Lessons for new users

A lesson for me is go easy on the cayenne pepper if the people you are feeding are new to BBQ. Most of these recipes come from southern boys who like it hot. It can overpower someone who new. I came from Georgia and like it hot myself, but alot of the yankies I feed like it sweet. Also a rub that might work good on a butt, can be to hot on ribs. Just to much rub for a little bit of meat.
Tip 1:

For CS55, place wood as close to the front (side toward door) of the wood box as possible and make sure it stays there when loaded.

Much better burn with majority, if not all, wood reduced to white ash.

Credit to Floridave for this tip.


Tip 2:

If you have an extra rack, cover the bottom (grates on top) with foil and place on bottom of cooker then poke hole for drip drain. Much easier to get foil in just right. Just throw the rack in the dishwasher with your others.
Wood amount on chicken, I learned this one the hard way. I used 2 oz of hickory on 5 lbs of thighs, about made me sick and it was only in for about two hours if I remember right. For chicken, try starting with .5 oz and work up from there. Chicken takes on A LOT of smoke.
I didn't read every post on this thread, so my apologies if this has been touched on already.

Several long-time users/posters on this forum regularly close the doors of their smokers on the temp prob leads with no ill effects.

I can't say that. I've come close to ruining smokes because a 'pinched' prob line gave me a false temp reading.

Down through the vent hole is the only way for me.
I just started yesterday, but already have two lessons learned.

First, don't get so excited about doing your first pork butt that you forget to put in your meat probe - now I gotta figure out the best time to open the door and put it in. I think I'll wait a couple hours for the smoke to clear, but any suggestions would be appreciated.

Second, besides training me on the cookshack, I have to train my dog Samson. I need to teach him not to steal the great smelling pan under the cookshack! I'll let you know how that goes. Guess it didn't help that I used a leftover pumpking pie pan from thanksgiving!
I'm not new to smoking or the CS SMO55, bought mine in 98 or 99 but I learn things all the time in this forum. One thing I would tell new smokers is go easy on the wood and buy cheese cloth. Smoking poultry especially can leave a bitter tasting skin, a cheese cloth soaked in oil or butter will stop this problem and meat will still have that great smoke flavor, 30 minutes in the oven after smoking gives a great color and crisp skin. On briskets I just roll them up tie them with cotton string and stick them in the smoker for 12 hours, After maybe 100 briskets using Pecan, Hickory, Mesquite and others I'v never had a bad bite of meat, people rave on it, It's so easy I feel guilty for taking the praise. We had a new home built in 2003 and I actually had an area in the garage built for my smoker with a 30" by 30" wash basin beside my 55. I buy a product called PBW (Pro Brewers Wash) that is harmless to Stainless. Everything that can come out of smoker goes in it for the night after the smoke even the pipe,jam nuts, and washers on the smoke hole, I learned this when foul drippings ruined part of a rack of ribs. The book that came with my smoker is my smoking bible and there are maybe 20 added pages of stuff I'v learned. Advice is just a phone call or key stroke away-long live SmokinOkie.
Just a couple of tips from a newbie who just finished setting up a SM008 and a stand.

1. They have changed the design on the base of the stand so it does not match the included instructions. the casters bolt into the bottom rail of the stand and the casters with the lock/unlock lever go in the front two holes.

2. Bolting the stand to the unit is difficult because there are no instructions or markers on the top of the stand. (Oh for an alignment mark on the top of the stand.) For the forward 2 bolts that go through the roof of the stand use the elliptical holes not the round holes. It is MUCH easier if you flatten the shipping boxes and use them as a workspace. If you put both the unit and the stand on their backs you can see the holes in the bottom of the Smokette and get the bolts in where they belong.

3. There will be parts left over. Customer Service says there are numerous extra parts sent just in case (I have an extra pair of casters and several tiny nuts and washers.)

I hope this saves someone some frustration and saves calls to the friendly folks at Customer Service
All the tips so far are great and I've used many of them.

