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Q&A -- Smoking Meat At home

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Hi,

I need some help :huh: please.

I've been browsing these threads and have already learned a-bit and have found things I definately want to try.

I'm using Chargriller grill with a side firebox - this is a pretty new piece of equipment for me. Ive done some smoking with a water smoker in the distant past.

I smoked the family's first meal tonight and had a problem controlling the temptature. I just could not seem to get the smoke box to reach and maintain a good temprature around 200 to 230 degrees.

I'll describe what I did. I'm trying to get an idea if my problem is something I'm doing wrong or if the weather caused this. Any way here goes.

I'm using briquets and started them in a charcoal chimney. I let the box get to about 150 degrees and put the meat on (a small 5lb piece of pork, merinaded overnight).

Checked the smoke box temprature and it reached about 200 degrees and put the wood chips in the firebox using a cast iron wood box. The smoke was great.

Had to run some errands, but had Mrs. Smoker periodically checking the box temp. using the Chargriller supplied temp. gauge. The gauge was calibrated in the oven and I feel it is close enough for now. I plan on investing in a digital thermometer very soon.

About two hours after I stated smoking the meat, the smoke box temprature begins to drop. I added more coals that I started in the chimney with some more wood chips added and had another blast of some really fine looking smoke. From here I could not get the temp. above about 175. I wound up adding another heaping chimney full of coals but just couldn't get the temp above 175 and most of the time about 170 degrees.

After about 8 hours of smoking this way I took the roast out, checked the meat thermoter I had in it and had an internal temp. of about 165 degrees.

I finished it off in the oven. The meat tasted great and I thought still pretty moist.

It didn't rain today and it wasn't windy. The temp outside when I began smoking was about 55 degrees and dropped to about 50 degrees for most of the time.

The fire box I know had plenty of heat to share.

I'm just wondering if I'm missing something or of this is what I should have expected.

Thanks everyone for your help.

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A couple of questions/comments:

Smoking brisket is a serious time commitment.  And, a serious beer commitment.  I need to smoke some (I'm about to lose my smoking brisket virginity  :rolleyes: ).  SOme to eat that same day.  I also need some about two weeks later.  In the interest of time, do you freeze?  If so, do you heat the thawed stuff up or just serve cold.

I hope you can provide a report in January when you've done your first sub-zero smoking.

Finally, next time we see you, any "reinforcement" you can provide reinforcement to Paul that yes, I do need something besides the Weber; something like what you have.  The Weber seems to need more constant attention than I can often give.

You can smoke it all up on the first day and save the rest for two weeks later. It would probably be safer to freeze the remainder but I've had smoked brisket last two weeks in the fridge and still be all right.

As to reheating, how are you planning on serving it? For sandwichs? I like to eat my brisket hot and I reheat it in the oven at 350 until it's ready. Usually not much longer than 20 minutes to a half hour.

If you want to smoke but you're finding the Weber too much work, go with the Weber Smokey Mountain. They require hardly any work at all.

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Smoker,

You might want to switch to firewood with your Chargriller. I have the same model as you do, but I have never used charcoal. Although I'm not surprised you had a hard time keeping the temp up. Unlike a grill, the coals are a good distance away from the meat and the firebox bleeds heat relentlessly. A hardwood fire is going to burn hotter than a charcoal fire will and you need all of this bleeding so it doesn't get too hot.

If you're using charcoal, it would be more effecient to put the coals inside the barrel and not in the firebox -- in which case you can follow the instructions for smoking with the Weber kettle. Also, if you don't want to switch to firewood, try using lump charcoal which burns hotter, is easier to light and easier to control.

Do keep in mind that at this time of the year, you're going to need more fuel to compensate for cooler temperatures.

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You can smoke it all up on the first day and save the rest for two weeks later. It would probably be safer to freeze the remainder but I've had smoked brisket last two weeks in the fridge and still be all right.

As to reheating, how are you planning on serving it? For sandwichs? I like to eat my brisket hot and I reheat it in the oven at 350 until it's ready. Usually not much longer than 20 minutes to a half hour.

