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Newbe Questions

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Post Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:50 pm
Dawgs_Rule medium
medium

Posts: 188
Location: Georgia
I've become the owner of a Meco water smoker. This is an older
model, 5000, but was only used once. I've used it twice so far and
have a few questions.

1) What is the best charcoal to use, lump vs brick, and brand and
where do you get some cheap? I cooked on it once with
Kingsford and once with Publix brand and could tell a world of
difference with the Kingsford.

2) How much wood do you generally use? I over smoked my shoulder
the second time around and didn't enjoy it at all. The wood I was
using, some pecan and some hickory, would stop smoking after just a
few minutes so I kept adding more... too much as it turned out.

3) I had a hard time keeping it up to temp after the 5-6 hour mark
when the existing coal burned down too much, another reason for the
over smoking, I added more wood to keep the temp up. I think I can
cure this by buying a charcoal chimney that holds more charcoal. I
was improvising with a smaller metal container that didn't hold very
much. Are there other suggestions? Would lump last longer or is
that just part of the job. I also noticed that the pan had a lot of
ash so I was running out of room for new charcoal.

4) Along with the smoky taste it also had too much of a
charcoal/lighter fluid taste... I know this is due to my not heating
the coals long enough before I reloaded and the cheap charcoal that I
used. I was wondering if I should use my old camping stove and a
butane tank to heat the coals vs. using lighter fluid. I heard a
couple of people mention that they never use lighter fluid because it
takes a long time to burn off. I have a one eye backpack style stove
so I should be able to put the chimney right on top of it.

5) Anyone have a smoker like the one I have that can give me some
additional advice?

Thanks,


D_R

Post Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:10 pm
squashed possum well done
well done

Posts: 599
Location: Virginia Beach,VA
1) royal oak briquettes(lowes) or royal oak lump(walmart) are your best bets

2)with my WSM i use about 4 very large chunks of cherry wood for a 10-20 hour cook.just because you can't see the smoke doesn't mean it's not there.

3) a charcoal chimney will allow you to add lit coals to bring the temp back up
quicker. lump burns up faster than briquettes, but leaves less ash and
generally gives a better taste.

4) see answer 3. use a chimney starter and ditch the lighter fluid. and you can
use a gas burner to light it.

5) i'm not familiar with your smoker, sorry :(
Weber 22.5" Green One-Touch Gold
Weber Smokey Mountain
Weber 2002 Silver C Propane

Post Sat Jan 19, 2008 1:44 am
T-Rex well done
well done

Posts: 1933
Location: El Paso, TX
And use the Minion Method.

Post Sat Jan 19, 2008 1:19 pm
Dawgs_Rule medium
medium

Posts: 188
Location: Georgia
T-Rex wrote:
And use the Minion Method.


Wow. I have to say that that method does fly in the face of what I have traditionally though of when using charcoal. A question for you. I noticed a few people claimed that they could taste a difference between traditional method vs minion method. Is this true? While I don't think I would notice anything, my wife has an outstanding sense of smell and taste and she may notice it.

D_R

Post Sat Jan 19, 2008 3:28 pm
squashed possum well done
well done

Posts: 599
Location: Virginia Beach,VA
i have never been able to tell a difference with royal oak or ranchers choice briquettes or any lump brand i have tried. i have never tried minion with kinsford briquettes so i can't comment on that.


edit.

i just now started a minion on my 2 butts using sams choice briquettes since i went to 3 walmarts and all were out of RO lump. i hear the sam's choice is made by RO, so i'll let you know how it is. the sam's briquettes are freakin huge compared to the kinsford and RO briquettes.
Weber 22.5" Green One-Touch Gold
Weber Smokey Mountain
Weber 2002 Silver C Propane

Post Sat Jan 19, 2008 7:06 pm
T-Rex well done
well done

Posts: 1933
Location: El Paso, TX
Dawgs_Rule wrote:
T-Rex wrote:
And use the Minion Method.


Wow. I have to say that that method does fly in the face of what I have traditionally though of when using charcoal. A question for you. I noticed a few people claimed that they could taste a difference between traditional method vs minion method. Is this true? While I don't think I would notice anything, my wife has an outstanding sense of smell and taste and she may notice it.

D_R


Minion is a method for charcoal, so that you get a more consistant and extended burn with less spikes in temp. In my WSM, with a full laod of coal and the Minion I'll get 15+ hour burns without having to refuel.
There will be not be a difference in taste as you are still burning charcoal, just at a slower rate. Now, there can be a HUGE difference in taste when lighter fluid is used. The difference they probably taste is the presence or lack of lighter fluid if it is used. Certain woods, if used, can alter tastes, but that's a whole nother ball game.

Post Sat Jan 19, 2008 9:11 pm
gmartin61 raw
raw

Posts: 7
Location: Goose Creek, KY
Minion is a method for charcoal... :?: ...please explain. I don't know what your talking about. Thanks
Kingsford Grill the first Patio Classic
Weber 22" MasterTouch
Brinkmans Smoke'N Grill - Charcoal
Orion Cooker

Post Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:43 pm
nascarchuck well done
well done

Posts: 482
Location: Benbrook, Texas

gmartin61 wrote:
Minion is a method for charcoal... :?: ...please explain. I don't know what your talking about. Thanks


Minion method
http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/fireup2.html


What I do on a smoke is to make a couple of layers of unlit coals on the coal tray. Then I dump a chimney of coals that are ready to go on top of the unlit coals. Then I add 5 or 6 unlit coals as needed.

