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Stone

Smoking Meat

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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.)

I usually just shoot for 250 degrees. When starting with a fire ring full of charcoal it easily recovers at the start of a session. I've found it is actually more difficult to keep temps at 250 or lower at this point, all that fuel just wants to flame! I often keep the bottom vents nearly completely closed for the first couple hours.

Generally the initial temp can be stabilized within 40 minutes to an hour after assembling the WSM. Bear in mind that external factors such as sunlight, wind and ambient temps will have more effect than you might think. Other folks I know use sheet metal or water heater insulation to negate these influences.

The third question depends on the size of your lump. (I know, duh...) often the bottom quarter of your bag of lump will have more gravelly sized small pieces. Using an extra grate perpendicular to the standard grate will help prevent the small pieces from falling through.


=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.

But I shouldn't let the lead-end of the probe get under water?

Where do you get extra probes?

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But I shouldn't let the lead-end of the probe get under water?

Where do you get extra probes?

You need not worry about immersing the pointy end, just keep the cable end an inch or two away from any liquid. Also avoid any kinks or compression of the cable.


=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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This whole temp discussion reminds me of the thermodynamics talk on the mint julep thread. Given that temps can vary so many ways, I'm thinking that notwithstanding all the technology thrown at the issue, there's still a lot of art form in this smoking biz. Which may be a good thing. If it were all autopilot, we'd get bored.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Replacements: probe me.

Ten bucks.

I saw that, but they don't list replacements for the dual sensor. I'm emailing the company.

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$7.99 on Amazon.

I don't know how to do the eGullet Amazon link thing, so search for "Replacement Probe for Polder."

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there's still a lot of art form in this smoking biz.  Which may be a good thing.  If it were all autopilot, we'd get bored.

This is true, and we're talking the Weber Smokey Mountain which can control air intake with butterfly valves. You want to talk nightmare checking the unit every 15 minutes controlling the temps solely by adding or not adding fuel, hardwood bursting into flame, wind stirring up ash, etc. Try one of those El Cheapo Brinkmanns with no intake valves...

Save $$$ = Slave to entire smoke session.

Of course there are what are referred to in the BBQ vernacular as "Lazy-Q" smokers that use temp sensors, electric ignition and an auger with a hopper of wood pellets to achieve a true "set it and forget it" smoking scenario.


=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'm very new to eGullet, but have been smoking for quite a while, with a lot of experience with a WSM. I'll add a few comments. Sorry for jumping in towards the end of a fairly long thread.

Newbies should start with the basics. There is a lot of useful information on the net, especially on the vitrual weber site. Learn fire control in your bullet before trying some of the more advanced tactics. Start with water in the water pan, hot water. Hold off on the sand for a while.

If you are having problems with your fire getting out of control, go back to briquettes. They burn a lot cooler. Personally, I think briquettes are vile, but I used them for several years before graduating to lump charcoal. They are a lot easier to work with. A new WSM will run hotter for the first few cooks until the shiny inside surface picks up a layer of crud.

Start with dumping a chimney on the fire grate and fill the ring on top of that. Hold off on the Minion method for a while.

The top grate runs about 25 to 30F hotter than the bottom grate. If you are cooking on both grates, run the top grate at 250F or a little higher.

Newer probes, remote and dual, have what seems to be a high failure rate. Start with a basic Poldor. Stick the probe though a wine cork or small potato to keep it from touching the metal grate. Do not leave the probe tip in contact with meat. It should be measuring air temperature at the grate.

Never allow moisture to come in contact with the probe/cable junction. Use a bagie to keep the readout dry. Readouts get flaky when exposed to bright, direct sunlight. Provide some shade.

Take it easy with the wood chunks. You don't need more than a few. Do not soak them in water. Do not use mesquite for a few years. It works good in a grill but can be death in a smoker. I like pecan, oak and maple. I also like cherry, but it will result in a fairly dark meat surface.

Stir the ashes in the fire pan down every once in a while. This is more important with briquettes.

Don't micromanage your temperature. Temperature swings of +- 25F are normal. Learn to live with them. Keep your water pan full. Make sure the aluminum door has a tight fit. A little bending may be necessary.

Meat will be done when it is done. When the bone in a butt can be wiggled it is done. When you can easily twist a fork in the flat of a brisket, it is done. Times and internal temperatures are only approximations.

Jim

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Dude. Perhaps it's all the wine and cough medicine. But you rock. That was like a lesson from Yoda. And I'm Grasshopper. Excuse me, I'm going to go stick my fists into the glowing fit pit.

Who runs the Virtual Bullet Site anyway? It doesn't seem to be a Weber property.

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Agreed! What a great post, jmcgrath. I certainly learned a helluva lot.

Strong the force is with this one, yeesss.

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The top grate runs about 25 to 30F hotter than the bottom grate.  If you are cooking on both grates, run the top grate at 250F or a little higher.

Inspired post. If you're just smoking a brisket, which grate do you use?


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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The top grate runs about 25 to 30F hotter than the bottom grate.  If you are cooking on both grates, run the top grate at 250F or a little higher.

Inspired post.  If you're just smoking a brisket, which grate do you use?

I use the top grate. I has handles which makes removing the meat much easier. Getting a heavy piece of meat off the bottom grate can be difficult.

