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Stone

Smoking Meat

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You can find my first experiences with the Weber Bullet here: click.

Here's what I found:

1) I had the unit in a nook in the roof, about 3 feet away from the walls. I don't think I had enough airflow through the lower vents to keep the coals glowing. Next time it will sit in the center of the roof. (I put a foil pan of water under the unit to make sure I wasn't melting the roof top. It didn't seem to be an issue.) I thought about getting a thin metal pipe, about two feet long, that could slide into a vent hole for blowing. Hopefully not necessary nor worth the burned lungs I will end up with since I'll certain breath in through the pipe.

2) To add new coal, per Col's instructions, I just lifted off the top two sections (there's a handy lip where the top meets the middle, it's easy), and rested it on an grill grate (so as not to melt into the roof). It's much easier than trying to spoon hot coals into the door.

3) I need an easy way to check the water level in the tray -- or just add water carefully throughout the process.

4) Digital Thermometer is the way to go. A regular meat probe sticking in the meat will be black and unreadable.

5) I picked up wood chips (apple and hickory) at Whole foods. They were chipped quite small (almost but not quite like hamster cage chips). This meant that they burned pretty fast.

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What was the question? :biggrin:

Wood chunks are better than chips. Soaking chips doesn't really accomplish much - just gives you wet wood.

isn't the aroma of pork/hickory/apple incredible?

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The way I set up my Weber Smokey Mountain is to first fill the fire ring with lump charcoal so that it is level with the top of the perforated ring. At this point I mix about 4 fist sized wood chunks into the charcoal at various depths and locations (Some in the center, some near the edge). I then start a FULL chimney of charcoal (This is a genuine Weber chimney, bigger than most) and dump it on top of the unlit charcoal. Assemble the smoker, wait for the smoker to come up to full temp and put the Butt on the top rack (The higher in the smoker you go, the hotter the temp.) With a full load of charcoal and the fact that it is burning evenly down from top to bottom you should be able to maintain temps between 220 and 250 for in excess of 9 hours without undue poking or adding of any more fuel. Use the bottom vents to regulate the heat. During the first few hours you'll have to keep them practically closed to prevent a runaway temp. spike to 350 or more.

Be sure to always leave the top vent fully open at all times, damping it down can cause bitter flavors from stale smoke. Use the lower vents to control the fire. I use the remote thermometer on the rack an inch or so from the meat, I am more comfortable knowing the temp in the smoker and guage doneness by time, feel and appearance. Avoid putting the probe too close to the edge of the rack because the heat comes up between the walls of the smoker and the water pan. To refill the water pan I use one of those indoor watering cans with the long spout. Avoid drippin water on the coals to prevent ash kicking up onto the meat. You should avoid blowing into the lower vents for the same reason, ash from lump charcoal is very light.

After like 7 or 8 hours depending on size I will poke and prod to check for doneness. You are looking for a particular state of jiggly doneness known in the BBQ Forum world as "Wabba-wabba." :cool: This becomes easier to identify with experience. At this point a fork stuck into the meat should be easily twisted around with little resistance.

For more tips and ideas check out the Virtual Weber Bullet Website.

There is also my Fun With Fire Smokin' off Exit 109 site... Enjoy!


Edited by =Mark (log)

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Overnight cooking?

If you were smoking on the roof of your apartment building, would you light the sucker and go to sleep for 9 hours, or is there too great a risk of wind/fallover/fire?

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I don't see the unit falling over as a risk, as when fully loaded with fuel, meat and water it's pretty heavy and stable. Also the vents themselves prevent much in the way of any drafts reaching the coals and causing sparks, especially when the fire is running its strongest at the beginning and they are damped way down.

I'd say your best bet safty-wise would be to purchase one of those metal pans with the rim around the edge that is meant to have a hot water heater installed on it. Other than this the only problem I could see is that the water pan needs to be refilled every 3 or 4 hours.

Of course with all sources of open flame there are risks, and any such device will come with warnings about leaving them lit while unattended. You have to assess the risks as you percieve them. Did you leave the unit unattended for more than 5 minutes during your last session? Realize that the possibility of fire you cite is just as valid at any time of day if you leave the scene, not just at night when you are asleep. If anything there tend to be higher winds during the day than at night.


