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Have ya'll started the Holiday Cookout prep prep?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Well today we did. Actually yesterday I started to marinate the pork shoulders in my NC (vinegar) BBQ sauce and rubbed the 13 slabs of ribs.

We were able to get the ribs smoked today, which was a miracle in and of itself (smoker and a couple other issues) and was hoping to get the shoulders done tomorrow. There was a minor setback in that as I was opening the door to the smoker to pull the ribs it friggen fell off. I was able to apply a small amount of "MickeyMouse Engineering" to remedy that but now the rain is moving in tomorrow. Need a full 10hrs for the shoulders so it looks like saturday is the day.

I apologize for not having any pictures to show ya'll but when the door came off the smoker there was a minor issue with the camera. The door fell on the camera :eek::blush:. So maybe I can borrow the DD's mini digital and we'll get some shots of the food at time of service.:smiles:

So how many of ya'll out there prepare "Q" for the holiday and what else?
post #2 of 36
Ordering 2 cases of ribs and a case of butts tomorrow. Pick them up next Friday to cook on Saturday. I do most of my prep right before food goes on the pit. A long marinade doesn't seem to affect the final flavor that much. A clean burning fire is more important to me.

This was 4th of July a couple years ago.
post #3 of 36
I have no idea what we're doing this year. Usually we either make bbq or grill something. If it's "q", then we cook boston butts and pull, maybe a whole chicken, fatty, and abt's, then coleslaw, baked beans, and potato salad to go with it. If it's burgers, then we have about the same menu. lol I make a salad called a Creamy Fruit Fluff often for cookouts. It's nothing fancy but everyone loves it.

We love spring, summer, and fall, when we can fire up the smoker!

Sorry to hear about your camera! Oh, I'd cry if that happened to mine!
post #4 of 36
What holiday you cooking for?
MarryB those ribs look absolutly awsomness i want one :lips: ill travel back in time to get one !
Lets cook the night away!
Lets cook the night away!
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
Memorial Day weekend is next weekend here in the States. Not to insult anyones intelligence so for those of you that do not live here nor have experienced it, It is the un-official Start of Summer and one we mark with cook-outs and BBQ's in honor of.

Last year was our first Memorial Day in the new neighborhood and we inherited a block-style party when we moved into the house. Actually it's hard to have it on the street with all the permitting that is needed so we offered our back yard and with a bit of effort it's turned into ample enough space for everyone to enjoy themselves.

Just hope we break this rain on the weekend trend. :smiles:

MaryB, That's a nice Rig you've got there. :cool:

As far as the marinade goes, It's just thinned out NC BBQ sauce. Since I do the NC Style Pulled pork I don't use a Rub on the shoulders. The spice residue (basically 3 types of pepper in my recipe) plus the vinegar flavor from the NC sauce adding a bit of spicey/smokey tang when the process is complete. All I do then is add a bit of fresh sauce to the pulled shoulders and it's ready to go. I had offered a slice shoulder as well and that one did receive rub with no marinating, but we always ended up shredding that one for pulled Pork and my rub is not condusive to the NC sauce. Pulled pork is the way to go in these parts anyhow.:look:

No brisket this year. Couldn't find the nice whole briskets at any of the local spots. It seemes everyone is splitting tham now and they want an arm and a leg for it. Last I saw it was 4.49lb. Then again....Brisket isn't as big here in Virginia as let's say Kansas City. :smiles:

Now all I have to do is to remember to order the Keg today:beer:

The camera? Thanks for the thought Allie. Interesting what a 25-30lb smoker door can do to a camera.:eek: I've always wondered what those digital ones look like inside. :rolleyes:;) Could've waited on that tho:D
post #6 of 36
What are y'all's favorite barbecue sauce recipe. I wasn't going to do anything but seeing those ribs on that grill have motivated me to do something. What do you guys do for rubs and bastes.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
post #7 of 36
I have been making a ketchup based sauce for years. My mom made a similar one and I've kind of modified it and am still perfecting the recipe. I've started working with tomato sauce as a base instead of ketchup and add things like brown sugar, honey, cane syrup, maple syrup, caramelized onions in a bit of butter, cracked black pepper, hot sauce, yellow mustard, worcestershire, etc.

