Intro from Lexington, Mass.

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Original poster
Jun 1, 2006
I must admit to being the shame of my family. A genuine Texas boy who went bad and settled in Boston. Other than family and Shiner beer, what I've missed most about being away from home (San Antonio) all these years has been real Texas BBQ.

I had been thinking about ordering a 55 gallon drum style BBQ from home and having it shipped up here, but where would I get the mesquite? Then I discovered the smoker that Home Depot is selling (cheaply, since it's not gas fired) and - amazingly - with a supply of mesquite at only stratospheric prices. (We used to have to pay people to haul it away.)

So far, to the amazement of my yankee wife, no matter how much I make, it is all gone by the time the guests leave. (She's smart about a lot of things, but she doesn't get it with BBQ.)

I'm doing OK remembering from growing up, but it's still not quite what I got at home. I never actually did any at home. Why buy a cow when milk is so cheap? So I'm experimenting.

I know I need to keep the temperature low and I need enough fat on the meet so that it is self-basting. I expect 12 hour cooking times. No BBQ sauce, of course, during cooking.

I aim for about 180-190F, starting with a bed of charcoal but then switching to all mesquite. I try to keep a small draft but it is pretty much damped down to keep the temperature low.

Now, then, I start getting advice from one of my British ex-pat friends from California. (He was impressed enough after one visit that he went home, bought a smoker, and found your web site to help teach him.)

He is quoting you as saying that too much damping creates bad stuff in the meat. This is not what I remember from home, but it's true that real BBQ would often come from a small fire and there was a decent draft. OK, I'll willing to consider that, but how do I keep the fire from either going out or getting too hot? Too hot was the big worry.

The Home Depot smoker is two chambers, one small firebox and one large cooking chamber, kind of like my traditional 55 gallon oil drum BBQ pits with a 15 gallon drum welded to the side.


Thanks much,

Don Estes
yo dude,
i believe that the smoke flavor developes
in the first 3 hrs in smoker.

so i would have the mesquite chunks [a few]
on top of coals from the BEGINNING.

glad to meet you.
Welcome to the Smoking Meat Forum Don. This is a great place to learn and get ideas for some great 'que. As for temperture control, I'll let the folks that use an off set unit answer that topic.
Howdy Don, check out the charcoal smoker threads to get some good advice about heat control and fire maitenece. I don't mess to much with the fire, that's Ben's job. I just prep the meat and carve it. I do agree with Larry that you should have some wood on from the begining to develop that smokey flavor. Hope you find the tips you need. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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