Hey Forum, here is a challenge to you who have been members a while. We have lots of new members joining in.

Tell us, what are your most valuable lessons, to give to the new owners of Cookshacks?

My first thoughts:

1. Read the forum, especially the archives
2. Keep good notes, you're own experiences will help you the most
3. Remember, this isn't a cake recipe...so time and temp are now the only way to judge when it's complete.

And try to appreciate what BBQ is all about and understand what this statement means:

quote:
It's done when it's done


2009 Update.

I know it's not "lessons learned" but in my way it is more "advice" to new users Big Grin

When I'm teaching newbies, or someone who just wants to learn Q or improve their Q, My rules are (not just for CS):

1. Know your temps -- for your smoker Without knowing how your smoker cooks, you'll never been consistent

2. Know you temps -- for food After you've cooked enough, you'll be able to look and know when stuff is done, or by touch, but until then, know the target temp for finishing the various cuts of meat (except ribs, don't do temp)

3. Practice You'll have success quick if you follow the advice of the forum, but like momma always said, Practice makes Perfect

4. Patience In some ways, this is rule 1. You'll get the most out of it by being patient and having more fun. In today's I gotta have it right now world, that and BBQ don't mix. Slow down, you type A's learn to relax and take your time.

5. Learn from the Forum Masters I don't mean me, I mean all the forum. We have only 10,000 posts and 75,000 responses. It's VERY likely you'll never ask a question we haven't heard. And check the main forums (by topic) I've collected it there by reason.

5a. Learn to search I get tons of emails from people who don't want to post and we have lots of lurkers every day and they both have one thing in common, they're embarassed to ask the simple questions. (probably because we'll tell them to search) but if you get familiar with the forum and how to search, you'll be able to get the information without asking.

more to come...
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Original Post
4. The CS is very efficient, and it is easy to overdue the smoke. When I first used my Smokette, I had several pieces of meat that were bitter. Go easy on the wood until you get a feel for your unit.
5. Periodically folks ask about using their CS in very cold weather. As far as I can tell it doesn't affect cooking times unless you are opening the door all the time. I have smoked meat when the temp. out was well below zero and the time didn't differ from summer time smoking.
For me, two things:

#1 Patience - allow the cookshack to do it's thing, and avoid opening the door, especially in cold climates. "It's done when it's done"

#2 Digital thermometers - probably the most valuable piece of advice I've gotten off this forum. Even before I bought a CS, I used them with my water smoker, and NEVER had a bad piece of smoked meat.

I've even used them on pork ribs with the same success.

I also use one to monitor the temperature inside the smoker.

I did use logs alot with my water smoker, because of variances in weather, wind etc.

But with the Cookshack I've found that it's so consistant due to it's insulation, that I really don't use logs anymore.
The most valuable lessons that I've learned are:

1) Don't worry. Unless you REALLY screw up, you're probably gonna have edible product. Don't be afraid to experiment - but keep notes.

However, to be on the safe side, don't try something new when you're going to have guests over. Not so much from a "taste" issue, but more from a "when will it get done" issue.

2) There isn't necessarily just ONE correct way to cook something. It all comes down to your preferences. For example, I've experimented with rubbing pork butts with mustard before applying rubs, and not rubbing, trying different rubs, and trying different woods. My conclusions have been, well, inconclusive. Great results with different methods. And the differences, at least with pork butts, haven't been all that great.

3) Buy a decent thermometer, use it, and believe it. This will keep you from opening the door on the long cooks (pork butt, briskets) and keep the moisture in. It's rumored that each time you open the door, you add an hour to your cook time. I think that's pretty accurate.

4) Chicken skins will not crisp in a Cookshack Smokette. Period. Simple solution - finish on the grill, under the broiler, in a hot oven, even a deep fryer.

5) Don't tell your guests how easy it is to do. You'll find it easier to convince your friends to help you out on those nasty household projects by offering a meal of pulled pork in exchange.

5b) Don't tell the Mrs. how easy it is to use. She'll attempt to fill the free time you now have (no tending the fire, adjusting air, etc.) with an expanded "honey-do" list.

6) Learn about the cuts of meat, pork, etc. (many of the so-called "butchers" in todays supermarkets have little knowledge as meats arrive pre-cut) Find a good supplier of meat. It took me a bit of research here in Maine. Finally have a great butcher, plus use BJ's wholesale club. I still usually have to pre-order to get a Pork Butt or Shoulder, or packer cut brisket. Seems like the stores cut them up into various pieces pretty quickly.

