ellymae - It's one of those digital ones with the probe on a wire. I've tested it with an instant read a few times, I suppose it could be off, but it never has been before.
1. Oak (some chunks from a tree in my yard) and some chipped oak barrels that Jack Daniels was aged in. I soaked these as they were very dry. I also soaked the oak, but not nearly as much.
2. 30% of the time it was thin blue, 40% of the time it was white, 30% of the time there was no smoke or it was so thin I couldn't see it through the window.
DDave - it wasn't leather, but it wasn't tender either. I wanted it to get to 180 ish to make it fall apart better, but I had people here that had to eat.
Old poi dog - this, I think, is the best advice for any new smoke-cooker (it sounds weird to me ear to say "smoker" in this sense...
). My next couple of smokes are going to be beef ribs (best friend has a religious objection to pork. Although I don't, I try to accommodate when they are over, and it's not that big of a deal to us). I'm going to try and stick to the 8-12 hr smoke range with them after a simple rib rub. I'm going to stick with Alton Brown's recipe for now, and adjust to taste as needed.
meateater - *THIS* is what I think is causing the bitter taste as well. I think that if i had laid off the smoke, or stuck to the TBS, if would have been fine. I've heard about how strong mesquite or even hickory to some extent can get if you smoke with too much of them.
We had a REALLY bad ice storm here in Jan 09 http://picasaweb.google.com/jpkingst...otrm2009House#
so I have access to Oak and Walnut right here at the house (those are the trees that suffered the most damage, though I lost no trees completely.)