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Beginner from VA

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Greetings from VA!

I've been lurking for a couple of months, but just registered today.

I'll classify myself as a beginner, ready to make the move to the intermediate stage! I've smoked boston butts, pork shoulders, brisket, salmon, chicken, and sausage.

Pulled/chopped pork is my favorite, with brisket a close second.

I started smoking with the standard bullet water smoker - the $20-30 red one!

I had some good success with that, but found it to be a little on the small side and too difficult and cumbersome to maintain the proper temp, mostly because of the difficulty with adding fuel. I didn't find the information about making mods until later! I still have it and will either make the mods, or possibly convert it to electric or propane.

A couple of months ago I purchased a Char-broil Silver Smoker and a Brinkmann Square Vertical smoke box.

I've used the Silver Smoker a couple of times. I allowed my neighbor to borrow the SS and Vertical smoker a couple of weekends ago, only to find that the SS is really too small for smoking ribs (rack holders don't really fit under the hood) and other meats - thus he had to also use the Vertical box.

Personally, I've never used the Vertical box, but I think it will serve it's purpose for smoking smaller items. I like the racks and the ability to slide out the charcoal and water pans.

Earlier this week I broke down and purchased the Char-griller Smokin' Pro. This will replace the Silver Smoker. It looks like it will give me a little more room, as the warming rack should give me extra room for some ribs, and/or smaller items. I also like the adjustable charcoal rack and the slide-out tray on the side box.

I'll be testing out the Char-griller this weekend as I have 2 boston butts, 1 shoulder, 1 beef roast (london broil - I'm worried about this as I think it may be too lean for smoking, but I'll be watching it closely), 3 slabs of ribs (spare/baby back), several pounds of "country style" ribs, and anything else I can find to throw on (assuming it all fits!). I think it adds up to around 30-35 pounds of meat. That should last me through the weekend!

I enjoy smoking, but find it can be a little time consuming. I figure it takes the same about of time and equipment to smoke a little or a lot, so might as well smoke as much as possible. I have extended family close by, so nothing goes to waste, and I've found that most of it does nicely in the freezer. Gotta get some use out of the Food Saver!

That's about it for now!
post #2 of 14
Welcome, Q. Wow, you have jumped in with both feet on getting new rigs. That is just great. There is lot of experience with all types here. Welcome to the SMF.
post #3 of 14
Sounds like your on your way. Keep in mind we where all beginners once. Welcome home!
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

Just realized I forgot to include anything about wood.

I typically use mesquite and sometimes a blend of mesquite and hickory. I've used hickory solo before, but didn't care for the flavoring. I know they say that mesquite is strong and hickory is more mellow, but I found it to be the opposite for my tastes. Heck, maybe somebody switched up the bags on me!

Also, I have some striped maple from a storm damaged tree, so I may try that as well. I'm hoping I can at least use it as fuel, as I hate to just throw it away. With young kids in the house, we no longer use the fireplace.

Also, here are some pics of my last outing.
post #5 of 14
gstick, welcome to the SMF family. This is a great place to get, and share, information on one of the best hobbies out there!

Thanks for the q-vue, that looks like some juicy grub you had! Definitely like the smoker family pic!

Happy smokes!
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
I gotta say, I'm not really feelin' the CGSP at the moment.

Started smoking this morning around 7:45. I had about 10-12 lbs of spare ribs, 2 5lb butts, a 7-8 lb picnic shoulder, 5 lbs of country style ribs, and a 5 lb beef roast.

I guess I'm having a hard time keeping temperature in this thing. Have a digital thermometer on the warming rack, and it will read 250, while the thermometer on the main rack is reading 200.

Here it is 12 hours later and the butts and shoulder are still reading 160-170. I've misted them with some apple juice, just to keep them moist.

I took the beef roast off and put that in the oven with some broth. I didn't have much expectation for this since it was a fairly lean piece of meat.

I took the country ribs off around 1 and finished them on the grill. They didn't turn out too bad.

The spareribs are still smoking too. I think they were reading 140-150. I had them a little lower in the CGSP - was the only way to get them to fit. They'll end up being finished on the grill. They have a nice bark, and I've mopped them a couple of times throughout the day.

I just threw a 5-6 lb turkey breast on about 30 minutes ago. First time smoking turkey, so we'll have to see how it turns out.

I've burned through about 15 lbs of charcoal and another 6 lbs of lump hardwood, and who knows how much hickory and mesquite chucks!

Not complaining, just venting. I actually stopped by to read up on turkey. Didn't know if I should rub it, inject it, neither or both.