7) Finally - we're a real friendly bunch on this site, but sometimes get tired of answering the same old question again and again. Learn to use the search function on the forum. It's quite powerful and you'll find that most questions have been answered many times already. Also - read Smokin Okie's guides. Well-done. There are lots of other bbq sites as well. I like the virtualweberbullet.com forum. Even though it uses another smoker type, theres a lot of valuable information on it.

I think someplace in the archives is a list of favorite bbq books. I don't have many, but use the "Smoke and Spice" book a lot.

A shameless plug. Take a look at my website. (listed below) I've gotten lazy the past few months, but have documented some of my experiences with the Smokette.

8) Repeating #1. Relax. Don't worry. Experiment. Load the smoker, have a few adult-beverages ready, and enjoy the result. You're gonna love it.
Yeah! Just what Dave said! Big Grin

Once you get the basics down, don't be afraid to experiment with flavor and spices. There's more out there than your local cuisine!

Be cautious when smoking poultry. It takes on smoke much heavier than beef or pork. Start out light and adjust to your own tastebuds!

Be willing to think outside the box and share your experiences with us.

Enjoy and have fun with your Q.
How about info on recommended internal temps for all the commonly smoked meats, approximate cooking times, and a recommended amounts of wood to use. This would be great in a chart.
Dont forget the drain pan like I've done the last 3 times I smoked meat. You'd think this was a no brainer............and it probably is. Which explains why I keep forgetting it!
quote:
Originally posted by SHACKMAN:
[qb] The CS is idiot proof -- read and listen to Smokin and Tom -- you can't go wrong. [/qb]
I don't know about that, Tom can't go wrong, but I have my moments Big Grin

Thanks for the replies, keep them coming.

My intent is to build a thread at the top of the owners forum with this information.

Russ
I think my #1 tip would be to invest in lots of aluminum foil.
Line everything that the fat will be dripping onto and into. Except I don't line the racks themselves. Even us lazy folks don't do that. And don't scrimp on the cleanup. It's lots easier to do if it's done every time you cook.
I agree with mainelydave, let people think what they want to think about the hard work you put into your finished product. You did spend a lot of time in deep thought.
Peggy
We appreciate the kind words and hope sometimes we merit them.

Todays comp practice packer brisket would not be a model. Confused
quote:
Originally posted by 2greyhounds:
[qb] I think my #1 tip would be to invest in lots of aluminum foil.
Line everything that the fat will be dripping onto and into.



Peggy [/qb]
Out of everything I've picked up from these forums, foiling the bottom and the lid on the firebox is the greatest thing since pulled pork! Cleanup would be an incredible pain without it!

I did learn one important thing, however... If you're cooking in cold weather, don't leave the CS door open while you take the food inside to FTC... When you get back, any grease that may have sneaked under the foil will have hardened and will have glued the foil very effectively to the firebox lid and the smoker floor! I only did this once! After that, I've remembered to close the smoker door to keep the inside warm...
Ron thanks.

That's what I'm hoping to see, more from new users who've learned their lessons.

Any other new CS owners have some lessons?
I would add:

1. Don't peek too often. It can increase the cooking time a bunch.
2. Be prepared for the "plateau" when the internal temp on butts and briskets hits about 170F and sits there for an hour or more. Be patient, it will go higher.
3. Spraying the racks with a bit of cooking spray will help in clean up.
4. And ditto what GeiyserQ said about the drip pan. Forgetting it is not fun and is really embarrassing (especially the second time.)
I have been smoking for a week now on my CS 55. My number one tip is to smoke it early, Wheter you plan on freezing it or holding it over in a cooler wrapped in aluminum foil.

You will feel rushed if people are standing around ready to eat, and the saying on this site is "its done when its done".
When I first got my Smokette,I set it up with foil, plugged it into the wall outlet, put some ribs in it , set the temp and went upstairs to watch TV, and surf a little. I was waiting for the wonderful aroma of hickory smoke, ribs and a good rub to start perking up my appetite.

About an hour later, I went down to check out the cooking. No smoke coming out, no heat to touch on the CS' walls. No wonderful aroma. The unit was plugged in to it's usual outlet. What the h*** was going on.