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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I went back and looked at your first thread to see what the bullet looks like, but all the photos are temporarily unavailable.   :angry:   :wink:

But here's a shot of the bullet:

You can see the three sections above -- the top lid, which fits over the top rack. The middle, which holds the water pan with the center rack just above it (that's where I put the ribs, standing on end in a rib rack), and the lower section, with the charcoal bin. The top grill fits right at the top of the middle section, the dome of the lid is high enough that the 7.5 lb shoulder fit with no problem. The whole thing is about 4 feet high.

fc8e964f.jpg

Here's the charcoal bin, with the top two sections removed. They're pretty light, so it's easy to pull them off during smoking to add more charcoal if needed. (You don't lose much heat because the top stays on.) Wood chunks can be added through the little metal door, but the water pan is right behind the door -- there's not a lot of room to stick your hand in. (Don't worry, at 230ish degrees, the smoker is not very hot if you're just pushing in wood chunks. It's not like dipping your hand in boiling water.)

fc8e95e6.jpg

This is looking into the middle section with the top grill rack removed. You can see the lower grill and the dirty water pan:

fc8e9618.jpg

(If I was smarter, I'd wrap the water pan in foil. Next time.)

I got mine at Action Rental, a big rental place at 16th and South Van Ess. They're a full Weber dealer -- I got the rib rack and the Weber chimney (it's bigger than standard) there, as well as a scraper and two bags of wood chunks. Each item was probably $2 more than Amazon, but instant gratification is worth something.


Edited by Stone (log)

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Thanks for fixing the photographs!

And for complicating my decision. :laugh:

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Hmmmm...the Bullet is very similar to my Brinkman water smoker. In fact I would say it is a copy of the Brinkman, if I knew which came out first. So what makes it worth $179 when the Brinkman only cost me $27 just 2 years ago???


Lobster.

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Temperature Fluctuations? If the temp is kept in a range between, say, 220 and 250, is there a problem with fluctuations within that zone? (Putting aside an occasional spike or dip.)

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No, especially when you're smoking something with a lot of internal fat like a pork shoulder. Over a long cook what matters is the average temperature at grill level. Occasional spikes and dips aren't cause for concern either.

When I first started smoking I couldn't resist tweaking the lower vent whenever the temp went below or above my target. That just leads to more fluctuation. Eventually I learned to open another beer and relax. :biggrin:

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Hmmmm...the Bullet is very similar to my Brinkman water smoker.  In fact I would say it is a copy of the Brinkman, if I knew which came out first.  So what makes it worth $179 when the Brinkman only cost me $27 just 2 years ago???

I learned to smoke on a Brinkmann stainless bullet, then graduated to the Weber which is the cadillac of water smokers. It was worth every penny! Here is why:

Construction. The Weber is heavy duty porcalain coated steel which is strong and rust free.

Vented air intakes. This is the most important difference. With the Brinkman there is no control over the air intakes. Fire control is achieved by the rate at which fuel is added and must be checked every 15 to 20 minutes. With the WSM there are 3 butterfly vents that control the intake airflow. As a result the firebox can be fully loaded with lump charcoal and wood chunks. When lit and with the vents damped down the smoker can chug along as long as 6 hours with no poking or prodding. A few simple sdjustments of the vents is the only control needed to maintain a steady temperature. As a result more attention can be give to important aspects of a weekend afternoon such as hammock testing or evaluation of adult beverages...


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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I filled my bullet at 2:00 am last night, and had no trouble keeping a 240 temp through 1:30 in the pm.

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FoodTV does a lot of BBQ segments, and they often show folks working large smoking contraptions. The cook keeps opening up the huge lid to baste, turn, poke. Doesn't this let all the heat out? Does it matter?

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These are large trailer mounted rigs using seasoned logs, often with fan powered air intakes. These rigs are so large and retain so much heat that loss of heat is not as much of an issue compared to the relatively smaller

H2O smokers.

Loss of heat is especially a problem with the Brinkmann type bullet smokers because the internal temp is maintained by tending a relatively small fire. Heat lost by opening the lid takes time to return. The Weber Smokey Mountain can be loaded with a full firebox of charcoal and wood, and it is a simple matter to open up the intake vents to bring the temp back up, then damp them down to level it out.


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Is there any problem using the WSM on a wood deck? How about if I put ceramic tiles under it? What I'm wondering about is the warning that it shouldn't be used within 5 feet of any combustibles. Is this overkill? Thanks.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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FWIW, I purchased an automotive drip pan (not an oil pan!) & put my WSM on that. In particular, it was very useful for protecting the driveway when I needed to light additional chimney starters whilst cooking.

Here's a pic of the type of drip pan that I purchased. It was $7 at the local hardware.

