First-timer's amazing success story

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Original poster
Hi, everyone --

I've already bored my family with my exultation on last weekend's Very First Smoke-a-thon, and I'm hoping you will be a sympathetic audience and give me the encouragement and applause I crave.

I'm an American expatriate living in Australia. Before that, I lived in DC and Maryland for 17 years, and I grew up in New Jersey. In other words, I knew next to nothing about barbecue for my whole childhood, and slowly became aware of it during my young adulthood in the DC area. Ten years ago (now all those who care to do the math know how old I am!) I moved MUCH farther south: to Australia.

While during my occasional trips back to the States I was able to have barbecue now and then, a few weeks ago I was overwhelmed by homesickness, and it took the form of a ferocious need to have real barbecue. Problem: I had never made it, ever. I did some net-research to find out how it was done. I planned my smoking strategy. I made the sauces and sides that I remembered from home (a freezer is a Good Thing). I stuck my neck out and invited 40 people to the house for Real, Home-Smoked, Home-Cooked Barbecue.

On the day before the event, I bought the meat (pork shoulder and beef rump, brisket being unavailable at the time) and started smoking. I did the best I could: hickory chips over charcoal briquettes in the Webercue (with one piece of meat going in the charmingly named "boot barby" -- a lidded hibachi-like arrangement so named because it is a barbecue device that can fit in the trunk of the car). The beautiful smoke perfumed the entire neighborhood, and nobody even called the firefighters!

Many hours later, the meat was tender, smoke-ring pink, juicy -- almost self-shredding. The next day I served up mountains of barbecue, rolls, baked beans, stewed apples, macaroni and cheese, red-beans-and-rice, cornbread, mashed sweet potatoes, salad....

NONE of the Australians there, and only one of the handful of Americans, had ever tasted real barbecue. It was a life-changing experience for them. They are still talking about it. "I've never had meat that tender -- it melted in my mouth!" "That was amazing! I never knew what Americans meant by 'barbecue'; now I know what the fuss was about." One of the Americans was from Seattle, and had "only ever been served tofu and lentils" at barbecues. Another *was* from the south, but married to a vegetarian, so she took the opportunity to consume enormous quantities of all three styles I made (Texas, KC, NC), and pronounced it all entirely authentic.

I'm so proud of myself! Not a bad result for the first time, eh?

Now, what to do for the next project? My husband and daughter both love smoked salmon. And there's jerk chicken, smoked turkey, yet more pork and beef -- so much food, so little time....

Congratulations! I love it when a plan comes together. We'd love to hear more about temperatures you cooked at, what kind of wood etc but I'm glad it worked out great. I recently was asked to host my 1 year old grandson's birthday party. A bunch of 30 year old and younger adults came over with with heavy appetites. I cooked two briskets, 5 Cavanaugh sausages and 10 racks of ribs. Less than two pounds of meat were left. I let the guests bring the potato salad, birthday cakes, and beans. A good time was had by all.

The only downside of doing this is that you WILL be asked to do it again.!

Aubrey Page
Good on ya, Laura!! We all have to take the 'que plunge at one time or another. Glad to see that you pulled off such an enormous feat so well the first time out. Aubery is right, there will be other times that you will be asked to do it again!! You might even find a food niche by catering American Barbeque!
I didn't keep the temperature as constant as I would have liked, but it oscillated around 200F. I'm still getting the hang of that. (If it got below 190, I chucked a few more briquettes and wood chips on; if it got above 220, I opened the lid for a few seconds. Seemed to work.)

Things I have learned:

1. Barbecue WANTS to be good. It will forgive errors and omissions, if it can. Trust the heat, trust the meat, do your best.

2. Whoop-de-do equipment is nice, but generations of people have made fabulous barbecue on makeshift setups.

3. If you are unnerved at how much chili pepper a sauce recipe calls for, cut it down. There are no points for pain.

4. Most of the fun of barbecue is sharing it -- especially when you can introduce people to the whole concept.

And yes, the requests for a repeat have already started coming in.

Thanks, y'all, for the encouragement!

-- Laura
Congratulations, Laura,

Way to go on your very first Q! It sound like the Outback has been forever changed for the better! Please stick around and share your future stories. Always feel free to ask questions and/or share any problems that you may experience, as well. There is a tremendous wealth of knowledge to be found here!

Oh, it's these kinds of stories that leave me grinning from ear to ear. Great job Laura! 8) I hope there's many more successes to come.
An American from Down cool is that?

Congrats on your 1st Smoke, and welcome to the site!!!! You're going to find alot of enthusiastic Quers in here, all willing to help!

Unforunately, what outsiders (of the US) hear as Barbeque is really "Grilling". I'm glad you showed them the difference! Trust me, in time you will be wanting to move up to a "true" smoker and break away from the Weber. That's where most of us started at one time! LOL!

Keep that "Thin Blue Smoke" rollin' in Australia, Girl!

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