And, here is the lesson. My outdoor outlets at home are all on a ground-breaker circuit. The ground-breaker had tripped (My better half sometimes waters them!). Resetting it did the trick. I did not even know where the reset button was until this happened.

Now, I always listen and feel for the click when I turn the temp control on my unit ( I unplug it and turn the switch off after each use), and go around to my back door and check the reset button on the outlet there that has the circuit breaker to see if it needs to be reset.
My most valuable lesson was don't forget to punch a hole in the aluminum foil.

1. Full Packer Brisket in about 9:30 PM
2. Temp @ 225
3. Watch News and go to bed, thinking I have done brisket no need to go check on the smoker.
4. Wake up with the wife screaming "What the *&^( did you do to my patio."

This was not priceless! I am sure if the product was not so darn good both of us would have been gone. Bob
I'm a new owner who has used my CS-008 about 6 times now. I have probably spent more time reading the forums than actually smoking.

There seem to be 2 types of smokers (people not appliances):

Type A Smokers:
concerned with every single detail. Must try to control all variables such as exact oven temp (even at each rack level) which is graphed out on paper. They calculate effects on cooking times based on voltage drops across extension cords of varying gauges. They measure external temp, wind speed, barometric pressure and moon phase and how they affect the viscosity of the marinade. They calculate the density of different hardwoods and mix them in exact proportions to achieve smoke rings of specific thicknesses. They debate endlessly about the virtues of different brands of aluminum foil. They go to ranches and examine the pedigrees of cattle and hogs to choose meat that will taste the best. Cooking times are exact and to the second. Their motto "it's done when I predict it's done"

Type B smokers:
Buy what they can find, rub with what they have, smoke long and slow while drinking a cold beer. Even if it takes twice as long, they fully and unconditionally accept that "It's done when it's done!"

Best advice - Relax, the CS will do all the work and your results will be fantastic! Wink

Jon E.
Jon.. that's great.. I started out as a Type A.. but as time goes on.. I'm moving rapidly toward Type B.

BUT, I know I'll keep asking questions.. Difficult to totally eliminate the Type A tendency.. maybe there is a group I can join to help me out here.. some sort of 10 step program. I know our church has outreaches for other issues.. I never considered this in that light tho.. Thanks.......
When I first received my Cookshack, and as a newbie, I spent a majority of my first smoke fooling with the thermostat. My thermometer would rise, drop and rise again. So I would raise and lower the thermostat accordingly.

Called CS. They were concerned and very helpful. After a brief discussion, they determined that everything was normal but not to hesitate to call back if i was not happy with the end result.

I left the thing alone for the remainder of the smoke. Meanwhile, I entered the forum to kill some time while the smoker was puffin away. There it was...all the talk about temperature swings. Conclusion...forget about it. Relax and enjoy the smoker.

I have learned over the past year that the temp swings are nothing to worry about. It will do it's thing just fine. In fact, unless you need to monitor the temp of the meat, don't even use a thermometer for the smoker temp.
1. Being able to read others real world experiences and learn from their encouters.
2. Buy and use a thermometer, I have had so many folks tell me that they cant get the meat to come out consistent, and my first question is: Do you use a thermomter? I almost think it would behoove CS to supply one with all cookers.
3. To know that what ever the "certain" few who are, (and I would not metion names Smokin, Tom, and about a dozen others,) well seasoned and the information they put fourth is as reliable as the sun shining daily.
4. Customer support, there are numerous feed back posts that are useful from which users have contacted CS and posted their results.
5. Meat cuts, prices, and trim styles there are some excellent archives on how to trim, what the various part names are and how to season.
6. The fact that this is a friendly run forum which welcomes all types of cookers from the backyard beginner to the competition cooker, the ability to tap a knowledge base such as this is a valuable tool to one who desires to learn.
Here's a post I found while doing my Administrator duties todaym from Halter:

quote:
I began smoking about two years ago using a Brinkman water smoker. Within six months I realized this was for me and upgraded to a Cookshack. Since then I have used this site extensively and have never had an unsuccessful experience. I read posts to this site occasionally of new smokers who are having bad experiences and feel guilty that by taking the advice on this site I have found smoking great food to be pretty easy.

As a way of saying Thank You to all of you who have been such help and maybe to give a little something back, I have put together "my" Ten Commandments to help those who are still starting out. I'm not near as qualified as so many of the experts on this site to be giving advice, but I hope these basics are of help to someone.

