first time smoking..HELP!

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by homeruk, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. homeruk

    homeruk Smoke Blower

    sorry to ask a question i should really be looking more into myself but the smokers coming tomorrow and im hoping to get some kind of food off it at least once this weekend but due to work and my other halfs dad being very ill in hospital i just haven't had much time with all the running about

    so just a nod would do with what i propose, i don't expect the best ever food at this stage just would be nice after sitting at the smoker most of the day to be able to eat what is produced at the end

    from what ive read up on....

    set up smoker to a temp of 220f approx, put a tin foil tray in the cooking chamber with some water

    i plan on doing some baby back ribs and also a belly of pork whole bit from makro

    i have done ribs in a sous vide lots of times with a kfc type rub ive made up which has got the thumbs up from anyone who has tried rub the ribs and wrap them in the fridge overnight, put them on the smoker for 3 hours, then in a foil tray with apple juice covered for 2 hours, then back out uncovered for an hour, towards the end basting them with a sticky sauce..then rest and eat

    does this sound about right for a first attempt?

    again sorry for having to ask this, not being lazy just no time before the weekend


  2. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Simon

    There are as many different ways of cooking the "perfect" ribs as there are members here however a good proportion of them will roughly follow what you have described. This is called the 3-2-1 method. I don't use the foil tray with apple juice for the middle 2 hours but simply wrap the ribs in foil and leave them to steam in their own juices. The last hour is not sacrosanct either as you need to gauge when the ribs are ready either by pull back or by using a toothpick.Often you do not need all of the last hour.

    220-240 F (105-115 F) is good to aim for but remember there will be a temperature gradient in the smoker. If it varies a little then don't worry too much as the ribs will be quite forgiving. With practice with your smoker though you will soon be able to keep the temperature fairly constant.

    For the rub look at the ingredients first. Avoid ones where the first ingredient is salt. These are really seasonings rather than rubs. 

    Last but not least - take photos and post them. We love photos on here.

  3. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Wade has you covered. I would suggest you take pictures and post what you are doing in real time so if you run into any trouble we can help you out. It really does help for your first time out. What kind of smoker did you get?
  4. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Homeruk, I don't know if the ribs there are the same as here in the US, but the 3/2/1 method is meant for spare ribs.  Baby backs are usually done 2/1/1 or some modification thereof.  That or just leave them unwrapped in the smoker for 4 hours or so until they pass the bend test.

    Also, as Wade discussed, I'd avoid using too much apple juice (or any other liquid).  The times I do foil, I only use a couple of spritzes of apple juice from a spray bottle.  I mean, not even a whole teaspoon of juice.
  5. homeruk

    homeruk Smoke Blower

    many thanks for the reply's,  i guess the 2/1/1 makes more sense as the baby ribs here  don't tend to have much meat on them sadly

    the smoker which arrives tomorrow is a azuma off set one..nothing special i know but a good starting point i hope

    will take some pics hopefully if the weather holds out

    thanks again
  6. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Well you will have to season it first. That will give you a chance to see how it works and learn how to control your temperature. I am going to say if you can go and get yourself a good digital two probe thermometer probe setup do it. The most important thing to getting good BBQ is temperature control. The thermometer that comes from the factory is junk and do not trust it. I have Maverick probes but there are other good ones you can get. Maybe Wade can steer you toward what is available there and where you can get it from. Next thing you will have to figure out is what to burn in it. Get the best quality charcoal you can. Once again one of the UK members can let you know what's good there. I swear by Kingsford but I have no idea if it is available over there. You need to get a charcoal chimney to start your coals. Chemical fire starting agents taste bad. Then you are going to need wood. That type of smoker uses wood chunks or splits. Well, think about all that and if you have any questions fire away.
  7. Hello Simon.  So all you need is someone else giving you advice.  [​IMG]   GREAT advice above.  Especially about a good therm  Here is MY 2p.  Stay away from the cheap briquettes!!!!!!!!!!  A picture of the smoker would help; I could not find it.  Also not sure the water pan is necessary.  The Aussie heat beads are what Wade got me to try and they are well worth it!  Yes, more expensive but they last longer and have ZERO nasty after taste.  If you can't get them in time stick with pure lumpwood.  I always advise the same with this question.  Chicken leg quarters and maybe some burgers with just salt and pepper.  Easy to do and cheap to buy.  I know!  I know!  You have been reading for weeks, now have your smoker, you are ready to get started and this idiot says chicken legs and burgers??  WHAT??  The first few smokes are about learning to control temps in YOUR smoker.  Each one can be different.  If that first smoke burns, the dog gets a good meal.  If it ain’t done, finish it in the oven.  Little money lost and with luck you still get a good meal.  TEMP CONTROL!! IS THE KEY!!  Write EVERYTHING down.  Meat used, rub used, weather, smoking temp.  EVERYTHING you can think of!  Then you can recreate a great meal or tweak something you thought could be better.  Have fun.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  8. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  9. markuk

    markuk Smoking Fanatic

    Hello and welcome !