I've also tried some vinegar sauces, and a bourbon sauce, as well as mustard sauce. I still prefer my thicker, sweeter version of everything I've tried so far.

Les has been working on a rub for a couple of years now. He started with spices we enjoyed on pork and now has a rub that can be used for almost any kind of protein. I use it even when cooking inside now.

One day, we'd like to compete with our bbq so I won't share my exact recipes.
post #8 of 36
I have been using a commercial rub (Smokin Guns Mild) for years. They are a competition BBQ team and their rub is outstanding. It also pairs well with the NC vinegar/ketchup based pulled pork sauce.
post #9 of 36

I'm with you. Long "marinades" in dry rub don't seem to make much difference compared to applying the rub on top of a slather a few minutes before cooking.

My family goes for pork, beef and fish along with Caesar salad, sides and pies. We're going to do some spares in our little smoker (BBC Offset with an "Afterburner" for heat) over maple and pecan, some tri or top sirloin "Santa Maria" style over oak coals -- even though everyone else has been agitating for truffled smoked-brisket, my mom wants steak; and things being what they are I can't do enough to please here. We usually do salmon, but I've found a great fish market so I'll stay loose and pick up whatever looks best the day before, brine it and smoke it over alder the morning of. Every thing's easy as can be except finding seasoned live oak -- may have to settle for red or white.

post #10 of 36
I am hoping 2/3 of a cord of mixed white and red oak get here before Memorial Weekend. I don't have a large choice of wood out here on the prairie :)
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
Fingers crossed for ya.

You mention the selection? Not sure if you like to use the chink at all but there's several varieties available on-line and most have (or used to) free shipping when you get to the 100.00 mark.

As far as my choices....I've played around with many different mixes and additions to the mix but always seem to end up back with Hickory especially for pork This is not to say that you won't find bags of pecan (wood and shells), apple, cherry, maple, oak, etc and every now and then mesquite chunks and chips on the shelf during the season:D

I can't say that I buy into the "establishment" regarding the use of rubs but...... There are time that when you put the effort into them they do provide a taste and texture that really adds to the BBQ experience. The problem I have is that people don't try and match a rub with a sauce if that's how they eat. I personally like the sauce and spent some time developing one and have learned to enjoy a rub and took an equal amount of time to develope a rub that worked well with the sauce.

My only problem with "Q" is the overbearing tones of Molasses you get. Believe me when you judge a comp you start to get a buzz from the amounts of smoke and molasses.

It's been years since I competed but like Allie I can't really share anything since I'd like to try an market my stuff but............ there are a couple out on the site that can give testimonial;)

Mary, please forgive me in asking this but what is your definition of a clean burning fire? That's not something I've heard before but it's not like I haven't missed things before.:blush:
post #12 of 36
Hickory is always a favorite with pork, but honestly I find it somewhat cliched. I try and match smoke with application, of course. That said, my favorites with pork are maple, pecan, and most fruit woods with peach and citrus in the lead -- depending on final saucing.


I suspect most good pitmasters do the same.

It's partly regional, partly the fault of the the judges themselves who tend to score against the wildly different -- no matter how good; and score for the familiar -- if it's very good. And of course, partly the fault of the competitors. There are lots of people who can't cook very well at most local comps. And the better competitors learn pretty quickly what wins and what doesn't. If molasses wins, you see a lot of molasses. A few years ago it was all apple with pork.


Mary can correct me if my definition is different than hers, but a clean burning fire is one that gives a thin stream of blue smoke instead of billowing clouds of white (moisture) or grey (creosote).

post #13 of 36
Thin translucent blue, and it smells sweet. A dirty burning fire smells nasty and thats what your food will taste like. My pit is a wood burner only so no ordering supplies online :smiles: I burn fireplace length split oak, apple, and maybe some hickory is I ca find it.
post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
Okay I'll try to explain in an edit but I was just told we're running late to the DD's soccer game.

I'll explain when I get back :look:

So much for getting the pork shoulders on without a mid-night clean-up.:suprise:
post #15 of 36
We have tried rubbing the night before and just minutes before putting the meat on the smoker. It doesn't seem to make much difference either way. What has made a big difference is mixing some of the rub with apple juice and injecting the meat. We love it that way!

