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First "Burn" with Smokin' Pro :)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well I got my smoker... PDT_Armataz_01_05.gif, read the e-course, bought Jeffs recipe (good), got a rack of ribs and jumped in. icon_eek.gif I used hard maple for the fuel. Here's what happened. I started the fire and after 2 hours finally got the smoker to level at 225. (That's the temp Jeffs recipe said to use for ribs) I calibrated the thermometer with an infared scanner so I know it was close. I cooked the ribs for 6 hours like the recipe said and the came out very burnt and SMOKEY! Way too smokey for my taste. I had the vent on top of the smoke chamber open all the time and regulated the heat with the draft on the fire box. The parts of the ribs we could eat after peeling off the burnt stuff was good but we ended up throwing 3/4 of it away because it was not edible. I placed the ribs as far as possible away from the fire box when smoking. They sure smelled good when cooking but the end results were lass than delicious. I have some chickens I planned to smoke after I brine them this weekend but am hesitant because of the heavy smoke taste and burning. What did I do wrong? Do I have to use charcoal instead of all wood? confused.gif I'm sure I'll get it but looks like there is a learning curve with this as there is with everything! icon_smile.gif
post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 
Okay, so I just read about the 3-2-1 method with the ribs... That would have really helped.icon_redface.gif
post #3 of 22
Yeah, the 321 would help.

If you still run into trouble with too much smokiness after trying it that way, you may want to switch to lump charcoal for the heat and just a little wood for flavor or try "preburning" your wood down to coals then shovel the coals into the cooker for the heat.

You can do all wood with no foil...........but it takes some practice.

Good luck
post #4 of 22
Hey, as has been mentioned a couple times around here, even the best chefs in the world burn the toast every now and then.

I think the first thing to focus on is the temperature; more importantly, the measurement of. When you say you calibrated your thermo, you didn't say what thermo. Was it the stock thermo? They are just junk; they don't repeat and are in the wrong location. Also, what did you point your IR thermo at? IR thermos need to hit something to get a reading. Unfortunately, what you want to read is the temp of the air; I'm not sure it can help you out there.

The cheapest way to proceed is to head off to wally world and buy you a 3 dollar oven thermo (non-electronic, el-chepo analog dial). Plop that bad boy on the grill grates, close to where you are cooking and not to close to the firebox side. Proceed to make damper adjustments until it maintains temperature. At this point, compare that temperature with the thermo, and I think you'll find it to be at least 50-75 degrees off (perhaps more).

More importantly, don't give up. Once you feel like your temperature situation is good to go, try a Pork Roast; picnic roasts are about the cheapest option (per pound), they are very forgiving to temperature, and yeild amazing results.

Keep at it, and keep asking questions!
post #5 of 22
Yes it would help, but, the cook time listed are guidelines not hard and fast. Also, since it oversmoked, use some lump as your fuel and supplement with wood, this will help. I do most of my smoking at 211* - 215*. Also mop or spray them while cooking, this will help keep them moist and apply the sauce during the last 30 minutes or so.

And don't worry about burning stuff everyone does. In fact, I could load up a semi trailer with all the stuff I burned or ruined.
post #6 of 22
I'm fairly new to smoking, but what I have read over and over again here on SMF is don't do a smoke based on time. With ribs, watch for the meat pulling back from the bone on the ends. I tend to look in on the meat I'm smoking after about 2 hours at the beginning and then every hour or so after that.

I use a MES so I can't help you a lot with how to adjust things with your smoker, but someone will be along soon who can help you. It will help them if you post what kind of smoker you have, whether or not you used a water pan, etc.

Hang in there, there is definitely a learning curve, but with the help of the SMF family it's pretty steep. biggrin.gif
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hey Geek, the thermo I checked was the stock one in the hood. I ordered a remote one like someone suggested but it hasn't arrived yet. I was scanning the exterior of the smoke hood with the IR, in the same location as the stock thermo. The hood where the stock thermo is located was reading 225 but I can see that the temp down on the grilling surface would be MUCH hotter. It was 35 degrees outside when I was smokin so I would think grill surface would be closer to say 300 degrees? I can see why the ribs burnt...icon_lol.gif
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have a Smokin' Pro Charcoal Smoker Grill by Char-Griller - 830 sq inches cooking surface. I didn't use a water pan and heated the smoker with seasoned maple split into 2" by 1" by 12" sticks. It's the same seasoned wood I heat the house with. Thanks-
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
I hobby farm and raise beef cattle and hogs. I just had a steer processed and 2 pigs. I currently have 2-6' chest freezers filled with meat. Even though I have lots to work with, I HATE wasting, ruining, burning anything because I can still remember a time when I didn't have plenty...
post #10 of 22
I agree with what everyone suggests here, plus you might want to look into a couple of easy mods to help even out your heat from end to end.

I also have the same CharGriller you have... it is a workhorse with some mods. Two very simple mods you can do is install a length of flexible aluminum dryer vent from the inside of the chimney down to grate level. Also, flip the long charcoal grate in the cooking chamber upside down and hang it just above the top of the sfb opening... it will act as a baffle. I did this until I installed a permanent baffle and some tuning plates.

Do a search in the charcoal smoker forum, you'll find plenty of details on some nifty mods on that unit.

