Smoking Made Easy

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gary s

Gone but not forgotten. RIP
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jan 6, 2011


First let me thank Jeff for starting this wonderful forum with the many great members and wisdom they bring.

Keep it Simple!  Don’t over think it or over season it. The first thing I would tell anyone new to Smoking is Get To Know Your Smoker.It doesn't matter what kind of smoker you have, get to know it. Learn it’s characteristics, hot spots, how long does it take to come up to temp, how long before you have to start adding more charcoal, wood etc. Changes in outside temp affect your smoker temp, time and fuel.

Once you get comfortable and know what to expect you can judge your cook time more accurately. But sometimes the unexpected happens. One day last fall I had a smoker full of brisket and ribs, everything was going good and on time, but all at once we had about a 15 min downpour, killed the temp on my smoker (I don’t have it under a covered area) took a little while to get it back where it needed to be, prolonging the cook time and most important my dinner time. But you just have to roll with it, don’t get rattled or give up, things happen.

I am one of those guys who cook low and slow 225°, which works for me. I am not saying that 225° is the magic number, it just what I have gotten use to. Sometimes I will cook a little hotter depends on the situation. I would say start with cook times and temps that are recommended and adjust from there and allow plenty of time. You can hold meat, a lot easier than trying to rush it for a hungry bunch.

Another thing is check your temp gauge. I check mine several times a year. Pull it off and stick the probe in boiling water, if it reads 212° your good, if it doesn’t replace it or adjust for the difference until you can.

I am also a wood and charcoal guy. I have used both lump and briquettes both with good results. Right now I still have several bags of the Kingsford Blue bag because it was on sale and hated to pass it up. I have started using a little charcoal just to get going and then mostly wood.

I use mainly Pecan, Hickory& Oak because they are available here in East Texas. I also like Peach and Cherry, when I can get it. (Quite a few Peach orchards about an hour north of me) A little further to the West (around Dallas) there is plenty of Mesquite,  But  I use very little because it is very strong. When I do I usually just mix a little with my Oak. Also make sure your wood is properly seasoned, green wood imparts a bitter taste.

I was talking about different smokers earlier what I use now is a RF (Reverse Flow) I also still have and use a ECB (El-Cheap-o-Brinkman) on occasion. I have had a SF Straight Flow and a UDS (Ugly-Drum-Smoker) and turned out some great BBQ on all. When I discovered the RF, I had to have one so my son and built the one I am using. But weather you buy it, build it or borrow it, doesn’t matter just get comfortable with it.

I believe all new smokers need to be seasoned. When we build one, we get it up to around 400° +,  and let it go till all the charcoal and wood burn up and it cools back down, just gets rid of any coating or junk that may in the CC or grates. We then build another fire and as it starts warming we spray the inside cook chamber and grates with a heavy coat of oil. We use bacon grease mixed with cooking oil. You can use the spray oils like Pam, regular cooking oil or rub it down if you prefer. As it starts getting hot I will spray it again and just let it go till the wood and charcoal have burned up? Clean out your fire box and your ready to go.

The 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 method works well on Ribs at least it is a good starting point. Pork Butt (shoulder) and Poultry you need to check the internal temp to make sure it is done. Brisket pretty much the same. It usually takes me a minimum of 12 plus hours on a brisket.

The 3-2-1 method is 3 hours on the smoker unwrapped, 2 hours wrapped than 1 hour back on unwrapped.

If I am doing whole chickens I usually wrap them after a couple hours, check the internal temp, then unwrap to finish.

Most of the time I do not wrap my pork butts (shoulders) 

Briskets I usually smoke about 5 or 6 hours uncovered than wrap in butcher paper for the remainder.

Be sure and let all your meat rest when you pull it off. I take a couple of old towels and wrap my brisket and stick it my cooler for an hour or so, longer if needed. Pork Butt the same wrap in foil, a couple of towels and into the cooler.

There are so many recipes, cook times, seasonings and ways to smoke on this site, just look and find what you like and are comfortable with.

I have been smoking for 40 years; I have tried lots of rubs, injections, different woods and techniques. I know a lot of what a person likes relates to the part of the country where he or she live and grew up with. I like all types of BBQ wet, dry, hot, spicy you name it I like it or have tried it.

So smoke what you like, try different things till you get it the way you want.