Good luck and good smoking!

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR NEW SMOKERS

1. Buy the Model 55 and a Food Saver. - It's just as easy to make more and the Food Saver allows you to keep it without any loss of taste. This type of food is so economical you will pay for the extra capacity within a year.

2. Never make anything unless you have plenty of time this sport is not for spur of the moment urges or last minute meals

3. Never make anything the first time for guests refer to rule commandment #2

4. Understand and purchase the right cut of meat study info and pictures on this site and talk to your butcher

5. Don't worry too much about perfect recipes it's the smoke and the slow cook that brings the flavor (but do learn how to brine poultry and fish)

6. Really! You don�t need that much wood you just have to take a leap of faith on this one

7. Always trust your thermometer (Polder type) � I like the ones with remote readouts (to set by my recliner) so I feel like I am doing something while the Cookshack works.

8. If you do not trust your thermometer use a secondary insta-thermometer and this does not give you the OK to open the door every 10 min and stab the meat

9. Leave the door closed there is nothing to see but a piece of meat getting darker. You couldn't tell if something was done by looking at it anyway.

10. If in your research you come across two different opinions take the one offered by Smokin' Okie - he is never wrong! He could have led Dante through hell.
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I started out by using used chicken pot pie tins (drip pan) with a rock in it to help it not move. It worked, but was to small to hold the greese. I then purchased a couple of baking alluminum pans, and they too were a pain. I was recently in one of those dollar stores, and found a metal bread pan that measures 1 1/2H x 7 1/2W x 12 1/2 W for $2.00. It's a perfect fit under my 008, and is large enough to accomodiate any amount of greese in the drip pan. Best part, no spilling & no mess.
I just have to wonder how many people have at one time or another forgotten the drip pan. it is not a funny thing. and the evidence is everlasting. jan
My suggestion?
Try to do it the day before.
Is it my imagination, or is good BBQ like good baked beans.
Seems like the flavor is better after it sets in the fridge for a day.
Thanks for all the good insights.

One thing I brought to CS was the use of steam table pans for a lot of stuff. Half size fit nicely in the Consumer models. Holds ice for cold smoking, beans for smoking etc. I also now use plastic ones for all my curing brining etc. You can get inserts to keep the meat out of the grease, sop, or whatever, lids too. Sure they cost a little more that disposables and Wally World stuff, but the way I look at it, if you are going to shell out almost half a grand for a CS, a few bucks in good prep gear will pay for itself many times over.

Jerry
Started a smoke once, always looking for that smoke to start out the top after about 20 minutes....no smoke after 1/2 hour, and then I realized that I had checklisted everything except plugging it in.....it really adds alot of time to your smoke sessions!!!

Fresno
My 008 resides on a deck just off of the kitchen. The location is perfect except that there is no overhead covering. It seems like the first 5 or 6 smokes that I did were during heavy snow or rain storms. Needless to say, everything was coming through the top vent hole and onto the item I was smoking.

I tried all sorts of makeshift covers for the vent but nothing seemed to work well. One day, when walking through the plumbing section of my local hardware store I spotted my solution - A heavy galvanized 90 degree street elbow such as the one here. As I recall, 1 1/4 inch is the perfect size to fit over the vent and its fitting. I think I paid about $3. Keeps the elements out without blocking the vent, heavy enough that it's not blown away by high winds and, if you don't look to close, it looks like it's a part of the unit.
dls,

Unfortunately if I understand what you're recommending, modifying the vent hole with an addition of an elbow, I can't recommend your solution, as it makes a modification to the smoker and making modifications to the smoker would violate the Warranty. Sounds like a good idea, just not something that anyone with a warranty can do.

You might contact CS with your idea and see what they think and they'll let you know if it's okay or has any adverse impact. Then we can go with it.
Smokin - It's not a permanent modification. Simply something that I set over the vent and its fitting when the weather is bad. When it's not, the elbow is stored away. Fortunately, I'm not mechanically inclined enough to be making permanent modifications.
dls...

I see where you're heading with this...it's just a weather 'cap' of sorts that sits over the vent. Not a bad idea. It should be heavy enough not to blow over too. It won't restrict the air flow out of the cooker, but does keep the rain out. Good idea...
quote:
Originally posted by arkansasQer:
[qb] dls...