My sauce uses some of the rub in the seasoning so they do match. I agree that there has to be something in common between the rub and the sauce for it to work and I think that's why I haven't cared for some of the other sauces we've tried in the past. While some people just want the meat, I am definitely a sauce person. No molasses taste here! I have only bought molasses maybe twice in my adult life and I think that was for some kind of dessert or something. lol Just don't care for it.

We mainly use hickory just because we can usually get it for free around here. We have the woodburning offset Brinkman Smoking Pit Pro so can use big chunks. We've also bought some cherry chips and really like chicken cooked on the grill with someo f those chips.

Yep, like Mary said a clean burning fire makes all the difference. The first time we used our smoker, we didn't have that and the meat wasn't good. Since we've learned how to use it, the meat isn't overpowered by the wood smoke and that comes from a thin blue smoke out of the stack.
post #16 of 36
Wet wood doesn't usually smell that bad. Slightly green isn't bad either. Way too much sap can smell unpleasant or sweet. Some pitmasters actually like aet and/or green wood because it gives off more smoke. Go figure. Most people don't like it. I think either makes food taste over-smoked and acrid.

"[S]mells nasty" is probably mold, dry rot, fungus or wood that was diseased to begin with. Way acrid.

post #17 of 36
We inject most like big pieces like butt, brisket, and whole loin. We brine most poultry, all fish, and sometimes pork ribs and pork chops.

Lots of people do this. I do sometimes, it depends on the sauce.

It's one way of getting them on the same page so to speak. But, just like in clothes, complimenting isn't necessarily matching. For instance, a very simple and light sauce made of beef stock and wine reduced with a little garlic will compliment all barbecued and grilled beef. "White sauce," so popular with smoked chicken in the deep south, is mostly mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar. And so on.

Modern brown sugar is white sugar with the addition of some molasses. So, you've probably had a great deal of molasses in things you like -- but added by the folks at C&H instead of someone you know. Molasses is not as sweet as refined white sugar, tastes slightly of caramel, (and other notes), and has a profound bite which hits at the back of the palate. It's desirable for the caramel, but should be used carefully because of the bite.

Barbecue tends to be very regional. Modern barbecue is restaurant and competition driven, and the competition for customers and points tends to make it trendy. It seems like molasses is getting a lot of play at this time in your area, which apparently leans to KC and Memphis style sauces. I like these in general, but people who make their own do have a tendency to over-sweeten.

KC and Memphis really are the same. Both are tomato sauces with a lot of sweet and sour. To the extent they're different, KC is more vinegary and Memphis sweeter, or maybe it's the other way 'round. It really all depends on the cook. Either can be cooked, or simply mixed. Most cooks use ketchup as the tomato base, but of course you can start from fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, puree, or anywhere you choose.

If you've never made your own, start with:

Neanderthal Barbecue Sauce:

2 cups ketchup
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
Salt (preferably table salt, not kosher) and black pepper to taste

Stir up everything except for the salt and pepper and taste for the sweet-sour balance. Adjust the vinegar and sugar for the balance you like. I suggest taking notes because you're going to be using this sauce for a long time.

If you like store-bought barbecue sauce or you're cooking burgers and dogs for kids, or you want to repeat a restaurant experience, you'll need to add a bit of liquid smoke. Serious barbecuers react to liquid smoke like vampires do to garlic. It's partly a matter of pride and partly a matter of herd identity. You CAN NOT use it in competition, you'd get laughed out of the park. In my own sauces, I use smoked chiles of one sort or another to inject a smoke note, but to each their own.

Anyway, once you've established the appropriate sweet and sour levels for your barbecue base, you can take it light years away. Of course you can add "rub" for seasoning. That's the first baby step. You can change sweeteners to honey, molasses, white sugar or some blend. Personally, I favor a kind of sugar called "piloncillo." Lots of people begin with a saute of onions, garlic and sometimes bell pepper (a sofrito if you're Hispanic, the trinity if you're creole). Some people add stock. I like a shot of espresso in my tomato sauces. Then there's hot stuff. I love hot stuff. But be careful. Always cook for the mildest taste at any gathering. You can always add hot later, but you sure can't take it out.