If you want to smoke but you're finding the Weber too much work, go with the Weber Smokey Mountain. They require hardly any work at all.

Thanks for the advice.

First, I don't think brisket needs a sandwich. It stands on it's own!

Second, I don't want no work, just less work. And, less stuff (5 bikes, lawnmower, snow blower, garden stuff, two cars, etc. sort of fill up the garage). I don't think a person can grill on a Smokey Mountain. Why did you opt for the Chargiller instead of a Smokey Mountain? I'm looking for a "one thing can do most of it" thing.

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You mentioned that you wanted less work than the Weber (which isn't really that much work) and less work would be the Smokey Mountain. Smokey Mountains aren't completely "no work" but they are when you compare the amount of work with what I have.

The reason I picked the Chargriller was it was the cheapest smoker that used actual firewood. My buddy already had a Smokey Mountain and made great 'que with it. I reasoned that if you can do great 'que with coals and chips, an actual hardwood fire would be even better, and I was right. However, the amount of work involved is dramatically more than a Weber kettle or a Smokey Mountain.

However, if you're looking for a "one thing can do most of it" and the amount of work isn't an issue the Chargriller is your best bet -- it can grill (in the box there's a false bottom for charcoal) as well as smoke.

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I was reading somewhere recently (Saveur?) about "double-smoked ham"--some guy has created a business wherein he buys Smithfield hams and then smokes them again for about 12 hours. Have you tried anything like this?

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I don't think a person can grill on a Smokey Mountain.  Why did you opt for the Chargiller instead of a Smokey Mountain?  I'm looking for a "one thing can do most of it" thing.

One's interpretation of the word "grilling", can run the gambit amongst a group of woodburning coal aficionado's.

The Weber Smoky Mountain can be easily turned into a great grilling machine, by removing the water pan.

This allows you to cook meats at three different levels. Directly, at a distance of about 3" inches from the fire, on the middle grate, which is about 15" from the hot coals or the top grate, at about 20".

This past Sunday I gingerly, smoke-roasted four chicken halves on the top grate of my WSM, in about 2 1/2 hours, sans the water pan.

woodburner

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A friend of mine uses branches from pine trees in his grill. Isn't that really dangerous? (And won't it tast like pine tar?)

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Although my wife thinks the time incolved is a little wacky (setting the clock for 5 am to turn over a piece of pork) my dog thinks its the greatest as she got to play outside everytime I got up to check the temp or turn the meat.My f

My friend's dog loves when I smoke. She goes through the shoulder blades in about 5 minutes. And she eats the rib bones like they were bread sticks. I refuse to give her chicken bones, because I was told long ago that chicken bones splinter and can cut up a dog's gullet. But her owner gives her chicken bones all the time.

fd57082d.jpg

Zinga. (She has a really big head.)

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A friend of mine uses branches from pine trees in his grill.  Isn't that really dangerous?  (And won't it tast like pine tar?)

I would assume that it would taste of pine and I'd certainly never try it. As to it being dangerous, I'm not sure but I wouldn't do it.

Cute pooch Stone!

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Klink or anyone out there with a gas grill I'd love to get your suggestions on smoking with a gas grill. I know, I read that you don't recommend it but I've got to work with what I have!

I am going home to Chicago to cook Thanksgiving for my family and am planning to do two turkeys (twenty plus people in my family converge for Thanksgiving). After reading the course, I'd like to smoke one of them.

My sister has a Weber Gas Grill... no thermometer on the grill (I'm assuming I'll have to buy one and fix it to the lid or something?) just a low, medium, high type setting...

I plan to butterfly a 14 pound turkey and smoke it at around 350 degrees (I like my turkey skin crispy!)

Where do I put the wood chips?

Does anyone have the Weber Grill cookbook? A quick flick through it the other day showed that they have instructions for smoking on a Gas grill... does anyone recommend the book? Maybe, i'll pick it up!

Thanks!

