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Thread: Outdoor Cooking (smoking, grilling, barbecuing, open spit, etc.)

  1. #1
    Site Supporter rob_s's Avatar
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    Outdoor Cooking (smoking, grilling, barbecuing, open spit, etc.)

    I found some old threads on the topic but it seemed worth starting fresh and as we are heading into grilling/smoking season it seemed fitting to revive the discussion.

    Just to be clear, if there is heat from flame but no smoke it's grilling (propane, charcoal) it's "grilling" and in order for it to be "barbecuing" it's got to have smoke, and preferably an indirect heat. Likewise, if you are grilling you are hosting a "cook out" and if you are barbecuing you are hosting a "barbecue". Grilling =/= barbecue.

    That said, I use an Open Range from The Good One Smokers. I use the Maverick Wireless Barbecue Thermometer ET732. One probe for the meat, one for the smoke box. They now make an ET-733 which I'm considering getting for the longer range as I typically run the smoker in front of my shop and monitor from inside the house. The thermometer I got came with the Bear Paw Shredder Claws, which a lot of people scoff at until they see me use them and realize how fast they are. I use Silicone Barbecue Gloves for handling the meat, and Welder's Gloves for handling the metal smoker parts. I use Tool Wizard BBQ Tongs in the 20" for messing with coals and meat. I keep meaning to get a shorter pair as well to separate coal-handling from meat-handling. I use foil pans and heavy-duty foil for all kinds of things from transporting, to marinating, to resting, to serving... I use bus boy bins with lids to store my tools, wash my utensils, etc.

    I use standard Kingsford Original charcoal (although I'm considering trying the Kingsford Long-Burning). I start the coals in a pair of Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starters fired with the Weber Lighter Cubes. I typically top it with fruit or nut woods (apple, cherry or pecan being my favorites) and skip the tired hickory and mesquite. I use the Minion Method of putting cold coals in the bottom then pouring hot coals over the top. I'm finding that this method gets me an extremely long burn and I only need one chimney of starter coals. I maintain the meat box at 250 degrees.

    My favorite meat is boneless pork butts from Costco, and we generally get the 10 lbs 2-pack which typically yields two 5-lb boneless butts. I like the boneless because I can get more rub in the area where the bone came out, the Costco version isn't completely trimmed down with no fat like a typical grocery-chain butt would be, and the lack of bone just leaves me less to deal with and an easier temperature management (I find that the bone heats/cools unpredictably). I used to make my own rubs and sauces but now have store-bought versions of both that I like enough to save the time. Most people don't appreciate the difference anyway. I'll have to look at home to see what the brands are. But, you cook with rub only, and you serve sauce on the side. Don't cook with sauce on the meat, that's nasty. I cook the butt to a 205 internal temp and it literally falls apart with the bear claws.

    The #1 mistake I see people make with butts is cooking them only to 160 and not cooking them hot enough. Mostly due to being uninformed on the former, and trying for some kind of nostalgia on the latter. I have had long-time smoker friends come over for a BBQ and they are shocked to see how hot I run the smoker, and how hot I let the meat get. They they see how the meat comes apart in the pan and how great it tastes and how *ALL* of the fat breaks down, and they go home converted to my method.

    That should be enough to spark some discussion/argument/fighting. I'll come back and post about my grill after this dies down...

  2. #2
    Soul Brother Number 1 Greg's Avatar
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    I'm kinda partial to Weber products (although a BGE is on my radar) - I became a Lump Charcoal convert a few years ago, don't miss the ash of briquettes one bit.

    The Smokey Mountain is the 18.5" - the SuperGhetto mini smoker made from a Smokey Joe + a Tamale pot works astonishingly well (unless it is cold outside).

    I have a Barbecue Guru controller for the WSM but unless I'm doing an overnight cook it is totally unnecessary. I rarely cook meat indoors - even during a blizzard the old green kettle gets used because it lives under a sheltered entryway.
    Donít blame me. I didnít vote for that dumb bastard.

  3. #3
    Site Supporter rob_s's Avatar
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    When it comes to grills, I'm totally a Weber fan. I just haven't seen anything they make on the smoker side that I really like.

  4. #4
    Site Supporter Matt O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob_s View Post
    The #1 mistake I see people make with butts is cooking them only to 160 and not cooking them hot enough.
    You mean basically cooking it until it hits the stall and then thinking its done. Pork definitely needs to hit at least 195 and ideally 200-205 degrees before it gets to the right texture. I am far from a professional, but thankfully it's pretty hard to screw up a pork butt as long as you make sure you hit that temperature target, either just waiting on the stall or crutching it.

    The only thing I'd disagree with is I like a bone in shoulder for extra flavor, though that's pretty subjective. It also lets you know the meat is definitely ready - if you've got a proper internal temp of 200ish degrees, a light tug on the bone and it slides right out. Now I'm getting hungry...

