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Complete newbie! Sorry for all the stupid questions!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

OK, so I won a Broil King charcoal vertical smoker.  Until that point I had zero interest in learning how to smoke.  Now, I feel it's something I need to master.  But no one I know has ever used one.

I've put it together, and read up on everything and have to admit - I don't know where to start.  Zero clue, and I feel like I'm BEYOND over my head.

 

I've got regular charcoal and some seasoned wood chips.  

So I should fill the charcoal tray with the charcoal and light it and leave it burning with lots of flame? Do I use the grate?  

What's the plate that fits over one of the trays with all the little holes in it for?

Do I soak my wood chips in water first or just throw them on the charcoal or do I fill a water tray and put them in the water there?

Do I need to use water?

Can I do multiple meats at a time or ?

Do I add everything at the same time if I'm doing vegetable and pork and beef?

Can I be helped?  

Am I just overthinking it all?

post #2 of 5

First i'd like to say I don't know much about your particular smoker.

 

Its a learning process.

 

You need to season the smoker first. 

 

Wood chips you soak in water, small logs you don't. 

I personally prefer to use Hardwood Lump Charcoal and then I will throw on small logs of either Mesquite, Hickory or Pecan.  One thing I never do is use lighter fluid to start my fires to me that is a taste you can never get rid of.

 

I have cooked Pork Butt, Ribs and Brisket before in the same pit at the same time.

 

As for the trays you talk about I know nothing about.

post #3 of 5

Welcome aboard, MinnowMC, and congrats on the new smoker!  I don't know much about that particular rig, so some of your questions are difficult to answer without more info, or without seeing your rig...can you post some pics that show the parts you have questions about?

 

I tried to answer the general questions you had.  Just look below for the answers to each question in red type:

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by MinnowMC View Post
 

OK, so I won a Broil King charcoal vertical smoker.  Until that point I had zero interest in learning how to smoke.  Now, I feel it's something I need to master.  But no one I know has ever used one.

I've put it together, and read up on everything and have to admit - I don't know where to start.  Zero clue, and I feel like I'm BEYOND over my head.

 

I've got regular charcoal and some seasoned wood chips.  

So I should fill the charcoal tray with the charcoal and light it and leave it burning with lots of flame?  You could get yourself some of those Weber charcoal starter cubes to do this...but the key is to let the charcoal burn down to hot coals before you start cooking.  There shouldn't be flames.  IMO, the best way is to use a charcoal starter chimney (you can buy these at most hardware or outdoor stores).  Fill the chimney with unlit coal, use some newspaper to start it, then allow it to burn until all coals are glowing and beginning to ash over...then pour the coal into your smoker's fire tray.  

 

Do I use the grate?  Not sure what grate you mean...can you post a pic of this?  If the fire tray has a grate in it, yes...use it.  It'll help get better airflow to your burning coals.

 

What's the plate that fits over one of the trays with all the little holes in it for?  Not sure...again, a pic would help.  It might be a tuning plate that separates the fire from the cook chamber, with holes in it to allow heat and smoke through?

 

Do I soak my wood chips in water first or just throw them on the charcoal or do I fill a water tray and put them in the water there?  Soaking wood chips/chunks is, IMHO, a complete waste of time.  The water has to evaporate before combustion begins to produce smoke.  You can simply throw a couple of fist-sized wood chunks on your hot charcoal every hour or so...or a couple handfuls of wood chips (although the chips will burn up much faster than chunks).  Or, you can make little foil pouches full of wood chips.  Poke a couple holes in the foil for smoke to get out, then toss the pouch on the hot coals. 

Do I need to use water?  Some people do, some don't.  If you decide not to put water in the water pan, you could fill it with sand or lava rocks instead...just cover with foil to prevent dripping grease from making a big mess.

Can I do multiple meats at a time or ?  Absolutely.  This takes practice and some experience, however, because different types of meat do better at different cooking temps, different finishing internal meat temps, etc.