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Does your gas grill have two zones or more that you can control independently? If so, turn one burner off and one on. The turkey goes above the unlit burner and the chips go above the lit burner (in a bin of some sort, on top of the lava rocks, you can make the bin from tin foil).

Try and find an oven thermometer to use in your grill to make sure you're getting temps of around 225, it will probably take some figuring out to get the temp right. You can smoke it at 350, but the less time your bird spends in the smoker, the less smokey it will end up. And don't worry about not getting crispy skin, once your bird gets close to the final temp (~160F), turn up both sides of the grill. With the skin over direct heat, the skin will crisp up in about 5 to 10 minutes.

But beware of flare-ups. Turkeys have a lot of fat that will render out and drop down on your coals (especially at the end of a smoking) and will definitely flare up over direct heat. The major problem I have with gas grills is that there's nothing you can do about the flare-ups except for move the meat. With a Weber charcoal grill, you can just set the top back on and since there's so much less air moving the the grill, the flare-ups will be snuffed out. Gas grills require a substantial amount of oxygen and that's way you'll see big air gaps in the back and holes on the side. Anyways, I'm assuming that you're going to smoke up a commerical bird which does have a lot of fat. If you're smoking a wild bird you have nothing to worry about since they're so lean.

What do you mean by butterflying the turkey? Spatchcocking?

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On the rare occasions that I have had to use a gas grill to smoke, I've used "smoking pellets" instead of chips, simply because I thought they would make less mess. You only need to make a little tin foil pouch put it on the coals and they burn pretty slow.

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I'll have to find out about how many zones it has... all I know is that its a weber..

And yes, I mean spatchcock.

Have you ever seen a smoker box accessory? I was reading about it last night.... it looks like it sits on TOP of the grill... which would be a plus because otherwise wouldn't I have to remove the grill every 30 minutes to put more wood chips in my foil pouch thing?

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I've seen smoking accessories for the Weber kettle, but not for their gas grills. You can check out their website if you like, possibly sending them an email: http://www.weber.com

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For those of you who doubt the power of the Weber kettle:

i503.jpg

A 17lb prime rib roast.

i521.jpg

This image betrays how beautifully red it was.

That prime rib was easily the best beef I've ever had -- I get shivers just thinking about it.

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Now that has me salivating. How long did it take?

I'm going to keep plugging away with my trusty Weber Kettle; with the money I save, I can just buy meat! I just need more experience. And probably something other than just the oven and meat thermometers. Better go back to your class and bone up on the thermometer info. Any particular suggestions?

Edited to add: any tips for cold weather smoking?


Edited by snowangel (log)

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Now that has me salivating. How long did it take?

I'm going to keep plugging away with my trusty Weber Kettle; with the money I save, I can just buy meat! I just need more experience. And probably something other than just the oven and meat thermometers. Better go back to your class and bone up on the thermometer info. Any particular suggestions?

Edited to add: any tips for cold weather smoking?

The roast was on for 6 1/2 hours. I wanted more time on, but when it reached 125 F, I wasn't going to leave it on any longer.

My polder temp probe has been good to me but after three years of intense use, I am going to replace it soon.

As for cold weather smoking, not yet. However, I have seen pictures of people throwing a blanket on their smoker for insulation. But that was for a wood smoker like mine, I'd have to think about a kettle.

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col klink,

Bought a WSM over the weekend. I'm anxious to get smoking, so I have an 8 lb picnic brining right now, as well as a bunch of large turkey wings. I figured I'd experiment with the cheaper choices for my first time smoking.

Q: can you give me an approximation on the cooking time for the pork? Does 6-10 hours seem way off? How about the wings, I'm guessing only a few hours.

Thanx :smile: !


Edited by peanutgirl (log)

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My polder temp probe has been good to me but after three years of intense use, I am going to replace it soon.

What are you going to replace it with?

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col klink,

Bought a WSM over the weekend. I'm anxious to get smoking, so I have an 8 lb picnic brining right now, as well as a bunch of large turkey wings. I figured I'd experiment with the cheaper choices for my first time smoking.

