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How and why did you first start smoking meats?

post #1 of 81
Thread Starter 
The cross section of people on this forum is amazing. So I started to think about how and why we started this obsession. I started dabbling with smoking about 10 years ago when I went to Wallyworld and found a cast iron box and chips. I played with it off and on for years, but was never satisfied. About 6 months ago I got serious and dove into it. Family has been after me to take up a hobby, so here I am and they reap the rewards. Now they don't hassle me when I go to this site. Thanks to all of you.
post #2 of 81
My old man kind of started me into the smoking scene. He use to smoke suckers and chicken legs and we loved it. Once I got old enough to enjoy the art I wanted to dive into it head first. I love smoking pork butts, poultry, ribs, salmon, etc. I love it and hopefully I can pass it onto my children in the future. I can't wait to try briskit and more hightech meat in the future!!!!
post #3 of 81
I started years ago on a fridge conversion and smoked some fish. Then I converted a commercial stainless smoker for a guy in a deli, and that didn't work out. Years later I got a Brinkman elec but never learned much about it. Maybe done a ham or 2 and some ribs. The element burned out 2 times and threw it out.

Then in May 2008 I found this site and got the MES and have smoked at least once a week and more and I have perfected almost everything to a T thanks to all the information here.

The best place to learn is here. Plus a lot of great folks and have made some really good friends here.PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #4 of 81
1978, I was 13 and worked at a B.B.Q. Restaurant in So. Cal. I worked there for 3 years prepping and cooking all the meat. That was a fun time! icon_smile.gif
post #5 of 81
I started out grilling and I had to learn how to cook when I first moved out or really was moved out of my house by coming home from work and all my stuff was on the front lawn. The freind of my Mother's said the house was sold and you need to move. I did and me and a freind of mine didnt have the money or the vehcile to get the gas turned on so I learned to cook on a grill. Let me tell you I ate some pretty dark stuff but I learned pretty darn quick too. Since then I loved to grill and I guess I moved up the grilling chain to smoking. I Thought I known how and was pretty good till I found SMF and then I found out I wasn't any good at all. But now I have learned by smoking and smoking some more till now I think I pretty damn good at it. I know the folks that eat my smoked food really do like it their not just pulling my leg. I have caught a many of them sneaking in for alittle more of my smoked goodness. So thanks to all of you here. You have taught me well and I want to teach the rest of the world how to really smoke meat.
post #6 of 81
There I was at 30,000 feet, checking my six when........Oh wait, that was a different lifetime...... Started serious grilling and indirect smoking back in the 80's when I was stationed at Peterson AFB, Co (Colorado Springs), Housing Area. Anyone who know how close base housing is know's close. Use to love irritating the neighbors by grilling and smoking in the dead of winter. Had a lot of impromptu guests though. My first true smoker was a Bandera, bought a ton of wood for it. Moved on to a GOSM. My adult children live in Colorado now, so when we go back to visit and go camping, rafting, and fly fishing up on the Colorado (near Radium, for those that know the area) I bring the GOSM up to the campground, along with 4 chests of meat to smoke. I cook the evening meats. It's a group of about 20 people, so it's all fun. But now, since I've discovered this site, well there's going to be a different menu next year. Can we say Fatties for starters? I wonder if I can get internet up there? Well, I promise to do a QView next time we're up there. Now that I'm retiring this spring, I'll have more time to practice the craft.icon_mrgreen.gif
post #7 of 81
I got started by going out to eat bbq, and kept being served stuff I would be ashamed to serve anybody. so I started experimenting at home and the rest is history. took classes, bought books, etc. and now I get paid for bbq!!!
post #8 of 81
Loved to hunt but the wife and kids didn't care for venison so much. I remembered how great the homemade smoked salami and thuringer was that some of the folks I knew growing up made. Started on an ECB, quickly made a refer conversion, then moved into ribs and brisket, etc.
post #9 of 81
The Summer year before last my brother asked me to research BBQ Smoker designs to build my Dad a whole pig smoker for his annual pig roast. I have always enjoyed cooking but I had only smoked a turkey like..... 16 years ago. We ended up with a really nice rig for my Dad and my interest just kept growing.