    I use the 3-2-1 method but tend to do the hour bit for nearer 1/2 hour over a bbq basting the ribs with sauce if you like it that way or if you're back in the house over a low grill

    I've even done the "2" bit in a slow cooker on top of some Pulled Pork - I've smoked the pork for 3 hours, popped it in the slow cooker, smoked the ribs then stuck the ribs on top of the pork for 2 or 3 hours.

    I tend to for practical reasons only smoke for a short time and then use a slow cooker and/or oven to finish off - here's a thread about using smoker/slow cooker combo

    Keep Smokin '

  10. homeruk

    homeruk Smoke Blower

    Thank you for all the replies

    well it seemed to go ok on sunday, beginners luck maybe 

    used my coating i make for kfc style chicken but used much less salt loads more smoked Spanish paprika and light brown sugar for the rub, coated them for about 4 hours in the fridge then on the smoker for the 2,2,1 method with a little apple juice at the foiling stage, then slapped my bbq sticky coating on at the last stage..came out lovely but shoot me down for saying but personally i think doing them in a water bath for 48 hours makes them more juicy..this may be down to being the first attempt..dont get me wrong if i had not tasted waterbath (sous vide) ones the smoker ones would have been the best ones i had tasted

    chucked the chicken on with a light dust of the rub and vegetable oil for four hours at the hotter end..didnt think it was cooked although probing it all over was telling me different so sadly chucked it in the microwave to finish it off..sorry to swear [​IMG]  although it seems looking back it was cooked..seemed a little blood red when poking into the thigh but now seems it was just the paprika rub and i think maybe some of the colour came off the ribs in the and some how made its way into the chicken as when serving it up it had streaks of red in every part of the meat even the breast[​IMG] dry nuked chicken it was and no one in hospital

    didnt check the temp gauge on the smoker due to lack of time building a shed at the same time as the smoker was going but kept it at about 240ish

    used charcoal from makros and got some wood logs but the logs were covered in bark so im guessing these were the wrong type to use so didnt burn them in the end, threw on hickory chips for the ribs and once they were foiled chucked in maple chips for the chicken, again suspect these were the wrong ones as they were just little chips rather than chunks of wood[​IMG]

    found keeping the temp stable a doddle but again put this down to beginners luck

    but in the end had visions of chucking a pie in the oven and junking the smoked food but pleasantly surprised

    oh and had a roasting pan under the chicken to catch the fat and a smaller roasting tin with water in it..have no idea what difference this made but seemed to be what to do i guess

    excuse the pics just taken with phone on cam

    lastly..made a chimney starter from a catering tin of hotdogs..was the biggest tin i could find in makro which worked well fired up with just 2 sheets of newspaper stuffed under it and on the first burn to get rid of the coating and hotdog smell it cracked and split apart a council paving slab[​IMG]  now putting it across two bricks 
    wade likes this.
  11. homeruk

    homeruk Smoke Blower


    Thanks for the offer of the loan unit

    I was thinking of maybe getting the four input version but want to look about first as i have bought cheap wireless ones in the ebay etc which have always packed up and ended up in the bin so really want to  see what people are saying about the maverick long term reliability before spending to much on the unit.
  12. WOW!  I am glad you had a first experience.  I got a little lost in your method.  I got lost between your ribs and chicken.  NO problem.  Just a bit more practice posting.  I am not surprised you nuked the chicken.  I know of no beginner U.K. smoker who doesn't worry about chicken.  Spatchcock your chicken next time.  Makes for more even cooking.  Chicken is really easy to grill or smoke.  TRUST your therms; as long as you are using quality therms.  So you can see why my friends were surprised when I took a 7kg. brisket off a similar offset and NEVER pre-cooked it in the oven.  So how do you plan to do a big brisket?  Not a U.K. supermarket piece of trimmed and rolled, a "proper" brisket?

    You bring up 3 good points.  Finishing in the microwave/oven.  AND souse vide then smoking.  As I said trust a good therm.  IF something doesn't go as planned then no shame in finishing in the oven.  The microwave will dry out any large portion of meat.