I'm sure that my method uses more coals, but hey, it seems to work fine for me.

And, the best advice that I could give you is to loose the lighter fluid. Go down and get you a chimney starter.

http://www.weber.com/bbq/pub/grill/acce ... rgear.aspx This is a nice one and I will be replacing my 2 cheapies that are all used up with this one in the next couple of weeks. It's the third item down.

Post Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:55 pm
TX Sandman well done
well done

Posts: 1977
Location: DFW, Texas
Welcome aboard, D_R!

Like the others said, you can lose the lighter fluid and have better results. If you use a chimney and light the coals with fire starters or (my favorite) a couple of paper towels with some cooking oil on them, you'll have those coals lit in no time.

As for any difference in flavor with the Minion method, I've never noticed one. Some folks have reported it with the new Kingsford, but I haven't used that. I've been using Sam's Choice briques with good results. If you're really worried about it, lump is just pure charcoal, no binders.

gmartin, the Minion method is a method for managing fuel in a smoker to minimize temperature spikes. Basically, Jim Minion realized that unlit coals could be lit by lit coals gradually, thus there's a more constant temperature and less need to add lit fuel. The big key is managing air intake and ash build-up so the fire stays controlled.

The way I do it is simple. First, I start with a load of unlit coals, with a few wood chunks in the mix. Then, I add a few lit coals on top of the fuel. At this point, I have the vents open wide. That way, the lit coals burn at max temps to light the other fuel. You *don't* want MatchLight or other coal that has been infused with lighter fluid! Just plain ol' coal. I like Sam's Choice, others use Rancher and Royal Oak briques. I've also used K-ford's Charwood lump and Royal Oak lump with good results.
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These lit coals will gradually light the other coals, which will start the wood smoking. I carefully monitor the temps and, as I get to my target temp, close off the vents so I don't have a raging inferno in the grill. During the cook, I give the coals a shake and add more unlit coals to keep the fire going. My kettle's pretty airtight, so I have an easy time controlling the burns. Others have had the fire get way out of hand, so it all depends on your smoker. Practice will help you learn the proper amount of fuel and vents for your cooks.
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Post Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:49 am
Dawgs_Rule medium
medium

Posts: 188
Location: Georgia
You've been very helpful. For those of you wanting to see my smoker, here is a link to their newer model. It is mostly like the WSM, but it is open at the bottom and had a double slide that accesses the charcoal pan and the water pan all at once. Two downsides to my model, one there is no upper vent, the lid is a lose fit by design and the smoke leaves that way. I wonder if it traps smoke in the dome? Second it has a cool, ideal, hot, on the thermometer and not a true temp. I'm going to get one of the remote thermometers soon anyway so that should remove that problem.

D_R

http://www.cajunoutdoorcooking.com/meco ... smoker.htm

Post Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:08 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
1) It will take some time but you’ll find a fuel that suits your liking. Briquettes produce more ash than lump. Briquettes usually burn cooler, more evenly, and longer than lump. Lump burns cleaner than briquettes. Briquettes usually provide a more uniform heat source for someone just learning to cook over fire. Use what works best for you until you’ve mastered it… but then venture out to other fuel types to learn about them.

2) As you have already discovered, it is possible to use too much smoke. Over smoked foods can easily “turn-off” folks that aren’t used to smoky goodness. Go easy at first.

A couple of things to keep in mind, a hint of flavor will be received better than an overbearing one. So it’s always better to err on the side of under smoking. And, since you are cooking and breathing the smoke for several hours… the food won’t taste as smoky to you so rely on the judgment of others as to whether it needs more smoke. I guarantee it will taste smokier to you the next day. You can either use lighter flavored woods or simply reduce the amount of wood used. Once you think it’s smoky enough, stop adding wood and use a charcoal-only fire.

3) In most cases lump will burn faster than briquettes. One possibility for the drop in temperature could be a buildup of ash under your coals. Ash will block the flow of fresh air and choke the fire. One of the best Mods for a bullet smoker is an elevated fire grate in the ash pan.

Also if temperatures had dropped adding unlit fuel will complicate matters. Add pre-lit fuel to help bring temperatures back up to par. Adding a bit of lump will can provide a boost of heat when needed, just be sure not to use too much.

4) Anything is better than lighter fluid! I stopped using the stuff years ago…

The best way by far to light charcoal and lump is using a chimney starter. You can even ignite wood chunks for an all wood fire this way. There are many ways to light a chimney of fuel; newspaper, oil soaked paper towels, paraffin starters, camp stove, side burner, turkey fryer, etc…

Once to taste the food without the fluid you’ll taste the flavor of the meat, spices and smoke in a whole new light. And your wife’s sense of taste will appreciate it.


You’ll want to get a remote probe thermometer to monitor smoker temperatures, and another for the meat. Or get one of the dual probe models. The cool, ideal, hot meter is not dependable. My old Mr. Meat Smoker had the same type of thermometer and I could never really tell what was going on under the hood.
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