My favorite tip is to buy a set of yellow gloves from the cleaning aisle at the grocery store. I love these gloves. I use them to take meat out of the smoker and to hold the meat while slicing. The gloves have just enough insulation to protect from the meat but still leave you enough dexterity to use your fingers.
If you are going to cook poultry with any other meat, the poultry must be below the other meats in the smoker. This is to keep the poultry juices from dripping on other meats.

That being said, I frown on cooking poultry with other meats in the smoker. Just a cautious approach. Plus I tend to cook poultry at a higher temp than I would other meats. That's just me though.
These are some of the things I learned/noticed while doing a combination seasoning/first pork shoulder in my new Smokette 009.

1. Get a good dual thermometer which measures meat temp and inside smoker temp. I did that.
2. Get a scale. I didn't, and was essentially smoking in the blind
3. Get plenty of aluminum foil and paper towels.
4. Read these forums. When people say it is hard to screw up the meat - BELIEVE THEM.
5. No matter how burnt out you think the wood chunks are, don't put them into anything FLAMMABLE. I put them into a used plastic deli container to carry them to my burn can, and they immediately burnt a hole through the plastic.
6. It IS easy, and the results are well worth it.
7. A 3.35lb pork shoulder doesn't produce a lot of meat. Make it worth your while and put at least two butts in there. Then freeze like many others have stated.
8. Use one wide piece of aluminum foil on the bottom of the smoker. I used two narrower pieces, and a fair amount of grease leaked through to the bottom. Almost none at all went through the drain hole. I did poke a hole through the foil.
Tip for Assembly of the Smokette and the Smokette Cart.

The instructions say that you should get help when assembling these items, but help wasn't available so I had to make do.

I noticed that the boxes for the smokette and the cart were both the same height, so I removed the smokette and the carts from their boxes, closed the boxes back up and turned them upside down. Then I put the smokette on top of one box, lying on it's back. Did the same with the Cart. Then I just pushed the two together and the holes all aligned perfectly.

After I bolted them together, I removed the box from under the cart (the smokette is heavy enough to support this without falling over), then gently tipped the unit upright. Voila!

By the way, much happier with the new replacement unit than I was with the first. It's out on my back porch seasoning right now.
Hi All,
I am new to this board, I have enjoyed reading all of the post so far. I am expecting my new smoker to arrive this Friday, sorry it is not a CookShack, and of course I am like a kid on Christmas and want to smoke something right away. I am thinking a brisquet(sp). Could someone please give me details on how to prepare the meat? What would be the best for the a 1st timer?
Thanks
Here's a question for ya....Will the outside air temp affect the smoking of a butt? I am smoking my first butt tonight and the temp is suppose to be around 30 degrees. I am thinking of starting it around 8pm and I am hoping it is done tomorrow morning. After which I am planning on doing some venison summer sausage. Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.
Here is a great piece of advice that I am experiencing right now. Don't order your smoker from a place that is on back-order. I have been waiting about two weeks now and it is still three weeks till the estimated delivery date. I am going nuts in anticipation. I know it will be worth the wait, but that does not help.
Just a reminder. Don't forget to punch a hole into the aluminum foil at the bottom of the smoker. Otherwise, the airflow is virtually cut off, and you'll get no smoke. That's besides the mess created by shutting off the grease/liquid drain. Take my word for it.
This is my first day on the forum, and I love it already. Me mam (rest her soul) always said cook it until it's done, I wuz raised that way. Unfortunately like most women from the north of England she never wrote any recipes down. Not smoking stuff, but some great ones that all died with her.