Still having fun, and still learning! Beautiful day for bbq. Only could've been made better if I had a chance to do some fishing!
post #7 of 14
Q, you might want to look at the Charcoal Smoker forum. There is a "sticky" thread that has some good mods for the CGSP. To get you temps up at the grate, you need to extend your smoke stack down to the grate. There is a lot of other good tips. I'm only only my second smoke with my CGSP so I am still learning to cook with it. Charcoal briquettes don't do very well in the SFB on this thing. I, too, went through a lot of Kingsford last weekend. I'm doing a lot better this weekend using Royal Oak lump after doing the mods. Good luck!
post #8 of 14
are you close to Roanoke?
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
What a difference a mod makes!

I had done most of the mods, save the dryer vent - I couldn't afford to lose the extra 3-4 inches of cooking space today.

A while ago I went out and cleaned out the ashes, added a layer of lump to the coals, a layer of wood chunks, and about a 3/4 chimney full of briquettes (figured I should kill the rest of the bag!).

After sitting here for over an hour watching the temp struggle to reach 195, I gave up and decided I would pull the ribs and finish them on the grill. They were still reading 140! (I'm still bitter about having to order pizza for dinner!)

Firebox was still blazing away, but again, struggling to get up to temp.

With the ribs removed, I had room to hook up the dryer vent. Within minutes of putting that on, the temp jumped to 276! I had to go out and try to choke it down in order to save the turkey breast.

Now I'm happy to say that it is reading 225-230 at the grates. Now I know!

Always learning, and always having fun!
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Don't know if I'm going to make it on this smoke outing.

Temp dropped down to 205, so went out and rearranged the coals to one side and dumped some more lump at the edge.

Checked about 15 minutes ago and the butts are reading 160. Turkey is at 120-130. Temps at the grate were up as high as 276. It's at 251 now and dropping a couple of degrees every 5-10 minutes.

Had to trash the spareribs. Guess I went a little overboard with the mopping and sauce on the grill. I don't like burnt! Meat still came out pretty good - I picked through about 1 1/2 racks. I'm not really a ribs fan, neither is the wife. Didn't think they would hold until Tuesday to take to work, so in the trash they went. Glad I got them on sale!

I'm working on 4 hours of sleep last night, and I'm going on 16 hours of smoking. I might try to catch a little sleep, but I'm pretty sure if I go to sleep I'll be out until morning. So, might have to just give up on everything and try it again later. Glad I picked up 2 more butts today (on sale for 99 cents/lb).
post #11 of 14
Good luck 777. Welcome.
post #12 of 14
Sorry about the ribs!! That is a bummer. I ended up having to undo one of my mods during my smoke yesterday as I was having a bit of a struggle keeping my temps up, too. I had added a charcoal basket in the SFB. It worked great at keeping the coals out of the ash. However, there was not enough volume of coal to keep the temps up over 200. I think the wind had a lot to do with that, though. I pulled the basket and placed the grate back in the bottom of the SFB. Dumped a load of lump in and placed the burning coals back on top of the lump. It went pretty well from there but I had to add lump every hour. Again, I think the wind played a big part. My pork shoulder hit 200 at 11 hours. I got tired and called it a night after the chicken finished. Going to do the beans, ABTs, and shrooms today.

I figure if we keep trying we will we will get it figured out. Good luck with the next one!
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

Sometime around 1 or so (closer to 2) I heavily debated whether to pull the stuff and finish it in the oven.

One of the butts was reading close to 190 on one end, and 170-180 on the other. The other stuff had risen about 10 degrees, so 170 on the pork and 140 on the turkey. I rearranged the food to get it closer to the dryer vent.

So I decided I would rearrange the coals again, and added some more briquettes - sort of a modified minion method.

I decided to lay down and try to get some sleep. Woke up at 3. Temp was reading 225 at the grill, so I went to have a look.

All pork was reading almost 200 - I'll guess about 197. Turkey was at 180.

I put the pork in a pan and covered it up and placed it back on the grill. Again rearranged the coals and added a couple of handfuls of briquettes to keep it warm.

Kids woke me up at 7:30 this morning. Grill temp was down to 175. Pork was still reading 160, so I pulled it almost exactly 24 hours after starting it. Was surprised to see some of the edge pieces were actually a little dry. Still, can't beat pulled pork for breakfast!

Snapped a couple of pics and will post Qview after I find the card reader. Tired and went back to sleep.

Just now waking up. Still need to make up some sauce, but glad it wasn't a total failure!

Armed with a couple more butts, and knowledge, looking forward to my June smoke-out!
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

added pics

Here are the pics:
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