 

Do I add everything at the same time if I'm doing vegetable and pork and beef?  Depends on the cuts of pork/beef.  For example, a rack of pork ribs will cook in somewhere between 4-6 hours...while a pork butt roast could take 10-16 hours, depending on it's size.  The same is true of beef...a brisket may take anywhere between 10-20 hours depending on cook temps and the size of the brisket.  Veggies will obviously cook much faster, and should be put on the grill toward the end a cook.

 

Can I be helped?  You came to a good place to get help!  My best advice is to start easy and simple...I'd suggest you begin with a test burn in your smoker (run it without any food in it for a few hours).  This will allow you to learn how to manage your fire and control the cooking temperature without burning up any food.  Once you've got a handle on temp control, you might start with only one hunk of meat for your first cook.  Once you decide what your want to cook, you can do a search here on the Forums for that meat.  You'll find dozens of previous threads here about pretty much any meat you want to cook.  Doing some reading before you start is a good way to plan the steps and methods for your cook.  If you don't find the info you need by doing a search, just ask specific questions about that meat type and how you want to cook it...you'll get plenty of assistance!

 

Am I just overthinking it all?  Hey, we were all beginners at one time or another!  Trying something new that you don't know anything about can be intimidating, but there are lots of friendly, helpful experts here at SMF that'll be glad to help you through it!

 

 

 

I don't know how much that helps, but hopefully it's enough to get you started...good luck with it and just ask if you have more questions.  Thumbs Up

 

Red

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much!  I did a "season" burn and that turned out not bad in regards to figuring out heat control.  I went to do some easy chicken wings today, and unbeknownst to me, my 6 year old, had put a container of charcoal litter fluid in the top drawer of the smoker - explosion.  So, after the fire extinguisher, pressure washer and secondary hose down - I'm doing a 're-burn' so to say.  Lesson learned - check all drawers and doors before lighting!

I did try soaking my wood chunks - and they fell apart into wood sawdust so I don't think I'll do that again - though one person did suggest I try soaking them in bourbon or rye?  For flavour I assume

Tomorrow I am attempting Pork Leg roast, have had it marinading for 2 days - fingers crossed it turns out well!

post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by MinnowMC View Post

Thank you so much!  I did a "season" burn and that turned out not bad in regards to figuring out heat control.  I went to do some easy chicken wings today, and unbeknownst to me, my 6 year old, had put a container of charcoal litter fluid in the top drawer of the smoker - explosion.  So, after the fire extinguisher, pressure washer and secondary hose down - I'm doing a 're-burn' so to say.  Lesson learned - check all drawers and doors before lighting!
I did try soaking my wood chunks - and they fell apart into wood sawdust so I don't think I'll do that again - though one person did suggest I try soaking them in bourbon or rye?  For flavour I assume
Tomorrow I am attempting Pork Leg roast, have had it marinading for 2 days - fingers crossed it turns out well!

Sorry to hear about the mishap with the lighter fluid...that could have been much worse! Thankfully no one was hurt! I never light charcoal with starter fluid. I light my coal with a chimney starter...it takes a little longer than lighter fluid, but there's never a petroleum taste in my food like you can get with using lighter fluid.

I know there are some folks out there who do it, but it's my opinion and experience that soaking wood is a waste of time. First, hardwoods won't absorb more than a trace amount of water, even if you soak for extended periods of time. But more importantly, any water present in the wood will have to evaporate before combustion would begin producing smoke. Until that water evaporates, the only thing coming out of your smoker is steam.

I've never tried soaking in whiskey, but IMO the same principle applies. I doubt you can get more than a trace of liquid (whiskey) into the wood...unless you soak for a very long time (days or even weeks). But, having not tried it myself, I couldn't say whether or not you might affect the flavor of the wood smoke.

Good luck with that pork roast! Be sure to let us know how it turns out! icon14.gif

Red
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