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New to smoking, first time was frustrating

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. I'm new to the forums, and also to smoking! I tried my first time today, and learned I have many things to improve on my smoker.

I received a hand-me-down smoker from a family member. Can't find many mentions of it, but here's a picture. It's a Brinkmann Smoke'n Pit Smoke King:



I can get more pictures later, but it's dark and I'm pooped from messing with this all day.

I had used it one other time with help from my BIL, but this was the first time on my own. I fought low temps all day, and could only get it above 200 for a short time. I think part of my problem was impatiently opening the door too much to try and get the coals to heat more. It only had one hole at the top for exhaust, and I drilled 4 more.

I also used the solid pan for a coal pan. I think my big problem was not enough air getting to the coals. There are 2 holes at the bottom, on the sides, for ventilation, but they are extremely ineffective.

The door also leaks something fierce. I used the stepping stone in the pic to brave the bottom shut, but it only helped so much.

Here is a list of the improvements I feel would help:
1. Drill holes on coal pan for ventilation. Place another pan under it to catch the ash.
2. Use silicone and a furnace gasket to seal the door.

Would this be enough? I have about 5 holes at the top, each about the size of a dime, for exhaust. Should I put some kind of damper in the top to control flow?

Today was frustrating, but I feel it gave me insight on what to improve. The one other thing I'm not sure about is the meat I cooked today. I used a water bowl and rubbed spices on before starting. I used Kingsford briquettes, chunk charcoal, cherry chunks from the store and apple wood given to me by my dad. Both were well seasoned and very dry. I didn't have any sugar in the rub, but here is a picture of the meat:

I got the meat to 160 before giving up, and was gonna finish it in the oven tomorrow. However, I had white smoke much of the day, when fighting temps, and, when tasting the black edge of the meat, got a bit of what kinda tasted like the "metallic" taste described in other threads. Would this be possible with dried, seasoned wood? If so, is it possible to eat it? Trim the edges off? Or toss it all?

Thanks to everyone for any insight you can impart on my situation. I hope to learn from, and with, you as I embark on my smoking experiences!
Edited by gump47371 - 5/21/16 at 8:43pm
post #2 of 4

Sorry about your troubles.  Opening the door too much will allow heat to escape and increase cook times, but it will also let too much air get to your coals and make your temps too high once the door remains closed.  I don't understand why your coals were having trouble burning if your door leaks and you were opening it frequently.  White smoke can give you a bitter taste, I don't think it will harm you, just taste nasty.



post #3 of 4

Sorry to hear about your troubles.


It can only get better from here.



post #4 of 4

The metallic taste on the meat is from moisture on the meat...    Meat should be "dried" on the surface, forming a pellicle before smoke is added...   The smoke condenses in the water to form "Acid rain".. (my description )....  The pellicle formation should be employed even if cure is not used...  It only takes an hour or so at 100 ish degrees F with full air flow through the smoker with no smoke...  Full air flow is not an environment where botulism will grow as there is plenty of oxygen available...  It is only where the oxygen is depleted that botulism will occur.. eg. in the presence of a fire.....




In my experience, a pellicle can be formed in a smoker at 120 ish in an hour or so with lots of air flow.... or in front of a fan on a wire rack at room temp, once the meat has warmed up to room temp..... Meat that is refer temp, will form condensate which dissolves the water soluble protein based pellicle or at least, makes it difficult to form...... There are no health concerns leaving meat out at room temperature, once cured, for several hours or even a day to form a pellicle... Meat that has been cured and then cold smoked, will often sit at temps in the 50-70 degree range for weeks with no ill effects....

Culinary Institute of America... ...http://chefsblade.monster.com/training/articles/966-how-to-smoke-meat?page=2

Pellicle formation

Before cured foods are smoked, they should be allowed to air-dry long enough to form a tacky skin, known as a pellicle. The pellicle plays a key role in producing excellent smoked items. It acts as a kind of protective barrier for the food, and also plays an important role in capturing the smoke’s flavor and color.

Most foods can be properly dried by placing them on racks or by hanging them on hooks or sticks. It is important that air be able to flow around all sides. They should be air-dried uncovered, in the refrigerator or a cool room. To encourage pellicle formation, you can place the foods so that a fan blows air over them. The exterior of the item must be sufficiently dry if the smoke is to adhere.

As noted in the pictorials below from Marianski, cold smoke penetrates farther into cool meat than hot smoking.... So, cold smoked products will "appear" to have less smoke... In my experience here also, the flavor is deep into the meat and a rich depth of flavor not experienced when smoke is applied hot...


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