Add enough liquid to the base and pretty soon it's too thin -- so you have to cook it down. Well the cooking's going to do some good things too. Butter finishes used to be very popular in this country, but fell out of favor with the post war "barbecue" boom. I still do them for a few of my sauces. And so it goes. Pretty soon the whole thing gets incredibly elaborate and you realize you've gone too far and have to walk it back. :confused:

Note: The suggestion to use table salt is based on its ability to dissolve more quickly and completely at low temperatures than kosher. I find it works better than kosher it it's going to be incorporated -- as for sauces and baking, but not as well for surface seasonings and rubs. Kosher will dissolve in hot liquids and act the same as a similar weight of table salt, but it costs more. The same weight of kosher salt will occupy a greater volume than table salt. How much depends on the type. 1 table = 1-1/2 Morton kosher = 2 Diamond by volume. Kosher salt is not "kosher' in the sense that it's been blessed or has particular religious significance. It's only kosher in the sense that it doesn't dissolve easily and visible salt is a necessary part of the kosher butchering process. [rabbi smilie]

Price is right. :cool:

A.K.A. the SPP. A decent small offset. Some other acronyms: WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain -- the best smoker for beginners and for a lot of folks); BBC (Bar B Chef Offset -- by Barbecues Galore, the best of the small offsets); ECB (El Cheapo Brinkmann -- the Brinkmann bullet type); NBBD (New Braunfels Black Diamond -- cloned as the Hondo, the Silver Smoker and several other names); and there are many more. Barbecue's a funny game.

Small offsets are tricky. There are a lot of tricks that make them work much better. Do you use a charcoal basket? Have you made the "basic mods?" Water pan? Drip pan? Tuned it yet? If not, let's talk.

Lots of people use their small offsets as grills and are very happy with them. I bought my first, an NBBD in '79, with the idea of using it as both a smoker and a grill. But I've always grilled a lot and found it too uncomfortable, inconvenient, cramped and that it didn't offer enough fire control.

Small offsets are the most sensitive of any type of cooker to bad wood or bad technique.

Glad you've mastered yours. :bounce:
post #18 of 36
A fire starved of oxygen will also smell acrid. I started out on a SnPP, many modifications later it was a pretty decent pit for family cooking. I outgrew that and stepped up to a Klose Family Reunion for extra space. The SnPP was given to a friend who is still using it.

I don't sauce ribs ever. I will offer various sauces along side but very few people ever use them with ribs. For pulled pork I prefer my version of a NC tomato/vinegar sauce. 50/50 ketchup and organic cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, onion and garlic powder, and I finish it off with butter after the rest has simmered for a while.

I dislike brined butts and I haven't used injections. Brined butts taste to much like ham to me when they are done. I do brine chicken and turkey to help it retain moisture.

The only place I use molasses is in my baked beans :lol: I prefer any sauces to be tart with a bit of heat when I use them.

My baked bean recipe is very simple and is a version of Boston baked beans:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Baked Beans

Recipe By :Mary Brown
Serving Size : 16 Preparation Time :0:45
Categories : sides

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 48oz jar cooked white beans -- drained (I use a brand called Randalls)
1 pound bacon -- fried until not quite crispy, reserve the fat
1 large onion -- peeled and chopped
8 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons dry mustard
4 teaspoons salt -- optional
2 teaspoons black pepper -- or to taste, start with 1/2tsp
4 tablespoons bacon fat

combine everything in a bbq pit or oven safe dish or crockpot. Cook at 225 to 250 or on low for the crockpot for 8 to 10 hours

"Easy baked beans from the bbq pit or crockpot"
Start to Finish Time:
post #19 of 36
I grew up in SE Georgia. A lot of the commercial places offered either a sweetish mustard sauce or a thin ketchup based sauce. One place (run by a former comp. q'er) offered three sauces.....a sweeter ketchup based, vinegar based, and a mustard base. I've always loved a sweet, thick and rich ketchup based (Chicken basted with this just before removing from the grill is slap yo' momma good!). My mom always made it when I was a child and I have taken the same basic style and adapted it to my own tastes. I am still working on it. Using brown sugar, I probably have used molasses and didn't realize it.