I see where you're heading with this...it's just a weather 'cap' of sorts that sits over the vent. Not a bad idea. It should be heavy enough not to blow over too. It won't restrict the air flow out of the cooker, but does keep the rain out. Good idea... [/qb]
arkansasQer - You've got it
Stupid questions from a newbie..so I take it I should not use a mop on brisket with my Smokette since I'd be opening the door every so often, right? Also, when people talk abouit using a thermometer to monitor progress, are you talking about using a remote thermometer and running the thin cord through the smoke hole on top? thanks to all!
AndyE,

You're right on about the thermometer. As far as the question to mop or not to mop........that's a long lived debate. The more the door is opened, the longer the cook time, but if you have a mop that you just absolutely love to use, then a little planning ahead for longer cook time is worth it.
We hadn't had much action on this thread in a while, so I thought I'd ask some of the new users if they have any lessons they've learned, to add to this.

Smokin'
Smokin - Finally graduated to a 009 from a long history of various other types; started w/a Little Chief in 1972! Seasoned the CS 8/25. a chicken on 8/26 (tough skin, not like a wood fire, as someone pointed out), and have a flat briskit on right now.

Referring to Bobby Que's post of 12/04, all outdoor sockets are required to be protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Breaker. If it's a typical double socket, you can plug in a disc-type nite light in one socket and the smoker in the other. They're about 1" diameter and their glow will show whether the socket is "live" or off.

Pete
The idea of the iron "cap" is good if there is a possibilty of rain, but I wouldn't deliberately use the unit if it was raining. However the rain possibilty existed I would use the elbow and take a piece of aluminum foil and cover the thermostat knob area to keep water out. I started my pork butt only to have brief light showers threaten. I used the aluminum foil over the knob area and the smoking continued. There was no effect on the smoking time,etc..
How come lessons for new users isn't pinned to the top of the forum anymore? There is too much valuable information to let it slip to the back pages.
It wasn't getting much "action" so I unpinned it for a while...actually got emails wanting it unpinned so I thought I'd start a new controversy

Roll Eyes
"Tell us, what are your most valuable lessons, to give to the new owners of Cookshacks?"

Don't get me started!
instead of being worried about the circuit breaking in the garage and not knowing if the cs is on or not, just plug the cookshack into a power strip that has a light.
quote:
Originally posted by mtcooler:
[qb] I just have to wonder how many people have at one time or another forgotten the drip pan. it is not a funny thing. and the evidence is everlasting. jan [/qb]
I put my smokers in or on something because I have CRS (Can't Remember S**t, I apologize in advance if I have offended anyone). I have used those pans you put under your car when you change the oil, steel mounted on my wood deck, stuff like that. My current deck has a large grease stain where the drip pan overflowed. I maintain that my husband failed to empty it from the previous load. He says the person putting in the next load (me) should have checked. Men, can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em.

Donna
I learned that Morton's Tender quick is VERY VERY Salty! if you use it, Do not use anything that has salt as a rub following the TQ cure! Wash off the outside after you take it out of the brine.
Rhino
Rhino. If you keep your brine chilled, no need to use TQ (at least that's what I say in Brining 101)

But it's a valuable lesson.

Thanks!
Just a reminder for all who are going through their 1st winter with a CS, and with the night time temps in my part of the world dipping into the teens in the next couple nights

Check the drip pan often as there will be a grease-cicle that can form from the drain hole to the pan. It can get big enough to prevent the drippings from drippin'.

All you have to do is knock it off once in a while, and make sure the hole is open. No need to open the door for this either. Just use a bent hanger to knock loose and to poke up into the hole.
Here is a valuable lesson I learned this past weekend, not necssarily to do with smoking, but general food preparation...

When chopping a lot of peppers (jalapeno, poblano, etc..), do not go to the gym afterwards and sit in a Steam Room. Afterwards, my hands and face were burning for the remainder of the day.
quote:
Originally posted by GeiyserQ:
[qb] Just a reminder for all who are going through their 1st winter with a CS, and with the night time temps in my part of the world dipping into the teens in the next couple nights

Check the drip pan often as there will be a grease-cicle that can form from the drain hole to the pan. It can get big enough to prevent the drippings from drippin'.

