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Arcid taste in meat, especially chicken, please help!

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by MortySnerd, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Hello! New member here. I use a 18" Weber Smokey Mountain and usually do pork ribs and full chickens. I use Kingsford Charcoal and Kingsford Wood Chunks (not chips). All of my smokes, and especially chicken smokes, tend to have an arcid, "campfirey" taste to them, similar to what your clothes smell like after a night at the campfire. The ribs are less affected, possibly because my rub and sauce go a long way towards re-covering this off note back up. But it's there, and it makes for meat that's not as good as what you get from the roadside pros.

    Some facts:

    - I always use chunks, not chips. Kingsford brand.
    - I use the "minion method" to light the smoker, with 3 wood chunks already in place when I light,
    - I let the starter chimney settle down to clear smoke before I add it to the WSM. I put the meat on within single digit minutes after putting the lit chimney coals into the smoker bowl.
    - I fill the water pan with water every time
    - Temps hold very constant around 215-225, the WSM does a fantastic job of this on its own. Temps are based on lid's thermometer only.
    - I usually see steady white-to-clear smoke for about 45-60 minutes after this. I used to add more chunks after this but I no longer do, since this seems to reduce the campfirey taste that I get when finished.
    - Meat has usually marinated overnight and is brought out to rest at room temp for about 30-60 minutes before being placed on the smoker.

    Thanks so much for any thoughts or help!
  2. flatbroke

    flatbroke Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    My wife doesn't like the taste of food when I cook on the webber using the minion or snake method. I would invest in a decent temp probe as your dome temp is likely not accurate and certainly not providing you with the temp at the cooking level.
    this is a pretty good price for what you are getting https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/30-off-another-ink-bird-thermometer-deal.283304/

    also I would cook chicken at a higher temp then what you are getting. 250-300 is my preference. the higher temp should help eliminate your bad taste, which is most likely from a dirty fire
  3. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Do ya have the top vent wide open?
    And what are you using for charcoal?
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Make sure the meat surface is dry and the meat is up to ambient temp... not refer temp... water and smoke make "acid rain", an acrid flavor.... reduce the wood chunks to reduce the amount of smoke... too much smoke tastes bad... Be sure the wood chunks are buried in the charcoal so it doesn't flame up...
    Try smoking without the water.... Get a good calibrated thermometer to see what your temps are....
    crazymoon likes this.
  5. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    You want that white smoke to turn clear before you add your meat to the smoker. Make sure your top vent is open all the way.

    Also you should invest in a good dual thermo to probe your meat and have an accurate temp reading on the grate your cooking on.

    Good luck
  6. Thanks for all the replies! Some answers:

    - I always keep the top vent 100% open,
    - I use Kingsford standard Charcoal in the white bag with blue trim,

    Question to hillbillykstr, interesting about waiting for the white smoke to die down before adding meat, I always thought that was the smoke that was giving you flavor? I thought after the white smoke died down that you were back to basically cooking with just slow-roasting charcoal.

    Sounds like I definitely need to start using a better thermo as well. Do you just put a probe right on the metal grate to get surface temp?
  7. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  8. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    No water needed - higher heat above 325* is what I found works best for poultry.
    3 chunks may be allot of wood for an 18" WSM(I only use 2 or 3 smallish chunks for whole turkeys in my 22"). Poultry takes on a smokey profile rather quickly so less can be more.
    White smoke for any amount of time can produce an acidic taste.
    KBB can produce a white smoke all by itself until it's fully settled in. So let the WSM stabilize before adding meat.

    What type of wood are you using?

    These are just my takes and what works for me.

    chopsaw likes this.
  9. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You'll get there, and those restaurant guys will be jealous of YOUR food!!
  10. mdboatbum, I am using mostly Cherry and Pecan. gmc2003, I use Kingsford chunks, not chips.
  11. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I would make sure you keep your Uncle "Mortimer" away from the fire!!
    From what I remember he was quite combustible.

  12. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sorry if my statement was misunderstood, but smallish chunks do not equate to chips.

  13. HalfSmoked

    HalfSmoked Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As stated some woods are strong and smoke can be strong and taste strong. Some charcoal will impart a lighter fluid taste.

    hoity toit likes this.
  14. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Chris is absolutely right.Ya gotta let'er settle to the point you get a stable temp after adding your starters on top of your ring of unlit coals.
  15. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    keep vent wide open throughout your cook.
  16. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    and he is right some charcoal impart a lighter fluid taste. Personally I use a a pellet tube from Todd, does the job for me just about right.
  17. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you are using the Minion/Snake method, you have a small fire and little need for the heat protection or regulation the water provides. Use a dry or a partial sand filled bowl. The MOST important smoking step with Poultry is, Get the skin Dry! The strong nasty flavored components of smoke readily stick to wet meat and skin. If time and planning allows, an overnight rest uncovered in the refer will dry the skin or dry the bird well with paper towels before smoking.
    White smoke contains Creosote and other volatile nasty tasting components that are burned off once the wood gets going. When your wood starts smoldering, you will see thick White smoke that, in a few minutes, changes to a pale Gray, then Thin Blue Smoke and lastly, barely visible smoke that smells great and does not burn your eyes. Any of these latter three stages contributes a sweet taste to your meat...JJ
    daveomak likes this.
  18. Guys thanks so much for all the great replies! I'm planning on doing a smoke this weekend with all the tips from this thread. I'll post how it goes!
  19. HalfSmoked

    HalfSmoked Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    hoity toit Thanks for the like it is greatly appreciated.

  20. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The OP's statement above in bold is the reason for the taste issues. I don't load the meat for at least an hour after loading the hot coals. It takes that long for the smoke to show hits of blue and a clean burning fire.

    I'm biting my tongue about the charcoal used because it is so popular. It works in a smoker, but loading meat too soon will only magnify the taste issue.