And the idea of sitting back, relax, have a beer? Sequestered in Utah for 4 years. Hell yah I'll drink to that!
What I learned:
1. Start with a cold smoker and cold meat.
2. Do not get all fancy with marinades, rubs and finishing sauces. It disguises the good taste of BBQ and won't help bad BBQ anyway.
3. Keep wood down to 4 oz or less if you are cooking under 20lbs of meat.
4. Don't open the door. If you want to monitor meat temperature, stick a couple remote thermometers in there.
5. Rest the meat in foil, towels and ice chest to finish it off and for the juices to reabsorb.
6. 40 to 50% of the meat, by weight, will be reduced during the cooking process. Plan accordingly with portion size to the # of guests you will be serving.
7. Vacuum seal meal portions for future use and reheat in boiling water to retain the fresh flavor and not get it dried out by recooking it in a pan or giving it that awful microwave flavor by reheating in a MW oven.
8. Cook fat side up.
9. For God's sakes eat something before removing the finished meat or else it won't make it to the table.
10. It's done when it's done. Never go by time, one brisket may take 20 hours and another 12 hours. Keep an eye on internal temperature and test the meat at 195+* for that hot-knife-through-butter feel with the temperature probe. Probe from the top down, not through the side.
Ha!!
Yes Wheelz, it is VERY debatable.
Here's my thinking on #8
As the smoker comes up in temperature and the wood starts to smoke, I want the meat, not fat, to get the brunt of the smoke. Once the smoker is up to temperature, the heating element cycling on and off, I don't think there's a difference between the top and bottom of the meat in regards to the air's temperature. The heat source isn't on long enough and there is no draw of heat up and over at that time.

To check this theory, I placed a large pan of water in the smoker, put a temperature probe under and another over the water. Once the smoker was up to temperature, 20-40 minutes, the difference between the probes was less than 5 degrees and didn't change as the heating element cycled on and off.

So, why have the fat side up? So gravity will baste my brisket. Why have the fat side down? To protect the meat from the harsh heat source. But since I've now been able to convince myself the meat isn't being blasted by heat other than the start of the smoke, and that the muscle is able to soak up the direct smoke at the start of the cook, I'll endorse the fat up theory. All my opinion and we know what it's worth when weighed against the experience of others on here; about nada! Ha!
Keep in mind, HOW much the temp rises actually has to do with 1) the mass of the meat and 2) the temp inside the smoker.

The BEST to do is go with your experience, for your food from your smoker.

You tend to get more "overrun" when cooking larger cuts and in a hotter smoker. Example. PR done at 350 vs 225, the 350 will tend to rise hotter.

Since this is a thread for new users, I need to add some information from my perspective, so we can understand what might be happening:

Item #8:

quote:
Originally posted by skipro3:
So, why have the fat side up? So gravity will baste my brisket. Why have the fat side down? To protect the meat from the harsh heat source. But since I've now been able to convince myself the meat isn't being blasted by heat other than the start of the smoke,


Hey whatever works for you, stick with it.


Both theories work, fat up or fat down and there is no wrong answer. I've just been cooking them since the 60's so I'm going on a little more experience, but they're just my theories/experience.

1) fat bastes the meat Well, this is a popular theory, actually I'd call it an old pit masters tale (not an old wives tale) similiar to you have to have a SR to have good BBQ. I've never found one food science article that can explain/prove/validate it. It's not the fat on top basting the meat, it's the intramuscular fat that is. At some point during the process, the meat seizes up and it won't let ANY liquid from the outside, top, bastes, mops, etc get into to. I'm still trying to figure out the specifics of that, when during the process.

quote:
Originally posted by skipro3:
The heat source isn't on long enough and there is no draw of heat up and over at that time.

To check this theory, I placed a large pan of water in the smoker, put a temperature probe under and another over the water. Once the smoker was up to temperature, 20-40 minutes, the difference between the probes was less than 5 degrees and didn't change as the heating element cycled on and off.


2) blast of heat I'm not sure a pan of water will react quick enough and doesn't similar a piece of meat at all. the issue of the "blast" is the effect of drying out the exterior, too much. Not the variations of temp you tested. The CS is a great unit and the variance isn't the issue, it's the direct temp at issue. Actually there is a blast of heat every time it cycles. And I don't put my brisket in a cold smoker anyway, I want the initial smoke to clear up a bit. Elements come on and the heat rises. It's not an absolute, in the Electric CS's it's not a big variation as it is in the FE or stick burners, but it does cycle quite a bit.

No worries, go with what works for you. Oh and if you start fat side down, don't forget to add time when you open the door.
1. Believe it when you read in this forum to LEAVE THE DOOR CLOSED.

