Skip to main content

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.
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:

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.

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.
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.
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.
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!
Last edited by cal 2
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.

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!

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.