A buddy of mine asked me to make him some smoked ribs for his birthday so I drug out a brand new ECB that my Mom had gotten me for Christmas 10 years ago. The cardboard box was literally rotting off. They turned out really great and that's all it took. I was hooked. I probably smoke 2 or 3 times a week now. Keep the fridge stocked with pastrami, canadian bacon, buckboard bacon as well as pulled pork and pulled beef. I actually own 7 smokers now.... not to mention therms and utilities... and my garage is a full blown man kitchen. All the women in the neighborhood know where to come to borrow anything that has to do with cookin. This forum and the people in it have been my inspiration and part of what makes smokin so fun.
post #10 of 81
1982. We gave my dad an ECB for fathers day. I started cooking dinner for my family once a week or so when I was about 14 (76) and so once he got that ECB out of the box, I got excited and kind of took over. We smoked a turkey with good ol' kingsford and some hickory from the firewood pile we cut up on the table saw into chunks and put a 2 liter of coke in the water pan. It was the best turkey any of us ever ate! we went that same day BACK to Krogers, bought another turkey and did a second one for sandwiches! I have been hooked ever since. I managed a Greek restaurant 2yrs in college and was also an assistant chef for a couple of yrs. at another restaurant (possibly the hardest work and longest hours of any job I have ever done, but the most fun too!) but continued to smoke for myself, family and various girlfriends along the way. Got laid off last year as a national training manager for a software company (in the food & Beverage industryPDT_Armataz_01_12.gif) and decided it must be Gods way of telling me it was time to do what I have talked about for years...open a restaurant! Bought a used bread delivery truck last year and converted it into a mobile kitchen selling what else...BBQ! We own a building that we are planning to open for business this spring. This forum has re-ignited the passion to experiment with new things (I didn't know what a fattie was til about a month ago!) and I think I have learned more about smoking in since I joined 2 months ago than I had learned in all the preceeding 20 something years of smoking! Thanks!
post #11 of 81
When I was 16 and realized just how much fat chicks like bbq....Ive been with em every since
post #12 of 81
Because it's damn tasty. biggrin.gif
post #13 of 81
We Belgians live in a grill country (no smoking)

but my intrested in barbecue en grill from childhood of (trying new things)

new tastes discover,larger pieces to prepare (I want to tastes the world)

I am once by chance on Internet ,found something about bbq / smoking
it was hickory wood,that grown here not .
I searched until I found it,have used it (not stopped ever since)

I have my smoker now 13 months and there is a new world opened up for me

There are many things on my wish list
including brisket and pulled pork,taste even to discover PDT_Armataz_01_12.gif

