OK, so I bought a smoker
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    OK, so I bought a smoker

    Hy-Vee (of all places) had a little Weber charcoal smoker for $25 (1/2 off) so I went ahead and picked it up yesterday. I've had a Holland grill for 5 or 6 years or so that I love using, but I've never done any actual smoking, aside from using the wood chip tray in the Holland.

    So CF food experts, any smoking tips, recipes, advice, etc. you want to lob my way is appreciated. What is something fairly idiot proof that I can start out with before I work my way up?



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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by ca4cy View Post
    Hy-Vee (of all places) had a little Weber charcoal smoker for $25 (1/2 off) so I went ahead and picked it up yesterday. I've had a Holland grill for 5 or 6 years or so that I love using, but I've never done any actual smoking, aside from using the wood chip tray in the Holland.

    So CF food experts, any smoking tips, recipes, advice, etc. you want to lob my way is appreciated. What is something fairly idiot proof that I can start out with before I work my way up?
    I would go with chicken first. Very easy. You'll be real proud of yourself and will get rave reviews. Check out Smoking Meat - The Complete How to Smoke Meat Guide for some great information. Good luck.



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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Can't picture what a Weber smoker for $50.00 would be. They only make one that I know of, the Smoky Mountain and it retails for $250.00+. Is that the one you bought?



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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Spare ribs are very good to start with - they are fairly difficult to screw up and can be done in an afternoon (put them in around noon, eating around 6). They have enough fat that they won't dry out if the smoker gets too hot. It can take a while to figure out how to get stable temps.

    Brisket is difficult to get right, I wouldn't start there. Just about any pork or poultry can be done without too much trouble. Also, start small - you don't want to mess with a 12+ hour smoke on your first attempt. Ribs, whole chicken or turkey breast/drumsticks would be your best bet.


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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    I have only used this little smoker. Definitely do chicken first. Find any sort of rub (I think I used brown sugar for a base plus a lot of other things), slice it thin and make jerky. Tastes great and is very easy to do.



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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Pretty tough for a beginner to start out with charcoal. If you don't like your results try an electric or LP before giving up, they are much easier to maintain a constant temp with compared to charcoal.


    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by Acylum View Post
    Pretty tough for a beginner to start out with charcoal. If you don't like your results try an electric or LP before giving up, they are much easier to maintain a constant temp with compared to charcoal.
    I never had a problem. A good suggestion given to me was to season the smoker the first time anyways. Take a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil and wipe everything inside the smoker down with that. Then fire it up, but don't put any food on it the first time. And keep it going for at least 4 hours, but make sure it's long enough that you are confident you can regulate the heat as you need to. It may take a little tinkering, but once you find the sweet spot, you'll have no issues at all. It's just a matter of having the right amount of charcoal and finding where you need to keep the vents.



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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Marinate a chunk of pork loin in italian dressing, garlic, and limes. add some of the same to the smoker water pan. use apple wood-add some hickory for more kick. Smoke for 3 or 4 hours. use a meat thermometer so you dont overcook.


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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by Acylum View Post
    Pretty tough for a beginner to start out with charcoal. If you don't like your results try an electric or LP before giving up, they are much easier to maintain a constant temp with compared to charcoal.
    With charcoal, it is tough to keep it at the right temp. I gave up on them because I usually let, whatever i'm smoking, smoke for 8+ hours and I don't want to sit there and make sure the charcoal keeps it at the right temp.

    I love our electric one! As long as you don't over season, pretty tough to screw anything up.



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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    throw a whole chicken in there if you use applewood smoke chips you almost don't need anything, it'll be awesome



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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by jj-cyclones View Post
    With charcoal, it is tough to keep it at the right temp. I gave up on them because I usually let, whatever i'm smoking, smoke for 8+ hours and I don't want to sit there and make sure the charcoal keeps it at the right temp.

    I love our electric one! As long as you don't over season, pretty tough to screw anything up.
    Yeah, I gotta agree with this too. Temperature is key if you want to do smoking properly. Using charcoal really makes it a challenge to maintain the proper temp.

    For a starter I went with an electric (the red one that someone provided a pic of) and added my own temp gauge. As I got better at it I moved up to an all digital with a built in meat probe which eliminates almost all of the guess work.

    If your first attempt or two doesn't turn out all that well don't give up. It's a learning experience and you will get better as you go along. Ribs, pork roasts, salmon are all good for starters. Turkey could be one of the hardest or at least it was for me. I think I've had one turkey turn out perfect in about 4 attempts.


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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Charcoal isn't difficult, it just takes a little bit of tinkering to figure out the best vent settings for general use. Admittedly, the "right settings" can change based on weather (for example if there is a decent north wind, I sometimes get air pushing backwards through my smoker). But I fiddle with stuff a bit, check it again in 15 minutes, and if it needs further tinkering I just tinker some more. It's not like you have to be +/- 2 degrees for the entire smoke. Most grill thermometers aren't that accurate anyway no matter what they say on the package.

    When I do ribs, I aim for 235F but will settle for anything between 225 and 240. It makes no difference in the quality. I don't cook on time, but instead either internal temperature for chicken, turkey and brisket, or the ability to easily pull two of the middle rib bones from the meat for pork and beef ribs. Sometimes that takes 5 hours and sometimes it takes 7. We just make sure to barbecue on weekends when we're not too busy to the loose schedule isn't a big deal.

    My rib rub, that I end up using on everything, came from an internet recipe. It is:

    1/2c brown sugar
    1/4c paprika
    1 tbsp each black pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder
    1 tsp cayenne

    My wife and daughters love it. It has a little bite with the cayenne but is not spicy. You can put this in an air-tight container and keep it in the fridge for a long time. Obviously again you can tinker with it to suit your tastes. Or you can go with completely different flavors that have nothing to do with traditional barbecue. It's your food, do what makes you happy.


    You can spend a lot of time and money picking out the perfect floral bouquet for your date ... but you're probably better off checking if you have bad breath and taking the porn out of the glove compartment.

    The moral: you gain more by not being stupid, than you do by being smart. Smart gets neutralized by other smart people. Stupid does not.

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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Oh yeah, look into the book, "Smoke & Spice" By Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison. It has a lot of great information and some good recipes.



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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    Thanks for all the advice. Keep it coming.

    Looks like I've got some reading to do.



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    Re: OK, so I bought a smoker

    If it's the smokiness you're truly after, go with low temp/ long time (LTLT) cooking. Also, some of the best advice I ever received was to get the most affect from the smoke keep the grease build-up on the interior to a minimum. Use aluminum foil where possible and clean your smoker out between uses but especially between different species. eg- If you smoke chicken, don't let the grease stay in there if you'll be doing red meat next, the left-over fat will tend to impart its taste, and vice versa. Don't be trying it out tonight, too cold.


    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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