A step back, to move forward...is it time for me to make the change?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by forluvofsmoke, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Has something like this ever happened to you?

    I feel like it is time for me to go on another quest…here’s why, and the reason for posting under charcoal smokers:

    I think it is time for me to go back to the basics…it seems mankind is always drawn to the simplest of things, finding comfort in these, when other things have failed to provide adequate challenge to the human mind and spirit. I may have lost my interest in smoking lately (maybe cooking in general) and I’m not 100% sure why. I have had the itch to do some hot smokes with charcoal again. Maybe I should have left the cold smoke & sear idea alone? NOT!!!!!!!!!!!

    Since I got my first taste of coal fired smoke, and went back to coal grilling, I just can‘t seem to get enough. All of my smoke rigs are burning propane right now, but the SNP can be brought back to her original solid fuel firing mode in about 5 minutes flat (when I make my mind up to do it). I have tried using charcoal in my smoke box now and then, but it really is not the same deep flavor I have grown to love over the past 6 months doing cold smokes with charcoal fuel.

    I guess the gas fired rigs are nice to operate once you figure out how each one likes to run, but the challenge has long since gone for me… gassers are too easy! Even my Smoke Vault 24 only gave me a run for my money up until about the forth smoke in it…I had it dialed in by then. I need something to pick my brain now and then and keep me on my toes.

    I never realized how much flavor is lost due to firing with gas. I guess the general thinking around my house was that the entire smoking flavor comes from your smoke wood. We were satisfied with the taste of the smoked meats from a gas fired smoker. Then the trouble started…when I made a simple mod to do cold smoke & sear on my new charcoal kettle this past winter. That was when we found out what we were really missing.

    I’ve only given the SNP one smoke with charcoal (a year ago) and was stunned by the cost/amount of the charcoal I used, so a turkey fryer burner was installed before her 2nd smoke, and the rest is history.

    I want to give the charcoal another try to find out for sure if that’s what I’m missing. I’m planning on doing a butt or 2 on Labor Day, and test my theory then, while I rekindle the solid fuel flames with my beloved SNP. I’ll use some of my 70+ lbs of briquettes and see how well the two of us get along.

    I can go a little bit closer to a traditional Bbq eventually, but it won’t be with hardwood, lump or charcoal for fuel…raw coal will be my fuel of choice. I live within 50 miles of a dozen large surface coal mines, so having an endless supply of very cheap fuel (I think it‘s $10.00-$12.00/ton now) will not be a problem. One of the mines has easy access, about 10 miles off my normal route for supplies/shopping, so I could grab 500 lbs or so and have enough for 6 months worth of smoking, for about $3.00 cash and a ½ hour of my time to get it home.

    OK, as ludicrous as this may sound, I took a 10.7# brisket flat and roasted it in the “O” 4 days ago like some of the lesser restaurants would do, instead of smoking it…just so we could get a deeper appreciation for the smoked meats…I know it’s a stretch to even imagine, but that’s what it has come down to for me....desperation...

    Does this sound like a good indication that it is time for me to switch from gas fired to the good stuff?

    Thanks for your opinions.

  2. carpetride

    carpetride Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The first step is admitting you have a problem! ;)
  3. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I say "Whatever Floats Your Boat", go for it...

    Are you talking about not using any wood just coal???
  4. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Nope he's talking Real Coal...
  5. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Then that's a big fat NO!!!!!!
  6. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I've heard of Coal Fired Pizza Ovens but not BBQ Smokers...
  7. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yeah...BIG TIME!!!!!!!!! Since there's no cure, keep smokin'?

    I can't stay drunk, 'cause I quit drinkin', so this'll have to do!

  8. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Woah! I have now...I also found this:

    Here's the paragraph that caught my attention (copy/pasted from above page):
    Carbonizing the coal
    • 3 Lower grades of coal may also be carbonized for use in charcoal. Crushed coal is first dried and then heated to about 1,100° F (590° C) to drive off the volatile components. After being air-cooled, it is stored until needed.
    Thanks for the heads up, Rick!

    It brings up another setback to my smokin' plans, but, better safe than fill up the hospital with my friends and family.

    I'll just have to look for the best deals I can on Charcoal Briquettes and go from there. Hardwoods are un-touchable around here, so choices for fuels are limited.

    Thanks again!

  10. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Just looking out for a brother.
  11. rj2316

    rj2316 Fire Starter

    Is this for real? Or is he suicidal?
  12. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    While back thru a sponsor we-team-started using a rather high dollar harwood briq and lump.Unbelievable difference.Has no binder etc. and with half the wood get a CLEAN burn.I have never used a gas smoker-never had one-like to make one..Now-i can get this extremely expensive natural-no binder-stuff for 10 cents on the dollar.100 pounds for 10 bucks thru sponsor.

