-WSM? I used the chunks and they worked well, but I have these bags of chips that I don't think i can return. Are they useful to me at all?
Thanks for the heads up on the chunks at Home Depot. They had 6 or more different woods to choose from. I got a smaller bag of apple and or hickory. They also had big bags, but I'll hold off on those. I'll continue to get small bags of each of the type until I have them all, then I'll move onto the big bags once I develop a preference.
I'm thinking about a turkey breast for the next smoke, any suggestions on this? Brine or not? Wood choice?
First off, nice looking fatties! We quite often do them naked (no bacon) as my wife doesn't eat pork.
Sure you can use the chips if you want, they just aren't going to last long. I think once you get a hang of the mini and make the side vent mods you will find that on a cold day, with wind and the clay tray in the smoker you can achieve temps well above 300°. The first season that I ran my mini I started with just the bottom vent (super cold that winter) Then I added one 3/4" side vent, with just a cap. Then I added a valve to that. Then I added another 3/4" vent with just a cap. Then I finally added the valve to that. All along taking in how each change effected temperature control. Do you have ash diverted over the bottom vent? That will help. Mine is a small stainless dog dish that I drilled holes in. Goes below the charcoal basket. This one mod will help you immensely with temp control.
Yes, I did the bottom ash deflector. It's is a temporary measure at the moment. I couldn't find a stainless dog bowl at the dollar store and I'm not willing to pay the $15 they wanted at the pet store. So I used an aluminum foil left-over food bowl. Worked fine, but when I cleaned it out yesterday, the ash was all the way to the openings I cut into it. I just cut triangles into it with a box cutter and bent them in. It would work fine permanently, but I'd have to replace it when it gets bent up and no longer functional.
I'll keep looking for a dog food bowl to replace it, but it works for now. Is there any science to the number of holes you drilled in that? It looks like there are 7 holes from the picture. Did you just evenly space them, or do some figuring to ensure there was enough air flow.
Question about the side vents, do they improve the efficiency since only the top coals would get the entire flow of air? It seems to me that the bottom vent would allow air to flow through the entire bed of coals. Or am I over thinking it and the air flows throughout with either set up?
You know I'm not sure how many holes there are! I just started drilling, alternating sides until it looked good! I lucked out and found that one at the dollar store. They had 4 of them I should have bought them all. They haven't had them since.
After the smoke, I shut all vents and the coals went out. Can I reuse the charcoal? There were also large pieces of the wood chunks. Are these usable? They look like charcoal instead of burned wood. Any uses for them?
Yep you can reuse the wood and the charcoal. I shake out all the large chunks and just leave them in the charcoal basket for the next cook. Your wood is now basically lump charcoal. It will still give off good flavor.
It just occurred to me that it might not have been the bacon that was over powering. I used hickory smoked bacon and I smoked with hickory and apple. I think that the smoke was just too strong. Next time I'll try bacon that's not labeled as something-smoked.
That's very possible. Hickory can be pretty strong. A good mix for beef that we really like is 50/50 mix of Cherry and Pecan
I'll keep that in mind. I have no idea of which woods work well with which meats. I just saw the hickory/apple mix listed in one of the fattie threads so went with it. I'll swing by Home Depot to get some different wood one day in the near future.
Any suggestions for the next smoke?
Well your apple wood would go great with Scarbelly wings, or a pork loin, or pork chops. Slow smoke pork chops then remove the pot and sear them! Heck you could do the pork and wings at the same time! put the wings on the lower rack and the pork on the top.
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