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Stone

Smoking Meat

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I've documented a number of my problems with thermometers. Between my probe, oven and a Taylor analog, I get three very different readings. A Smug Engineering Bastard suggested trying them all in boiling water (duh, it's the only thing I can accurate know the temperature of). They agreed in the water, but still disagreed elsewhere. It's not easy.

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The unfortunate truth is that two devices can read the same at the extremes of their range, yet be non-linear between.

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I've always had trouble with Taylor analogs - the digitals are much more reliable.

D the C, did you have the Maverick probe in the meat while you were searing? It's only rated up to, I think, 392º F (as are the Polders) and has a tendency to go wacky at higher cooking temps.

The Maverick works fine for me most of the time, although the probe display and the remote lose their connection every now and then. And it won't work at all from my bedside table, which is of course the critical location during an overnight cook.

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Oh Goddess, I was very careful with my new toy. I had learned my lesson about probe vulnerabilty the previous year, when the same BIL dunked a probed turkey in a couple of gallons of 390 F peanut oil.

I agree regarding analog v. digital, but Katherine is correct: even digital instrumentation exhibits non-linearity.


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

Eat more chicken skin.

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Where should I look to find wood? Can I just go to a lumber yard and get scraps of untreated wood? Will they have hickory, maple, cheery, alder, etc?

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Where should I look to find wood? Can I just go to a lumber yard and get scraps of untreated wood? Will they have hickory, maple, cheery, alder, etc?

How much rain is too much? If I'm expecting some periods of heavy rain, should I not smoke overnight?


Edited by Stone (log)

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Where should I look to find wood? Can I just go to a lumber yard and get scraps of untreated wood? Will they have hickory, maple, cheery, alder, etc?

How much rain is too much?  If I'm expecting some periods of heavy rain, should I not smoke overnight?

You can find wood at any bbq store. Do you have a Barbecues Galore in your area? They have all the woods I mentioned. Check their store locator at Barbecues Galore. I wish they'd open a store here in Seattle. We get ten sunny days a year! :hmmm:

Don't let rain keep you from doing it, just take it into consideration when you smoke or bbq. It's usually cooler when it's rainy than when it's sunny. Cooking time will be longer.

Oh, another reference is the BBQ FAQ. It's available in many locations including: Home of the BBQ FAQ and More.


Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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I've found bags of Weber wood chunks. They're a bit expensive, and the smell isn't great. When I burn the hickory or mesquite, it definitely doesn't have that great aroma. Smells like smoke. I thought I might be able to find a better source.

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I've found bags of Weber wood chunks.  They're a bit expensive, and the smell  isn't great.  When I burn the hickory or mesquite, it definitely doesn't have that great aroma.  Smells like smoke.  I thought I might be able to find a better source.

You need to check Barbecues Galore--they've got lostsa flavors of chunks. Again not cheap, but not bad. For a while, Trader Joe had oak chunks from old (French?) wine barrels--pretty good.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Rain can really suck the heat out of a smoker if is directly exposed.

Nessesity is the mother of invention, one of those cheapie clamp-on umbrellas for beach chairs works wonders on a WSM in the rain...

rain.jpg


=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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Rain can really suck the heat out of a smoker if is directly exposed.

Nessesity is the mother of invention, one of those cheapie clamp-on umbrellas for beach chairs works wonders on a WSM in the rain...

rain.jpg

So, that little Smokey Joe to the right of the WSM--is it used with a chimney to start more coals? Or?


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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

.

The significance of this advice can't be underestimated. In fact, get wide enough foil to cover the whole thing in one pass. Otherwise you get leaking at the seam of the 2 pieces of foil joined together.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Dave the Cook,

Due to juggling domestic chores with smoking on Saturday, I didn't get a chance to compare temps via different themometers. I'll try next time. Should be a fun experiment.

I've described some of Saturday's smoking experiences in the Smokin' meat thread.

Stone,

I too tried some of the Weber hickory chucks. Quickly went back to pecan chucks that I picked up at a specialty store. Time to get back there.

Also, Stupid Move That I Hope Not to Repeat (SMIHNR?)

Only smoked on the top grate in the Weber Smokey Mountain. But left the lower grate in. Decided I was an unintentional masochist while I was cleaning that lower grate. :wacko:

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So, that little Smokey Joe to the right of the WSM--is it used with a chimney to start more coals?  Or?

I use it with the chimney to start the initial batch, but generally don't need to do a second batch as the full fire grate of lump will burn 8+ hours on it's own. Since I use lump charcoal which does not emit nasties while igniting I add ulit pieces to the fire if needed during a long burn like a brisket.


=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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So, that little Smokey Joe to the right of the WSM--is it used with a chimney to start more coals?  Or?

I use it with the chimney to start the initial batch, but generally don't need to do a second batch as the full fire grate of lump will burn 8+ hours on it's own. Since I use lump charcoal which does not emit nasties while igniting I add ulit pieces to the fire if needed during a long burn like a brisket.

What have you found imparts the best smokey flavor to the brisket?


