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How and why did you first start smoking meats? - Page 4

post #61 of 81
Grandpa smoked everthin on the farm an worked fer a packin house, dad did some smoking an worked at the packin house, so I grew up with it. Just always liked the traditional smoked stuff, so just kept at it an have started a small smokin business that some day we hope will grow inta a new career after I retire from the state.

My granddaughters will all be a workin age by the time that happens, nothin like cute cheap labor!biggrin.gif
post #62 of 81
An old guy we called Hoppy would smoke ribs on the street corner on weekends and sell his wares. They were so good I just had to lean how to do it myself. Thanks Hoppy!
post #63 of 81
I don't really know how or why I started but I can gladly say that I can't stop. Probably 8 out of 10 meals we eat around here include at least some smoked goodies.
post #64 of 81
I think it was back around 2003 and my step daughter wanted to be dropped off at a friends house for the afternoon. Well when I dropped her off I couldn't help but see the pictures on the wall. There was a pic of a old high school friend, since high school he married and had a daughter. Later that week he called and said come on up, that he would be at a competition. That weekend was all it took. I had been bitten by the bug. Four smokers later I don't get to smoke as much as I would like but when I do get to I do it up rather big.

The WOW factor you get when someone eats something you have cooked for the first time, is worth a million bucks. The funny part is when I smoke I don't eat much of my own product for a week or so.
post #65 of 81
I got started smoking turkeys in the Weber kettle. Got the idea out of sunset magazine about 12 years ago. Pork was the next logical move, then fish, venison & beef. The skill just came naturally, and everybody loves the results. Very few in my family or circle of friends cooks this way, so it's really cool to serve up such a different culinary experience.PDT_Armataz_01_12.gif
post #66 of 81
It’s neat reading all of the stories here, I must admit I was a total failure at bbq’ing on grills, I’ve had both charcoal and propane, never learned the secret of coals or indirect. For many years all of my food was carbonized, I just couldn’t understand why someone else’s was so good and mine was so bad.

There was a deep pit bbq beef that was served several times a year where I used to live in California that was oh so good, my problem was it was cooked underground and all I knew were grills. Then I came here, the locals cook in underground pits all of the time, all right…, problem was all they cooked was pork and veggies, several times I asked my friends if they could throw in some beef, they just laughed at me, called me “whitey.”

Then a few years ago a local hardware store became a franchised Ace Hardware and the good stuff started rolling in, Weber Grills and accessories. One day, as I was contemplating a Weber Grill and remembering my decades of carbonized food at the same time, I looked up on the overhead shelves, there were probably 30 WSMs in boxes stacked there, I asked my friend, the store manager, what they were, he said they were smokers, but they weren’t any good, they made the food taste bitter. I asked him if I could look at one, he took one down and I started reading the instruction manual; I was sitting in a lawn chair when in the recipe section it told how to cook a beef shoulder, BINGO!!! I remembered the bbq back home was made from beef shoulder, I was sold, told him I would take it, he tried to talk me out of it, said he would give me a great deal on a grill, nope, I wanted the WSM.

I bought it along with a sack of Kingsford briquettes, remembered the book said to start with a chicken, so stopped and bought a chicken, went home excited as a kid with a new toy. When I unloaded it my father-in-law asked what it was, I told him it was a smoker and was going to smoke a chicken for tonight’s dinner, he said, oaf…, smoked food isn’t any good, makes your mouth burn and it’s bitter, …where have I heard that before?

To make a long story short, I over cooked the chicken, I didn’t have a thermometer, just rubbed with oil, salt and pepper, it was excellent, but most important, it wasn’t carbonized! My wife listening to her father wouldn’t taste it, but after I had consumed over half of the bird she broke down and tried it, she immediately told me I was finished, the rest was hers.

I went to the internet and lurked on another site and then found SMF and all I can say is thank you to all that make this such a great place, I have learned soooo much from you, oh yeah, now my father-in-law is the first at the table when we smoke, …my friend at ACE, I have taken him, chicken, lamb, beef, fattie, scotch eggs and told him all of it was cooked on the WSM, he has since sold all of them, he now has GOSM’s for sale and is waiting for the WSM 22’s to arrive.

post #67 of 81
I got started in a round about way. It starts with steak.

One year my company sent a couple of us to some IT training in Chicago. One of our manager gave us a tip to visit Harry Carry's Steakhouse. He has been to all the top steakhouses in Chicago and said Harry's is just as good, but not nearly as expensive (but still not real cheap either). So we stopped in one day and I had THE best steak ever. They clearly had some sort of rub on the meat that gave it an extra something.

