Received word that my BACKWOODS PARTY is ready for shipping. Woo-hoo!! Santa’s coming early! The ‘girl’ is ready to get crated and shipped. The PARTY is a top of the line smoker. Put it this way – the shipping cost alone is OVER $400.00. Remind me to disable my wife’s access to this BLOG!
You say, “I can’t do this. That is SO way out of my league, actually, were not even playing the same sport!” SO, not true. There are numerous types of smokers for all skill and price level. You certainly will find a ‘reasonably’ priced smoker. Notice, I did not say ‘cheap’. You get what you pay for.
The idea of a smoker is to hold heat for an extended period of time. A ‘cheap’ model is comprised of low grade materials that will not hold temperature – the goal is to maintain that consistent LO n’ SLO. For example, if I am ‘smokin’ butts’ I like to be pinned around that 230*. Our resident TRASH MAN, cooks a FABULOUS rib in his UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker) upwards of 270*. Different people cook at different temps – that will be discussed down the road.
TYPES OF SMOKERS
PROPANE NOT acceptable for BBQ competition. Some say propane ‘Q’ is not acceptable for consumption!!! Not true – propane is convenient and consistent. Just not authentic.
Today, we discuss the VERTICAL/BOX/UPRIGHT...we will get to the others.
In my last entry, I wrote about my 1st time - the year was 198…Oh, sorry, we’re talkin smokers. My first smoker was a BOX style. The vertical is set up with the heat source on the bottom. A pan is used to hold to the coal/wood. Above the fuel source is a water pan. Above the H2O are the racks. There are 2 vents on each side at the fuel level. The top of the unit has a damper which is similar to the side vents.
The general rule is the MORE air allowed to enter the fire box (bottom) the HOTTER the fire. Each individual unit will vary. Only through PRACTICE will you be able to consistently maintain your temperature.
Fire box – Wood Charcoal (charcoal made from wood – do NOT confuse this with wood CHUNKS) will create LESS ash than the traditional briquettes (think Kingsford). Briquettes tend to burn evenly, however, they create significantly more ash over a long burn. Another consideration is the ‘binding’ agents used in the briquette process. (TYW BBQ will address types and brands of charcoal down the road)
*TYW tip – place some type of grate under your coals– I use old gutter guard material
The idea is that as the coals burn, the ash will fall through the grate thus avoiding the ash ‘choking out’ the fire - avoid using galvanized metal in your smoker -
WHY is this in my smoker? The water pan is used to regulate temperature within the unit, as well as provide moisture over long cooks.
TYW tip - use HOT WATER in your pan
Often, you will find that the water makes it difficult to reach temperature. This can also be caused by other ‘weather’ factors. Using, HOT water in the pan will allow you to reach temperature faster – thus, burning less coal. Also, some Q'ers use SAND in the water pan. Sand will regulate some heat - but will not eat as much fuel as the water. Be sure to check your water pan after 3 hours or so.
Many also claim that apple juice in your pan will help ‘sweeten’ the meat. Moisture is VERY important in the Q’ process. We will dedicate a later entry to ‘keepin’ you meat moist’ (Spray bottles are perfect!)
Meat placement – Everyone has different opinions on which rack to place your meat in the upright smoker. The ONLY definitive is do NOT PUT raw chicken above your fully cooked meats.
For example, chicken takes significantly less time to cook than say…a butt. If you are cooking all your meats in the upright place the chix on the bottom shelf. The bottom shelf will USUALLY cook quicker because it is closer to your heat source. So, you should be aware that meat rotation is usually prudent throughout the course of a cook.
How do I clean my Vertical??
-You can prevent some cleaning by being proactive. LINE the water pan with FOIL. This will make cleaning the water pan MUCH easier.
-Wiping the unit with a damn…oops, damp cloth is sufficient. Many people avoid chemical cleaners in their smokers. Be sure to clean each grate well to prevent rust. Soaking grates in oven cleaner and then rinsing VERY WELL does the trick.
Well, whaddayawaitin for!!?? Start SMOKIN’!!