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New cheap smoker. HELP

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

ok everyone. I have smoked a few things, boston butt, chicken wings, chicken breast and such. My problem, my children had heard my talk about wanting a smoker so the bought me one for Christmas. It is an inexpensive CharBroil, but I can't really say anything. They were so excited to give dad a gift like this. It does ok, but last week it was cool and breezy outside. I decided to smoke 2 whole chickens. I cut these in half and seasoned these well. The smoker seemed a little irratic as far as maintaining a consistant temperature. Once it did reach 225 it would drop to 200 and toward the end it shot up to over 300. The chicken, smoked in apple chips were good, My question, other than buying,  another smoker at this point, how do I maintain a constant temperature. It seems the door on this model is designed to not close tightly at the bottom which creates more air flow. If you push the bottom of the door it will close all of the way , reducing air flow. Any ideas on how to use this unit more efficiently. Although the chicken tasted awesome and was beautiful, between the breast and wing, the chicken wasn't completely cooked. The cheap smoker does a good job as far as being frugal with the wood chips. It produced really nice smoke for over 5 hours when I smoked a butt last week.

Way my problem last week just the cool temperature and breezy conditions or something else? Thanks in advance for your answers.

I used apple chips and my water pan was filled.

post #2 of 5
Like all equipment you have to learn the quirks of how to operate it. Considering you are fairly new at smoking and you have new equipment it sounds to me like you are doing pretty well. Wind and cold can raise havoc with the best of equipment. And temp swings are part of smoking. A couple extra tools will keep you from under or over cooking. A good quick read digital thermometer for checking doneness is essential. And, like most dial temp gauges, the CB gauge can be off by quite a bit. A redi chek et732 or similar will help you monitor correct smoker and meat temp. In my opinion a must have tool. Every smoke is another learning process. You'll be smoking like a pro in no time. Your equipment is fine, maybe just some adjustments to the cooker AND the cook and you'll have everyone drifting over to your house everytime you light her up!
All the best to you.
post #3 of 5
Yep.....the challenge as stated above is to work with what ya got, do some mods to it and tweak it till it rots away from overuse. Many of us started with an ECB (el cheapo brinkman) and some on here have these old, well used and worn units that they are quite proud to show off in pics. I sometimes wish I still had my first one for a nostalgia smoke every now and again. Thing did a hell of a job on turkeys. Regardless, little shelters can be built to keep out drafts, felt or rope around doors and leaky spots etc etc. The mods done on here by some guys are amazing and many are posted, viewable by using the search bar for 'mods'. I assume your children are quite young (?) so no way you can toss that out Dad.....Willie
post #4 of 5

Constant temps are nice but in reality not absolutely necessary if you are not on a time crunch.  When I first started smoking I was obsessively concerned about constant temps.  Now, eh.  As long as you can keep the chamber temp up so the meat makes it through the danger zone safely, the meat will absorb heat regardless of the temperature swings.  It's a physics thing.  There's also nothing wrong with smoking the meat for flavor for a few hours then finishing it in the oven to save time or power it through a long stall. 

 

Wind combined with cool outdoor temps will definitely play havoc on temp stability.  I rarely smoke in the 225-235 range any more. My WSM maintains temps quite nicely, but I had that cool temp windy condition yesterday smoking pork shoulder.  Yesterday my chamber temp was running 275F average but swinging plus or minus 20-40F on a dry smoke.  About 3.5 hours into the smoke it got REAL windy.  I actually saw my meat internal temp drop 14F after it had stalled at 158F for an hour about 3.5 hours into the smoke.  I didn't worry though because like geerock said a good dual probe thermometer will help you make the right decisions.  I stirred the coals, added a couple more pieces of wood, and opened the vents to fire the chamber temp up to 325F.  The internal temp on the meat climbed back up where I wanted it and eventually got to my target.  I did finish the meat in the oven after 5 hours on the smoker, but that was the plan all along.  Turned out absolutely delicious.

 

Have fun with the new smoker knowing every time you use it you are validating your children's loving gift to you.  Trust me, that inexpensive Char-Broil will make you a GREAT smoker will solid instincts when its time to eventually buy the smoker you want.           

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

thanks everyone. I did check temps with an instant read, but was still not totally satisfied. Love the taste of smoking meats. even jalapeno poppers has a smooth more mellow taste than cooking in the oven at higher temps. I only have a chance to smoke on.  Sunday and Monday, so don't have a chance to get on everyday. Love the recipes and new ideas. Haven't smoked anything that wasn't eaten, that's for sure. My 3 children want me to smoke something every Monday when I'm off. Have a great day.

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