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Compete and utter newb from Northern Va

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

It's been kind of a roundabout journey getting here, but I've decided it's time to enter the age of enlightenment...

Until the spring of 2007 I lived in Suburban New Orleans and there was really no need to know anything about smoking. There was a plethora of available smoked meats available and life was good. Our favorite thing, and primary reason I'm here, was smoked turkeys in the Fall.

We would buy at least 4 of them during the season. I would finish cooking them, we would have a meal off of it and then it went into turkey/sausage gumbo. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I'll post the recipe at some point. The beauty of it is I make a roux with no oil so the gumbo is low fat.

Upon moving up here (Reston, VA actually) we discovered that while this is not good food hell, it's not exactly heaven either. All the restaurants are chains and a really good meal for 2 will set you back $100. I make decent money, but we can't afford to do that very frequently.

I've always been a good cook so I took it upon myself to up my game. It's been fun and some wonderful meals have ensued. Except for the smoked turkeys. This year we looked and looked and couldn't find any. We had just about given up until right before Thanksgiving we were walking around this little non-chain grocery store and low and behold they had two smoked turkeys.

Thank goodness, but oh my they are proud of them. $25 each for two 10 pound turkeys. We used to pay $10 in New Orleans, but I digress.

Thanksgiving roles around, the turkey gets prepared as usual and we sit down to eat and well it wasn't nirvana. These suckers were tough. And kind of rangy tasting. Evidently whoever smoked them found the two oldest birds on the farm and figured no one would know the difference. Yea, right....

I'm a frequent visitor to the forums at Woodnet.net and a smoking thread appeared in the "basement" as they call it and the Smoking Meat Forums was mentioned.


Anyway, I'm here to learn. Learn about a equipment, processes and procedures. I'm loaded for bear and ready to rumble.

Y'all take care now!

post #2 of 23
Welcome to The forums Cdubea, You've come to the right place if you want to learn the art of smoking meats. I suggest you do some reading and then start asking questions, and before long you'll be turning out better turkeys then you use to get in N.O.
post #3 of 23
You came to the right place. The smoke-a-holics here will have you eating the best smoked turkey you have ever tasted. (maybe not the best, but after 10 hours of BBQ starting very early in the morning, it will seem like the best to you....)
I started a few years ago with a Brinkman bullet from a garage sale for $10.
Now this is one of my favorite things to do. I am always thinking about new things to smoke and who to feed and watch them say...Oh My God is that good.......

post #4 of 23
Welcome Chris. I just moved from Louisiana to the Eastern Panhandle in West Virginia. Brother lives in Reston. I am searching for new food places also. Found a good meat market in Hagerstown, MD. Even say they have Andouille. Guess I will be making some batches of Tasso and Andouille. Welcome to the site. Great info, great people. Enjoy.

post #5 of 23

You are definitely in a high priced area for sure. I am from Manassas VA and relocated to Central PA. I'm not sure how long you have been in Reston, but be sure to check out the Town Center. There are 4-5 restaraunts there that arent chains and have excellent food. An awesomet place for you guys to try is RedRock Canyon in centreville. AMAZING food. Anyhow, you mentioned not being able to find smoked turkeys around that area. You might have to take the trip to southern centreville as there are a few different meat markets in that area. Good luck to ya n' happy smokin'
post #6 of 23
Welcome to SMF Chris, I live in Md so I know what you are saying about the chains. You will get lots of good info here
post #7 of 23

Welcome to SMF, Glad to have you with us. This is the place to learn, lots of good info and helpful friendly Members.

For Those of you New to Smoking, be sure to check out Jeff's 5 Day Smoking Basics eCourse.
Click Here it's "FREE" ... 5 Day eCourse

I Would Highly Suggest Reading these posts on Food Safety by bbally.

This thread will tell you basically everything you need to know and the man explaining it is
both a ServSafe Instructor and a HACCP Instructor.


Here you can get the 2009 USDA Food Safety Guide from his site.

How to post Qview to Forum:

When you uploading to Photobucket I always use the Large IMG setting, 640 x 480 it is a nice size...

Everyone here enjoys seeing the Qview so be sure to post plenty of pics...

Large ones that us old people with bad eyes can see.