    We mainly use WSM and i can minnion-no aftertaste etc.-a 16 pound full pork shoulder for 16 hours without lifting lid at 250 degree.

    I have come to conclusion there is no happy medium on fuel.Stick wood is cheaper-if you cut season your own-the pits are expensive.Real briquett- lump is expensive period...unless you make it or find a angle.
  13. nate_46

    nate_46 Meat Mopper

    Why can't you have it all? Gas for when your tired and just want some grub, and wood or coal when you want to exercise your culinary muscle? If it takes 5 minutes to pull the propane burner it can't take much more time to put it back.

    Have you done a large amount of smoking lately? I find that I lose interest after a couple big smokes in a row. I think it is because I eat a lot, get full, and take the meal in front of me for granted. A couple weeks go by and I am craving Q like a street fed crack addict. Ups and downs happen. Go with the flow, do what makes you happy, and don't stress.

    BTW, can you use real coal to smoke with? I have used coal to heat with before and it stinks. Can't imagine how it would make the meat taste.
  14. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Man.... I was readin your post and was really into it until I hit the part about using real coal to smoke with and I caught myself screamin NO NO NO out loud. I'm so glad you got a heads up before you fired that mother up and slammed on a piece of meat. CHAR coal man... CHAR coal.

    On another note. I have an MES for smokin during the summer when I don't have the time to mess with tending the fire..... I've got a gas to smoke with on those cold nights the MES just isn't going to get to temp no matter what I do.... and my Oklahoma Joe to fire up with friends and family when I have the time to tend to the smoker and enjoy a day socializing. Haven't got bored with it yet.
  15. the dude abides

    the dude abides Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Don't fret my brother. Two years ago I went through the same thing. All charcoal and wood for me now. Even sold my gas grill just to resist that temptation. Today during football we had some friends over (had the smoker going for tomorrow's chow) and wished I'd have had the ol gasser back for burgers and hot dogs. But no worries a chimney full of lump thrown on the kettle was more than enough to impress and fill the bellies with a better than gas cook.

    No doubt, the taste is way better and it the feeling from having to actually pay attention...well worth it.
  16. bman62526

    bman62526 Smoking Fanatic

    I love smoking with mostly wood! A typical Sat. smoke for me might be a 7 lb. pork butt, and a whole chicken. Of course, I throw the bird on in the middle, so they end up done at the same time.

    If I run the offset for 8 hours, I might use 1/2 - 2/3 of one bag of RO lump. The rest is all apple, oak and hickory - depending.

    I don't profess to be the world's greatest pitmaster (or the best in town for that matter) but my que really stands apart from most others around here because of how many sticks I use - as opposed to charcoal, gas, etc...such a great taste!

    Dude - whatever you need to do in order to peak the interest again, I say do it!
  17. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    NOPE...NOT...NEVER...EVER!!!!! I just found that out here...I guess I never thought about it until tonight...RickW had my back and shut me down before I did the unforgivable...he da man!

    I just found out a few days ago that my wife's gut can't handle smoked beans now...another change in life to deal with...still trying to find things she can eat that won't make her sick. We really do like the charcoal fired cooking though...man, that's good stuff!!!

    Sooooooooooo, I gotta thank you fellas for watchin' my back.

    I'll just bite the bullet on cost and make some compromises here and there. I can't justify doing lump or even briquette fired smokes all the time...at least not yet-----LOLOLOL!!!!!!!! My attitude towards that may change though...the flavor and additional skills involved in pulling off a good smoke may be well worth the extra fuel expense..........

    Time will tell...I'll have a better idea after Labor Day...my wife just got home a bit ago...I just got done checking out the score she grabbed for me...3 slabs of spares...2-10+lb butts...several 3-packs of rib steaks and a pack of really thick cut T-bones (I'm drooling here just thinking about it).

    Anyway, it'll be cold smoked/seared steaks over (what else) charcoal Sunday evening after work. Then, I'm off work for 2 days, so, the butts will be in the SNP on Monday. I haven't decided if I should do both or just one...I think both...there's always the freezer...afterall, the fuel and time will be pretty much the same regardless of how much is in the smoker.

    Thanks again, Guys!

  18. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    eric - glad these guys beat me to it. ~ charcoal and wood, yes; actual coal, NO!
  19. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sounds ta me like somebody here needs ta build himself a UDS! Ya get ta use charcoal an wood but just lots less of it! What yall say?
  20. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member


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