I owe most of my knowledge and skills to Lexie Dean. A colleague of mine in NC that new all of this stuff. Find out some really cool things about his cooking comepititions here: http://www.examiner.com/article/grand-champion-cook-lexie-dean-at-saddle-up
I started out with ribs. I am not a huge fan for globbing on bbq sauce so I typically just made a dry rub. It's mostly straightforward. Paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, crushed red peppers (lots of it), chilli powder (lots of it), and then my secret ingredient: MSG. You're not convincing me not to put it in there. It's amazing and I'm never looking back. This May, I got a small charcoal grill and Lexie taught me how to smoke in there. Over time I've learned to control the heat, get a thick smoke, and when to wrap the ribs to keep them moist so they "fall off the bone." From there, I've done pork loin with a mostly herb rub, pork butt, and last weekend two whole chickens.
As for wood, I've used cherry, mesquite, pecan, hickory, and sugar maple. Cherry has been my favorite for ribs so far. The sugar maple was used for the chicken. It was honestly the best chicken I've ever had. I didn't expect the brine to be soooo effective.
My folks want me to try brisket next. Which is fine with me. Any tips on how to tackle this? It's a more basic rub from what I was told.
What about things like sausage, ham, lamb (this is so good without smoking I'm hesitant to risk it), duck (my favorite meat but I've yet to make it good at home for my standards)?
Also, my uncle has multiple bee farms and makes the most amazing honey. Is there any way some of you could suggest utilizing honey with smoking? Or just make a bbq sauce out of it?