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How to prep for a loooong smoke?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by PoukieBear, Jun 11, 2019 at 3:11 PM.

  1. PoukieBear

    PoukieBear Fire Starter

    Canada Day long weekend is almost here, and I'm mentally preparing myself to cook for a small crowd. I'd like to do a brisket and a pork butt on my WSM.

    I've been reading a lot on how to cook a nice brisket, and know that it can take up to 20hours to finish nicely.

    So, how on earth do I get a long cook on my WSM? (22.5") I've always used the minion method to start, and have used both lump charcoal and briquettes. (I haven't decided which i prefer)

    Should I start off with more coal at the beginning? Add more unlit coal on top of the hot coals later on if I'm running out of fuel? Add hot coals if needed?

    Any advice is welcome, and thanks in advance!
  2. mr mac

    mr mac Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    When I had the WSM I used the Minion method with a bit more charcoal than I might need. For really long cooks (like the brisket) I used a base of briquettes and add some lump on top with the smoking wood of choice (for brisket I personally like hickory). Most likely, if cooking at 225 to 250 degrees, you'll need to add some charcoal. Just keep an eye on the smoker temp as meat temp and you should be good to go.
    PoukieBear likes this.
  3. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I can't help you with the WSM but at 275F a brisket takes at or just a hair over 1 hour a pound.
    Also, briskets and pork butts don't really care what temp you smoke them at. Just avoid flaming up and you should be ok.

    Trim your brisket up so that you remove the thin meat of the flat to leave the flat mostly uniform in thickness and remove any hanging meat from the back of the point because that stuff will just turn into crust and charcoal over such a long smoke. Re-purpose that good meat for something else rather than letting it go to waste.

    I always use the following image to explain the trimming and I have the following post to explain in detail the trim and how to repurpose that good meat:

    I hope this info helps! :)
    Best of luck!
  4. chilerelleno

    chilerelleno Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Forget the Slow cook and go Fast.
    Nobody will taste any difference.

    Cook the day before, or give yourself plenty of breathing room of an extra 8-12 hours.

    Plan, stage and stagger tasks.
    Make lists and double check them.
    Room in the fridge, extra cooler and ice.

    Leave time between tasks, half an hour to chillax.

  5. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I agree with much that was mentioned above.
    I like smoking brisket and butts @275.
    Also as mentioned stager your smoke.
    Smoke a couple butts the day before and then reheat.
    Brisket when it gets close to being done will need your undivided attention to get it right...probe tender in the thickest part of the flat. Anywhere from 195-210.
    chilerelleno, tallbm and PoukieBear like this.
  6. EdP

    EdP Fire Starter

    I'm pretty new to smoking and started doing cooks at 225. I did this picnic shoulder last week at 275, it took about 9 hours. My first shoulder smoke at 225+ took almost 20 hours and I had to finished it in the oven.

    I'm doing everything 275+ now.

    JJS and tallbm like this.
  7. SecondHandSmoker

    SecondHandSmoker Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Nah...That's what beer and highballs are for.
    JJS and chilerelleno like this.

    5GRILLZNTN Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    If you are determined to do "low and slow", I would fill your charcoal basket as full as you can with unlit briquettes and several chunks of smoke wood. Light like you normally do a minion with around 10 or so briquettes. If you have to add at some point, pull your food, give the legs of your WSM a few taps with your foot to dump some ash, and add more charcoal. Put your food back on and finish it up. As far as lump vs briquettes, my understanding is that lump burns hotter, but faster.
  9. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    First piece of advice forget the lump charcoal. It' will burn hotter and be harder to control the temps.

    Second, fill the charcoal ring up. Make a dimple in the center of the charcoal ring and add about 8 to 10 lit coals. When your about 15 to 20 degrees from your desired temp. Start closing down your bottom vents. Check every 15 min. or so and adjust the vents - until your WSM has stabilized at your cooking temps. Remember it's much easier to raise the temps then to drop the temps. On a 22" WSM you will probably get about 8 to 9 hours on one load of charcoal at 250 to 280*.

    Third, you didn't mention if your doing a full packer or a brisket flat. If your doing a full packer then I would probably put it on the lower grate and the butts on the top rack. The top rack runs about 10* hotter then the lower rack.

    If possible I would do the butts a few days in advance. They reheat well and you won't lose any of the texture or flavor. Cooking a brisket flat or full packer are two different animals. So I won't speak to those.

    If you need to add coals, remove the mid-section from the lower section. Tap the ash so it goes thru the charcoal grate, move the hot coals to the center of the grate and refill the charcoal ring.

    If you have anymore questions or need something clarified please ask, and most of all enjoy you cook and party.