2.Buy all the HD Foil you can get your hands on, cause you will use a LOT.

3.Buy a vacuum sealer/food saver device.

4.LEAVE THE DOOR CLOSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5.Don't be afraid to experiment.
Don't leave the door of the smoker open after the cook if you have dogs. Had an old propane smoker. Left the door open or the dog figured out how to open it. Came out later. The inside of the smoker was clean as a whistle. The dogs were a bit off for a couple of days.
quote:
Originally posted by Basscat:
1. Believe it when you read in this forum to LEAVE THE DOOR CLOSED.

2.Buy all the HD Foil you can get your hands on, cause you will use a LOT.

3.Buy a vacuum sealer/food saver device.

4.LEAVE THE DOOR CLOSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5.Don't be afraid to experiment.


So, what are you saying, leave the door closed? Big Grin
I've been reading these forums while I wait for my 009 to get delivered. Hopefully next week. The folks at Cookshack have been great to talk with. I guess I'm 30th in line for the new smokette and they'll get through 24 orders this week.

I need some honest advice - My son is having a graduation party in 3 weeks and everyone wants me to do some smoking for the party. If I get my smoker next week that will give me two weeks prior to the party to practice and prepare. The guest list is at 175 so I'm guessing 65% showup, 4.5 oz per serving (mostly adults and high school grads) and a 50% cook down on the meat. That means with a little rounding I'm looking at 50-60 lbs of brisket or three to four smokes? I'd have to cook and refrigerate (something I haven't done before) but I will have access to ovens and hot plates to heat the food prior to feeding time. I'm not looking to feed folks just give them a nice little sandwich - actually I want to give folks the best darn bbq they have ever had!

Is this just a bad idea to try and pull this off? I've read several places in the forums to never try something new for guests but I also read that smokettes are almost fool proof.

Always love a good challenge and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

My wife keeps wanting to buy me a smoking book while I wait for my smoker but I tell her why? I got more than I can read just in these forums.

Sorry for the long post - Thanks for any advice.
Pork butts are a good suggestion. Keeps it simple, and people will love the taste. Producing good briskets will take several practices. Once or twice on the butts, and you're there. Different sauces, slaw, a couple types of buns and people can make a variety of flavors.
1. If you an opportunity to take the two day (backyard?) class by Cookshack, DO IT! This class will improve your ability, increase your confidence, provide a baseline for your future BBQ experiences.

2. If you have a small electric model, find a stand on which to place the CS cooker. This greatly improve your comfort and willingness use the CS frequently. Cookshack sells them and the archives show how people have made their own or adapted others.

3. Frequently refer to the CS forums for information and answers to your questions.
quote:
Originally posted by redoakNC:
hmm. Me thinks this is why FAQ's are so prevelant in forums.

Jjliver: The smoker is fine - it takes a little time to learn to use it.

1)The full sized chunks (like supplied in CS sample box) take a higher heat and a load of meat to ash up nice. For temps below 225* try splitting down the chunks a little until you find the right size. Cal is right - they may or may not fully ash - doesn't mean things aren't working.

2) Learn the hot spots in your wood box. Most are over the element loops in the front and center. After you use it a while these spots will darken first.

3)Examine the clearance between the element and the woodbox. You can use care to bend it slightly if needed to create a slight even contact (no problem - think of a fry pan on your oven element. A little contact works better there huh? lol)

4) The wood must be dry. If all fails try a different batch

5) After you use a CS a while it gets easier to make smoke. I made no visible smoke at 200* for a while. Now I make plenty at 180* or so.

6) Once you reach setpoint the white visible smoke will soon diminish - but a nice clean clear fragrant wisp should continue for quite sometime. The sooner you reach setpoint, the sooner the element stops working hard and wood ash results will diminish. Adapt to this by including thinner pieces for lo set-point cooks.

7)To really season the smoker don't be afaid to exceed the 200* recommendation. Split 2 or 3 pieces of the wood(1/3 to 1/4" thick), place them up front over the elements, set to 250* or so and let it rip. It that doesn't make smoke..




