New Smoker

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Original poster
Aug 29, 2006
McKinney, Texas
I have been lurking here for a few day and scouring the net how to properly use my smoker and what to smoke. I decied to do a Boston Butt for this opening weekend of college football. However I have managed to confuse myself in all my research. Can some of the "veterans" here help me out? I would be much obliged.

I have a Char-Broil with and Off-set Fire Box.

1. Do I need to make all the mods to it that I see on this forum?

2. I gather I should start with charcoal and add wood chunks? Can chips be used as well or in conjunction with chunks?

3. I see alot of threads regarding foiling at 165. Can someone elaborate on that. I couldn't find an answer in the threads.

Thanks in advance and if I missed a thread feel free to direct me to it. Sorry for being a Noob!
You can make a baffle by using heavy duty foil, but since you are only cooking one butt, just keep it away from the hot spot. To determine the temp variation in your cooker, just buy a couple of tins of Grands biscuits and spread them aroung the cook chamber. If you put some bacon on top of the firebox you can have a nice snack! This will let you know the warmer and cooler spots in your cooker. Make sure you can keep your cooker at 225 degrees throughout the cook!!!

As far as foiling, at 165 degrees internal temp, remove from smoker, spray with mop (I use 1part bourbon and 3 parts apple juice) and wrap tightly in foil. Put back on smoker and bring temp to the 195-200 degree range. Remove and wrap in an old towel and put in a small cooler for an hour or two. The meat should be juicy and flavorful, and just fall apart.

Don't forget to take pics, and if you have any questions, just let us know.
Thanks for the quick and concise response

The baffle makes sense to me now, the other threads must have been dealing with multiple butts.

Thanks for clearing the foil up as well. It seems to be a personal preference no? do you have to foil? I may have to go back and reread that thread. I am trying not to use the oven. I wanted to make sure foiling didnt involve the oven.

If you wouldn't mind I had a couple more questions.

1. where should I position the butt. the middle of the chamber or farthest away or does it vary.

2. I have read of having a pan filled with cider/beer underneath the butt. Necessary?

Thanks so much for your help. I will be documenting this adventure/possible disaster will post pics.

I need the pork to turn out better than my alma mater North Texas's Game against Texas
I foil, as it has yielded better results in my travels. As far as where to put the butts, use the biscuit test to find a warm spot, but avoiding the hotter and cooler spots. Also, take an oven thermometer and insert it through a potato with the tip well exposed to insure that the temp at the cooking area is 225 degrees. You can use a pan with beer/water, but I would put it over the hotspot near the firebox inlet to work as a heat sink. If you do as has been described, your meat should be moist and juicy without the water pan.

The only way to figure out the best way to use your smoker is to experiment. Do the biscuit test one day this week before your cook, and you will feel much more comfortable about the butt. The use of biscuits, foil, and water pans are all tools to help you achieve your best Q. However, people, smokers, meat, and weather all can affect the outcome of a cook.
Thanks again

I am going to do the biscuit test tonight.

Any thoughts on wood type. Not flavor but chunks or chips? or all wood and no charcoal?

sorry to bother you with the elementary questions

I agree experience will be the best teacher. Just trying to ensure this first one is edible :D

Thanks again for your help
Use charcoal with hickory chunks as this will give you predictable and reliable heat. Only use the inlets for the firebox to control temp. Leave the stack wide@$$ open! Again, try to regulate at 225 degrees...
Awesome! I may be more excited now then when i venture out and bought the smoker

when you say only use the inlets do you mean the little sliding door out the side of my offset firebox?
Personal experience...USE CHUNKS. Don't waste your money go with chunks for smoke. Chips work best when grilling.

I like Noah, foil now because.....IT WORKS. I have saved some cooks, and have never ruined a cook by foiling. Some will tell you that to foil is to cheat, but that is up to you. I suggest you foil, and see if you like the results.

Don't panic with this cook, there are usually some people on line who have done you cook and will be ready and willing to answer those last second questions. Go buy lots of Cold Ones. Enjoy the meal, also take pics.
I did my first 3 butts without foiling. The 4th time I foiled to see what the difference would be. Foil works! The pulled pork wat more tender and moist. I will probably never smoke another pork butt again without foiling.

Good luck.

Thanks guys

I am definitely going to foil. On another note

what are your thoughts on thermometers. wireless, digital, old school meat thermometer?

Also if you use and old school dont you have to open the chamber? and isn't that a no no?

Will be sure to take pics.

I will be enjoying some cold ones as well. St Arnolds Summer pils and Sam Adams Octoberfest on tap. Should be a good weekend

Chunks it is. I ahve access to all three just shopping around town. Hickory seems to be the default but I saw some pecan as well. any thoughts on those 2. I know personal preference will play a big part but any pitfalls with either and pork.

This board has been invaluable and I thank you guys
I've smoke lots of butts and have never used foil.

Until last weekend that is .... I cooked two butts of the same size side-by-side on the same rack. At 170* I wrapped one of them if foil and left the other unwrapped. Didn't baste either one the entire cook. They both cooked for 24 hours at 200* by the door thermometer and 245* by the deep-fryer thermometer stuck in the vent.

After an hour rest, my wife pulled the unwrapped one (before I knew it
) it pulled, looked and tasted like all the rest I've ever cook, real good. Then we pulled the wrapped one and I was shocked :shock: at the difference. It pulled easier (as it that were possible), it had a higher moisture content (as it THAT were possible), and the flavor of the rub went much deeper into the meat. Enough so that my oldest son (who requested the pulled pork) noticed the difference in flavor of his SECOND sandwich. :lol: We all agreed that the wrapped butt had better taste.
That is what sold me on foiling. You have also described the best way to perfect your craft! Each time you cook, try something different at the same time. This way you have an objective way to compare differences.

As far as thermometers, I have the NuTemp remotes, and they work great! We have a thread on thermos in the sticky part of the meat thermometer section. Check it out!
I think a lot of use use the wireless maverick digital thermometers. It has two probes, one for whatever you are cooking and one for the smoker. I think I balked a little at paying $60 for a thermometer, but honestly it was one of the best purchases I've ever made. I'm thinking of buying another for a backup.

Also, I'd recommend using wood chunks and preheating them on the firebox for a while before burning them. I use mostly lump charcoal, burning only 1 or 2 logs at a time just for flavor.
Thanks everyone

I boughta digital thermometer yesterday a Taylor so that should do me. Maybe down the road I will blow $60 on one

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