Don't give up, keep trying... you'll get it and it will become second nature to you! PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #11 of 22
Idefinately agree the 321 method is the way to go, acurate grate temps will help even more though. as with the chix, don't be afraid. I actually messed up last weekend and did some at 300 and they turned out just fine. Not that I reccommend that, would go somewhere around 250. Good luck and good smokin
post #12 of 22
Millstream -
Just remember times are a guide! It's done when it's done!

Until you find your sweet spot - when they pull back wrap em and when the ends are willing to touch each other it's done! In between spray em with apple juice and whatever else you like. Good luck!
post #13 of 22
Millstream, I recommend you use a good Lump charcoal next smoke. Add a few chunks of your maple for flavor in the first third of the smoke period, and baste or spray those ribs each time you check them after half way. You'll get plenty of info on this site, and it all works!

When I tried to use sticks in my Charbroil silver the firsttime, it was too sooty and terrible looking. I think you need one of the huge competition smokers for the logs. Thats just my opinion wink.gif

Good luck on your next try!
post #14 of 22
And I did not see mentioned...what KIND of ribs? Standard spares, or babybacks. Pretty big difference there, too. BB's are like 2-1.5-.5 or something. The lump coal is great advice as well. Get a bed of coals for heat and add wood for FLAVOR. Don't get discouraged! We have all made Food for the Gods... <Burnt offerings...heh>.
post #15 of 22
Hey Millstream, after reading all of the comments and advice that you recieved, (and they are all correct), PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif I will throw my .02 worth in. I use a homemade stick burner with an off set fire box. I have to be honest here, for quite some time, the meat that came out of my smoker wasn't fit for my dog. I ate it cause I can't bring myself to waste meat, but no one else would touch it. It was WAY too smoky. icon_cry.gif I would start the fire with a large amount of wood, like you said, it took 2 hrs to burn down, then I would throw on a couple small whole logs. I always had lots of white smoke coming out of the stack, never thin blue. And I had to keep the air intake pretty much shut down to keep the temp at 225. I decided to split the logs into quarters, still I had lots of smoke and had to keep the air shut down, finally I started splitting the wood into kindling size pieces like you are useing. I put one or two on at a time and now I can mantain a small HOT fire, I doubled the size of the fresh air intake(I actually cut in another air intake, double the size of the first one, I use them both) and it works very well now. smile.gif It is kind of a pain cause I have to baby sit the smoker, I have to add one or two pieces of wood every 20 minutes or so, I also keep 4 pieces on top of the fire box to kind of, pre heat them. I have no idea if it helps the burn, but it makes me feel better. smile.gif I hope this helps you some what. And if any of you guys have any ideas on something I could do different, please let me know. One last thing, on my smoker, the stack end of the smoker is cooler than the fire box end, even with Coleys tuning plates, I would rather have the meat closer to the fire box end . I put stuff like the pot of au jus down on the cool end.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the ideas! For the next smoke I'm gonna use lump and only add enough wood for a bit of smoke. Also get my temp down at the grilling surface as well as take a temp of the meat and not go by time. It's kinda hard to get the plan down pat as there are so many ways to cook that several, all or none of the ideas can be used...icon_neutral.gif
post #17 of 22
You got some good advice here. The best advice was to get your temps at grate level. My in lid factory thermometer in my Smokin' Pro was +/- 100º off. It read that much low but others might read high. I also found on the last cook that while at grate temps varied, they didn't vary NEARLY as much as the in lid thermo did. Also, the simple difference of sunlight on the pit or overcast times would make the in lid thermo vary greatly while the at grate temps stayed within an acceptable range. The in lid was all over the place the whole smoke but the at grate temps were for the most part within the range I was looking for.

Here is a pic of my in lid compared to two other known accurate thermometers. The pics were taken within seconds of each other. The two good ones were the same. You can see what the in lid was at...

post #18 of 22
i have a homemade offset smoker. i put thermometers in the lid, just above grate level- one on each end. i tested them first to see how close they were. they were close enough (less than 5° off) so i left them as is. on ribs, you really can't put a thermo probe in there, too close to the bones. i just do my spares with this time 3-2-.75. works good. fall off the bone tender, and they all get eaten. i use kingsford charcoal (briquettes) to get my fire started and then wood for the whole smoke.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the information!

Porkbutt, I can see from your pics with the in hood thermo at 150 or so and the grate temp of 225.... I had my in hood reading 225 for all six hours... redface.gif Prolly closer to 325 on the grills. I am expecting a different thermo in the mail any day. There is no doubt that I WAY overcooked the ribs as far as time and temp goes. I was talking to a buddy while I was buring the ribs and remarked at how hard I had to burn the fire to keep the grill at 225 and was wondering how I would ever do a chicken at 350! I probably was close to 350 all along.
post #20 of 22
That was exactly my first two experiences with my CG. Blasted three boston butts and burned a TON of lump and even wood trying to hold the inaccurate thermo on 225! The fire box was so hot I couldn't hardly stand to get near the cooker. The meat wouldn't pull because it was ROASTED rather than slow smoked. Now I use MUCH less lump and a few smoking chunks for a whole 7 hour smoke (foiled and finished in oven due to high winds killing cooking temps around dusk).

That's why I plaster this info where ever I can. Hopefully someone else can see it and learn from it without blasting several chunks of meat and a bunch of lump/charcoal during their learning curve. PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif The Lord knows I've learned and saved myself some money at this point thanks to the great information on this forum. Just want to give something back when/if I can.
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