  10. JJS

    JJS Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I agree with this 100%. The only thing missing was a big cooler full of ice and beer
    PoukieBear likes this.
  11. chilerelleno

    chilerelleno Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm a teetotaler, alcohol and I like each other too damned much and I can't stop once started.
    But I'm a firm believer in better living through modern chemistry/Rx.
    SecondHandSmoker likes this.
  12. PoukieBear

    PoukieBear Fire Starter

    Thank you!

    I hadn’t really thought about doing the butts ahead of time. How would I reheat them so they are still nice and juicy? (I do have a finishing sauce to use.)

    Brisket- I honestly hadn’t thought about just the flat or the entire thing. What’s easiest to do and not screw up?
  13. JJS

    JJS Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I use a crock pot to reheat butts, pull it throw it in the crock pot with a bit of chicken stock and let it rip. Depending on your finishing sauce you could use that as well.

    The easiest part of the brisket to not screw up is the point, if you can’t get just the point grab a packer that way of the flat is messed up you still have some brisket to serve lol
  14. chilerelleno

    chilerelleno Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A full Packer brisket is easier and more forgiving than a Flat.

    You can reheat Butts many ways.
    Vac bag whole Butt or PP and reheat in the bag in simmering water or Sous vide.
    Whole Butt or PP in foil covered pan in oven.
    Crockpot, Steam or Microwave it.

    I like to pull it, add a finishing sauce, vac bag it and reheat in simmering water or microwave.
    A good finishing sauce like SoFlaQuers keeps it from drying out.
  15. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hot n fast definitely works with the 22.5" WSM. If you choose to go that route, you can lay down a bed of briquettes, then fill your ring with lump, leaving a dimple in the middle for hot coals. Bury your wood chunks in the charcoal. Add a small chimney of hot briquettes to the pile (1/4 large chimney).

    If your going to do low n slow, OVERFILL your charcoal basket with briquettes and bury your wood chunks. Royal oak briquettes will give a more steady temp and last longer than KBB. Heat up 8 briquettes and put them in the center dimple. If you start with your bottom vents barely opened, top vent full open, you'll pre-heat nicely over about 1 hour to 90 mins. Load the meat. You might make small adjustments the first two hours, then it will settle in for the next 12-14 hours before you have to knock ash off the coals. By then steady temps doesn't matter and you can run hot until the meat probes tender.

    Remember the pics!
    hardcookin likes this.
  16. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I think you are going to get multiple answers on reheating a pork butt and they will all likely be correct hahaha.

    I have taken whole smoked pork butts and vac sealed and refrigerated. Then 2 days later I wrapped the whole thing in double foil, sat in a foil pan (in case it leaked) and reheated in the oven then shredded/pulled apart.
    I have also simply taken them from the smoker, double wrapped in foil, and refrigerated. The next day I warmed it up the same way in the oven then shredded/pulled apart.

    They came out fine because all juices and moisture was trapped so well to begin with before being refrigerated.
    I never use a finishing sauce but if I did I would just very very very lightly dilute some bbq sauce with some water and mix it in.
    I DO ALWAYS mix in more of my seasoning though when it is pulled/shredded and in the pan.
    I do Salt, Pepper, Onion (dehydrated), Garlic (granulated) all known as SPOG + Paprika. This seasoning/rub is so simple that you can mix in after the fact without fear of it tasting weird.
    Some rubs are so complex that they don't always translate well to just a "raw" shake in and eat seasoning. Those complex ones fair better when cooked.

    As for the brisket, I believe the guys when they say a packer is easier than a flat. In TX I've never seen anyone intentionally just do a flat, we almost always deal with whole packers.
    Place the probe in the thickest yet center most portion of the flat when doing a packer. The point is always tender and done well before the flat is so there is no use in putting the temp probe in the point of the brisket :)

    I hope all this info helps :)
  17. SecondHandSmoker

    SecondHandSmoker Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Nothing wrong with that at all.
    I am almost in that camp as well.
    It's long story so I won't hijack Poukie's thread.
  18. SecondHandSmoker

    SecondHandSmoker Smoking Fanatic ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Well Poukie, you are getting a lot of great advice here.
    As others have mentioned, I'd lean toward doing the butts a day or two in advance and reheat the day of the get togther in crockpots with liquid of your choice.
    I like crockpots because they are darn near impossible to dry anything out.

    This way, you can focus all your efforts on the brisket.
    Eveyone has given great advice on that as well, so I really can't add anymore to what has already been said.

    BTW, we all are now expecting Q-views. :emoji_laughing:
  19. Try maybe using a thermometer to monitor the brisket's internal temperature. There is no exact temperature at which you pull the brisket off of the grill. After it hits an internal temperature of 200°F in the thickest portion
  20. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    ^^^This is how I would do it^^^