  5. #5
    Site Supporter Matt O's Avatar
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    I've moved away from grilling and pretty much exclusively spend my time smoking meat. I've been using the pit barrel smoker for the last couple years with pretty decent success. Everything from venison shoulders to smoked chicken, pork butts, ribs, easter lamb, thanksgiving turkey, etc.

  6. #6
    Site Supporter rob_s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt O View Post
    You mean basically cooking it until it hits the stall and then thinking its done. Pork definitely needs to hit at least 195 and ideally 200-205 degrees before it gets to the right texture. I am far from a professional, but thankfully it's pretty hard to screw up a pork butt as long as you make sure you hit that temperature target, either just waiting on the stall or crutching it.
    understanding the stall, and the magic temp, was my biggest lightbulb moment in BBQ.

    The only thing I'd disagree with is I like a bone in shoulder for extra flavor, though that's pretty subjective. It also lets you know the meat is definitely ready - if you've got a proper internal temp of 200ish degrees, a light tug on the bone and it slides right out. Now I'm getting hungry...
    I've heard that, but haven't noticed it one way or the other. i think the issue is that I learned and "perfected" my method on the boneless so when I go bone-in it causes me to adjust. Plus, I can't find a bone-in here locally that has the fat content I'm looking for like those Costco boneless.

  7. #7
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    Weber charcoal grill and Weber Bullet smoker are all I use.

    I used to obsess over temperature of the smoker and meat and trying to time everything perfectly. However, I have found that smoking (especially with a water pan) and basting the meat makes it easier for me to have meat "done" a good time before it actually needs to be served but I can lower the temp and spray/mop the meat without it drying out until time to eat. I don't even use thermometers anymore except when pregnant women are eating and I need be 100% sure about the temp.

    I also use the minion method and once you learn your smoker it goes from sitting next to it while it smokes to setting and leaving it for hours at a time to include leaving the house.

    I think I like the Kingsford Long Burning for smoking but it's slow to light when I want to charcoal grill something for dinner. Probably should keep 2 types of Kingsford on hand.

    Do ribs, pulled pork (shoulder or butt), and chicken more than anything. Whole beer can chickens, turkeys, or cornish hens are also great.
    Last edited by rjohnson4405; 04-26-2017 at 10:08 AM.

  8. #8
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    Perfectly timed thread. I just lucked into an open box WSM 18.5" for about half price. Emailed Weber and they sent me the few missing parts (free). Just need to grab all the ancillary stuff and fire it up. I'll also probably be buying a Weber gas grill to replace the cheapo I just trashed.
    Thinking I'll do a dry run to get the hang of regulating temperature first (since I've never run a smoker before).
    Any opinions on what meat to start with, as in "what's pretty easy to not f up?"

    Sent from my XT1095 using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Site Supporter farscott's Avatar
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    Grilling and smoking are my big hobbies. I have a "small" Big Green Egg in a nest that I use for most grilling tasks when it is just my wife and I eating. It can be run hot enough to sear steaks and cool enough to grill fish. I have a Weber Performer for when there are guests and we are grilling.

    For smoking, I do pork butts and turkey breasts on a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM). Fuel is Kingsford and a good fruit wood. I like apple, orange, and pecan. I like to get my butts to 195 degrees so that all of the fat converts to gelatin. I usually start butts at 6:00 PM the day before I want to eat them and target coming off the smoker at noon. That allows up to three extra hours if I hit a stall. My target temp at the smoker lid for butts is 225. I use a Fluke lab-grade thermometer to measure meat temps. The process creates a very tender and flavorful meal once I pull the pork. For ribs and chicken, I use a 36-inch Lang stick burner fueled by oak with a few chunks of pecan or orange. I do baby backs with the membrane removed upside down at about 225-250 for three hours. That allows any juices to collect in the bowl, stopping the meat from becoming too dry.

    Pork butt is the easiest to not mess up because the goal is cook till the meat is at 195. Brined turkey breast is also very easy. I brine for a day with salt, sugar, Cajun spices, and garlic in the fridge and them smoke until the meat gets to 160. I usually run the smoker for turkey breast at about 215. The result is a moist, flavorful meat.

    Running a WSM is easy. Open the top vents all the way and use the bottom vents to control temps. More open is hotter.

  10. #10
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    I'm moving back into a house later in the year and I'm very excited about having a backyard again. I've decided to go with a Weber Spirit E330 mainly for everyday convenience. For charcoal, I'll get a Big Green Egg. I see a ton of guys use the Weber Smokey Mountain with good success on the BBQ competition circuit so I know it's capable. That could potentially be my third addition down the line. If I had a bigger backyard I would just straight-up build a smoke house. Ahhh...a dream for another day!

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