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Newbie from Colorado!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hey Everybody!  My name is Scott and I live in Brighton, Colorado.  I have been attempting to smoke on a Brinkman side firebox smoker my wife bought me for Father's Day about 12 years ago.  This year for Father's Day my beautiful wife bought me a Horizon 20" Classic Smoker!  I have had some success in the past on the Brinkman with pork butt, and chicken stuffed jalapenos, but have never tried ribs until yesterday.  I followed the 3-2-1 method for the ribs and they came out very tender, as the bones were falling off the ribs as I took them out of the smoker.  However, the outside of the ribs seemed to be almost black, chewy and  little bitter tasting.  Any ideas what could be causing this?  I kept the temp right at 225 for the whole time.

 

I really love smoking and the taste of smoked meat and want to become a better cook.  I have visited this forum in the past have been able to find answers to my questions, but since I just got this new smoker, I want to take it to the next level and make great food that I can be proud of.  Any ideas or help would be greatly appreciated.  

 

I saw a t-shirt the other day that sums it all up pretty well;  "I like my butt rubbed, and my pork pulled!"  

 

I look forward to hearing from y'all.

Scott 

post #2 of 11

Hey Scott, Ray here.  Welcome to SMF!  Congrats on the new smoker.  You'll be turning out great meat in no time flat. 

 

Black skin, off taste indicates soot and/or creosote on the meat.  If you're loading the meat while the smoke is still white or grey you're getting a coat of unburned particulates (ash) on your meat.  Thin blue smoke is what you want, or at least hints of blue, in the smoke before you load your meat.   There was a thread here a while ago that had a great picture comparing the yucky smoke to the desired smoke.  Found it.  Zip down to the bottom of page one and you'll see what I mean. 

 

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/164340/black-skin-but-good-meat 

 

Are you using all wood or charcoal and wood mix?  The size of the sticks you add to the fire can make a difference too. 

 

I'll let the stick burners take it from here.  I'm a charcoal/wood chunks guy using a WSM.

post #3 of 11

Hello and good morning from East Texas, welcome to the forum. Lots of great information and real good people here..  Question ---- are you running your stack vent wide open ?

 

 

Gary S

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi Ray,

 

Thanks for the welcome.  I am glad to have joined.  The pic comparing the smoke was very helpful.  I am using a mix of wood & lump charcoal.  For the wood this time around I used a combination of sticks & chunks.  I had never used them before, as I just used chinks and charcoal briquettes, but I thought that I would try them this time.  I also soak the wood in water before and while I am cooking.  Will that make a difference?

 

Now that I see the difference in the smoke, what is the secret to attaining the blue smoke?

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the welcome, Gary.  I leave the stack vent wide open when I am getting the smoker up to temp.  I was told the when it gets to temp, to close it and the firebox vent all the way and the temp should stay for as long as I need it.  I have found that when I close it all the way, the temp comes down about 5 - 10 degrees, so the I adjust the stack vent & firebox vent until I get the temp back to what it was & stable.  Should I keep it wide open the whole cook time?

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saxfluffer View Post
 

Hi Ray,

 

Thanks for the welcome.  I am glad to have joined.  The pic comparing the smoke was very helpful.  I am using a mix of wood & lump charcoal.  For the wood this time around I used a combination of sticks & chunks.  I had never used them before, as I just used chinks and charcoal briquettes, but I thought that I would try them this time.  I also soak the wood in water before and while I am cooking.  Will that make a difference?

 

Now that I see the difference in the smoke, what is the secret to attaining the blue smoke?

 

Ahhhh, now we're getting somewhere.  First off, stop soaking your wood.  Waste of time and it causes a cooler fire that extends the period of yucky white smoke. 

 

High heat and an efficiently burning fire is the secret for attaining blue smoke quickly.  Remember the heat triangle: Fuel-Heat-Air.  For a fire to burn efficiently all three need to be balance. 

 

An empty firebox has lots of air, but no fuel or heat.  Fire up a chimney or two of charcoal, let it get glowing hot (ashed over), then add it to the firebox.  Now you have a fire triangle in balance.  You can cook at this point once the smoker is up to temp but you won't get much (or any) smoke flavor.     

 

Now you add the wood.  The wood is cold.  So even though it is a fuel it will pull heat from your existing fire so it can warm up to ignition and start the carbonization process that produces blue smoke.  Heat is transferred from the hot coals to the cold wood.  If the wood is wet, the water has to boil off before the carbonization process can start.  While the wood is heating up and the outside boundary layer is burning inefficiently, that's when you get the white smoke/grey smoke, smoke that is filled with poorly combusted micro particles consisting of solids and liquids.  If you have meat in the smoker at this point, all those poorly combusted particles will stick to your meat creating an off taste and blackening your meat. 

 

Once the wood is hot though it starts burning (carbonizing) efficiently and the smoke changes color, taking on a blue tint.  Using dry wood chunks around 2"-3" or small splits, say 1" thick and 12" long, helps a fire burn efficiently more quickly.  Learning to build an efficient fire, bringing your smoker up to temp, attaining blue smoke, then loading the meat is part of the learning process.  It can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes for those blue tints to appear.  You can speed up the process by hitting the first cold wood you add to your hot coals with a weed burner or propane torch, or just wait it out.  Once you have enough fuel burning efficiently and good air flow through your smoker, adding more wood when necessary will maintain the blue smoke.    

 

Hope that helps.