for me it's mostly gone to discover and taste new things

I still have much to learn from you all

Geert
post #14 of 81
My dad was one of three boys growing up on my grandfather's farm. He raised his own beef, hogs, chickens, turkeys, etc., and had a horsedrawn meatwagon that he'd fill up in the morning and draw around the neighboring towns, selling his meats from it. The boys had to help prepare the meats before school every morning, learning meatcutting from him, plus smoke the hams, bacons, shoulders, turkeys and so on too on the farm in a brick and wood smokehouse they used. It got them through the Depression, only to have a fire in the main barn destroy much of the livestock and the whole cutting area. Grandpa got his real estate license and became a realtor during the post WWII boom, giving up farming altogether.
However, my dad, after the war, came home to purchase the local general store on the GI Bill; he'd interned as a meatcutter and meat manager before the war for A&P throughout the north country. He'd heard of a concept in California someone started and wanted to do it in upstate NY; a store where the customer grabbed a handbasket and actually picked up the groceries themselves vs. the standard general store way of taking their list and filling it. He went to get groceries for his newfangled store and the wholesaler wouldn't extend him standard 30 day credit, said... "..You'll be outta business in 15 days with that crazy fool idea! Cash up front or no goods! No one's gonna want to git their own supplies!" Well, he borrowed the money from his dad and started his store plus put in a full meat counter. He knew, however, he needed 'a hook' to be different from the other two general stores in town, something that would get people to shop with him and his new 'self service' idea. His dad suggested he smoke some hams and bacons; no one had their own smoked meats in town and remembered how well they sold off his meat truck from the farm. He experimented and tried different brining processes, facing the same problems we have with no-cure spots (he learned how to pump the hams), over salted, undersmoked, etc. until he got the process right. All the farmers shelled their corn so there was an abundance of corn cobs; he had them trucked to the grist mill and got them ground and used those for his smoking (and right up to the 80's when the store was sold!).
I was born into the family and growing up, remembered many a snowy, cold morning waking up to a roomful of smoke (the chimney was next to our window and would blow into our rooms upstairs - even though the windows were closed, they were single pane with loose caulking!). Us kids worked in the store and helped with the meatcounter, unpacking and putting down bellies (350lbs in 2 - 55 gal. barrells at a time) and pickling hams, putting stockinette on them to hang in the smokehouses, smoking and cooking them, 36 at a time, brining and smoking turkeys, chickens, beef tongues, pork loins, dried beef, just about anything that oinked or moooed or cackled!
I moved on from my dad's store (my brother stayed there to help run the place as they grew elderly) to meatcutting in chain stores, moving up to meat manager, district supervisor, etc., then hurt my back and had to have operations, etc. and couldn't do it any more. I went into retail with RadioShack and moved to Texas, content to grill and start making fresh sausages for the family. Then, a few years ago, we were at Cabela's and they had their electric smoker on sale so my wife got it for me for Christmas. It was like going back 30 years! I resurrected old recipes from my feeble memories and haven't stopped since!
Now, I'm intent on showing my two sons the crafts I've learned over a lifetime so they can carry on after I'm gone, plus share any knowledge or skills with others on here to help perpetuate our crafts also! My oldest has gotten very involved, and my youngest is showing interest, coming over this past weekend to watch us do some smoked sausages, helping to bone out pork butts, etc., watching the grinding and stuffing operations, wanting to help! (they're 35 and 30).
Some pics -

Dad's Store in Adams Center, NY:




Dad!





His drip cooler with some hams and bacons:



"Blah Blah Blah... great, now you've told your story.. git up and feed me!" - my trusty companion who gets all the scraps and bad experiments - PJ the Wonder Dog!

post #15 of 81
good story pops , me i started after a friend had me fab up a smoker for him. then he fed me now you know the rest of the story.
post #16 of 81
Because I could!!!

basically because a buddy of mine had a Bandera smoker and no one in his family ever ate or appreciated his smoked food.... He did it the right way believe me, he is very anal about what he does in life, so all his smokes were by the book. They just never liked it....

Well, he GAVE it to me and I joined this site and started the 'addiction'. biggrin.gif
post #17 of 81
My grand parents on my dad's side have a farm in NC, made the best ham and sausage I ever had. Once I finally settled down to some degree, I got my first smoker (1993) and started messing around with it.

17 years later the interest is as strong as ever.

The competition side really has its hooks in me. Great people and it is a fun challenge.......keeps things fresh. Wish I had the time (and money) to more of them.
post #18 of 81
Went on a business trip to Memphis..had some que...had to have more.

Michigan lacks great bbq resturant's so I was forced to learn on my own.
post #19 of 81
In the mid 80s my wife and I was shopping for a new grill. We could not afford the kind I wanted. For some reason, we started looking at and ended up buying a ECB. Had no idea what to do or what to expect but was willing to try. It was years before we finally got a new grill. (doesn't get used much) Been hooked on smoken ever since.
post #20 of 81
I moved to Memphis in 1986, tried some good Memphis Q, and was hooked. Got married, got a house, and bought a SNP to mess with. Experimented with spices and rubs, then taught myself to cook on the SNP. Started with pulled pork then moved on to ribs, chicken, beef, and began experimenting with various woods (I've got oak and pecan tree's in my yard, so trimming them has an added benefit).

Thought I knew everything I needed to know until I found SMF....found information here that took it up a serious notch! Don't smoke nearly as often as most of you guys, but when I do it's (as my son's friends say) beast!PDT_Armataz_01_12.gif
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