I haven't brined a chicken but have injected with creole butter. We really liked it! I do plan to try brining soon!

No, we haven't done any modification to our smoker. We don't use a charcoal basket, just put the charcoal from the chimney into the side and put the wood over it. As times goes by, we just add charcoal to it. This method works really well for us. We've learned that to keep the temp around 190 or so at the grate, we need to keep the thermometer showing 225-250. This is what took the longest to master. We've used this smoker for 3 seasons now and it was a freebie....Les got it from a foreclosure he refurbished. We do not use the smoker for grilling. We have one of the large Royal Oak charcoal grills (the ones Walmart was selling for $129.99 last ours on end of season clearance for $59.99!). We prefer to keep the ashes in the wood box, not under the grates on the smoker. Les is planning to make a UDS (ugly drum smoker) soon. He has a WSM lid and just needs to get the barrel and other parts to make it happen.

We do love our smoker and the only part we don't like is only being able to use it for part of the year. If it's cold and windy or rainy, we just can't hold temps and because we live in a mobile home park, we're limited on building any type of shelter for it. As soon as it warms up in the spring, we're ready for cooking! I guess because we can only use it so much, we look forward to it and it doesn't become an ordinary event. That makes us hunger for good "q" even more.

I participate in several bbq forums and have learned a lot there. I was asked to go to Dallas in Sept. and assist a team and also was asked to go to IL next weekend but can't do that right now. I do want to work with some experienced q'ers before undertaking competing on our own.
post #20 of 36
2 SnPP mods you want to do:

Take a short piece of roof flashing, roll it up and stick it in bottom of the smoke stack. On mine I actually cut the stack off and relocated it to the end of the pit and just under grate level.

Make a piece of bent steel that will sit under the grate thats closest to the firebox. Not quite a 90 degree bend and the bottom should be 6 inches or so long. The upright part faces the firebox opening and helps keep that end of the cooking grate from being way hotter than the rest.

190 is a bit low in my opinion. I typically cook around 250 to 275. To low can over smoke the meat and dry it out.
post #21 of 36
Thread Starter 
My goodness, what the flurry of activity since this morning. I guess I'll post instead of editing something so many posts down the pike.

I apologize but time constraints don't allow for me to read all that has been said so far so please excuse me if I repeat something that has been brought up.

As far as wht I meant by the "Establishment" it's the rules that govern the competition circuit and the way practically 80% all BBQ peoiple East O' the Mississippi say it's supposedly done.

That's why I made the comment the Establisment. I don;t necessarily believe that a rub is always the way to go. Sometimes there's certain enjoyment between the partiular flavor of meat and choice if wood smoke with out the rub or even the sauce to mask it.

But I have learned that if you do use a rub and it is made and applied properly, you can get the proper smoke ring, infuse the rub into the meat and then create a nice crispy crust out of the rub. Sauce is then not used as a slather but as a condiment.

As far as combining the rub with the sauce in the process, I usually employ the method of no sauce in the smoker at all and finish the ribs over live coals to caramalize the sauce and the meat.

I did notice one thing I would like to comment on now.....Allie I hate to say it but applejuice is too widely used in competetion for my liking. It basted, injected, glazed and added for appearance and to me does nothing but over power the end product by adding too much sweet. JMHPO but one I stood on sitting at several judging tables. Personnaly it can make a great component to the process but not the way it is curretly used.

I gotta go tend a fire so.....
Later all
post #22 of 36
We do not use sauce in the smoker. On the grill, yes, to caramelize the sugars towards the finish. For the smoked meats, it's most often served on the side. We do finish ribs with the sauce, just because that's how we like them. Ribs are seriously not my favorite, above all I prefer a good pulled pork.

The apple juice is only used to inject prior to cooking. We don't do any basting, glazing, or anything to our meats. Just develop a good bark and we're happy!