Starting out, chicken is pretty easy and inexpensive as well as sausage. I would practice a time or two doing these and learning your smoker. Pork Butt (shoulder) is pretty forgiving, takes a while on the smoker but you can really have some good pulled pork.

No right or wrong, just what you like and are comfortable with.

Be patient, allow plenty of time, adjust for the weather and you will have some great BBQ.

Thanks, hope this is useful and enjoy smoking

Gary S   
Thanks Gary for taking the time to publish this 
You are welcome, Just want everybody new to smoking (and older) it doesn't have to be complicated, Keep it simple and fun.

Thanks, Gary   did you ever get your sour dough starter ?

Gary S
Gary, How is your Weather up there, last Monday it was 75 today not out of the 30's

Hey Gary

Yes. the starter is working away.  The weather up here has been fantistic for January.  Water runnig off the roof like crazy.  Have to laugh.  My neighbors are completely security concience.  Gates on the roads, watch everyone who comes in.  But they keep hiring workers out of the paper without vetting them.  The last one she hired to shovel her roof off turns out to be a biker out of Edmonton.  Complete psycopath.  Nationwide warent out for him.  I've had a 12 gauge loaded with first double ott buck then slugs, lying on my love seat for a week.  Go figure  Funny thing is I'm an old biker and used to party with his Bike club back in th 60s
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Be sure and post some bread pictures, That stuff smells fantastic when it's cooking, When it first comes out I liked to cut me an end slice slap some butter on it and WOW !!   I may have told you the neat thing about this bread is so many things you can add, I did a Cinnamon raisin, a sun dried tomato and a  jalapeno and cheese, But just plane you can't beat it.

beuler, thank you for taking time to read it. If anyone has any suggestions or comments please feel free, the more the better.

Thank you Gary S! I am brand new to smoking meats and at times with all of the different methods, rubs, cooking times etc. it can appear to be a little overwhelming.  Sounds like keeping it simple and do not be afraid to experiment will take you a long way! 
Thank you for the complement, sometimes people can really over think it. Once you get comfortable smoking, start trying out different things and see what you like

You are welcome, Just want everybody new to smoking (and older) it doesn't have to be complicated, Keep it simple and fun.


I completely agree 100%. Sometimes keeping it simple is the winner.

My only addition and advice is once you get the basics down to learn to cook by feel and texture. I cook a meat probe (thermapen) to get me close to the finish line but i wont call anything done till the poke and bend test are good to go.

Now my chicken is diferent, i cook to a thigh joint temp of 165. I also cook my chickens cut in half. Doing them this way ive never had a problem with white or dark meat not being just right, moist and tender. I also cook all m meats H/F.

Pictured below i cut that breast with a single slice with my old hickory knife and the skin cut perfect and didnt pull.


Man, that's some good looking chicken 

Hey, if was easy, everybody would be doing it.  That's what a old man told me when I was first starting out running a crane. I said something about this being harder than it looks, and he he said

" Boy, if it was easy, they would have a bunch of little girls out here and you wouldn't have a job".
Haha yup so true. And bbq is definitly one of those things. What i like about it is you get some awesome bbq and put ur own spin on it and figure out your own process and thats when you really feel like youve done something great.
Funny thing, My wife, grandson and I were talking about BBQ cook-offs this morning.  About a year or so back, my wife, granddaughter, son and daughter -in-law  and myself attended one of the championship cook-offs. As we were walking around looking at pits, talking to the cooks and sampling the Q, our granddaughter said loud enough for quite a few people to hear " Papa you should have entered, your BBQ is way better than most of this". we quickly walked away and said "not so loud" but the truth was we had some pretty good Q that came off plane old cheap-o smokers and some not so good Q that came off some high dollar pits, so bottom line it's all about the the one doing the cooking and how well they know their smokers.

Yea, the hard part about comps is that you are cooking to appease the judges and what they are looking for with comp food as opposed to how you and your family likes it. Alot of comp cookers dont cook the same for their familys as they do for comps. Alot dont even like their comp food but do really great at the comps.
I agree it totally depends on the judges taste and what part of the country you are in. A couple of buddies of mine who do competition all the time, try to find out what the judges are looking for, and try to match that, but their give away stuff is usually different. They make it like they like it. That is why BBQ competitions are and always will be whatever the judges taste's are. Really doesn't mean your BBQ is the best, but what the judges liked.

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