Q: can you guve me an approximation on the cooking time for the pork? Does 6-10 hours seem way off? How about the wings, I'm guessing only a few hours.

Thanx :smile: !

Congrats!

6 - 10 is certainly not out of the question, but it's going to be closer to 10 hours with an 8 pounder. It also depends on what texture you're looking for in the pork because it will be cooked after 2 or 3 hours but won't have that pulled pork texture.

Here's a thread on getting that pulled pork texture.

The turkey wings will take less than a couple of hours, somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half.

David, I picked up a cheapo unit from Target made by Taylor. It doesn't have all of the nice timer functions as my polder but it seems to work. I'm also going to get another probe for the Polder. The old one is really sensitve -- I'd have to pull the chicken out of the oven to get an accurate reading.

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Klink,

I have a quick question for you.

I smoked an untrimmed brisket in thirds in a water smoker this past weekend. The end result was a nice light smoke flavor but it still had a decent amount of chew to it.

As for the treatment. I followed you direction step for step.

My temperature was slightly higher(almost 300) during the first half hour due to the initial large batch of coals. From there on I kept it pretty consistently between 190 and 240. With a slight drop during intervals of adding chips and a round of new coals.

Total cooking time was 7.5 hrs. The thirds still had a about a .5 inch think fat cap on them, so I don't think it was overcooked and didn't lack fat basting.

Was my temp too low? Or was it still undercooked after 7+ hrs?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

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Apps, it sounds like your brisket wasn't done. But before we jump to that conclusion, which way did you slice the brisket? If you don't cut against the grain, the texture will be quite chewy. Was the meat chewy or the fat chewy, or both?

You don't have to worry about spikes up to 300, especially at the beginning. It's near the end of the smoking that you have to worry about spikes, when you're running out of fat and moisture. At 190 however, you're keeping it warm more than you're cooking it

How are you taking the temperature? Recently I saw a great idea for taking the temp of a water smoker. Take a wine cork and put your old meat thermometer through the center. Trim the sides of the cork so it fits in one of your upper exhaust vents. The thermometer doesn't touch the smoker and is easily held in place for rather accurate temperature taking.

It's also not unheard of for water smokers to take longer smoking tough cuts of meat. My barrel smoker has hot spots, much higher than 225, though the average temp is around 225. Since there really aren't hot spots in a water smoker, you might try upping the temp to 250.

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OK... I've got my smoker smoking. Like a child waiting to open presents on Christmas morning, I awoke early (4am) and excited to get started. However, since I have no outdoor lighting, I was forced to wait until dawn.

Around 6:00 am my husband went out to the garage to bring our shiney new smoker to the patio at the back of our house. It was then that I found out he threw away the chimney I thought was in the garage! No matter, I poured myself the drink you suggested in your course description (coffee, due to the time of day) and calmed myself.

I got the charcoal lit and the smoker up to 300 degrees. After putting the meat on, the temp did drop, which I understand is normal. It went down to 175 and I was concerned so I threw some more charcoal in the ring. I'm using lump charcoal because that's what my husband bought, and soaked hickory wood chips, because that's what we have laying around here.

4 hours into the adventure, the smoker is at 220 degrees. The pork is at 142 degrees. Should I try to raise the temperature, or is it OK to stay in that range? Also... would it be beneficial to turn the meat over, or better to leave alone? Your advice is much appreciated!

edited to correct spelling.


Edited by peanutgirl (log)

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Congrats on your first smoke!

Is that a pork shoulder you're smoking? How big is it?

220 F is perfect for your smoker and 143 F for your pork is perfectly fine too. Shoulders can take up to 12 hours but 8 should be enough. It might not get to the pulled texture but it will still be damn good.

As to rotating the meat, what smoker do you have? If it's a WSM, it probably doesn't make much of a difference since they're so well balanced, but it wouldn't hurt and it would ease my mind -- no more than once an hour though.

edit: right, the 8 lb picnic. sorry, I've been playing with Mozilla's Firebird and it doesn't like the upgrade. :wacko:

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