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 Basic question for BBQ smokers

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yumbo

  • Total Posts: 330
  • Joined: 6/4/2001
  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
Basic question for BBQ smokers Mon, 07/7/03 2:50 AM (permalink)
Here it is - I've got an electric water smoker. When smoking ribs, do you just let the slab lie there flat on the grill? Or is it better to have it sitting "upright" so that both sides get exposed to the smoke? If so, how do you get it to sit up?
 
#1
    Peznt

    • Total Posts: 13
    • Joined: 1/29/2003
    • Location: ,
    RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Mon, 07/7/03 5:41 AM (permalink)
    You will be able to fit more ribs in your water smoker if you
    purchase a "Rib Rack" at a local hardware or department store.
    This will also stand them up. I don't think their will be a lot of difference if you lay them flat on the smoker or stand up in the rack, only that you can fit more.

    Peznt
     
    #2
      RibDog

      • Total Posts: 593
      • Joined: 6/6/2003
      • Location: St. Petersburg, FL
      RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Mon, 07/7/03 9:21 AM (permalink)
      Morning Yumbo.

      If you are going to lay them flat, just make it a point to turn them occasionally. This is to just a little better coloring on both sides of the ribs. But don't do this before the 3 hour mark as you don't want to opening and closing your smoker during this timeframe. I can't you the reason for this other than that is the way I was taught over the years.

      John
       
      #3
        Rick F.

        • Total Posts: 1736
        • Joined: 8/16/2002
        • Location: Natchitoches, LA
        RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Mon, 07/7/03 9:58 AM (permalink)
        A tip from "Fine Cooking" mag (I think): If you don't have a rib rack, the rack from a roasting pan will work. It has to be the non-folding kind with several parallel supports.
         
        #4
          yumbo

          • Total Posts: 330
          • Joined: 6/4/2001
          • Location: Milwaukee, WI
          RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Mon, 07/7/03 12:37 PM (permalink)
          A-ha. Many thanks for the tips.
           
          #5
            Sundancer7

            RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Tue, 08/12/03 4:24 PM (permalink)
            Can you do a pork butte on a charcoal water smoker. If so, how, how long and how much?

            Thanks,

            Paul E. smith
            Knoxville, TN
             
            #6
              Oneiron339

              • Total Posts: 2075
              • Joined: 2/13/2002
              • Location: Marietta, GA
              RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Tue, 08/12/03 4:40 PM (permalink)
              I wouldn't advise it. It takes too long to do it right and you can't maintain the heat long enough. You would have to keep taking off the lid to replenish the charcoal. I had a water smoker and learned my lesson several years ago, so I got a bigger offset smoker. Good luck!
               
              #7
                Rick F.

                • Total Posts: 1736
                • Joined: 8/16/2002
                • Location: Natchitoches, LA
                RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Tue, 08/12/03 4:49 PM (permalink)
                quote:
                Originally posted by Sundancer7

                Can you do a pork butte on a charcoal water smoker. If so, how, how long and how much?
                I use an electric water smoker, but had a friend who used the charcoal version very successfully. His had a door on the bottom section that he opened to add charcoal and/or wood chunks.

                But listen, Paul, is a pork butte anything like a masa mesa?
                 
                #8
                  Sundancer7

                  RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Tue, 08/12/03 5:48 PM (permalink)
                  I got the door on the bottom and I did a turkey on it a couple of years ago but a pork butte is something else. Need more info

                  Paul E. Smith
                  Knoxville, TN
                   
                  #9
                    seafarer john

                    RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Tue, 08/12/03 6:21 PM (permalink)
                    I've got an el cheapo $30 water smoker with a door near the bottom to feed charcoal/wood. On a very hot still day I smoked a pretty good butt in abbout 8 hours and another 2 hours tightly wrapped in the oven.
                    On a cool windy day I smoked a butt with not good results. The butt just never got the long slow cooking it needed. That cheap little smoker just couldn't maintain the heat on a cool windy day. I was constantly tending it in a desperate effort to maintain something around 225, but just couldn't do it. Since then I've depended on my son's cooking on his Big Green Egg when we want BBQ pig. Lesson: unless you want to buy a pretty damn good smoker, depend on someone who has one or go to your local BBQ joint - if you are lucky enough to have one.

