I am totally new to smoking. My first attempt was yesterday and I think it could have gone much better, so I am hoping someone can tell me where I went wrong. Yesterday I did some Andouille and today I am doing some venison links. I have a Masterbuilt 30in electric smoker. I let my sausage hang out on the counter while I got the smoker ready, then put it in resting on the racks, mostly in coils, but not touching one another. I would have preferred to hang them, but couldn't figure out how to do that and fit them all in. I let them go at 130 degrees for 1 hour with the damper fully open, then added 1/2 cup wood chips and some hot water to the water pan, and kept them at 130 for 2 more hours, damper closed. There was still some chips left after 2 hours, but I added another 1/4 cup anyway, and increased the temp to 140. I increased it by 10 degrees every hour till the sausages reached 155 degrees. I never added any more wood, but it continued to smoke the entire time... smoke time about 7 hours I think. I couldn't be happier with the taste (patting myself on the back for my first recipe). The smoke is a little heavy, but I was hoping for that since this sausage will be used mainly for adding to dishes... gumbo, jambalaya, red beans & rice, and the like. So I am hoping for some help with the following issues/questions...
- I am confused about the adding of water. From what I gathered it's best to use it BUT, if the reason for putting the sausages in alone for the first hour is to make sure the casings are dry in order to absorb the smoke, why add the water when you add the smoke as that will only make the casings moist again?
- I made some fresh brats earlier in the week and after grilling them, the casings had that perfect "snap" and were easy to eat. After smoking this Andouille, the casings are thick, tough, and chewy. Is that just how they will be? I used natural hog casings, the same kind for both.
- My biggest issue with this smoke is the unevenness of the cook/browning. The parts of the sausage that was on the outside of the racks came out nice and brown, but still moist and tender. The parts on the inside barely changed color at all. As I said before I would have preferred to hang them but didn't see how I could fit them all in. Are there any good pictures out there that can give me an idea of the best way to do this? And would hanging them have prevented this anyway? All of he links were very loosely coiled, with at least 1/2 inch between all the pieces. I will try to add a pic.
Thank you in advance for any tips and advice Y'all can offer!!