My mini will be fully operational tonight so I want to do a smoke this weekend! I've never smoked meat before in my life, I'd say the closest I've done to smoking is cooking hamburgers/hotdogs/cedar planked salmon on the gas grill. Some questions I have are:
1. Break in - Is there any special procedure/seasoning I need to do before I do my first smoke? I understand I probably want to clean the inside of the pot/cooking surfaces with warm soapy water but do I need to do a run where I do a smoke without any meat inside?
2. Fuel/wood amounts - To achieve the TBS, how many lumps of wood should I use, and how do you control the type of smoke you get? I've read to let the wood chunks burn on the coals for a while before putting the meat on to transition from thick white smoke to thin blue smoke. What are your empirical findings for amounts of charcoal to use based on length/temperature of cooks?
3. What do you pros suggest as a good beginner recipe/cook?
Thanks in advance for your help!