                    Glad to see Sundancer back from Maine and Canada and to learn that he enjoyed his lobster at Youngs. We love that place. Would like to hear if he found any good meals in Halifax.
                     
                    #10
                      Stogie

                      • Total Posts: 128
                      • Joined: 3/12/2003
                      • Location: Ft. Wayne, IN
                      RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Tue, 08/12/03 7:47 PM (permalink)
                      Paul....

                      Of course you can do a butt on a water smoker!! Been doing ot for many years. Not only that, but I can BEAT most any other type of cooker!

                      As most of you know, I use a fleet of Weber Smokey Mountain cookers.....at home, for catering and in competitions. Many, many Top 10 finishes and several ribbons are evidence that it can be done. I have competed against every cooker imaginable...off-sets, grills, pellets, ceramics, etc. and have beat them....BUTTTT I have also lost to them!

                      We have a saying in the BBQ world.....It's the cook, NOT the cooker!

                      Now, this smoker is NOT an el cheapo...they cost around $180...but here is what they are capable of........20+ hour burns, minimal vent adjustments, VERY efficient and relatively spacious.

                      I have kept this unit burning for 22 hours on ONE load of fuel and it held steady at 225º....give or take 10º....for the entire time. Does it have any shortcomings? Of course! But, every cooker has some type of shortcoming.

                      So, YES it can be done and YES it can be done with award winning results!

                      Stogie
                       
                      #11
                        Rick F.

                        • Total Posts: 1736
                        • Joined: 8/16/2002
                        • Location: Natchitoches, LA
                        RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Tue, 08/12/03 11:47 PM (permalink)
                        Hey, gang: thought y'all might find this link of interest:

                        http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/13/dining/13BARB.html

                        r
                         
                        #12
                          chilidawgguy

                          • Total Posts: 32
                          • Joined: 8/10/2003
                          • Location: Centreville, VA
                          RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Wed, 08/13/03 3:24 PM (permalink)
                          Paul, I've cooked dozens of pork butts, sholders, and fresh hams on a basic water smoker. The secret is to leave it alone. One way of forcing yourself to do this is to fire up the smoker (I use a combination of charcoal and wood) just before you go to bed and let the meat cook all night. Most meat needs at least 8 hrs on a smoker before it becomes barbecue. Yes you'll probably run out of water, and the coals will cook down to practically nothing. But trust me...it works like a charm.
                           
                          #13
                            Sundancer7

                            RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 7:02 AM (permalink)
                            I am on my way to Walmart to buy a pork butte to put on my water smoker which chilidawg indicated that if I put it on in the evening, it would be ready the next morning. What size should I buy? Is there a better cut to put on the smoker?

                            My plan is to put it on the smoker about 7:00PM and take it off around 4:00AM. I will baste it in sauce. I will add sauce to the water, although some has advised me that adding anything to the water does not do anything. I will use a charcoal that is now self starting and just light a few coals in the center. I will fill the water pan as full of water as possible. I will not touch it for the next 8 hours.

                            I hope it works out as I will be hosting a BBQ at noon tomorrow. I will be serving it with Tennessee fried cornbread, cole slaw, potato salad, grilled corn on the cob, porta bella mushrooms on the grill covered with bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and some cheese (always goes over well) and for dessert a blue berry pie with Mayfields vanilla ice cream, Mellow Joy coffee, Bud Lite and a little Canadian for yours truly while I am chopping the pork.

                            Paul E. Smith
                            Knoxville, TN
                             
                            #14
                              Stogie

                              • Total Posts: 128
                              • Joined: 3/12/2003
                              • Location: Ft. Wayne, IN
                              RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 8:00 AM (permalink)
                              Paul...

                              This will be far too late to save you!! DO NOT, under any circumstances, use self starter briqs!!! They are impregnated with lighter fluid and as they light, they will give off horrible fumes.

                              You are using the correct method for lighting, but in this case it will work against you. As each of the briqs lights, it will emit that lighter fluid taste and this may last for your entire cook.

                              Also, save some money and don't add anything to the water. It will either evaporate too quickly because the cooker temps are well over the boiling point, or it will distill out...remember your high school experiments when boiling salt water? Once the water boils away, all that is left is the salt.