Mary, we've cooked at a higher temperature but prefer the meat when it's cooked around 190. Granted, we usually do Boston Butts and with all the fat, it really renders down and creates a lovely juicy pulled pork.
post #23 of 36

I know you're not asking, and may not even be open to suggestions -- but at the risk of seeming intrusive or arrogant I'm going to offer a few things I've learned over the decades I've been barbecuing. Even if you don't, maybe some other folks can benefit:

There are three "basic" mods. Two of them are important. The other is incidental. All of them are very inexpensive and easy to do.
The first of the important ones is installing a "manifold" on the cook-chamber side of the firebox opening to force the hot air and smoke laterally. The second is installing an extension on the flue, dropping the opening inside the cook-chamber to cooking rack height. This keeps hot air and smoke in the chamber longer, giving more even side to side temperatures, saving fuel, and improving consistency.

The unimportant mod, fwiw, is moving the thermometer hole to a better place. However, fixed-place analog thermometers aren't very important anymore in modern barbecuing. Digital probe types have superceded them -- especially with remote read outs. More later.

A charcoal basket will let you run higher temperatures and save considerable fuel. At the same time, if you like. Your fuel saving is in the neighborhood of 1/3. Time between re-fueling is increased in the same proportion. Once they've tried a basket, most small offset users wonder how they ever lived without it.

Here's a link to the most popular description of the basic mods (the author, "Bid Dan," also describes his charcoal basket): Times have changed since the piece was written so Dan's prices are on the optimistic side. I guarantee the two important mods and a basket will improve and enrich your barbecue -- no matter how good it is now.

Tuning the pit, which in most small offsets, means using a drip pan and experimenting with placing a water pan keeps temperatures even from side to side. If you're interested in knowing more about what a water pan does and how it can help you, let me know. The ways it works and helps is a microcosm of the physics of barbecuing. More than anything else, a tuned pit means less turning and moving the food, which means the door is open less. As I'm sure you already know, opening the cook-chamber door more often than necessary is about the worst thing you can do.

A modern thermometer gets rid of a lot of checking and fudging, and generally makes the whole thing easier and more fun. I like the Maverick ("Redi-Chek") ET-73. It's a wireless readout with two probes. The suggested use is one probe for the meat and the other for the chamber, but you can use both for either if you like. Considering the quality of life improvement -- not having to run to the smoker every twenty minutes to check the temp -- the price is very reasonable. There are a few other options just as good or better, but they're vastly more expensive. There are a great number of other units at a similar price which simply don't do the same job. Avoid the Oregon Scientific and the Weber like the plague. The Maverick ET-71 doesn't do the same thing. I like the Nu 701 as much or maybe better for some people, but it's too expensive. The ET-73 is simply the best choice. They're available at a discount ($40) all over the web, here's one site:
Redi-Chek ET-73 Maverick Wireless Remote Smoker Thermometer From your posts, I gather this would be considered a substantial equipment investment. I'd say "worth it," but that's (of course) up to you. Like the basket this is one of those, "How did I ever live without it?" things

People in your climate situation sometimes make insulation blankets so they can keep barbecuing when the weather gets fierce. I've lived in coastal California (nearly) all of my adult life and don't have much experience with smoking in cold weather -- but I'm told a layer or two of water heater insulation faced with a space blanket on both sides, wrapped around the cooker, and secured with bungee cord, makes enough difference to take you into the teens.

If your actual grate temperature is below 210, you're cooking at too low a temperature. Very "low and slow" is the 215 - 225 range for pork and beef. For one thing, you're on the ragged edge of food safety -- in fact, well below what's recommended for pork. People often feel insulted when food handling protocols are brought up. Don't take this wrong, you're not being accused of anything. It's one of those things you can get away with for years without any problems or even have issues and not realize the cause. And, yes, the gummint is way too conservative. And yes, food can be safely cooked at that temperature, but it requires stricter handling at either end. Still...

Safety aside, you can get better results around 225 for ribs, in the 225 - 250 range for butt, and the 250 - 275 range for brisket. These temperatures are not only right for the meat, they're right for the "bark." You will like it cooked more hot. Try it, like it, like a lot. You will like it Sam I Am.

For another, it goes much faster; and since you're cooking in the 190s for food that finishes in the 190s, for instance pulled pork and tender brisket, it must take you forever. Finally, at the higher temperatures you drastically reduce or eliminate the "stall," which makes the whole thing more predictable. Which means you know what to tell your guests, and how much beer to stock for the old man. More speed, more control, more better.

