Using the smoker -- too cold?

rlcollins043January 31, 2007

I've had a hankering for pulled pork sandwiches and would love to pull out my smoker. My question is -- the temperature is going to be lucky to get up to 30 degrees during the day and I wonder if it will be too cold? This is a charcoal smoker. I have no problems keeping an eagle eye on the fire -- but, will it be too cold, do you think?

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Absolutely not too cold. Do you have a temp gage for the smoking chamber?

What kind of smoker? Offset firebox or green egg style?

Smoking is one of my passions and I have lots of opinions. LOL


    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 9:41AM
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Oooooh...opinions are what I'm a-looking for, my friend! LOL

It's a Brinkmann -- green-egg style! LOL It has your basic temp gauge that reads -- warm, ideal, hot. I've been thinking of drilling a hole to be able to insert a regular thermometer, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I have holes drilled in the bottom of the pan to allow ash to fall through so as not to smother the hot coals.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 11:11AM
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david52 Zone 6

I have the same smoker, rlcollins. I often smoke stuff in the winter. My only suggestion, and something I do in the summer as well, is to find a bit of 8" dia heavy wire mesh, and bend it up so that it creates a bit of flat space around the hole in the bottom of the charcoal pan, which increases air circulation to more charcoal, which heats things up just a bit more.

I have a couple of salmon I'm going to do when it stops snowing. Rather do that outside than have the whole house smell like cooked fish for a week.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 12:12PM
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The Brinkman is a very popular smoker. Never owned one myself. For sure drill a hole for a thermometer. WallyWorld carries a couple kinds that will work. And I use a Pyrex brand meat probe so know just when to remove meat from smoker. Has a 3'+ heat resistant cable between probe and device. Will sound an alarm when proper internal temp is reached. Also at WallyWorld.

You didn't ask, but my advice is to get rid of the petro briquettes and buy lump charcoal. Burns a lot cleaner. I use mostly pecan wood for the smoke. Beer in the water pan works quite well. I try to get a little in me while smoking too.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 12:41PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Ohmigod, I can't imagine it getting too cold for a smoker to operate. You've got a fire in it, after all.

I've never used a water smoker, so have no feel for them. When I lived in northern Illionois I used home-made smokers. Now I use an off-set firebox type.

I second John's advice: Get both types of thermometer and use them. They make a world of difference in the finished product.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 1:02PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Charcoal fired smokers give somewhat unpredictable results I've found. It's not easy to control the temperature because of all the variables involved.

Earl, at the tomato forum, has a great solution for that. Just smoke as usual for 5 hours or so, maintaining correct temperature as best you can. Then wrap the roast in aluminum foil and put it in a 250 degree oven until the meat reaches 205 degrees. This may take 4 hours. Perfect results every time.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 7:09PM
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Somewhat similar to the advice that Jim gives...

I very often smoke the meat for a couple hours and then finish up in a pressure cooker. Perfect 'pulled' meat every time. Swanson low fat chicken broth for the liquid in the cooker plus onions, garlic and spices of choice. You just can't go wrong.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 8:18PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I have a home made one thats made from two very large terracota pots turned to face each other (from a 'Good Eats' show by Alton Brown). There is an electic burner set on the highest setting and gives me only about 95-110 degrees when the outside temps are down to the low 50's, and the cast iron pot with wood chips will just barely start to char, even after 6+ hours. If the smoker I have, had some insulation, it would probably work better in cold weather, but here, the temps are either too hot to too cold, and we just don't get many days when the temps are ideal at 70 degrees, so I only do my smoking in the summer time. Charcoal can work, provided you can control the air flow, and have done some temp tests with different amounts or coals. Usually I see some fairly cheap smoker kits which all seem to use electic hot plates. These usually have some decent insulation though.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 10:05PM
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Some great tips -- thanks, everyone!

I do use the lump charcoal instead of the briquettes -- I think they burn much cleaner as well. And, I actually have two of those cable probe devices. I could easily use one for the meat and one as a general temperature gauge. Which could be especially helpful since I don't think that I'll get my husband to drill a hole in the lid in time. ;)

I'm still concerned about how cold it's going to be -- we won't break out of the teens this weekend, so I may do this tomorrow during our heatwave of 30 degrees with a 50% chance of snow. I'll just have to really keep an eye on the fire and probably build it up more -- and if all else fails, I'll finish it in the pressure cooker. Good idea! I've thought about an electric smoker, but I really like smoking this way. Call me a purist or someone who just likes a challenge. LOL

Saw this on the Epicurious site and may use it:

For dry rub
3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 untrimmed boneless pork shoulder halves (also known as Boston butt; about 6 pounds total)

For mop
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

8 pounds (about) 100% natural lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes
6 cups (about) hickory wood smoke chips, soaked in cold water at least 30 minutes

Thanks again for all the help and tips! I"m so hungry now!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 12:18PM
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Little Chief

I highly recommend

sea salt and another use for the splatter screens

propane torch instead of the heating element

propane torch 2 trained on the cast iron pellet pot

gas grill

off set smoker

more bird

probe (you can just barely see)

torch for starting the lump charcoal

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 9:07PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Looks like someone is very serious about smoking peppers....!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 10:21PM
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Truth is, I rather prefer not smoking pepper pods now. The smoked powders were good, but I now prefer working with the purest possible taste and color. To me it works better to use the pure powders in rubs etc when smoking meats.

Next week I might change my mind. LOL


    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 3:31PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I agree that powdered peppers are great as meat rubs. I mix coriander with dried peppers and also dried onion as a meat rub. The smoked peppers would be nice just as sprinkings on cooked foods and meats.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 4:42PM
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david52 Zone 6

A couple of years ago, I purchased 2 lbs of oak-smoked Spanish Paprika. I still have 1.88 lbs left. About the only thing that it doesn't overwhelm is a cheese dish or a dip, and even then, opinions vary.

So, I'm with you on sticking to the straight stuff; powdered pepper on the one hand, and then smoke on the other.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 11:34AM
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Oak to me was one of the worst ever. Try some mesquite for peppers. Quite good actually for it's distinctive flavor, but only takes a very few minutes exposure. It can quickly overpower. Pecan is my all time by far. The Aji Queen in Texas keeps me supplied with big bags of large chunks. When we meet again at our annual Chile-Head gathering in Indiana she will bring me a bag. In above pictures it showed a pellet pot on the gas grill cooking area. I've found it much better just to throw the BBQ Delight pellets right on the grill.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 12:35PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Pecan is in the genus Carya, as is hickory. Hickory, of course, is considered one of the best smoking woods. So, even though I have never used pecan, it doesn't surprise me that you find it good for smoking.

Hickory nuts have a delicious flavor similar to pecans too. They are very tedious to crack though, because of their small size and strong shell.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 3:59PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Oak is fine, as are exotics like apple wood, or cherry. I used to make some smoked stuff using Jack Daniels oak barrel wood. Very interesting flavors.. I can never forget the time I did smoke something on the grill. The wood was from an unknown bag of wood chunks, but wherever these came from it tasted like the food was done at a dump someplace, ugh! Totally spoiled the experience..

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 10:08PM
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