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Jan 1, 2012 07:21 PM

A slow beef smokin' new years

Alright so the weather today didn't leave me much choice but to bbq some beef. I have been trying my hand at this quite a bit and I have some questions for you bbq pros out there.
As far as wood goes, wet or dry? and what is the advantage to using wood as my fuel? as in no coals, just wood slow cooking the food.

Also, whats a good method for smoking spare ribs. I have been applying a dry rub prior to smoking and letting it go from there. I havent tried wrapping it in foil or mopping with sauce(although I do believe now that I probably should.)

Below is a photo of my setup. Would love to hear some critique.

Let's Shmooze. Happy New Year!

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  1. I prefer dry wood or green wood, largely because I usually have a pan of water in the smoker, and I use logs rather than chips. Frankly, even if I wanted wet wood, logs are poor at absorbing water. Chips, with their much larger surface area per weight of wood, would absorb water better, and in the early stages, it could slow down the burn. I like green wood because of the flavors generated, and because there is moisture clear through it, there are different burn characteristics. But I do prefer a burn rather than a smolder.

    As far as using wood as the fuel as well as the smoke, even better, because fire rather than smolder, less creosote and greater ability to create thin blue smoke, the ideal smoking smoke. Also, better smoke ring. Example: I hardly ever get a smoke ring with my Southern Pride electric convection smoker, even with a roaring fire in the firebox.

    I don't do the foil method. CYM, then heavy rub. I almost never use a mop, but it would be used only in the final stages if you were actually using a thick sauce to mop it. Spraying a little beer or wine, with or without oil, is fine throughout the smoking, but hardly necessary.

    Also, with the meat available to me, I found Alle ribs to be the best quality, juiciest and most tender, though they were expensive. The ones I got were choice. Better than anything else on the market out here in LA, and far better than the Rubashkin that was available. I think choice of meat was more important in final quality than any other factor having to do with smoking, as some meat will never tenderize, no matter how long it's smoked, just dry out and burn.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ganeden

      I use foil for an hour or so after smoking without for two hours. I find that it helps tenderize the ribs. If I apply a sauce it will be in the last hour of smoking and then again with 1/2 hour left.

      Also I use lump charcoal with either soaked wood chunks or chips (have even used untreated oak flooring scraps in a pinch). I do this for ease of smoking, I am sure that starting a separate fire and using the wood coals from that would give me better results, but I have to draw a line someplace.

      1. re: chazzer

        Gee, I never even thought of the tradeoff between wood and charcoal, just wood and electric. Out here, the only available lump charcoal seems to be mesquite- some people like the smoke characteristics of mesquite, some don't (personally, I like it for grilling, but not smoking). So for me, I'd look for lump oak or other type of non-mesquite lump. But it is even easier to get thin blue smoke from charcoal than from wood, all other things being equal. The more complete burn (and charcoal is very complete burning), the less creosote and other crap one must deal with. With good charcoal, oe can get a good smoke without any chips whatsoever, but it's a much more neutral smoke.

        1. re: ganeden

          My wife hates Mesquite so we use oak, hickory and fruit woods. On a different note are you back to producing wine?

          1. re: chazzer

            Yup. But maybe I'll be smoking again yet. Possibility on Pico. But as of 1.5 years ago, winemaker of Agua Dulce Winery near Los Angeles.

            1. re: ganeden

              I too am not a fan of Mesquite smoke - I prefer either pecan or fruit woods like apple or cherry -

              1. re: ganeden

                Great to hear! Smokin' was my favorite BBQ place. Do you have a mailing list so that we can be notified when you open up again?

        2. re: ganeden

          For my ribs i just use a rub and don't foil them. I use charcoal and either oak or pecan chips or a combination of them. I do the same thing for brisket. I use a weber kettle one touch with a pan of water in the middle and the coals on the side and come up with some pretty good bbq.