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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=Mark,

How many full loads are you doing in the chimney starter to get a "full fire grate"?

I've been doing one full load in the chimney starter but I'm having to add lump charcoal about every 90 minutes.

Should I be doing more charcoal right off the bat?

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=Mark,

How many full loads are you doing in the chimney starter to get a "full fire grate"?

I've been doing one full load in the chimney starter but I'm having to add lump charcoal about every 90 minutes.

Should I be doing more charcoal right off the bat?

What I do is fill the fire ring with unlit lump charcoal, that is level with the top of the ring. Yes, that's right, fill the darn thing all the way! :shock: Then I take 4 or 5 pieces of lump hardwood and embed them in varying depths in the charcoal, with at least one piece on the top. While doing this I have a chimney full of lump firing up. When the chimney is fully engaged I dump it on the top of the ulit charcoal so that it forms a mound. Then I assemble the smoker and damp down the bottom vents and wait for the temp to stabilize, playing with the vents.

In doing this the fire actually burns down through the unlit charcoal like a giant cigarette, constantly causing a couple pieces of the hardwood to smoulder. Also, by burning from the top down, ashes do not accumulate to clog the air flow. The relative lack of free airflow through the vents prevents the wood from fully igniting. Starting with this large amount of unlit lump also extends the time that it will burn to more than 8 hours. After 6 or so hours you may need to stir the coals up a bit (be gentle or you'll stir up ashes) to coax more heat. After 8 or more hours you might need to add pieces of unlit lump. At this point you need to be aware of when to add charcoal as there is a delay from when charcoal is added till it catches and starts to heat up. You either have to practice or are genetically a pyromaniac to begin with... :laugh:


=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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Excellent feedback. Thanks much!

Three follow-up questions . . .

1. What target temp (at top grate) are you aiming for before you load meat? (I've been aiming for about 280*F & experiencing a ~50*F drop from the added meat & the top off.)

2. How long does it typically take to get your initial target temp stablized?

3. Using lump charcoal in the manner you described, are you able to just use the standard charcoal grate without having a lot of charcoal drop into the firepit? (I've been using the smaller Weber 7501 grate cross-hatched over the standard grate as suggested on the VWB site.)

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I ruined two large hunks o' meat Friday night and saturday. First question: Why can't I find a friggen thermometer that works? I put my new Polder dual-sensor in the pork butt. Registered 32 on the meat and about 100 on the oven. As the oven rose, so did the meat. It didn't really bother me that the oven temp on the Polder on the top rack was about 50* higher than the Pyrex thermometer on the bottom rack, although I thought that was a lot of discrepency for 12 ". What bothered me was when I woke up in the morning and the Polder said the oven was off-the-charts (i.e., over 500*) and the butt was 375* internally. Yeah right. I put the bastard in the fridge, and it's still telling me 140*.

So I put a full brisket on the bottem rack and a 10 lb butt on the top. Got them on at 12:15 a.m. Temps stabilized at 250 ish by 2:30. I went to sleep.

The brisket was rubbed, barely trimmed. I'm not sure what the deal is with this "point" thing. The flat is pretty easy to recognize. The point, however, seems to be just a hunk of fatty tissue atop one end of the flat. Not much by way of meat. My thermometers weren't much help, so I tried forking the fellow. I woke up at 9, and the brisket didn't really seem done. When I pulled it off at 12:13ish, it was, of course, over done. The flat was burnt at the bottom and pretty dry throughout. The point was still little more than fat. Not sure where the meat was supposed to be.

As for the butt, I had three different temp readings depending on the thermometers I used. Polder dual-sensor -- about 350 internal. We can ignore that. Pyrex probe -- about 150 internal -- after 13 hours. Instant read -- about 190. Why, Lord, is this so difficult.

I pulled it off when the bone slid out and a fork twisted easily. Well, about half of it was perfect. There was one large internal muscle that was not pulled -- just a roast.

Sun of a bitch.

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Stone,

Have you tried testing the Polder?  (Boiling water, etc.?)

When I first got it, I tested it with the pyrex in the oven. It matched pretty well. I'll do a boil test tonight.

I'm giving myself one more chance to get a good pulled pork butt, all the way through, and then I'm hanging up my Bullet.

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Be careful not to let the seam where the cable enters the probe get wet, liquids can wick down into the probe and short it out. About 50% of the time they can be dried out in a 4oo degree oven, the rest of the time they are history.

Also just because a WSM may burn for 6 or 8 hours does not mean that you can trust the sucker to maintain temps without an occasional nudge of the intake vents. I like to check on mine every half hour in a perfect world, or at least once an hour. Did your water pan boil dry? Mine will do so after about 4 hours resulting in a temp spike if the pan is not refilled.


=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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Mark's right about that seam, and about the possible cure. If it gets wet, it'll usually dry our all right. But if you get oil down in there, you might as well write it off.

I've resigned myself to keeping a couple of extra probes around, and testing them in ice- or boiling water before putting them to work. For the most part, they're interchangable among brands.


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

Eat more chicken skin.

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