For Step By Step Instructions On Posting Qview Check Out This Tutorial

post #8 of 23
Welcome to the forum. This is certainly a great place to learn the art of smoking meat. Once you start doing it yourself, the store bought and even the restaurant food is just not good enough most of the time. I seldom go to BBQ places now. This hobby is addicting.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks all to the warm welcome. I'm looking forward to learning lots more. Have read through most of the material here and already am feeling more comfortable.

The next phase is the equipment. Trader Joe's in Reston sells real charcoal so I'll definitely consider charcoal fired when looking for a smoker. I was leaning toward an electric one but I get the feeling they are not seen as true smoking here abouts.

To smokefever, thanks about the info on Red Rock Canyon, I'll check it out next time I'm over yonder. Honestly though I don't think much of the eateries in the Town Center. Sorry.....
post #10 of 23
Hello Chris and Welcome to SMF. We are glad to have you here with us. Ask away and someone will always step up with an answer for ya
post #11 of 23
Welcome to SMF, Chris. Glad you joined us.
post #12 of 23
welcome cdubea,
i think you will enjoy this forum very much, it is a wealth of info and full of friendly folks ! there are two things i have found out about smoking birds, first if you brine them it will make them taste heavenly and it makes them moist, second you can smoke them at a slightly higher temp than say a butt or a brisket that cuts down on the time a little to. again welcome from griffin ga.
good smokn!
post #13 of 23
Welcome to the SMF Chris, We are glad to have you onboard
post #14 of 23
Welcome to the SMF forum, You came to the right place. Good people and good info.
post #15 of 23
Welcome Chris! Lots to learn on here for sure, take a look around and enjoy!
post #16 of 23
Howdy, welcome to the SMF!!
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
To all who replied, what can I say, but thanks for the warm welcome. I'm looking forward to learning lots and sharing more.

post #18 of 23
Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks here and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview. icon_smile.gif
post #19 of 23
Hi neighbor! Well, if you are in Reston, that's like WVa from me, but hi anyway. Lots of people here have an MES (electric smoker) and it works just fine when you need to limit your time a tendin' for temp control. I've always used an off set with sticks, or lump charcol, but due my aged knees, and stairs, I have just purchased an MES. There is nothing disparaging about owning and using an electric. Your choice of a charcole smoker is great, and I wish you well. The WSM is a terrfic smoker and often sought after. (Weber Smokey Mountain) It produces terrific results, is fun, and is smaller in size. Comes in 18" or 22". It is fun and delicious!! Don't forget pictures of your first smoke.
post #20 of 23
cdubea, welcome to SMF, a genuine Q smoker's haven.

Recommendations on turkey...
Well you have tasted the best and some not so good. So with those reference points you are ready to step up to the whole process of making some excellent turkey Q.
• 1st start with picking a bird, try to buy a bird that doesn't have extra stuff injected or processed, you will be the one adding all the flavor.
• Size is important relative to your smoker, but also for effective cooking and smoking, 12-14 lbs seems about right. The main reason is how long it takes to cook.
• Brine, there are a lot of posts on SMF, use the search feature, or site search on google. Before you get exotic with a lot of extra seasonings and ingredients, go basic, make sure you have the ratio's of salt, sugar, water correct and keep below 40º.
• Injection is an option, however you need to establish base line reference, so you decide if you want to inject or try just a brined well seasoned bird first.
• Stuffing should be cooked separately.
• Depending on your smoker, how you end up with the desired skin texture, may require a combination of cooking methods (smoker + oven). You already know when a turkey is done, so won't cover that.
- In my smoker I have enough room for a drip pan (not the smoker drip pan) to be under the bird on a lower grate. I add some turkey broth and onion, the drippings will turn this liquid into flavoring gold.

Besure and post the pics....

Electric vs Charcoal or Gas...
They are all great, obviously I have an electric, but I would be equally as happy with a 22" WSM. Both the MES electric and the WSM are proven performers and each have a huge following on SMF. The only thing I will say about the MES is that since I started smoking with it, I also started going more frequently to BBQ restaurants, all advertising real authentic Q, so far my ribs are better, my pulled pork is better, brisket is a toss up because I have only done a couple, and my chicken is better. So if you think more about results than status, electric is a great choice.
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