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KC Smoker -- success! (LONG)

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
OK, I've been writing people for advice on the KC Smoker, after a couple of bad experiences. So, I decided to give it one last-ditch try after getting everyone's advice.

I loaded it with 2 cups of dry hickory chips, no water in the pan, and powered it up (setting the thermostat to 200°) at about 7:45 am. At around 8 am, it started smoking, so I loaded it up with 10 chicken thighs (rubbed all over with Montreal Chicken seasoning), then an empty veggie grilling basket right on top of the thighs, and then a 6 lb. boneless Boston butt on top of that (butt seasoned with salt and pepper only -- added the veggie basket to allow for smoke flow around the butt). A Weber bbq thermometer inserted into the vent showed that the smoker was cruising at around 195° throughout this period -- the vent was closed, except for the tiny gap needed to fit the thermometer through it.

The first thing I've learned is that I don't think I needed to replace the chips as often as I did. My trick for replacing the chips was to add two long strips of foil to the water pan -- then, if I lifted the rack with the strips of foil, I could lift out the rack and water pan as a single unit. I replaced after 2 hours (those chips were all blackened, but not ashy at all), 4 hours (those chips weren't entirely blackened), and 7 1/2 hours (again, not entirely blackened). So next time, I think I will trust the manufacturer, who claims somewhere that you can get four hours of smoking time from 2 cups of chips.

The butt plateaued at around 168° -- I upped the thermostat to 225°, and the butt promptly went up to 171° and plateaued there!

I took the thighs out at 7 1/2 hours -- they were registering 180°, and came out supremely smoky and nice (more below).

After I took the thighs out, the temperature became a lot harder to regulate -- it was as if the thighs were acting like water in the pan, regulating the temperature inside the smoker. At one point, I had the thermostat turned down to 150° and the vent full open, and the thermometer inserted through the vent still had the smoker cruising at 195-200°.

ANYWAY, the butt hit 195° at 9 hours, and it turned out beautifully, a deep dark red all over (I will try to post pics soon). It chopped nicely (served with a vinegar and hot pepper sauce, eastern NC style), and is just filled with smoky goodness!

In summary:

-- I got an EXCELLENT result from the KC Smoker this time -- really good penetration of the smoke into the meat, and great flavor.

-- No water in the pan or on the chips worked well for me, but don't trust the thermostat settings at all, and be prepared to watch the temperature closely.

-- The thighs at the bottom of the stack tasted great, but I wish I could have gotten the skin a little crispier -- of course, sitting under six pounds of smoking pork won't help that at all! I might try putting foil over the thighs next time to ward off drippage.

-- The only downside was cleanup, which was pretty hard! I tried luv2camp35's suggestion of the disposable broiler pans, but the rack didn't fit down into the broiler pan properly, and I needed the vertical space in the smoker for my stack o'thighs. Took a LOT of scrubbing, and filled the entire house with the scent of hickory goodness -- fine by me, of course, but not necessarily OK with the other members of the family! I might foil up the interior like crazy next time, just to see if that helps with cleanup.

Hope other newbies with the microsmoker find this info helpful ...
post #2 of 2
Interesting and detailed, great to hear you had a successful smoke in the KC !!!
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