Jim

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When I did both brisket and butt, I put the brisket on the bottom, so it would get an extra basting from the butt-juice. (he he he.) But then again, I fucked it all up, so don't listent to me.

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Here's what I want to do in my Bullit, for a BBQ:

1 8lb shoulder (brined for three days as it defrosts)

2 racks o' ribs

1 brisket (just the flat)

Maybe a chicken?

Here's what I'm thinking. Start the Butt on the top rack at 9 pm the night before. Get the temp stable before going to sleep.

Starting the brisket early in the am on the lower -- maybe 7ish.

Brisket and/or butt should be done at 11ish. Put ribs on the now empty rack. -- 4 hours-ish?

Toss on a couple o' brined chickens when another rack frees up.

Am I way out of my abilities?

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Probably not, your timing seems sound.

Do you have a rib rack? If so, you could place all of your ribs on just one level and you could smoke four chickens in the time your ribs are on (2 sets of two at 1 1/2 - 2 hours) and you could pull your ribs and chickens off at the same time.

Having an all day event?

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All day and all of the night.

How about a big salmon filet? How long will that take?

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How about a big salmon filet?  How long will that take?

FWIW, I smoked salmon recently. Cut the fillet into strips ~1 1/2 inches by 5 inches.

Strips were done in 20 minutes at ~210*F.

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Here's what I want to do in my Bullit, for a BBQ:

1 8lb shoulder (brined for three days as it defrosts)

2 racks o' ribs

1 brisket (just the flat)

Maybe a chicken?

Here's what I'm thinking.  Start the Butt on the top rack at 9 pm the night before.  Get the temp stable before going to sleep.

Starting the brisket early in the am on the lower -- maybe 7ish.

Brisket and/or butt should be done at 11ish.  Put ribs on the now empty rack. -- 4 hours-ish?

Toss on a couple o' brined chickens when another rack frees up.

Am I way out of my abilities?

You left out too much information. When do you want to eat and at what temperature will you be cooking? Your butt could be done as early as 9:00 AM. How much does the brisket flat weigh? Four hours seems short for a brisket, and remember that your bottom shelf will be running cooler. Figure five hours for baby backs and six hours for spares. Whole chickens will take one and a half to two hours.

I'd move the butt to the bottom shelf when the brisket is ready to go on. It sounds neat to have the butt basting the brisket, but I don't think your timeline works well enough to do that. If the brisket is taking longer than you expected, you can use the "Texas crutch" and wrap it in foil when it reaches 165F internal.

Times are only an estimate. The meat is done when it is done, and you are better off early than late. A whole brisket or butt wrapped in foil will hold well in an insulated container. Don't pull or slice until you are ready to serve.

Jim

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All day and all of the night.

How about a big salmon filet?  How long will that take?

The bigger it is the longer it will take but the smokiness won't be as even. I'd throw it on when the coals are almost spent and the smoker is as cool as possible yet still giving up smoke -- ie. getting as to cold smoking as possible for the best result. But after brisket, butt, ribs and chicken, your party may be getting full.

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You left out too much information.  When do you want to eat and at what temperature will you be cooking?  Your butt could be done as early as 9:00 AM.  How much does the brisket flat weigh?  Four hours seems short for a brisket, and remember that your bottom shelf will be running cooler.  Figure five hours for baby backs and six hours for spares.  Whole chickens will take one and a half to two hours.

Jim

You're right.

I hope to have some food by 2 pm, with others coming throughout the afternoon. I still haven't decided on what exactly I'll cook, but I'm pretty sure the butt will be part of it. I may cut out the brisket, because I think that's the most difficult. I figure the butt will finish early, but I'll wrap it and put it in a closed oven (maybe a warm oven?).

I expect to do the butt at 225 -- 250. Usually, when I've done big butts, I'm still not all the way at 14 hours. I get a great "pulled" texture about half way down, but there are still muscles that are mearly pork-roasts.

I'm thinking that the brisket will be about 4 pounds. I tried a 9 pound whole brisket (flat and point), but it didn't come out well. The flat was over-done (probably my fault trying on overnight cook) and the point was just a glog of fatty meat. I don't want to risk another failure -- not everyone will be completely drugged up.

Last time I did spare ribs, they only took about 4 hours or so. But then again, I've a few friends that haven't been around for a while.

(By the way, Jim, the pink piggie makes me very sad.)


Edited by Stone (log)

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I'm thinking that the brisket will be about 4 pounds.  I tried a 9 pound whole brisket (flat and point), but it didn't come out well.  The flat was over-done (probably my fault trying on overnight cook) and the point was just a glog of fatty meat.  I don't want to risk another failure -- not everyone will be completely drugged up.

The flat always gets done first. When you can stick a fork in and do an easy quarter turn, it is done. Slice off the point. Just follow the layer of fat that separates the two pieces. Put the point back in for a few more hours until most of the fat is rendered. Don't worry about it drying out. Chop it up for great burnt ends sandwiches.

Jim

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I'll try it. But I really didn't notice much identifiable meat in the point that I cooked. It wasn't as if there were two meat portions (point and flat) separated by discreet layer of fat. The entire point (or at least what I assume was the point), was a jumble of fat and meat "pockets".

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