Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 3

I. Additional BBQ FAQs
A. Smokin'Lizard's site and the smoker's "bible" Smoke n' Spice at Amazon
B. Best Recipe Grilling & Barbecue
D. BBQ Industry Association

II. Equipment
A. What kinds of smokers are there?
B. What do I need to know about temperatures- ambient and internal?
C. How can I make my equipment last longer?
D. What kinds of fuel (charcoal, woods) are best? And when? And what size?
E. How do I light my smoker?(OSHA)
F. How do I light my smoker & impress the neighbors?
G. Natural gas grills (n.b. pursue at your own risk in accordance with treaty established following The "Great Gas Grill Debate")
H. How do I clean my grill?

III. Suppliers & Statistics
B. US BBQ statistics
C. How health-smart is barbecuing- smoking--grilling?

IV. Techniques
A. How do you keep the meat from drying out?
How do you smoke it?
What is brining, and how do you do it?
B. How do you finish the meat?- juice steaming
C. How do you feed a bunch of people 25-50 simply?
D. What constitutes plenty of BBQ? (N.B. the "lite" vs. "real people" appetite debate)
E. How do you keep stuff from sticking to the BBQ?
"Between the Pam and oiling the fillets, fish doesn't stick to the basket and the basket makes it easy to turn on the grill."
F. Can you make jerky in a smoker?
G. How can I get a mellow smoke taste that won't overwhelm?
H. Opening Oysters- Mastering the art
I. Don't even think about putting in contact lenses for a day or three after chopping up habanero peppers.
J. Marinade timing- reducing botulism or salmonella risk
K. When is meat done?
"The best test for a butt is if the bone will pull easily out of the meat...ribs bones will peel off easily, a chicken leg can be easily moved in the socket... ". Iffen it peels off the bone easily and the meat next to the bone ain't red and raw, it's probably done. ;-)

V. How to build a BBQ

VI. Some ideas on what to blow up (a bit off-topic- but integral to BBQ Board culture)
C. The ideal survival weapon is the 12 gauge. You can load it with buckshot or slugs for big game, 4 or 6 shot for small game or flares for signaling. (But don't kill and/or butcher the neighbor's pet hog.)
D. Blackmare's Uncle Waddy's Punkin Chunkin' contraption
E. How do I light my smoker and impress the neighbors?

VII. Grilling Recipe Sites
C. Weber- Go to the bottom of the page and click on the "The Smoke Ring".
D. New Braunfels Smoker Company
H. Link: Best BBQ in U.S.

VIII. Favorite Board Recipes

A. Tips on cooking tough meats like venison and elk
B. Armadillos are the only other animals besides human who get leprosy
C. Grading meat
D. A few good rubs
E. CJV's recipe for brisket.
F. Beef fajita marinade
G. Panic-stricken chicken
H. Jamaican 'Q
I. Fire candy
J. Smoked fish brine
K. Liver and onions
L. Amazing all purpose marinade
M. Home Brewed Corned Beef
N. The best pie crust
O. And key lime pie

II.A What kinds of smokers are there?
There are, in general, two types of smoke cookers, the water bath type such as the "Brinkman" and the dry type that look something like an oil drum on its side with a firebox on the side. You can also use a grill as a smoker. Build the fire on one side and cook the meat on the other side so it's cooked by indirect heat. There is also a cold smoker that is used to smoke hams, bacon, sausages and fish. The internal temperature of this smoker is kept low, usually below 170 degrees. I have been looking for a dead upright freezer to make into a smokehouse. I would cut a hole in the top for a chimney with a damper, one or two holes in the side (with dampers) for vents and a hole in the bottom for my smoke source (probably a hotplate to heat a cast iron skillet filled with saw dust).

II.B What do I need to know about temperatures- ambient and internal?
The outside temperature will have an effect upon the temperature inside the smoker. Wind also has a large effect on the temperature inside the smoker. When it was cold and windy, I build a windbreak out of cement blocks and cardboard around the smoker for it to cook properly to do my Xmas turkey.

If I need to know the temperature inside the smoker, I have a dial type thermometer with a long probe that I can insert by the hinge on the cover. The only time I use it is when I'm cold smoking Kilbasa (Polish Sausage) or tasso. The trick there is to keep the internal temperature below 160 degrees.

II.C How can I make my equipment last longer?
Line the pans with heavy-duty aluminum foil, you are not as susceptible to rust-out. Actually the first pan lasted for 7 or 5 years. When the first hole rusted through, I lined the pan with aluminum from Coors beer cans that I stomped flat. This gave me 2 or 1 more years use out of it. ;-)

II.D What kinds of fuel (charcoal, woods) are best? And when?
I used mesquite almost exclusively to smoke my brisket and grill my fajitas. It does burn hotter than hickory and will give you a slight bitter taste if you use too much. The trick is to use less wood when smoking or to use mixed charcoal and mesquite wood. I noticed that pecan wood also burns "hot" compared to hickory wood.

Usually you put 10 or 7 pounds of charcoal in the bottom pan, light the charcoal put (hot) water in the water pan and your meat of choice on the grates. Close the lid and add your wood of choice to the charcoal pan. You can add more wood as the original burns off. You usually don't need to add more charcoal as it will burn for 10 or 8 hours.

