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Rookie Smoker


Joined Apr 18, 2011
My wife bought me a 18.5 WSM for Christmas this past year. Unfortunately, shortly after I received this wonderful gift I was transferred to New Orleans for work. Sadly, the smoker has been sitting in our garage since I unwrapped it. Adding salt to the wound I gave up meat for lent so I haven't been able to use it when I come home. So, this Saturday I will breaking my lent promise by a day to smoke some delicious meats and I need y'alls help.

1. Should I trim the fat from the brisket. I see most people that trim the fat leave about 1/4" of fat on the brisket. I feel like many of the briskets you get in restaurants don't trim until the trim the fat until the brisket is fully cooked. That is how they do it at a couple of restaurants in Texas (Rudy's and Salt Lick)

2. How many wood chunks should I use? How much charcoal should I use?

3. Sand vs. Water: Which should I use? Is one better than the other?

4. Hrs/lb. I see most people say about 1.5 Hrs/lb.

5. Wet Marinade vs. Dry Rub? I have this killer coffee rub that I use on steaks and I wondered if it would translate well to a brisket.

I would also like to smoke some sausage. Should I buy the raw sausage links that you can guy in the grocery store? How long do they take until they are ready to eat?

Is there anything that I am missing? I would really appreciate y'alls help.


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Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Apr 19, 2010
Welcome to the forum!!

The coffee rub should translate for brisket just fine.  You can trim or not, as you see fit.  Some smoke it fat side up, others down.  Seems like everyone gets good results.

I trim a bit of the fat to kind of make it even over the top and cook fat side up.  I do not marinade briskets.  Salt, pepper, and smoke is all I use.

Smoker temps 225-250* until the meat temp is 165*  Foil and take the meat to 195-205*.  Rest in the foil, wrapped in towels in a cooler for at least 1 hour (2 is better) before slicing or shredding and serving.

The meat temp will stall as the connective tissue breaks down.  Don't panic -- keep the smoker temp the same, don't peek, and ride it out.  All will be well.

I always use water, so I cannot comment on sand except to say that both act like a heat sink to keep cook temps stable.  I believe water keeps the moisture level up in the smoker, and I do not spritz with any liquid.  Everything turns out moist and tender -- every time!

Cook times are just estimates; there are too many variables to give even a decent cook time range.  I've had briskets finish in 10-11 hours and some go 16.  It's done when it's done.  (These are full packer briskets ranging from 14-18 lbs start weight.)

Sausage is done at 165*.  We buy raw and smoke all the way to temp.  They are fantastic!  Maybe 2 hours to reach temp, but again -- they are done when they are done.  Don't rush anything on your smoker.  Your patience will be rewarded!  (Alton Brown)

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SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
Staff member
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined Jun 22, 2009
Welcome to SMF. Sounds like James has you covered. The only thing I might add is to get a good thermometer. The factory therm. is not reliable. You will need one to monitor the chamber temp. & one to monitor the IT of the meat. Maverick makes one with 2 probes, or you can get a couple of inexpensive ones at Walmart. About $15 - $20 each.


Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined May 1, 2007
Welcome to SMF, Glad to have you with us.

This is the place to learn, lots of good info and helpful friendly Members.

For those of you new to Smoking, be sure to check out Jeff's 5 Day Smoking Basics eCourse.

Click Here it's "FREE" ... 5 Day eCourseE

Be sure to put a general location on where you are located in your profile this helps us when answering questions you might have.

Also for those of you new to smoking,  Get a good Probe Thermometer as we smoke by Temperature NOT TIME.

A good choice for a remote dual probe thermometer is the Maverick ET-732


Joined Apr 18, 2011
Thank for all of your help. The brisket turned out pretty good. Had some trouble keeping the heat at 225 degrees. Towards the end it got up to almost 300 degrees. By then I already had the brisket wrapped up in foil so it stayed pretty moist. Most of the time the temperature was at 240-260 and then it just started to spike. Not really sure why that happened.

One more question. I want to get a better smoke ring around the brisket. If I keep the brisket unwrapped the entire time and leave a bigger fat cap will it still stay moist?

Thanks again!


Legendary Pitmaster
SMF Premier Member
Joined Oct 17, 2009
  Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview.

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