So I got home and started researching rubs, bought a few books, etc. Of course, anything talking about rubs was really talking about BBQ. So while my steaks were steadily improving, my curiosity to make my own pulled pork and brisket finally got the better of me. One day in the middle of winter, I bought my ECB. Spent the rest of the winter planning my bbq strategy. When spring hit, I was off and running. And after the second batch of pulled pork, I had the wife's full blessing. (whew)

Been tending the fire ever since.
post #68 of 81
Not sure exactly what caused it. Definitely sometime around my late teens when we were going to the Carolina's and OBX alot. I fell inlove with pulled pork and the thin vinegar finishing sauce.

Around that age I was learning to cook in general and smoking (and grilling) became part of the bag of tricks.
post #69 of 81
I have always enjoyed cooking. I have been grilling with my father since I was around 11. I went into cullinary school (a trade school ) in highschool since I had most of my credits for graduation.

I have always loved BBQ, and smoked sausages. Grilling never did it for me. I wanted the real stuff. I worked part time for Big Jim's Ribs out in Parker. That job is what made me want to smoke. It took awhile after that job for me to get my smoker and start but here I am and i couldn't be happier to be a part of this forum. Ihaven't even been here a month and have learned a lot.
post #70 of 81
About 30 years ago I started smoking 3-5 turkeys a year over charcoal sometimes on a spit sometime without.
About 15 years ago I obtained my first ECB and started doing a little fish
post #71 of 81

My dad started me on my smokin' escupade when I was 15. I love food and worked in many resturuants growing up and some of them was pretty high-end. I grabbed alot of receipes and started transforming them into my own on the grill. Once I had conquered slow grillin' with charcoal, I wanted to start adding wood to the mix. I had a downed apple tree and cherry tree in my backyard at the time with a rack of ribs...(you can see where this is going..lol) and it started hard from there on out. I still think to this day my favorite(my kids too) thing to smoke is a nice rack!! After many experiments through the yrs, I have to say that when you are eating my ribs and the juice is drippin off of your elbows....I have to be doing something right!!    Thanks dad

post #72 of 81

I started as a kid beside my Father. He was a Barber and thought he could cook ,so he had a guy build a Brick cooker and started burning stuff

I, being the Carnavor that I am,insisted that he not cook mine and he got pissed and I started doing the cooks. He was a very impatient man.

post #73 of 81

I worked at a store that sold gas grills and etc....while in college. I obtained an old Ducane gas grill and reconditioned it. The store sold chip boxes, I took one home and went to the apple orchard and cut a bunch of limbs. I used the indirect cooking method and smoked a boneless turkey on that thing. I was hooked! A couple of years later my wife bought me an ECB, I made her take it back and get me a Lil chief! I used the Lil chief to smoke turkeys, jerky and all of the salmon that I caught. Then about 4 years ago my brother gave me his GOSM.......Jackpot! I found this site and haven't looked back since. I now have a GOSM, ECB, UDS, and a fridge conversion. I wish I still lived in Oregon sometimes cuz of all the hardwood available, but the wild meat opportunities are WAY better here in Montana.


post #74 of 81

I had a charcoal fed R2D2 Cajun smoker decades ago.  I liked it, and the results.  Eventually it rusted out and I never replaced it until about five years ago when a friend started talking about smoking ribs on his propane smoker.  That got me thinking about getting into the game again.  I researched a lot, and decided that I wanted a smoker that had a thermostat to control the heat -- which led me quickly to electrics.  After I choked on the prices of some of the semi-pro models, I settled in on my 30-inch MES.  I've done a lot on it, including doing pork shoulders for a crowd of 20+ people on my deck.  Turkeys and ribs have been shared with neighbors and friends.


Even though I've had to do a wiring repair twice now, I still like my MES. 

post #75 of 81

Growing up in Texas eating good BBQ and Gulf seafood.  after i moved to California i couldn't find good BBQ or southern seafood.  So, i learned to cook out of necessity!!  I've been smoking Brisket, Ribs, Chicken and pork for the last 10 year and i've gotten more serious about it the last 5.    


I make a very fine shrimp etouffee and seafood gumbo.   Love that cajun food!


but, there is nothing like a slow smoked Texas style brisket.


This is a great site and i appreciate all the great ideas and information people share!!

post #76 of 81

nice story pops i am right next door to adams town called canton n.y

post #77 of 81

I was living in this cave when lighting struck a tree that fell on a dinosaur and ……..   

post #78 of 81

dang!  this is an excellent thread!  great stories!


when i was a little kid my widowed grandmother remarried a guy that owned a commercial smokehouse.  he smoked fish (whiting) almost exclusively.  


the summer before 10th grade, my mom talked my new grandfather into giving me a job. 


the job required me to be at work at 5 am.  for the first hour we cleaned fish. the fish came in headless, but needed to be gutted.  after about an hour of gutting fish and throwing them into big old-fashioned bathtubs on wheels, we brined the fish and let them soak until it was time to rack them and roll them into the big walk-in brick smoke ovens.


the business was wholesale, we sold mostly to supermarket chains and bar suppliers.  but we also did custom smoking for anglers and sportsmen. 