    Now the BIG one!  In my humble opinion!  Souse vide.  GREAT for re-heat.  So here is the deal.  Make ribs sous vide with only salt and pepper and the do the same with ribs following 2-2-1.  NO sauce, no rub.  Salt and pepper and smoke.  Maybe a little moisture for the wrapped period.  So where is the flavour?  I mean no disrespect but a GREAT rub on cardboard or a GREAT smoked piece of meat?  I could probably serve you a piece of cardboard with GREAT RUB and SAUCE but then you are eating sauce and rub.  Not meat.  IF you like RUB then you may be right.  IF you like meat, take the trial.  Boiled/steamed ribs or smoked ribs.

    All my opinion, and no one asked.  Just thought I pass on my thoughts.

  13. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have several (6) Maverick thermometers, some of which I have been using for many years, and I have never had one fail so far. I have had to replace 2 of the oldest probes on one of them but that was down to early misuse. I have a couple of the new ET-735s on order from Todd but we are waiting for the additional probes to be available before he ships them (any day now). To check up on what people here think of Maverick simply put it into the search bar...
    You are acting like a seasoned smoking pro already. Many "rub" recipes use way too much salt and really should be called "seasonings". I use very little salt in my rubs.

    You are also finding out that there is no single perfect way to cook ribs. Everyone has their own techniques and in the end we cook what we find works best for us. I usually have a lot more meat on my ribs when I cook them 3-2-1 and they are always very moist, however the thinner ribs you have there could possibly dry out a little.

    You may want to try leaving them in the rub overnight as this also helps the flavour to penetrate. If you can vac-pack them with the rub then that is even better.

    Danny has a good point too. With any rub the rub flavour masks or compliments the flavour of the meat (depending on the rub and your viewpoint) and it is good to sometimes prepare them with only a simple salt and pepper coating. I will often do a rack like this if I know I have guests who do not like spicy foods. They both turn out very different but are both good too.
    The chicken looked good but as you thought, you should have trusted your thermometer. When you think it is done you do need to check the temperature in several places to be sure, however it is very easy to overcook. You mention that there was a blood red colour in the thigh joint. Blood red is not good (if it wasn't the paprika) however it is quite normal for the joint itself to remain slightly pink. A couple of pointers that may help you next time...

    Danny has already mentioned one - spatchcock the chicken as this helps the heat to flow more evenly over all of the surfaces.

    Another is to cook your chicken vertically using one of these as this allows a good flow of heat both inside and outside as it cooks. Do not stuff your chicken with anything other than maybe a roughly chopped onion or a quartered orange as it is important to get that heat in contact with all of the chicken surfaces (inside and out) for even cooking.

  14. homeruk

    homeruk Smoke Blower

    again thanks for the replies

    I will try 3 different ways next time with the ribs, just tried to play it safe on the first go which seemed to work..the guy helping me out with the shed ground works was blown away with the ribs and chicken outcome, forgot to say the ribs were baby back ones

    any pointers to what wood to use on the next go?

    I don't think the chicken stand would work as there may not be enough headroom under the lid to fit it in but will spatchcock it next time and trust the temp readings

    its all trial and error i guess..been doing that with sous vide cooking and baking bread  and curing bits the last few years and never give up until its perfect, have a log i keep that the other half calls the BOL (book of love) which i keep notes and recipes in to look back on so its just a case of adding a smoking section to it and trying to keep sauce of the pages[​IMG]

    any pointers to what wood people use as fuel?

    dont suspect i will have time this weekend to do another smoke but can get more organised ready for a couple of weeks time at least

    brisket..7kg is there such a thing[​IMG]  the ones i get are between 3- 4 kg as that is all i have seen in costco and makro..althougth found the makro ones to be not so good, cure them as salt beef..think if i came home with a 7kg the other half may kill me[​IMG]  
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  15. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I like fruit woods on pork. Any fruit wood. Apple is my favorite. I also use Maple, Oak, Hickory, Lilac, Grape, and whatever else smells good when you burn it. If you know someone with an apple orchard you are miles ahead. That stuff is awesome. Nice smoke for your first go. You will pick up the subtle nuances of the process as time goes by. It sounds as if your smoker performed well. Glad to hear. Happy smoking. timber
  16. osprey2

    osprey2 Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Hi, I tend to use cherry, or as Timber has said apple

    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  17. Hello Simon.  Being from Texas I would say mesquite but it is not to everyones' taste.  So if not using mesquite, Ya can't beat pecan!  I mix; and the flavours are great.  The "mix" I use must be done in a larger capacity.  Not for a single smoke.  Per a container by volume:  1/2 pecan chips, then slightly more than 3/4 cherry ( say 7/8ths )  and finish with oak.  I use it on everything not smoked with mesquite.  Keep Smokin!

  18. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Hey next time you fire up that chimney just set it on the grate. You get better air flow to start the coals that way anyway. By the way very nice on the chimney build. I am impressed. That smoker won't be that clean for long anyway. hahaha....
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  19. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hickory is my stock wood flavour of choice

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