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FWIW, I purchased an automotive drip pan (not an oil pan!) & put my WSM on that.  In particular, it was very useful for protecting the driveway when I needed to light additional chimney starters whilst cooking.

Here's a pic of the type of drip pan that I purchased.  It was $7 at the local hardware.

Good tip. Thanks. Looks like it's time for a trip to see Manny, Moe and Jack.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Is there any problem using the WSM on a wood deck?  How about if I put ceramic tiles under it?  What I'm wondering about is the warning that it shouldn't be used within 5 feet of any combustibles.  Is this overkill?  Thanks.

I have mine up on the roof. It's a silver-painted tar-like substance. The first time I smoked, I put a foil roasting pan full of water under the smoker. The water barely went beyond warm. The next times I didn't put anything underneath -- there was no discoloration or anything under the WSB. I think you're safe. However, the smoker will drop bits of coal, etc., which will make small burn marks in wood. For that reason, you probably want to put something underneath, but I don't think it needs to be very thick.

By the way, I just bought a Polder dual-sensor thermometer. The probe has a sensor on the pointy end, for registering meat temp, and another sensor on the top of the probe (where the lead is attached) to measure oven temp. Assuming it works, it seems like a solution to many problems.

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By the way, I just bought a Polder dual-sensor thermometer.  The probe has a sensor on the pointy end, for registering meat temp, and another sensor on the top of the probe (where the lead is attached) to measure oven temp.  Assuming it works, it seems like a solution to many problems.

Thanks. Hope the probe works. Let's hear about it.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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By the way, I just bought a Polder dual-sensor thermometer. The probe has a sensor on the pointy end, for registering meat temp, and another sensor on the top of the probe (where the lead is attached) to measure oven temp. Assuming it works, it seems like a solution to many problems.

These work pretty well.

But I still want a low-temp alarm. And I want it all, plus a timer function, in a single radio transmitter package.

Is that too much to ask?


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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But I still want a low-temp alarm. And I want it all, plus a timer function, in a single radio transmitter package.

Is that too much to ask?

It seems doable but expensive. Maybe there's some application of space age tech that could help us here. I can see your infomercial now.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Dave, how about you pick up one of these & offer us a report.

FWIW, I have the Maverick ET-7 coming this week.  I plan on using it with a pork butt this weekend.  Anyone interested in a report on that device?

I've looked at the Flukes, actually. They don't seem to have audible alarms, otherwise they'd be in serious consideration, even though the cheapest costs more than my grill.

I have the Williams-Sonoma model of that Maverick. (Somewhere on eG there's a brief discussion about them, as well as the simpler Polder-style probes.) When I first got it, I was appalled at its accuracy. but last Saturday, it tracked the Polder dual degree-for-degree when measuring the grill temperature.Since this is higher than typical internal meat temps, I'm wondering about it's accuracy from say, 100 to 150F. I look forward to your report.

The other problem I have with it is that I've lost the manual, and I can't figure out how to set the alarm temperature for anything other than the pre-programmed Beef/Pork/Chicken temps. The result was the damn thing went off every three minutes for about six hours. So in addition to your review, maybe you could include a few, um, tips? Otherwise, I'll have to give it to my ten-year old and get him to explain it.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Dave, here's a PDF of the Maverick ET-7 manual.

And, yes, I'll report on my adventure this coming Saturday.

BTW, what did you find concerning the Maverick versus the Polder at 100 to 150F?

I don't have a Polder so I'll have to compare at that temp range with one of my "standard" meat thermometers.

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Thanks for the link Matthew.

I don't want to cast aspersions on the Maverick unfairly, which is why I'm interested in your experience. What happened to me follows. I'm relying on a five-month old memory.

I received the thermometer as a Christmas present, and I was using it for the first time on a prime rib. I secured the probe when I put the roast in the oven. It was the first time I had tried searing the roast first, so I was uncertain as to how long the cooking time would be. This was an 11-pound hunk of beef, so I was probably estimating on the order of two to two-and-a-half hours, minimum.

But the probe said it hit 118 in about 80 minutes. I didn't believe it, so I poked in a few places around the meat, and got similar readings. I was still dubious, so before actually cutting into it, I tried an instant-read. It said low 90s. So I tried the Polder, which said around 95. I crossed my fingers and put the roast back in the oven, with the Polder and the Maverick still inserted.

Here's the problem*: I don't remember what the Maverick read when the Polder said 118.

*Actually that's a lie. Here's the real problem: we were conducting a tasting of sparkling reds, and my brother-in-law started pouring before the food came out. So it's possible the information was never deposited in the ol' memory bank.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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