To This day I think this is the BEST post I've read about making a CS smoke properly...THANKS redoak!
Yea. It is a very good post redoakNC.

I took a look into my smoke box the other day while it sat in its smoker position and noticed two things. First, the heating element loops around and back exactly under the center of the first 2 holes in the wood box floor (don't believe that's a design accident but well planned by Cookshack). Second, both of the element loops are touching the bottom of the wood box floor and can be seen touching the front 2 holes (just look into the wood box while it rests in its smoker position). If element doesn't touch both holes, gently lift the element loop till you see that both holes are in contact with the heating element.

I'll place up to 3 chunks of wood weighing a total of 3-6 oz depending what I'm smoking. All 3 are positioned right at the back edge of the first 3 holes in the wood box. When the wood is in place, 75% of the 3 holes still show.
Just wanted to give some lessons learned from my first seven or so smokes. I had never really smoked any meat before purchasing my Cookshack AmeriQue. Maybe others can learn from my mistakes.

Use the forums. Read them once, read them twice. I found a wealth of information here even before I actually purchased my AmeriQue. Once you have the 1000 foot view use the search tool to research more specifics. Do not be concerned (like I first was) that one post says to cook ribs at 225 degrees for 4 hours and another says 250 for 3 hours. Foil, spray with juice, go left, go right. I found out that smoking is more of an art and not like baking a cake where times and measurements are meant to be exact. This might have been the hardest concept to overcome.

Practice before having guests over. I am now eight smokes in and now think I am ready to have a few close friends over who will tell me their honest opinions. The first 4 or 5 smokes were not very good. They weren't uneatable but I was not happy with the product. I am surprised however how much one can improve in just a few additional smokes. When a smoke did not work as well as it could I went directly to the forums to do research so that I could course correct the next try.

Take notes. When I started I really wasn't going to keep a log of my smokes but it turned out to be a huge help. I am a tech guy and used the Evernote tool. Evernote lets me sync notes and photos on my home computer, iPhone and iPad. Pretty handy.

Watch your wood. Start with less and work your way to more. I started using one 2 ounce piece and graduated to two.

It's done when it's done. Before my first smoke I really didn't understand what everyone one was talking about. After just one smoke I got it. Do not try and rush the smoke. Every meat is different. Weight, fat content, etc. I learned that by practicing (I have been smoking baby back ribs and full pork butts) you quickly get an education on when the meat feels done. I am by no means an expert (or even a journeyman) but I am a bit more comfortable experimenting with different temps and times. I even sprayed apple juice concentrate on my last pork butt... fancy Don't be afraid to experiment. Just another good reason to practice before having guests for dinner. Be patient.

FTC. Foil-Towel-Cooler. I do still struggle with having the food come out in time for dinner. Don't think I have this one quite down. I have been starting the pork butts way before I need them and then double foil, terry cloth towel and cooler them. I would like to become better at this.

Remote thermometer. I had a Maverick that I used on my grill. I also got an iGrill for a birthday gift. Both worked really well. While not a necessity it really made things easier.

Clean-up. Thank the good Lord for aluminum foil and beer. Use them both


Again just my first 3 weeks of being a Cookshack owner. Thanks to all the forum posters who take the time to answer questions. It made such a better journey for me.

-Kof
2 smokes now in my new SMO45. I can attest to what Smokin , Pags, and others are saying about keeping it simple. I have smoked baby backs and also a couple Boston butts. Pretty basic recipe's. Put them in, cooked them low and slow, checked them for doneness tword the end of cook time. Cross checked the Cookshack meat probe with an instant read thermometer (boston Butt). The result was some great food.Didn't need to foil anything, as the CS keeps a lot of the moisture in the meat. Smoke flavor was great. As for the SMO45, the size is perfect for me. Plenty of space for what I plan to smoke. But room to cook more if I need it. I do agree that I might have to look at the optional stand though, or some sort of table to get it up higher off the ground. Bottom line: cant believe how easy this is to use, and the great food it produces. KISS!

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