SMOKING MADE EASY
(FOR BEGINNERS OR ANYONE ELSE)
First let me thank Jeff for starting this wonderful forum with the many great members and wisdom they bring.
Keep it Simple! Don’t over think it or over season it. The first thing I would tell anyone new to Smoking is Get To Know Your Smoker. It doesn't matter what kind of smoker you have, get to know it. Learn it’s characteristics, hot spots, how long does it take to come up to temp, how long before you have to start adding more charcoal, wood etc. Changes in outside temp affect your smoker temp, time and fuel.
Once you get comfortable and know what to expect you can judge your cook time more accurately. But sometimes the unexpected happens. One day last fall I had a smoker full of brisket and ribs, everything was going good and on time, but all at once we had about a 15 min downpour, killed the temp on my smoker (I don’t have it under a covered area) took a little while to get it back where it needed to be, prolonging the cook time and most important my dinner time. But you just have to roll with it, don’t get rattled or give up, things happen.
I am one of those guys who cook low and slow 225°, which works for me. I am not saying that 225° is the magic number, it just what I have gotten use to. Sometimes I will cook a little hotter depends on the situation. I would say start with cook times and temps that are recommended and adjust from there and allow plenty of time. You can hold meat, a lot easier than trying to rush it for a hungry bunch.
Another thing is check your temp gauge. I check mine several times a year. Pull it off and stick the probe in boiling water, if it reads 212° your good, if it doesn’t replace it or adjust for the difference until you can.
I am also a wood and charcoal guy. I have used both lump and briquettes both with good results. Right now I still have several bags of the Kingsford Blue bag because it was on sale and hated to pass it up. I have started using a little charcoal just to get going and then mostly wood.
I use mainly Pecan, Hickory& Oak because they are available here in East Texas. I also like Peach and Cherry, when I can get it. (Quite a few Peach orchards about an hour north of me) A little further to the West (around Dallas) there is plenty of Mesquite, But I use very little because it is very strong. When I do I usually just mix a little with my Oak. Also make sure your wood is properly seasoned, green wood imparts a bitter taste.
I was talking about different smokers earlier what I use now is a RF (Reverse Flow) I also still have and use a ECB (El-Cheap-o-Brinkman) on occasion. I have had a SF Straight Flow and a UDS (Ugly-Drum-Smoker) and turned out some great BBQ on all. When I discovered the RF, I had to have one so my son and built the one I am using. But weather you buy it, build it or borrow it, doesn’t matter just get comfortable with it.
I believe all new smokers need to be seasoned. When we build one, we get it up to around 400° +, and let it go till all the charcoal and wood burn up and it cools back down, just gets rid of any coating or junk that may in the CC or grates. We then build another fire and as it starts warming we spray the inside cook chamber and grates with a heavy coat of oil. We use bacon grease mixed with cooking oil. You can use the spray oils like Pam, regular cooking oil or rub it down if you prefer. As it starts getting hot I will spray it again and just let it go till the wood and charcoal have burned up? Clean out your fire box and your ready to go.
The 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 method works well on Ribs at least it is a good starting point. Pork Butt (shoulder) and Poultry you need to check the internal temp to make sure it is done. Brisket pretty much the same. It usually takes me a minimum of 12 plus hours on a brisket.
The 3-2-1 method is 3 hours on the smoker unwrapped, 2 hours wrapped than 1 hour back on unwrapped.
If I am doing whole chickens I usually wrap them after a couple hours, check the internal temp, then unwrap to finish.
Most of the time I do not wrap my pork butts (shoulders)
Briskets I usually smoke about 5 or 6 hours uncovered than wrap in butcher paper for the remainder.
Be sure and let all your meat rest when you pull it off. I take a couple of old towels and wrap my brisket and stick it my cooler for an hour or so, longer if needed. Pork Butt the same wrap in foil, a couple of towels and into the cooler.
There are so many recipes, cook times, seasonings and ways to smoke on this site, just look and find what you like and are comfortable with.
I have been smoking for 40 years; I have tried lots of rubs, injections, different woods and techniques. I know a lot of what a person likes relates to the part of the country where he or she live and grew up with. I like all types of BBQ wet, dry, hot, spicy you name it I like it or have tried it.
So smoke what you like, try different things till you get it the way you want.
Starting out, chicken is pretty easy and inexpensive as well as sausage. I would practice a time or two doing these and learning your smoker. Pork Butt (shoulder) is pretty forgiving, takes a while on the smoker but you can really have some good pulled pork.
No right or wrong, just what you like and are comfortable with.
Be patient, allow plenty of time, adjust for the weather and you will have some great BBQ.
Thanks, hope this is useful and enjoy smoking