So some of you might have seen the thread I started a week or 2 ago. My wife surprised me with a 18.5" WSM for an anniversary gift. Put it together and it's been sitting in the garage for 2 weeks. I've been wanting to try it out so bad but I have a full time day job and then have a landscape business I run as soon as I get home everyday. Working this weekend too but I HAVE TO break this thing in and take a break for once. I figure I'll do something relatively quick (baby back ribs) and do a butt when I actually have more time. I'm going to do the ribs 2-2-1 through a recipe I found On this site last year that was posted by I'm guessing this website's owner named Jeff? Its a "advanced" method where you add some extra stuff to the foiling step. At any rate I'm excited to do this.
I have been reading endlessly on this site and watching some youtube vids as well. A member named @fpnmf (Craig) started a thread a few years ago titled "How I start and use my WSM" Great info there and that's what I've been reading most recently. I still have some questions though and was hoping someone could help me out a little. I'm going to do the minion method. A chef I know just gave me a few big soup cans so I can use one for the center area to dump the lit coals into. I am still not sure on how much actual cahrcoal to use though for this cook. If I were to use my chimney starter as a measuring device, how many of those would you fill up and dump for the unlit charcoal? How about for the lit charcoal in the center? 12 briquettes?
Now I know this is a MAJOR debate from reading and watching videos....the water pan! What would some of you more experienced guys recommend for me who will be using this WSM for the first time? I have done a few smokes on my webber kettle grill but nothing on a true smoker. Water, clay flower pot saucer, nothing at all? I'm just not sure. Kind of leaning towards water only due to the fact I've read it helps maintain the temp more easily and especially since mine will be running hot due to being brand new. After that, not sure I'd use water. Does that seem like a logical decision?
Going to use my Maverick probe for the smoker temp. Read the lid thermometer is off by 30+ degrees. Which grate is best to put that on, top or bottom? Since I'm going to do 2 racks I'm assuming I need to cut each in half since I've read the 18.5 WSM will not hold a full rack because they are too long. So if I will have 4 sections of ribs do I do them all on the top rack, bottom rack or split between the 2? Don't want to over think this but I want to have a plan. I might have some more questions but can't think of them right now. Any help and tips are appreciated. Thanks.