Well....I did my first smoke yesterday

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tundra smoke

Original poster
Jul 10, 2006
The Tundra
Some of you may know I was attempting my first smoke yesterday. On a scale of 1 to 10 I think I was at a solid 7 :) For those who dont know I am using a GOSM.

I was barbequeing up some baby back ribs using the *3-2-1 method and my day went something like this.

*I was modifying this for baby backs. I was shooting for 2-1.5-45 minutes

I was up pretty early and started getting the smoker ready. The only time I have fired it up was to give it a bit of a seasoning a couple nights ago. I wanted to give it a bit of another dry run to see where my temps were without any wood chunks or chips. So I filled up the water bowl and cranked it up. I tossed in the thermometer and set it on the lowest setting. I levelled off at about 215. Satisfied I shut it down.

I pulled the ribs out of the fridge around 10 am. I proceeded to remove the membrane off of the two racks I had. I realized at this point that they may not fit in the smoker. So I cut each rack in half. I had prepared a rub the night before so I got down to give these a little massage. I let them rest and come up to room temperature.

I went back out to the smoker and removed the water pan and dumped out the water. I decided to line the pan with foil as per suggestions found here. I also got things ready that I figured I would need. Tongs, wood chips (I decided on apple) paper towel, gloves, ash bucket. I refilled the water pan and fired the smoker up again. I figured I should heat up the water a bit since I filled it from the hose. Once that was warmed up I shut it down again (OK..I'm dying to get this underway LOL)

Just before noon I fired up the smoker again this time adding dry chips. I went in and grabbed the ribs and got ready to toss them in. I had a bit of smoke within a couple minutes and my temp was at about 220. Since I was doing baby backs I used the 2 lowest racks. I have the ET-73 thermometer so I placed the chamber probe on the lowest rack and the meat probed went into one of the racks on the higher rack. Of course I had a problem getting the meat probe hooked back up to the transmitter resulting in the door being left open longer than I had hoped for and the temp dropped. After getting that all squared away I cranked up the heat a bit to get it back up to 215. I noticed I was getting a lot of smoke by this time and slightly worried about the possibility of creosote. The smoke tapered of and went thin. After 20 minutes or so the thick smoke came back and I figured it might be time to change out my chips. Someone here had mentioned thick smoke may be a sign the wood is done. I wasnt crazy about opening the door so quickly again but figured it had to be done. I quickly pulled the fire box and refilled it. I grabbed the hose and sprinkled a little water on the chips to slow things down a bit. I got that tossed back in with minimal heat loss. In a couple minutes I had smoke again but this time it was a nice light thin smoke. At the one hour mark I began with my mop and figured I might as well give them a mop everytime I opened the door. The meat temperatures were starting to climb a bit and I wanted to put the smoke to them until I had a meat temp of 140. I watched the smoke start to get heavy again and with the meat temp around 135 I figured I should change out the chips again. I pulled the fire box again and this time I used 3 hickory chunks (dry) Once again I managed a thin smoke. I pulled these off once the meat temp hit 140.

The ribs were in about 1.5 hours at this time. I had prepared some foil to wrap them up in and had AJ ready to splash on them. At the 2 hour mark I pulled them. The meat was starting to pull back from the bones a bit but not much. Once again I had issues with the meat probe causing me to leave the door open too long. I got the ribs in foil and splashed with AJ and back into the smoker. I had lost a ton of heat so I cranked it back up to get me into the 215-220 range. I sat back for the next hour and a half and kept my eyes on the temps. After they had been in for 30 minutes I opened the door and tossed in 2 ears of corn. I was shooting for a target meat temp of 168 with the smoker at 215-220. I did have trouble maintaining the chamber temps and was constantly adjusting things. I had a spike at one time but adding a bit of cold water to the water bowl helped that. After they had been in for 1.5 hours I pulled them out again. And surprise, once again trouble with the probe. The meat probe was at 170 when I pulled them so I decided to leave it out for the last part of the smoke. They had pulled back nicely from the bone and were looking pretty good. At this time I gave them a quick coat of sauce (thin) and tossed them back in. I dont know why but once again problems regulating the heat. I was getting readings of only 140. I cranked the heat up and still nothing. I decided to check on the chamber probe and sure enough it was touching the ribs (Sauce and all) I got that cleaned off and the door closed. I lost some heat but once the probed registered again it was 250. I quickly opened the door to cool things off and finally got it back down to 225. I pulled them 45 minutes later. I wrapped them in foil and a towel and tossed them into the oven (turned off) to rest. I pulled the corn 30 minutes later and wrapped them as well. They rested in the oven with the ribs. I had planned on supper for 5pm and unfortunately the Mrs had to work late. We sat down at 6 and tore into them.

They were very good. They were not fall off the bone tender, but they were not tough. I did however manage a smoke ring. The corn was damn fine.

All in all I am pleased with my first attempt and hope you all dont mind my rambling on LOL.

I am going to have to figure out a way of controlling the temps as well as a better situation for the probes.
TS-did you give the ribs a splash of apple juice (1/4 cup) before you sealed up the foil? Since I have done ribs so many times now the only temp probe I use is the one for the chamber temp. I smoke the ribs 'til the meat pulls back from the bone end about 1/4 inch and then they go into the foil with some apple juice. After about 1 1/2 hours, I begin to check my ribs by picking up a foiled rack with a gloved hand. When the ribs begin to bend, I remove the foil and place back into the smoker. If I'm going to sauce them, I slather on some 'Que sauce about 20 minutes later. Normally, I just serve them naked with sauce on the side. Very rarely do the ribs remain in the smoker for the whole hour.

When adding water to the pan add HOT water as this will help regain some heat loss when the door is opened.
Sounds like you made out ok. I hadn't hear dthe discussion on thick smoke vs. thin smoke, so that was interesting to read. I'm always happy when I see smoke barrelling out! :-) Sounds like you're on your way to being a pro. Based on your adjustments, I get the impression that you have a propane smoker, true?

Oh yeah, Dutch already mentioned this, but using hot/boiling water in the water pan helps a lot. I used to use cold water and had problems maintaining heat. Interestingly, it seems that I had to refresh the water pan less frequently using hot water than I did with cold water.

I did splash them with AJ (about 1/4 cup) when I tossed them into foil. I knew about adding hot water to the pan but in this case the smoker was running hot and adding cooler water settled out the temps for me. I tried the "pick them up in the middle" trick but because I cut the racks in half I dont think there was enough weight on each end to give me a good feel for how they were


Yes, I have a propane smoker. During the entire smoke/cook I only lost about 3/4 of an inch of water. Adding cool water in this instance helped me get my temps down.

I was just discussing with the Mrs. what is going in the smoker next. I think I'm going to give a chicken a shot.
a boston butt is a great confidence meal. It's hard to get that one wrong and makes you look like a champ to your family.. :-)
Well Tundra Smoke, you are now an experienced smoker, but next you are going to either have to ship those ribs out to Southern Cali, or get a camera and post some pics so we can see me.

When I started smoking, I cooked ribs every weekend for 2 months until I could get them just the way I want them.

I did take a couple of pics pre smoker. I didnt get any after they came out. I didnt bother uploading them to my server yet. I might have to keep plugging away at the ribs for a few weekends. Practice makes perfect :)
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