now, it might sound like a good job to smoke fans, but it positively sucked!  cleaning thousands of fish every day before the sun is up sucks most egregiously.  that whole summer i stank like fish and smoke.  i stank so bad my dad made me ride in the bed of his truck when he picked me up at the end of the day!  LOL!   all my clothes were throroughly saturated with fishy smoke.


as miserable as the job was, it did have its benefits.  i got to taste all sorts of wonderful expertly smoked fish.  everything from sturgeon (probably the best) to swordfish and all the salmon you could possibly imagine.  one of my grandfather's specialties was lox. 


after that summer, i never expected i would be doing any smoking myself.  living in the San Francisco Bay Area, there were always places to get good ribs.  (a lot of the good old places are gone now, but in Berkeley, where i'm from, you can still get good ribs at Everett & Jones.  i'm not sure if Flint's, over there on Shattuck is still in business, but that was another great Berkeley smokehouse, as is Doug's, over in Emeryville)


but when i moved down here to southern california (santa barbara area), it was impossible to find any ribs.  there are some pretty good ribs up the coast in San Luis Obispo, but i only get to that place on the rare trip to nothern cali...too far to drive just for a meal.


so when my brother got a smoker and started telling me how easy it was, i figured i should give it a try. 


it took about a year to talk my wife into letting me buy a smoker.  finally she gave in.  i bought my smoker in the fall of 2008.  a charbroil silver smoker.


and it sat, unopened, in the box for almost a year.  (yeah, that's the way i roll.  i'm a big time procrastinator!  LOL!)


well, eventually i opened that sucker up and started putting it together.  then it sat half-assembled for about 2 months until my father-in-law helped me finish it.


last August, i finally bought some wood and some ribs and set about to get smoking.


i found this forum right in the middle of my first smoke.  good thing, because almost nothing went right that first time.  i couldn't control the fire.  i decided that i had to get the fire issue straightened out before i spent $$$ on more meat.


for weeks and weeks i did test fires and was getting really frustrated because i couldn't control the temperature.  when i put the smoker in the garage for the winter, i was skeptical i would ever get the hang of it.


then, at the beginning of this summer, my brother (who still lives in northern cali, and has the same smoker) invited me to his house for a Q. 


after checking out his smoker i had a hunch what the problem was.  the door to the smoking chamber on my smoker is defective.  the air leak was making it impossible for me to control the temp.  i put some big chunks of wood on top of the smoker door and it solved the problem.


that was a like a week or so ago.  now i'm trying to make up for lost time!  LOL!

post #79 of 81

Wow, absolutely some great stories, all the more reason to love this site. I just started smoking this year, my buddy has an electric ecb, and he made some pulled pork on it last summer, and it wasn't bad, knowing that I could do better, I bought a GOSM in the early spring of this year, I have made some fatties, sausage, ham, turkey, ribs, and some pulled pork, my buddy has tried a few of these, and conceded that my bbq was better, thanks to the fdine folks here at smf, I'd be as useful as a peddled powered wheel chair, when it comes to smoking if it wasn't for smf, I owe all of you a great big THANK YOU, for your many helpful tips, and mighty tasty recipes. I haven't been on as much as I like, and I haven't been smoking as much as I like, for I ruptured 2 of my lower discs in my back, and am awaiting surgery. My parents however have brought me a turkey breast, and requested me to smoke it, so since my surgery isn't for another 2 weeks, and I have some woo-who pills I've been taking to ease some of the pain, I think I'll do an Thanksgiving kinda meal next week, and I smoke the turkey, and some sides, maybe some potatoes to make some smoked mashed potatoes. I'm glad that I've been able to move a little better with the woo-who pills, I may not be all there in the head, as my son has said, but at least I'm able to move more, and I've been itching to do some smoking so I think a premature Thanksgiving meal shall do. Thanks for sharing these wonderful stories, and again thanks for the helpful tips.

post #80 of 81

I grew up eating good, but we were definitely were a conventional cooking family.  I liked to grill, but in the south, so does everyone else.  The fascination came when I began dating my future wife.  Her family didnt smoke either, but her father is Polish... so began my love of hearty meals!


Next, her older sister was dating the man she would marry (now my brother in law) and he was from Texas.  His family had been smoking for years, and he had a reverse flow offset modeled after his dads larger pit.  One day I was visiting them in Charleston, and he was going to smoke some food for all the family that would show up later that night... he let me be his sidekick and I haven't slowed down since.  I must've spent every second that thing was fired up seated right in front of it with a cold one in my hand asking questions about the history, methods, etc of smoking food and bbq.  He was a good sport, and i learned the other valuable part of smoking was the fellowship with family and friends.


Since then we've been invited out to the Houston Livestock and Rodeo BBQ championship cookoff, an event his family has participated/competed in for over 25 years.  They even let me be apart of the team there. 


For me it's a proud history that I love taking part in... and the food isnt that bad either.

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