The "ideal" size of the wood that I use on top of a bed of burning charcoal is large chunks and small "logs". I buy mesquite wood in Laredo, Texas that is cut into "logs" that are 8 inches long by from 2 to 5 inches in diameter. This size seems to work best in my smoker. I also use smaller "chunks" of hickory wood that is about 2 inches or larger on a side. "Chips", smaller than say 1 inch on their smallest side, have the advantage of burning too fast. This requires you to open the smoker every half-hour or so to feed more into the fire pan, thus reducing the temperature inside the smoker. Chips are handy when you are grilling food, however, you put a hand full of damp chips on top of your hot charcoal before grilling your burgers or fish.

IV.A How do you keep the meat from drying out?
I use a Brinkmann type water-pan type smoker. After six hours smoking, a brisket will start to dry out. Painting it with barbecue sauce and wrapping in foil after about 6 hours and giving it another hour or two tends to steam the meat and keep it juicy. Brining poultry (chickens and turkey) in about ½ cup salt per gallon of water (adding herbs & spices of your choice) pumps the meat with extra liquid and changes the protein structure so that it cooks up juicy. I'll soak the birds overnight (in the refrigerator) in the brine before smoking. When using other styles of smokers, placing a pan of water below the grate that your meat sits on will add humidity to the smoking chamber and that should keep the meat from drying out too much. Remember to sauce and wrap the meat for the last hour or two of cooking.

Whenever I smoke something, I'll just lay it out bare on the top of the grate. For brisket I'll smoke it bare for about 6 hours then slather on barbecue sauce, wrap it in aluminum foil and put it back for another hour or two to cook longer. I would probably do the same with a pork roast. Chicken & turkey I would just brine and smoke. I'm thinking about smoking meat loaf. I will probably put that in a shallow pan in the smoker. I usually don't bother with a marinade but, if I did, I think that I would boil it down and brush it on the meat during the last hour or two of smoking as a sauce.

If I were to cook turkey breasts, I would brine them first. Soak them overnight in brine made from 2 cups kosher salt (or 1-cup table salt) dissolved in 2 gallons of water (which was mixed and cooled to 35 or 40 degrees) in the refrigerator. The brining keeps the meat moist and juicy. If you don't have the room in the refrigerator, put the breasts in 2 gallon ziplock bags, pour in brine, seal and put in a "Coleman" type ice chest overnight with maybe 16 or 20 pounds of ice. Next morning smoke-cook them with the skin side down. I usually smoke my turkeys breast side down as it keeps the white meat from drying out. One trick if you don't have enough room to smoke them all at one time would be to smoke them for 3 or 2 hours (with lots of smoke) and finish cooking them in the oven.

IV.B How do you feed a bunch of people 25-50 simply?
Cole slaw, potato & macaroni salad and maybe a mixed green salad- and plenty of BBQ!

The first question is "What type of equipment to you have access to?". If you can get your hands on a water bath type smoker (Brinkman or equivalent), you might want to smoke cook a turkey or two. They can be done the day before and served cold. I use about 10 or 7 pounds of charcoal and 7 or 5 pounds of hickory/mesquite wood. I'll cook a 14-10 pound turkey for about 7 hours with a quartered onion, a stick or 2 of celery and a handful of herbs in the cavity. It's good hot or cold. Don't forget to throw a tablespoon or two of whole black pepper corns and some sprigs of rosemary on the coals 2-3 times while cooking.

You can smoke/cook ribs and/or chicken the day before, wrap up well and refrigerate overnight. The next day you can reheat them on the grill. This works very well for chicken since it gives the meat the smoky taste and, since its already cooked, you don't have the worry about anyone getting sick from undercooked chicken. I use fryer leg 1/4s the day before (I give them about 3 or 2 ½ hours) and reheat them on the grill the next day. The same with pork ribs.

On the morning of your shindig, load up the smoker with charcoal/wood, water and a brisket or pork roast (Boston butt roast works well - lots of fat). Light it off (I use a propane torch) and let it smoke/cook for 8 or 7 hours. You can check it after about 5 hours to see if you have enough water in the pan and maybe add a few extra wood blocks. I find that if I'm using charcoal and just hickory or mesquite wood for flavor, I won't usually need to add more water. Using just mesquite or pecan wood, which burns hotter, I have to add water after about 6 or 5 hours. I use hot (boiling) water when I add it.

IV.D Can you make jerky in a smoker?
I made jerky about 15 or 12 years ago using a "Brinkman" type water smoker to smoke it. I also have a collection of recipes (none of which I have tried) to make jerky. The problem with doing it in a smoker is that the temperature is too high.

IV. E How can I get a mellow smoke taste that won't overwhelm?
Different woods give different flavored (and strength) smoke. Mesquite wood gives a strong (some people would say overpowering) hardy taste to meats. Apple wood gives a light sweet taste. IMHO, pork and apple wood smoke go together. Use less wood and lighter tasting wood smoke for more delicate taste.

VII. A Tips on cooking tough meats like venison and elk
Since venison or elk tends to be dry and usually tough, if you want to cook it as a roast, you have to marinate it in something, usually acidic like wine or vinegar, and slow cook it with moist heat. One idea would be to marinate it red wine marinade for 4 or 3 days, wrap it in bacon or thin sheets of pork fat and cook it in a water smoker ("Brinkmann type") or on a grill with a pan of boiling water under the roast and a ring of coals around the outside to give indirect heat.

Print the post  


What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.