 

I would love to have a stick burner but would go broke buying cooking wood for it in my area at $300-$400/cord.  I have a 300-500 year old white oak in my backyard that keeps me supplied with wood chunks for now.  If or when that tree starts to fail, stick burner here I come! 

post #7 of 11
Scott
Keith here, also in Brighton. Have been doing competition BBQ for a few years. I also had problems with a bitter flavor, and yes, it was the creosote from an incorrect fire. What I have done to correct it is to first get a nice bed of coals with a chimney or 2 of charcoal. I use a good lump charcoal, but sometimes have a problem starting it in a chimney, so u can augment it with regular briquettes. Once you have a good bed of coals, just add a small piece of wood, about an inch or 2 diameter about every 30 minutes or so. Using this method, you should be able to maintain a nice bed of coals. If you are having issues with the wood charring and not burning, then the wood sticks that u are using are too big and. you need to reduce the size of the wood. I am pretty much a "stick burner" and have fought this issue for quite sometime, until I chatted with one of the other pitmasters at a competition. I also cook at a higher temp and then wrap with foil to allow the meat to steam in its own juices. Got 5th in state with this method at my last KCBS competition.
Keith@bbqcarnivores.com
post #8 of 11
PS
I never soak the wood. That is only used with the small wood chips that you might put a small handful on a bed of coals, or place in a pan over a heater of sorts like a gas grill.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noboundaries View Post
 

 

Ahhhh, now we're getting somewhere.  First off, stop soaking your wood.  Waste of time and it causes a cooler fire that extends the period of yucky white smoke. 

 

High heat and an efficiently burning fire is the secret for attaining blue smoke quickly.  Remember the heat triangle: Fuel-Heat-Air.  For a fire to burn efficiently all three need to be balance. 

 

An empty firebox has lots of air, but no fuel or heat.  Fire up a chimney or two of charcoal, let it get glowing hot (ashed over), then add it to the firebox.  Now you have a fire triangle in balance.  You can cook at this point once the smoker is up to temp but you won't get much (or any) smoke flavor.     

 

Now you add the wood.  The wood is cold.  So even though it is a fuel it will pull heat from your existing fire so it can warm up to ignition and start the carbonization process that produces blue smoke.  Heat is transferred from the hot coals to the cold wood.  If the wood is wet, the water has to boil off before the carbonization process can start.  While the wood is heating up and the outside boundary layer is burning inefficiently, that's when you get the white smoke/grey smoke, smoke that is filled with poorly combusted micro particles consisting of solids and liquids.  If you have meat in the smoker at this point, all those poorly combusted particles will stick to your meat creating an off taste and blackening your meat. 

 

Once the wood is hot though it starts burning (carbonizing) efficiently and the smoke changes color, taking on a blue tint.  Using dry wood chunks around 2"-3" or small splits, say 1" thick and 12" long, helps a fire burn efficiently more quickly.  Learning to build an efficient fire, bringing your smoker up to temp, attaining blue smoke, then loading the meat is part of the learning process.  It can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes for those blue tints to appear.  You can speed up the process by hitting the first cold wood you add to your hot coals with a weed burner or propane torch, or just wait it out.  Once you have enough fuel burning efficiently and good air flow through your smoker, adding more wood when necessary will maintain the blue smoke.    

 

Hope that helps.

 

I would love to have a stick burner but would go broke buying cooking wood for it in my area at $300-$400/cord.  I have a 300-500 year old white oak in my backyard that keeps me supplied with wood chunks for now.  If or when that tree starts to fail, stick burner here I come! 


Thanks Ray!  I really appreciate the information.  I had no idea that soaking the wood would have such a negative effect on the food.  I was told when I first started smoking that soaking the wood was a great way to get smoke.  Little did I know that it was bad smoke.  I am definitely going to give it a try with your suggestions and hopefully report back with some good food news.  Man am I glad that I joined this forum.

 

Thanks Again.

Scott

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchless Q View Post

Scott
Keith here, also in Brighton. Have been doing competition BBQ for a few years. I also had problems with a bitter flavor, and yes, it was the creosote from an incorrect fire. What I have done to correct it is to first get a nice bed of coals with a chimney or 2 of charcoal. I use a good lump charcoal, but sometimes have a problem starting it in a chimney, so u can augment it with regular briquettes. Once you have a good bed of coals, just add a small piece of wood, about an inch or 2 diameter about every 30 minutes or so. Using this method, you should be able to maintain a nice bed of coals. If you are having issues with the wood charring and not burning, then the wood sticks that u are using are too big and. you need to reduce the size of the wood. I am pretty much a "stick burner" and have fought this issue for quite sometime, until I chatted with one of the other pitmasters at a competition. I also cook at a higher temp and then wrap with foil to allow the meat to steam in its own juices. Got 5th in state with this method at my last KCBS competition.
Keith@bbqcarnivores.com


Hi Keith,  Thanks for the response.  Glad to know that I am not the only one who has had this issue.  I am definitely going to give it a shot with your suggestions. 

 

Do you find that you have to cook longer at this altitude, or is that just a myth?  And what temp do you use and what may the advantage be over cooking the way I have at 225 ?

 

Congrats on your 5th place in State .  I love watching BBQ competitions and to get a placing like that is not easy.

 

Scott

post #11 of 11
Hey Scott

Welcome to the Smoking forum. You’ll find great , friendly people here, all more than willing to answer any question you may have. Just ask and you’ll get about 10 different answers—all right. LOL. Don’t forget to post qviews.

Gary
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