All you have to do is knock it off once in a while, and make sure the hole is open. No need to open the door for this either. Just use a bent hanger to knock loose and to poke up into the hole. [/qb]
Don't forget to either remove the grease-cicle from the drip pan or move the drip pan so there is room for a new grease-cicle to form. If you move the pan each time, and do it right, you can form a little grease mountain that looks like the mountain in Close Encounters of the Third Kind... Roll Eyes
quote:
Originally posted by SmokinOkie:
[qb] Owwwww, I'm trying hard not to laugh, but good lesson learned. [/qb]
Feel free to laugh, I sure was.
Here are a few things I've learned in the short time I've had my CS 008(about 2weeks)
1)Becareful when opening the CS door the first time using it. The release of steam can be startling the first time. Eeker
2)Learn to use the Search function & use it often!
3)Consult "Smokin' Okie's BBQ Guide" at the top of the page. It contains a tremendous amount of information for new & experienced CS users.
Sal
When smoking summer sausage, I use the hi mountian mix, but go through one more temperature step. It seems to help keep the casings from getting dark close to the smoke chamber. When they do discolor, the meat is not affected, and it looks fine when you remove the casing. I smoked 90 3 lb. sausages over a five day period. The Cabela's sausage stuffer, and meat mixer is a bit pricey, but if you are processing a lot of meat it is well worth the price.
Dave / Rhino
quote:
Originally posted by mainelydave:
The most valuable lessons that I've learned are:<br /><br />1) Don't worry. Unless you REALLY screw up, you're probably gonna have edible product. Don't be afraid to experiment - but keep notes. <br /><br />However, to be on the safe side, don't try something new when you're going to have guests over. Not so much from a "taste" issue, but more from a "when will it get done" issue.<br /><br />2) There isn't necessarily just ONE correct way to cook something. It all comes down to your preferences. For example, I've experimented with rubbing pork butts with mustard before applying rubs, and not rubbing, trying different rubs, and trying different woods. My conclusions have been, well, inconclusive. Great results with different methods. And the differences, at least with pork butts, haven't been all that great. <br /><br />3) Buy a decent thermometer, use it, and believe it. This will keep you from opening the door on the long cooks (pork butt, briskets) and keep the moisture in. It's rumored that each time you open the door, you add an hour to your cook time. I think that's pretty accurate. <br /><br />4) Chicken skins will not crisp in a Cookshack Smokette. Period. Simple solution - finish on the grill, under the broiler, in a hot oven, even a deep fryer. <br /><br />5) Don't tell your guests how easy it is to do. You'll find it easier to convince your friends to help you out on those nasty household projects by offering a meal of pulled pork in exchange.<br /><br />5b) Don't tell the Mrs. how easy it is to use. She'll attempt to fill the free time you now have (no tending the fire, adjusting air, etc.) with an expanded "honey-do" list. <br /><br />6) Learn about the cuts of meat, pork, etc. (many of the so-called "butchers" in todays supermarkets have little knowledge as meats arrive pre-cut) Find a good supplier of meat. It took me a bit of research here in Maine. Finally have a great butcher, plus use BJ's wholesale club. I still usually have to pre-order to get a Pork Butt or Shoulder, or packer cut brisket. Seems like the stores cut them up into various pieces pretty quickly. <br /><br />7) Finally - we're a real friendly bunch on this site, but sometimes get tired of answering the same old question again and again. Learn to use the search function on the forum. It's quite powerful and you'll find that most questions have been answered many times already. Also - read Smokin Okie's guides. Well-done. There are lots of other bbq sites as well. I like the virtualweberbullet.com forum. Even though it uses another smoker type, theres a lot of valuable information on it. <br /><br />I think someplace in the archives is a list of favorite bbq books. I don't have many, but use the "Smoke and Spice" book a lot. <br /><br />A shameless plug. Take a look at my website. (listed below) I've gotten lazy the past few months, but have documented some of my experiences with the Smokette.<br /><br />8) Repeating #1. Relax. Don't worry. Experiment. Load the smoker, have a few adult-beverages ready, and enjoy the result. You're gonna love it.