My experience is that injections work best with large pieces or pork and some beef. Like you, I'm not partial to brining large pieces of pork. You may or may not like brining ribs. It's sort of a mini-trend here in the west and you see it with some of the mid-level teams in the CBBQA (a KCBS affiliate). I sometimes do and sometimes don't depending more on whim than anything else -- though I suppose leaner ribs are better candidates than fatter. Brining poulty is pretty much a habit. I prefer it to injecting, even with turkey. Love to talk brines with you. Happy to talk injecting too.

Hoping to hear and learn from you,
post #24 of 36
Nice price on the ET-73, and just in time. I am down to 3 Polders :smiles:. The temp gauges on my Klose are at grate level and fairly accurate. Having a pit thats withing 25 degrees from end to end helps (the 6 inches by the firebox are hotter, great spot for chicken).

All the mods can help the SnPP a lot. I didn't go to the charcoal basket but I picked up some extra grates for the firebox and turned them 90 degrees. Overlap 2 and the fire has more space under it to breath. I also welded the firebox side door shut, to many gaps that are a giant air leak. High temp gaskets around the edges of the top doors was the final mod I made.
post #25 of 36
Thread Starter 
Ya'll mentioned something about the grate temp. Although the grate temp does need to be up there, isn't it better in the later stages of smoking? Atleast that was always our way. Very little smoking is done at temps above 170 with the best penetration around 145. I say 145 cause most HI's at events will not allow you to hold the meat at 100-120 because of the dreaded food borne illnesses.

Anyhow over the last 18 years I've learned that and had the best success with a 140-170 smoke the first 4-6 hrs with shoulders, butts and brisket and the first 2-3with ribs. Then get your grate temp up for the final amounts of time to cook and tenderize the meat. Poultry, besides being a whole different animal, it is what it is and then I would only use the grate temp you mention.

BTW gang I do agree whole heartedly with and like the mods to the smokers that you've been talking about. That is something I've noticed that really helps the end product as well as the conservation of fuels.

Because of some budget reasons when I purchased my smoker, the one I really wanted was a little more than just out of reach so I have what I have for now. The thing is ya have to make what ya got work for you in the situations you have.

Still trying to catch up in reading but graet comments from ya'll so far. Unfortunately time to tend to things again.
post #26 of 36
My pit likes to settle in around 250 so thats where I cook the most. Cooking at that low of a temp leaves things in the danger zone for to long in my opinion.

I am in and out too, getting the garden ready for the season. At the moment I am trying to get 80 feet of hose to go through the drain tile that runs from the house to the garden.
post #27 of 36
Thread Starter 

That's why I went with the chunks of wood instead of the small cut for let's say a fire place. The chunk cuts, 3-5" in size, let you control the temp a bit easier. The only challenge is that you have to tend to things more often and it's a slower process. But no-one ever said that the effort wasn't worth it and as far as speed........That's not what it's about. If I could, I'd invest many more hours than I am now capable of investing to get the product right. Instead I have made adjustments but we're not talking anything that would make it considered "Fast Food"

I'm too ashamed to admit openly what I have as far as a smoker so let's just say that since the door fell off it's spurred me into starting to save for the smoker I wanted originally.

Here I go again.:smiles:
post #28 of 36

First off -- I'm not going to argue with your experience. You can't make me. Obviously you, Mary and I have competition and/or catering backgrounds -- extensive enough to know which end of the knife to grab. If it works, it works and stick to it.

However, temperature penetration is only indirectly related to chamber temp. It is directly related to the temperature of the meat being penetrated. You get penetration from about 40F up to about 160F. The prime temperature range is about 100F - 140F. Once the surface temperature gets above 160F, the desired flavor components can't penetrate beneath the surface at all -- and as far as adding good smoke, you're done.

(That's partly why a lot of commercial operations burn smoke only during the first part of the cook, then switch to pure gas or electric for the remainder. A good idea for the small offset or cabinet user too, where "over-smoking" is a real danger with delicate meats. Doesn't matter much with big stick burners, though)

The good flavor components penetrate and are also left on the surface. When smoke penetrates red-blooded meat, the nitrogenous compounds from the smoke react with the myoglobin and other proteins and form a "smoke ring" below the surface of the meat. You can't always judge penetration by taste -- because smoke gets left on the surface, but you can accurately judge the degree of actual penetration by looking.

