I just smoked a Boston Butt, and everyone says it's the Bomb!!!! Better than anything that came out of my MES....... I've been missing out, temps were fairly steady throughout the smoke and outside cold temps (below freezing). I did find out that the Thermometer on the lid is a bit off, about 25 degrees. and who care what the dome temp is anyway. My Maverick worked great..... Ben your photo rocks, my wife saw them and said no way, but I know your completely correct. Ready to build my own Mini WSM already.
I just got a 18 from Santa and yes I still believe only being 50 and all. I've only used mine one time but going to do butts and chicken on my day off Friday. I did ribs the first time and they were great! One question. Would you brine the chickens? I don't use water. Just using a teracota flower pot bottom plate on the waterpan.
I havent decided on using the water pan or not.... I didn't on this smoke, and it held tems very steady. As for Brining Chicken, Heck Yeah!!!! I also typically pierce the chicken skin with a fork, before brining, seems to make for crisper skin. I read alot, and I'm trying to follow Harry Soo's way of running my WSM, seems to work pretty well so far.
I have always used water in my WSM and it has never let me down, but I know a lot of folks have had great results without it as well. A lot of folks don't know what to do with the left over water at the end of a smoke, here is what I do.
Let the ash get completely cold (usually the next day)
Dump the ash into a 5 gallon bucket lined with a trash bag.
Dump the water on top of the ash (the ash acts like a sponge)
Wad up the foil (I always line my pan with foil to make clean up easy) and put it in the bucket.
Wipe out the pan with some paper towels.
You can fit the ash and water from about 3-4 smokes into the 5 gallon bucket before you need to dump it.
I believe the water pan is a way of temp control on the WSM's. I have tried it with and without and my 18.5" was much easier to control the temp with the water pan filled. I used to think it was the moisture that helped the BBQ whatever it happened to be stay moist but then bought a pellet grill that does not use water at all and produces some of the juiciest BBQ I have ever ate. So takes me back to the temp control on the WSM's. I personally think there is something to it... Just my 2 cents..., WHB
I am new to the wsm but everything I have read says that yes the water is totally for temp control. Some use nothing except tin foil( hotter smokes like chicken and turkey) and some use terra cotta pots, play sand or even bricks wrapped in tin foil to fill the water bowl.
I had minus 10c here in Canada last week and I used boiling water to fill my pan.....
Correct basically the water/gravel/sand/terra cotta/etc. is a big heat sink. It absorbs and releases heat at a steady rate keeping the WSM from getting to hot or to cold. That is why when you pull the lid off to do something and then put it back on it only takes 10 min. to come back to target temp. instead of 1/2 hour or more. The nice thing with water is you can adjust the amount needed/wanted based upon the weather conditions as well. If it is really cold only fill the pan half full with water, this lets the WSM run hotter, but you will have to add water if you are doing a long smoke. Or if you want it to run over 300° (like for chicken) leave the water pan dry even.
I would use water to start with at least. Then after you get a better feel for your smoker you can mess with things other than water, or reduced/no-water smokes. But generally you want/need some sort of thermal mass (water, sand, terra cota, grave, etc.) to help regulate temps better and makes heat recovery faster after pulling the lid for something.