                              Finally, it is OK to baste with sauce, but if your temps get above 265º, that sauce will burn. Generally, it is not a good idea to sauce until the end. You will be exposing that sauce to heat for a long time and the tomatoes may turn bitter after a while as well. You should use a good mop....apple juice, vinegar and oil...and then baste at the half way point and every half way point to the end. ie......for a 10 hour cook, baste at the 5 hr. mark, then again 2 hrs. later and then 1 hr. later and finally 30 minutes before it is done.

                              As to cooking times.......I have cooked tons of butt and if I keep my smoker temp at 225º it will take at the very minimum, 2 hrs./lb. I have never, ever had one finish earlier, but several have finished much later.

                              Like I said, far too late for you this time, I just really hope this one turns out for you!

                              Good luck!!

                              Stogie
                               
                              #15
                                Sundancer7

                                RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 8:12 AM (permalink)
                                Actually Stogie, it is not too late for your comments as I will not start the BBQ until 7:00PM this evening. Perhaps I did not make myself as clear as I should. I do not use self starting charcoal in my swater smoker. I did that a few years ago and it left a terrible petroleum taste to my product and I had to dispose of it.

                                I start the bricks with an electric starter, put them in the center of a lot of other bricks, put my water on top and then add whatever I planned on using.

                                I did have a questions regarding the type of pork to use: Is there a better cut to use besides a butte? If not what size butte to use.

                                My smoker does not seem to get as warm as it should. Could be because it was a cheap $40 job at Walmart.

                                Paul E. Smith
                                Knoxville, TN
                                 
                                #16
                                  RibDog

                                  • Total Posts: 593
                                  • Joined: 6/6/2003
                                  • Location: St. Petersburg, FL
                                  RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 10:59 AM (permalink)
                                  Hi Paul.

                                  I can answer your questions also as I cook on WSMs myself and know Stogie from the BBQ circuit.

                                  There are not really different cuts of pork butts. There are either bone-in or boned butts. I prefer bone-in as I feel the bone helps get heat into the middle of the butt and I think a piece of meat always tastes better with a bone in it. Plus, a butt is more forgiving due to the amount of fat in the butt. Leaner cuts do not do as well in my opinion in the smoker. Not that they are not good but smoking was meant more for cheaper pieces of meat that no one else wanted.

                                  On the size, they should run anywhere from 4-8 lbs. for a bone-in butt. I like the 5.5 to 7 lb. range. Of course the larger the butt, the longer it takes to cook. Figure 1.5 to 2 hrs. per lb. of butt. That is the time for the size of each butt, not the total lbs. of butt you have on the smoker. For example, a 5 lb. butt will take from 7.5 to 10 hrs. to cook. A 7 lb. butt will from 10.5 to 14 hrs. to cook. Keep in mind that this is a guideline and not a hard and fast rule. Each butt is different. I believe the internal temp is more important. I cook mine to 195*. This is because I use them for pulled pork. Hope this helps.

                                  John
                                   
                                  #17
                                    Oneiron339

                                    • Total Posts: 2075
                                    • Joined: 2/13/2002
                                    • Location: Marietta, GA
                                    RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 11:07 AM (permalink)
                                    You guys are magicians. I've never been able to sustain the heat well enough and long enough in my water smoker. That's why I went to the offset smoker. I still have trouble regulating heat with it but I think I get better results with the offset for longer smoking items. I guess I need a course in water smokology.
                                     
                                    #18
                                      Sundancer7

                                      RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 11:38 AM (permalink)
                                      RibDog, thanks for the info. I will do the bone in and I will shoot for a five pounder. Did you ever do a pork loin?


                                      Paul E. Smith
                                      Knoxville, TN
                                       
                                      #19
                                        RibDog

                                        • Total Posts: 593
                                        • Joined: 6/6/2003
                                        • Location: St. Petersburg, FL
                                        RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 11:54 AM (permalink)
                                        I usually don't because Stogie will tell you that I am by nature, cheap. I cook butts because I can get them at a real good case price at Sam's. Just bought a case last week at $.80 a pound. It is kinda hard to beat that.

                                        But if you are more flush than I am, go for the loin. Just keep in mind that it has much less fat in it and can dry out very quickly. You might even want to consider brining the loin before smoking. I am sure Stogie has cooked some loins so he will probably chime in on this.

