In advance I would like to thank you for reading my thread. Any assistance would be greatly be appreciated.
My Comforts: Recipe - I feel I can handle and modify this area of my smoking/cooking craft. I haven't ate anything that has tasted, well, like total "crap".
My Concerns -
Charcoal: Ive used Kingsford charcoal predominantly. Twice I have stepped away from the blue and white Kingsford bag and have used lump charcoal (royal king) and the matchlight charcoal (with lighterfluid infused to the brickettes). I live in Ohio. I feel that is important to mention because I bought my smoker in the middle - late fall of 2013. I used it once in a while in the fall, winter, and few times in the spring.
Lighting method: I tried lighter fluid a few times. I should have revoked my man card immediately. I apologize for my mistake. I haven't used kindling, but have used with success (after a burning period) Weber's lighter cubes.
Air Temperature: Does this affect at what temperature charcoal burns and for how long? I would think it would, but I just don't know from my experience. During the winter months, I used the white/blue bags of Kingsford in the winter, 30 degree temperature from 5pm until about 1-2am and it burned at 250dg consistently for that duration. The air flow controls at the bottom were open all the way throughout the smoking. I only smoked wings, and purposely loaded the smoker up with charcoal as an experiment. However, the other week with air temperatures varying from 50 -70 dg, I used the same charcoal and lighting method, air controls at (approx) 80% open, and the smoker arrived at 300dg when I put my turkey breast on. I placed the turkey breast on, and the immediate temperature peaked between 250-260 dg, and never went back up. I ran wings prior to that with similar air conditions to the 50-70dg temps, and at fully open air controls it maxed out around 400. I moved them to about 60% open, and cooled the smoker to 250 (which was the goal). The lack of consistency between the turkey breast and the wings at 50-70dg air temps bothers me. I understand that if a smoker peaks at a temp, and I open up the air flow, it won't get higher. Seems like I can only peak at a temp and back off, or hit a temp and maintain, and not to continue to climb once I under achieve a desired temp.
Bark: I bought a charcoal smoker because I had a masterbuilt electric smoker, and it wasn't working well for larger pieces of meat. I can't get a bark. Frustrated and can't get this going. Have followed recipe after recipe with no success. Thoughts? I also understand that sugars help caramelize which creates bark.
Amount of smoke: I have mastered chicken wings. In my weber charcoal smoker I use pieces of wood (apple) that are an inch in length, quarter inch in width, and a quarter inch deep. (Wings sit in the smoker for an hour, get flipped half way through, and finish on the grill). That seems to be enough smoke. I buy a bag of wood chunks, and it seems like its going to take years to get through it. Anyone else have this issue, especially those who have used the same type of smoker? I constantly worry about over smoking because I do it frequently. I did it with the turkey breast I just previously mentioned (not the point of not eating it, but should have just used one of those sized wood chips, instead I used two).
I tried to be as concise and thorough as possible. Thanks for reading everyone!