KCBS comp judges are trained not to consider the ring (but they always do) because the ring can be artificially created or enhanced by the use of "cure" containing nitrates and nitrites as seasoning.

In my experience, the best way to maximize penetration is to start with cold meat and start smoking at a moderate temperature like 225. Then after an hour or so, to pump the heat to the desired cooking temperature. That having been said, it's not the best way to get the sort of flavor people like. For one thing, it's a PITA to fool around with complicated temperature profiles unless you're burning gas. If you want more smoke, use stronger wood. A little mesquite, oak, and/or hickory, added 1 part to 3, to milder woods boost the smoke flavor without taking over.

Compare meat smoked for four hours at 170 and meat smoked at 250 and you won't see much difference in ring depth.

Finally, meat should never be held "between the forties." To prevent harmful bacteria growth, proper storage is either below 40F or above 140F. But storage isn't cooking. Obviously, the interior of the meat does not go instantly from 38 to 195. It takes hours. A good pitmaster must balance the "low and slow" it takes to denature proteins and make tough meats tender, and the health benefits of getting interior temps above 140 as quickly as possible.

Of course there are ways to get around high temperature requirements, including "curing" in acidic brines -- as for cold smoking lox for instance.


We seem to be very much on the same page in regards to almost everything, including these things. I used the 90 deg grate trick for years and recommend it for people who first get their pits home before they have a chance to build a basket.

Another way to raise the bottom grate is by making legs for it with nuts and bolts. How much extra height you need depends on the brand of smoker. SnPPs seem to work best with about 1-1/4." A great tool to have is a piece of metal "flat stock," bent into an "L" shape which can be used as a rake during the smoke.

It's worthwhile to seal the crack around the flue, and between the firebox and cooking chamber. I like to have both firebox doors working -- so the user can clean the ash out from the side during the cook. In my experience, leaks from the firebox aren't nearly as important as a drafty cook chamber.

I've got mixed feelings about gasketing the cook chamber door. Over the years (decades!) I've had them on and off numerous times. My current cooker is a Bar B Chef Offset (sold by Barbeques Galore), and is built heavier and to better standards than the SnPP. I gasketed the cook door when I bought it. After three seasons, the gaskets started to peel so I removed them. I saw more smoke leaking when I add wood, but couldn't tell the difference in the food. So, they went un-replaced. But that's the BBC. Gaskets meant more with the old NBBD.

The worst leak in a smoker is always the hole in the user's head. KEEP THOSE DOORS SHUT, DAMMIT!! Once that's penetrated, the rest is kind of around the edges.

Dave Klose now recommends using baskets. He'll be happy to sell you a couple too. Cheap at a 1/10 the price. Anyway -- use charcoal and you really ought to use a basket whether you're running a big rig or a small one.

post #29 of 36
Thread Starter 
I can't make you????? DANG. :roll:(Just Kidding hehehe) Anyhow what you say makes sense and although I am happy with what I have developed, there's nothing wrong with a little experimentation every now and then and yes! we were taught not to look at the ring as you say. BUT...........:p awww what the heck. It does look good when done right. And even after all these years I still get the wrong end of the knife.:rolleyes:

Anyhow never intended to present an arguement since this has been the best discussion I've ever had with folks that have varying degrees of technique. Half the time you can't even get this good a conversation outta folks from the same school. :rolleyes:

Anyhow sure wish ya'll were a bit closer. I've sent samples as far as Phoenix and hand delivered stuff to the LA area but with shipping what it costs and the price of gas, we have no intention of driving the trip. Especially since the last time we did it we lived halfway there from here.:look:

Still tending the fire. about a half hour I can add more wood for heat.:roll:
post #30 of 36
Yes, it is a good conversation.

Apropos of nothing other than not wanting to look like a fool, when I talked about the smoke ring, I didn't talk about the role beneficial bacteria on or near the meat's surface have in making the ring. Which is just about the whole thing.

Thought I'd save Luc the trouble,
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