Hey Guys - Pit Boss TX here. I wanted to impart some of the knowledge I have acquired by reading and chatting with other cooks.
It is always good to experiment with the various types of smoke cooking apparati that is offered in todays' market. I have started out with a regular gas grill; Burned up three, and moved into the gradual upgrade of units. Irregardless of which unit one is using, to apply the techniques of smoke cooking, one must control the fire. If you are not able to control the fire in one unit, then move on to another.
The product requires 90% control of the fire and 10% control of the flavor. Depending upon the ambient effects of our chosen units, we must adapt to the forces driving the outside temps and the inside temps. Your issue may be strong frigid winds. The control of that is managed by wind break and insulation. The science of controlling your fire then depends upon the amount of heat, venting and air flow.
Keeping these items controlled will enable a cooker to maintain the desired level of heat. Once all of this is mastered and controlled, the cooker can then introduce the chunks of wood for flavor. These chunks may need to be soaked to allow for a slow smoking burn of that wood.
Woods: a cook must decide the process he is wanting to achieve. Hardwoods are used to preserve the meats. Fruit tree woods are used to flavor the product. Hickory and Oak are the predominant preserving woods. They are the hardwoods. Fruit tree woods can be used on an individual batch, but usually that meal if only for that seating alone. Mixing the two types of woods is possible but more knowledge of the cooking process is needed to turn out a good product. Of course, this also depends upon the cooking device. If one using a charcoal smoker, the set up will be different and times will vary. So be sure to learn all you can about the cooking device of your choice BEFORE you begin using something. The different cookers ALL require different techniques to achieve the same result.
Of course any product coming off the smoker depends upon the seasoning that has been used. Whether it is dry rub, wet rub, injected or marinade, the product is going to turn out different. The "boss" must be familiar with this equipment and how to compensate for the ambient atmosphere so he can maintain his temps, and other factors. I am not an expert, but at least I have learned that the outside effects do affect the product given the different situations.
My advice is that each "boss" do a test cook in every area he is operating out of. Take some fowl; Cornish Hens, Roasting Hens,
Burn Ends of Brisket trim and other favorites, to try at the new location. Once you learn how your smoker is cooking in that area
then you can compensate and bring out a great product, or at least one that you won't be ashamed of offering up.
The final item for consideration: The "boss" should have a selection of sauces, marinades, rubs and seasonings to apply to the meat items given the temps, and other factors that come into play. We all know we cannot possibly plan for any and all factors that may come into play, but at least being able to compensate for the differences in ambient controls. So go ahead and light that test cooker and learn what is going on. Once you have that you will be far ahead of your competition.
You can always eat your mistakes!!!!!!!!!!!!