First smoke on new cooker

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Jul 12, 2008
Hello SMFers,

I plan to smoke Brisket, Pork Butt (or shoulder), and back ribs for a graduation party in June.

Lot's of new to me stuff going on here so I'm looking for some tips and ideas.

New to me (or been a long time):
-New cooker - A Char Griller Grand Champ XD. Chamber measures 40" L X 20" D.
-New style of cooker - Offset is new to me. I normally just use my Weber kettle. I have a steel plate to separate the coals. For bigger cooks I'd use my box grill, with a pan placed under the grates and coals under the pan.
-Brisket - I did a small brisket 10+ years ago. It was small. I think it may have been just a flat. It was edible but that's about it.
-Pulled Pork - Did one about the same time as the brisket. It came out good enough.

Yesterday I seasoned the cooker and I'm going to do a small test run this weekend.
Serving time is ~4:00 Saturday.

The Brisket - I picked up an 8lb Choice packer from Costco. I wanted something bigger but it the last one.
I thought brisket was suppose to be cheap :emoji_rage:
Pork Butt - 5lbs. I should've gotten a bigger one but just wasn't thinking.
Macaroni and cheese -

Fuel for this weekend's test run -Kingsford charcoal, Apple, Almond, and a little Oak. I might buy a bag of hickory for the actual party.
I'll be regulating heat with the intake and exhaust vents.

The plan:
5:00 PM warm up the cooker to 300*
6:00 PM start the smoke on Brisket and Butt. Aiming to cook @ 250* +/- 20*
5lb Butt lower rack closer the stack.
8lb Brisket top rack closer to the stack
I open the cooker to take my first peak when one of the meats hits ~170*
Smoke until the bark sets.
Wrap and finish in oven at @225.

I'm finishing in the oven at the lower temp in hopes of getting some sleep.
Is that going to work? Will I actually get any sleep?
Maybe I should use an even lower temperature to get more sleep?

Start checking for doneness with probe when temps hit ~195*

Pull, unwrap and let cool to ~180*
Rewrap and hold in a faux cambro until serving time.

I still need to do some homework on the mac-n-cheese. But I plan to smoke, refrigerate and reheat to serve.

So, that's the plan. Any and all feedback is much appreciated.
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I just saw the Finishing Sauce for Pulled Pork sticky.
Can I just use Rub and the finishing sauce, and not do an injection?

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I just saw the Finishing Sauce for Pulled Pork sticky.
Can I just use Rub and the finishing sauce, and not do an injection?

Sure I don't always inject. If I dont inject I do a layered rub. Salt then rub flavor of choice wrap in plastic let sit overnight in fridge.
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The brisket point was great. The flat had good flavor but I felt it was a little dry.

I have a few thoughts and questions on addressing the brisket;

I wrapped the brisket in butcher paper after the bark set. Then I vented it let it cool to about 185*. I wrapped it back up and threw in the faux cambro (I warmed the cooler with hot water, and had folded towels under and on top the meat). But IT was down to 120* when I removed it. Do I need to vent it at all when using butcher paper? Should I use foil instead?

I think the fix for the dryness will be to to inject the flats with tallow for the big cook. In just about all the youtube vids they are using a Wagyu tallow. But I rendered down the trimmings from the choice grade brisket I cooked. And plan to do the same for the big cook and use this tallow for the injection. Thoughts?

Note: I'm not willing to throw down the ching for prime grade briskets.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

The whole pics were taken before rewrapping and putting into the cooler for holding.

My hands were busy pulling pork and carving the brisket. Unfortunately, the only pic I got of it sliced was after most of it was eaten.



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Your rendered tallow will do just great! I have done that also. I have done the Wagyu, yes there is a little difference but the home rendered did great for me.
On the question of venting and cooling down to 180*F.... I tried that. Same result you had. Dried it up. I only use butcher paper for the last 10 years. Injecting the home renderings will help fight the drying out.

The pork butts around here do get injected MOST of the time. But great results without injecting also. I am doing 4x 10lb butts this weekend for our customers. All 4 are injected with:
Cheap IPA/Apple cider vineger/Raspberry balsamic vineger.

Good luck with your party!!!
One other option is to trim up the packer and save the flats for another cook. You can also treat the flat differently. Several good options can be found on here, I think SmokinAl SmokinAl has a great approach.
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