                                        BTW, Stogie pointed out the expense of the WSM at $180. Keep in mind that it is a well made smoker that should last you a good 8-10 years, if not longer, if maintained properly. Plus all of the parts are available for replacements. And the WSM has been around for quite a while. If you get a chance, take a look at www.virtualweberbullet.com. It is a website dedicated to the WSM.

                                        Come back and tell us how the butt turns out. One more thing, if you make pulled pork from the butt, make sure you keep as much of the dark outside (bark) of the butt and mix it in with the rest of the inside meat. Also, try the cooked meat before you put any sauce on it.

                                        Have fun.

                                        John
                                         
                                        #20
                                          RibDog

                                          • Total Posts: 593
                                          • Joined: 6/6/2003
                                          • Location: St. Petersburg, FL
                                          RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 12:02 PM (permalink)
                                          Hey OneIron.

                                          Stogie is right about the long cook times on the WSM. I cook pork butts for friends and do it the same way as Stogie. I fire up my WSMs the night before and throw half a case of butts (4) on each WSM and then go to sleep. I get up the next morning, put some more water in the pan, check temps, and go have breakfast. I have had 22 hour cooks at 225 just like Stogie. These WSMs are amazing. Go to the website I listed in my last response and check it out.

                                          I should point out that I did make one modification to my WSM so I could get more sleep. I took out the Weber water pan and put in a Brinkman charcoal pan in its place. This doubled the amount of water (from 1 gal. to 2 gals.) in the smoker. Stogie is going to beat me up on this because I know he has switched to using sand in his water pan. Then you don't have to worry about refilling it with water. But that is another story for another day.

                                          John
                                           
                                          #21
                                            Sundancer7

                                            RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 12:03 PM (permalink)
                                            Ribdog, whay did stogie switch from water to sand?

                                            Paul E. Smith
                                            Knoxville, TN
                                             
                                            #22
                                              Bushie

                                              • Total Posts: 2902
                                              • Joined: 4/21/2001
                                              • Location: Round Rock, TX
                                              RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 12:09 PM (permalink)
                                              I used one of the "cheap" Brinkman water smokers for over 20 years and was very happy with it for the most part. Sometimes things turned out very good, sometimes they didn't. I always thought it was just my lack of ability responsible for the inconsistency, and I know that was a big factor.

                                              However, taking Stogie's advice from his many posts on this subject, I got a Weber Smokey Mountain for Father's Day this year. I can attest that the ability to control the heat on this thing is unbelievable. I also followed his advice and bought an oven thermometer; digital readout with a 3' cord between the probe and the unit. I can now always tell what the temp is at the level where the meat lays, so that gives further control over the results.

                                              Paul, as much as you BBQ, I HIGHLY recommend investing in a WSM. You will absolutely LOVE it.
                                               
                                              #23
                                                Rick F.

                                                • Total Posts: 1736
                                                • Joined: 8/16/2002
                                                • Location: Natchitoches, LA
                                                RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 12:17 PM (permalink)
                                                quote:
                                                Originally posted by RibDog

                                                Hey OneIron.


                                                Doggone it! I was too insecure to admit that I didn't know what "oneiron" meant and after a lot of searches, found ou. So I wa happy. And now you spell it OneIron. I hate it when someone else sees something that should have been clear to me.
                                                 
                                                #24
                                                  Oneiron339

                                                  • Total Posts: 2075
                                                  • Joined: 2/13/2002
                                                  • Location: Marietta, GA
                                                  RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 12:43 PM (permalink)
                                                  Rick, I'm not going to ask what you originally thought it was.
                                                   
                                                  #25
                                                    Stogie

                                                    • Total Posts: 128
                                                    • Joined: 3/12/2003
                                                    • Location: Ft. Wayne, IN
                                                    RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 1:03 PM (permalink)
                                                    Sounds like you guys are getting the hang of this BBQ stuff!

                                                    Thanks RibDog for the excellent input. For the rest of you folks, he is a fantastic cook and a great addition to the board! RibDog....I would never dream of beating you up!! LOL Over the years I have mellowed in my opinions on things!

                                                    For those that are struggling with smoker temps. If you have one of the cheaper off-sets...under $800...there are some mods you can make that will increase your temp control greatly. I will post these under a new heading as this one is getting long.