Great advice right on the money I'm a new user Smokette 009 THANKS!
This may not be the correct place for this catagory but here goes. I have noticed that a lot of you are using the Maverick Remote Smoker Thermometer with success, so I bought one. Now I know I'm stupid but I am having no success at all even getting started with those convoluted instructions. It has yet to have the probe stuck in a Boston Butt! All I want to do it set the thing up to remotely inform me when the meat has reached its desired temperature. Will some kind user please give me the steps in "Small Baby Language" so that I can start the BBQ season off as a happy boy? Many thanks.
trick is to have the cover off of one unit (see your instructions for which one) turn the main unit on while then turning the other unit on. had one of the things but it got burned up in my fec fire. turned out to be a blessing since all i have now are taylor remotes and a big old noteboke going back for years which gets me right in the ballpark. last 30 mins or so i know when to look at the smokers. in a commercial setting it just makes more sense since it frees me up to do other tasks. base average time is programmed into my watch so the alarm goes off then.
try a taylor only 18 bucks
almost forgot the most important part. get a one dollar notebook and a 25 cent pen. everytime you cook write down your load (type of meat and weight), your wood (type and weight) your cooking temperature, your ambient air temp and weather conditions and your eatimated cook time and the results thereof (means was it done at that time or not). do this everytime you cook. in about 3 months if you do this you can tell within a 30 min window where you are without radio thermos or even the cheap taylors. sounds like a pain but i did this very thing anytime a new oven or piece of equipment was placed in the kitchens where i was either exec chef at or where i taught culinary arts at. while it ain't the cooker it's the cook it is for sure a poor cook who doesn't truly understand what his or her equipment is doing. while the cookshack is about as close to set it and forget it as anything if you want to shine take and keep and review your cooking notes.
hope it helps
jack
Last edited by Former Member
As a newbie to oven smokers, I would have to say to other beginners ... don't make the same mistake I did! I bought my CS model 50 in 2001. Yes, 01! Allow me to explain. After trying to cook in it about four times, I freaked out on the temperature fluctuations (I used a long drop-light extention cord), lack of a smoke ring (I was used to smoking with charcoal) and the uncertain times it took to cook (it was an entirely new method to me). Even after I called the helpful folks at CS, I ended up putting my oven in the garage to collect dust for five years. I just pulled it back out a week ago to BBQ some beef back ribs and I'll tell you what ... it isn't going back into the garage anytime soon! So, stick with it, don't get discouraged and read the forums. The CS folks are all right ... it truly is done when it's done!
For me, my lesson is this:
Don't judge yourself too harshly. You will always be your own worst critic.

Seems like every single cook, I'm kicking myself for something else I could have or should have done differently.
Meanwhile my guests are greedily licking their fingers and fighting over brisket scraps!
Welcome to the Forum Hillbilly! Don't kick yourself too hard, ya might bruise. One thing we've all learned (or are supposed to be learning) is to take good notes so we don't repeat our mistakes and imporve on our nearly-good ideas! Big Grin

Good luck!
I think one thing that needs to be discussed (where a new user will see it) is the business with the plateau on a pork butt or similar cuts. The question comes up a lot on the forum and people freak out when it happens.
Thanks.

What I'm planning is a specific document to addres Lessons Learned from this thread. I also have the 101 series which addresses the Plateau, but it DOES need updating.

Input is great, keep 'em coming.
For the 008/009, find a glass 'pan' to use as a drip pan. Should make things easier to clean. Avoid a cheapie metal pan as the salts, etc in the drippings will eventually cause it to corrode and rust. Get a good aluminum pan if you want to go with metal. I always line the drip pan with aluminum foil for easier cleanup.
If I want to smoke on a rainy or snowy day, I put a plastic "milk" style crate bottom up on the top of my CS055 and then put a 3 foot x 3 foot piece of plywood on top of this with a cement block on top to hold it down. This does not impede the vent and at the same time shelters the thermostat, remote thermometers and vent hole. Wink
I've only done about 5 smokes in my CS55, somewhere on one of these forums I read believe your thermometer. That's very sound advice. A few times I have seen the temperature stall for hours like sitting at 164~167 degress. I have put my hand over the vent hole to make sure it was still working.
Be prepared for when your CS smoker arrives! I ordered my Smokette II and asked for the least expensive shipping available. Was told that it would take 2-3 weeks... It arrived 5 days after placing the order! If known this I would have bought some meat and looked for recipes in these forums... Big Grin
There have been several newbies concerned with " smoke coming seeping thru the edges of the door." Don't sweat it. This is normal and will eventually seal itself off - maybe not completely but it's really nothing to worry about. Your not loosing any heat and the CS is such an efficient smoker what little smoke you loose is no big deal!

