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I'm a lurker around here, but I've become so interested that I've become a smoker. I bought a WSM (the big one, because bigger must be better, right?). I've used it once and filled it up with lots of stuff - goat legs, pork shoulder, tri-tip, and chicken! It was actually surprisingly successful, but now I've got a question. I used mesquite lump charcoal, but when I read the manual (after I used the thing - makes sense, right?) it said that Weber recommends briquettes. I'm wondering why - what would it change using a different kind of charcoal? I'm planning on putting a turkey in there on Thursday, so wondering if I should switch fuel...
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Hi sdsue--
Glad you decided to join us!
Lump charcoal burns hotter and faster. You can make the fire last longer and cook at a steady, lower temp (e.g.-- 225, perfect for most forms of BBQ) if you use briquettes. To add smoke you can throw in chunks of hardwood such as hickory (my favorite), or other woods such as pecan/oak/mesquite/apple/etc.
One strong recommendation I will make for smoking a turkey is to brine it first-- this greatly helps with keeping it moist.
If you haven't looked at
http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/
yet, I strongly recommend it. That site is excellent for WSM owners, and BBQers in general. You might get some good ideas you can use for cooking turkey.
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filled it up with lots of stuff - goat legs, pork shoulder, tri-tip, and chicken! It was actually surprisingly successful, but now I've got a question. I used mesquite lump charcoal, but when I read the manual (after I used the thing - makes sense, right?) it said that Weber recommends briquettes. I'm wondering why - what would it change using a different kind of charcoal? I'm planning on putting a turkey in there on Thursday, so wondering if I should switch fuel...


JGB nailed significant factors very well. I might add a few comments, if I may, w/o any attempt to offend - WOW!! You smoked a lot of different kinds of meat der!! <g> Pork and chicken tends to smoke well together. Beef is a little stronger. Goat is a way strong tasting meat. It is probably one of, if not the, strongest flavored meats I have ever eaten, other than wild game, quail and rabbit being some exceptions. To my taste buds, mesquite imparts a very strong flavor to food that I, personally, don't care for much, but might try it with a meat like goat. To me, it would really overpower pork and chicken. Hickory and Oak are a lot more neutral for a base fuel. For turkey, I would probably use hickory charcoal briquettes as a base fuel and add some Pecan chunks or chips for smoke, but that's just my personal preference. I would not stuff the turkey (I don't care for food poisoning), but might would smoke some "dressing" along side the turkey in a throwaway AL pan - I might stuff the cooked dressing inside the turkey the last 1/2 to 1 hour of cooking the turkey.

I like a pretty simple sausage dressing:

1 lb. Italian sausage (hot or mild), crumbled
3 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced crosswise into ¼" pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 stick butter
8 oz. dried bread cubes (may use a bread stuffing mix like Pepperidge Farm)
½ pan cornbread
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 egg, beaten

I was planning to brine a turkey in a buttermilk and salt water solution and mixing sum butter wid sum thyme, garlic and black pepper to stuff under da skin, until I got invited to a shabu-shabu Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's home - might still smoke the turkey though.

Cooking is very much a matter of personal preferences - What I might like, another may well like something very much different.

Bob
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Thanks guys - very helpful information indeed.

I know that was a crazy amount and variety of meat. The even more crazy thing was that I invited about 20 of my closest friends over to eat it - having NO idea what I was doing or how it would turn out. Fate was kind to me, and judging by the amounts consumed, I would say that everyone enjoyed the whole selection. I totally realize that I was lucky to not end up ordering pizza for the crowd :) All in all though, it was a fun party!

I was planning on brining the turkey, and not planning on stuffing it. I had never thought about smoking a pan of stuffing/dressing though - it sounds interesting. If I get ambitious enough, I might try it. (Probably with a back-up in the oven though).

Thanks again for the tips!

Sue
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I used mesquite lump charcoal, but when I read the manual (after I used the thing - makes sense, right?) it said that Weber recommends briquettes. I'm wondering why - what would it change using a different kind of charcoal?

Briquettes are easier to use, easier to find and usually less expensive than lump charcoal. However, Mesquite is one of the most powerfully flavored woods to use and can easily overpower the flavor of the meat being smoked.

Obviously you did nothing wrong and it turned out great for you and your friends, congrats!

Now, if'n y'all'd like to learn more about the types of fules to try, check this out...

http://www.bbqfools.com/BBQFuels.php

...especially "The Naked Whiz's Lump Charcoal Database"...

http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lump.htm

...and y'all'll see that there are numerous different ways to smoke different foods with different fuels. :-)

JGB also offered onna the best web sites for info about smokin' foods at the Virtual Weber Bullet website.

I'm planning on putting a turkey in there on Thursday, so wondering if I should switch fuel...

OK, then try some plain ole briquettes and some kinda sweet fruit wood.

Bill
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I know that was a crazy amount and variety of meat.

Ummm, no, never, not on this board. If'n y'all're gonna smoke sumpthin' then y'all might as well add as much as y'all can and make the smoke session worth it. :-)

Just be careful about what meat is drippin' on other meat/s.

Bill
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If'n y'all're gonna smoke sumpthin' then y'all might as well add as much as y'all can and make the smoke session worth it.

I'll second that. BBQ takes a long time, if done properly. If you're going to do it right, you might as well "go big" and wind up with a lot of fine products.
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If you're going to do it right, you might as well "go big" and wind up with a lot of fine products.

Then, I sincerely think that it is appropriate to delve into packaging, storage, reheating and comparative qualities.

As I only cook for myself, and sometimes a few others, buying, cooking and storing in bulk hasn't proven a very good economy, for me, except for drying some vegetables, when in season.

Charcoal and wood aren't that expensive for me. I have only a freezer that is part of my refrigerator. I prefer to let a grocery store or butcher shop supply meat, on demand, so to speak.

my .02

Bob
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Then, I sincerely think that it is appropriate to delve into packaging, storage, reheating and comparative qualities.

Pulled pork and pulled chicken would be exceptions - Nice to have those done and readily available for a sandwich.

Ribs and Brisket, I'd have to think about.

Bob
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I have an extra freezer that is almost completely dedicated to meat-- top half to cooked/BBQ'ed, bottom half to weekly specials on meat that are considerably better than regular prices.
Reheated BBQ may not be quite as good as freshly cooked BBQ, but it is still really good. (That goes for pulled pork, spareribs, turkey, brisket, and others.) One caveat is that there needs to be sauce on the meat when reheating it in the microwave, or else the consistency of the meat isn't as good.
With work/school/family, I don't have the time to fire up the smoker every time I want BBQ-- maybe when I'm retired I'll be able to do that.
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http://ads.allrecipes.com/

Note the comment about using Kosher or Canning salt, not table salt - most important part of the video.
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I guess that link didn't work very well - Sorry!

Anyway, use Kosher or Canning salt, not table salt, in your brine(s). Using table salt will make the meat too salty.
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