                                                    For Paul and others who have the cheap water smokers, check out this site for the mods you guys can make......

                                                    http://www.randyq.addr.com/ecb/ecbmods.html

                                                    The biggest problem with these is the use of a small charcoal pan. After a couple of hours, your briqs will drown themselves in the ash and die out. You need to constantly stir, empty and re-fill. Doing this for a 20+ hr. stretch can be maddening!

                                                    Paul, to answer some other questions.......

                                                    I switched to sand for ease of clean up. At many contests, they still don't provide water and I had to haul it around with me. At the end, you need to dispose of it somewhere...that usually meant dragging a greasy, shallow pan of water to the nearest place. Sometimes there wasn't one! As RibDog mentioned, you also do not need to refill it on those long cooks. I personally don't think it adds any moisture to the cooking environment and after using it now for 1 year, I am more convined than ever of that. It acts as a heat baffle so sand works just as well as water....please, NO physics lessons! LOL

                                                    As for smoking loins...they are the only meat I brine. I also no longer cook them on the smoker. As RibDog mentioned, they are much too lean for smoking. It can be done, but I prefer to grill over high heat. Here is how I do it......Get your grill..or you can do this in the oven...to 450º-500º. Grill each side of the loin for 5 minutes. Then back your heat down to around 375-400º and finish. Turn the thing often and baste often. Cook it for another 45-50 mins. and you will have yourself a perfect pork loin. Let it rest for 10 minutes and then slice it up.

                                                    If you like to use a meat thermo instead, shoot for 145-150º and then remove and rest. If you go above 160º on this cut of meat it will dry out. Not to worry...trichinae is killed at 137º.

                                                    Hope this helps everybody!

                                                    Stogie
                                                     
                                                    #26
                                                      Sundancer7

                                                      RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 1:59 PM (permalink)
                                                      Stogie: I know you are not impressed with my $40K water smoker, but right now it is what I have to work with. The web site you directed me to is great and the modifications will improve the performance. I will try to do #1 & 2 this evening. I may have to get a smaller cut of butte because the channel will reduce and ash drain will reduce cook time to five hours.

                                                      I will let you know how it turns out.

                                                      Paul E. smith
                                                      Knoxville, TN
                                                       
                                                      #27
                                                        DaveM

                                                        • Total Posts: 353
                                                        • Joined: 4/29/2002
                                                        • Location: North Chelmsford, MA
                                                        RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 4:19 PM (permalink)
                                                        Paul,
                                                        Once upon a time Walmart offered a Brinkman smoker for $199 that had the separate firepit.
                                                        Horizontal, not vertical.
                                                        DaveM
                                                         
                                                        #28
                                                          RibDog

                                                          • Total Posts: 593
                                                          • Joined: 6/6/2003
                                                          • Location: St. Petersburg, FL
                                                          RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 4:32 PM (permalink)
                                                          I want to clarify one thing. I will try and use sand in place of water in my WSM. I just have not had a chance where I was not cooking something for someone else. Don't want to take the chance when I am producing product. I trust Stogie implicity because I know his skill level with WSMs. I just have to be in the right frame of mind to try something new. Plus, I already the bags of sand on the back porch to prove it. They just have not made it into the water pans yet.

                                                          John
                                                           
                                                          #29
                                                            Rick F.

                                                            • Total Posts: 1736
                                                            • Joined: 8/16/2002
                                                            • Location: Natchitoches, LA
                                                            RE: Basic question for BBQ smokers Fri, 08/15/03 4:37 PM (permalink)
                                                            quote:
                                                            Originally posted by DaveM

                                                            Paul,
                                                            Once upon a time Walmart offered a Brinkman smoker for $199 that had the separate firepit.
                                                            Horizontal, not vertical.
                                                            DaveM


                                                            Here's a link to what they have now (besides the cheapos).

                                                            http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.gsp?cat=4089&dept=5428&product_id=1978617&path=0%3A5428%3A4089%3A4885

                                                            Would y'all take a look at it? I know it uses propane, but it also has a holder for wood chunks or chips.

                                                            This may be the Brinkmann you were talking about:

                                                            http://www.outdoor-grill-gear.com/cgi-bin/amazon.pl?asinsearch=B00006WS5F
                                                             
                                                            #30
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