Relax and enjoy your new toy! Big Grin
Two lessons learned about my AmeriQue model 066 smoker:

1) Be careful when loading meat. Don't let it touch or skewer the ovens temperature probe in the middle-back of the oven. This will cause the oven to consistently read a lower temperature than it really is and go into overdrive! I don't know what the ultimate temperature of the oven will be but it sure will cook fast! If you are not using the meat probe you likely will fry your entire load. An indication that you have made a mistake is when your oven temperature does not reach the desired set temperature within a reasonable time of an hour or so.

2) Be aware that your electronic control on the AQ will TURN OFF if your power blinks during a smoking session. You must again press the on/off control button to resume cooking. We AQ owners like to think we can go to sleep or otherwise ignore our smoker for hours at a time and mostly that's true - mostly - so just be aware and check your AQ periodically.

I must say that CS likely can remedy the above issues by relocating the oven temperature probe closer to the bottom of the rack just above it and by defaulting the oven operation to be "ON" on power-up as long as the main power switch is set to ON.

I love my AQ!
Last edited by bon
Keep an eye on the drip pan level. I'm in the process of doing 3 new things in my CS55. 1: Small briskets 8.5~10.5 lbs each 2: Didn't trim because they are so small. 3: Smoking 4 of them. I'm glad I just checked the drip pan as it was almost overflowing.
Okay, I'll fess up. (1) DON'T GET IN A HURRY, you are more app to forget something or make a mistake
(2) MAKE SURE CS IS LEVEL OR THE FAT WILL RUN OUT THE DOOR AND DOWN THE FRONT OF CABINET(3)Masterpiece is still my favorite B B Q sauce and is easy to find in big bottles at Sam's Club.The smokette 009 is a wonderful addition to my life.....Pork really isn't good for you.Chicken still isn't a tasty food to me, even barbequed, ate to much of it growing up in OKLAHOMA!!!!!!!!!!(4)I love this forum.
More Later, Jimmy
Lately, several have come to the forum with issues with their smokers. If it has to do with technique then this is your "go to" place.

If you are having issues with your smoker I suggest going straight to Customer Service (1-800-423-0698) and let them straighten it out and make it right. Email may be ok for some problems but talking to someone there in Ponca City, OK is the better way to go!

Believe it or not, people on/in the forum can't fix everything! Big Grin

Peace...
I cant remember if this was ever mentioned on here and i'm too lazy to read back thru the whole thread so........

Here is something I do just as often as forget to put the drain pan under the smoker.

Its only a mere 20- 30 degrees outside. The smoker only goes upto 250 right? So why not, when I go to pull the meat from the smoker, just reach in with my bare hand and pull the probe out of the meat?

Geez sometimes I feel like a jackass. I'm gonna change my name from GeiyserQ to MentallyChallengedQ
If you live in a part of the country where wasps and hornets are trying to take over the planet, here is a tip:

Go to you local hardware store and find a rubber plug for the vent and drain hole. When you aren't running the smoker, plug the holes. These pesky critters love to find a hole, and the ones in my area don't mind the smoke smell at all. It is amazing how quickly they can get a nest started. If you don't clean up really well, it even attracts them!

Just remember to pull the plugs before you start, or really bad things will happen!
File this under "I really did know better" But, I was getting some dried chili's opened up to scrape the seeds, pitch the stems, and cut them up to grind into some homemade chili powder and afterwards realized that I hadn't first taken my contact lenses out.

They are the soft kind that you have to actually stick your fingers in your eyes and pull them off. Really painful experience after messing with chilis!

And my wife of 34 years says taking my contacts out for me is STILL not in her wife's handbook of things she has to do for her husband!

I scrubbed my fingers as best I could, wet my eyeballs with a bunch of solution, and went in for the contacts as fast as I could get them out...still cried a lot! Hope there aren't any opthalmologists on this forum!

Interestingly, there wasn't any problem putting them back in the next morning...no sting at all.

So, even dried chilis can still cause you problems.
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.
Last edited by bigal 2
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.
Last edited by detroitq
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
Last edited by bobfoster
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.
Can you smoke different meats like chicken, ribs, tri-tip at the same time? If yes what shelfs, (lower or upper) do the kinds of meat go on (what shelf) without contaminate all the meats? Also with the different cooking times?
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.
Last edited by captq
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.
Last edited by arisar
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.

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