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encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 04:23 AM

I am venturing into the world of smoking!! First time tomorrow!! I am torn about what cut of pork! Tenderloin, butt, or shoulder...and also torn about brining...yes or no? everywhere i look gives mixed replies....i diohowever feel that if i go with the tenderloin i will definately brine first! Any recommendations to a first timer???Im also nervous about temp control!!!! OMG, the pressure lol!!

  1. sbp Jun 29, 2012 04:54 AM

    Butt or Shoulder, which are pretty much the same thing. Take the skin off. Season. No need to brine. Get a remote thermometer, cook it till at least 200. Be patient.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sbp
      Njchicaa Jun 29, 2012 04:58 AM


    2. Davwud Jun 29, 2012 05:13 AM

      Okay, first of all, relax. It's not that hard.

      I would do a shoulder first. It has plenty of fat and connective tissue to help keep things moist. Pretty bullet proof. When I do mine I do nothing with it. Just put it out there. I'm suggesting you do this because it's nice and easy. No fuss, no muss. After you feel comfortable, then look at brining, curing, slathering, seasoning, whatever
      I smoke for about 7 hours skin up and then flip and put into a foil roasting pan. Cover and let go another 7 hours or so. Let it rest a couple hours before opening. Pour off the juice and reserve. Shred the meat and put into another pan. Skim the fat off the juice and save it. It's basically smoked lard. Good stuff. Add some BBQ seasoning and some of the defatted juice and mix in. It's almost like a BBQ sauce but not as assertive.

      If you want to make beans to go with it, use some of the meat and fat and you'll be amazed at how good they turn out.

      If I do a tenderloin I salt cure it for a week and then smoke. It's almost like extra lean bacon. Very tasty stuff. I would do a loin before a tenderloin.

      What type of smoker are you using??


      11 Replies
      1. re: Davwud
        encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 05:41 AM

        Its actually an inexpensive one, got it for 100 bucks, its a kettle style with a smokestack on the top...i didnt wanna go all out til I have mastered the art! i am more worried about temp control, and things like, how long does it take for the charcoal to be ready before i put the meat on? and how do i keep the temp at a constant 200? doesnt it spike as i add mpre charcoal? i read that i have to check every hour to 90 mins, at the same time i add more charcoal i need to rotate the meat, and add more chips/chunks.i will go with the butt or shoulder, and i will marinate overnight as opposed to brining, and i will be sure to wipe the marinade off before it goes to the smoker...

        1. re: encoretraiteur
          MGZ Jun 29, 2012 06:05 AM

          First of all, barbecuing/smoking meat is more art than science. There are tricks to making it more scientific - thermometers, electric smokers, foil wrapping, etc., but your still going to need to practice and develop your skill. Just relax and embrace the process, grab a beer after the first few hours.

          Don't get too hung up on temperature spikes - they are going to happen. You will need to keep the temperature close to 225 for as long as it takes - probably in the neighborhood of 8 to 9 hours (for a relatively small butt). Nevertheless, keep in mind this simple tenet - "Barbecue is done when barbecue is done." Outside weather conditions will affect the cook time - wind, dampness, temperature all impact the cook with traditional methods. As does the size of the meat.

          My preference is for the picnic half of the shoulder (the other half of the front leg is the butt) because I like the extra skin. A whole shoulder is even more fun, but makes for a longer cook (but is really dramatic to serve without "pulling"). I also don't think a wet marinade is the best way to go. An overnight dry rub will infuse flavor and can be as simple as only salt & pepper (paprika, ground chile, and sugar are also commonly used).

          The following thread has some good advice about a way to approach the cook with a charcoal fuse that may help you out given your description of grill. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/608684

          1. re: encoretraiteur
            Davwud Jun 29, 2012 07:49 AM

            Take it out of the fridge as early as possible as you want it to be as dry on the surface as it can be. Smoke doesn't stick to wet very well.

            Again, all these suggestion from people are nice but I would make it as simple as possible. Which, as has been said, is easiest (if pork) when you use a butt.

            Good luck and let us know how it goes.


            1. re: Davwud
              MGZ Jun 29, 2012 07:59 AM

              I completely agree about dryness and starting with a butt.

              1. re: Davwud
                1POINT21GW Jun 29, 2012 08:30 AM

                Actually, it's the exact opposite. From Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking:

                " . . . smoke vapors are deposited most efficiently onto moist surfaces, so "wet" smoking has a stronger effect in a shorter time."

                1. re: 1POINT21GW
                  MGZ Jun 29, 2012 08:40 AM

                  Moist, yes, raw meat is inherently wet, especially after sitting overnight in a marinade or dry brine. What the OP doesn't want is to take something still cold and dripping and place it on the grill rack. Setting it out for a while will solve this problem.

                  1. re: MGZ
                    1POINT21GW Jun 29, 2012 09:25 AM

                    No need. By the time he walks from the kitchen to his smoker, any dripping will have stopped even it he just took the butt out of a brining solution. Also, no need to bring the meat up to temp.

                    1. re: 1POINT21GW
                      encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 09:35 AM

                      her kitchen and her smoker....im just teasing, though i do wonder if all the people who replied are men, and if there any other women crazy enough to undertake this sort of stuff....i know there are but my guess is not many ! i appreciate all of your comments, and am taking everything into consideration....i have a feeling though that once face to face with my smoker, all of my natural cooking instincts will take over, or not lol...i will update ofetn, and post pics!

                      1. re: encoretraiteur
                        nofunlatte Jun 29, 2012 01:04 PM

                        I'm female!

                        1. re: nofunlatte
                          encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 02:11 PM


                        2. re: encoretraiteur
                          Vetter Jul 8, 2012 07:19 PM

                          me too! 9 lb brisket in my freezer awaiting my next unscheduled weekend day!

            2. nofunlatte Jun 29, 2012 05:36 AM

              Butt/shoulder was my first non-poultry smoke. Applied a rub and set the butt overnight in the fridge. Took about 10-12 hours until it was pull-able. What kind od a smoker are you using?

              15 Replies
              1. re: nofunlatte
                encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 05:56 AM

                its a kettle style, inexpensive one...made by kingford. i didnt want to invest too much until i have mastered it! i read some reviews on this smoker and it appears difficult to maintain temp, though not impossible!...i read an old thread that had to do with smoking butt, and alot of folks seem to do couple hours in the smoker, and finish in a low oven...i was really hoping for more feedback regarding smoking a loin, i didnt want serve a pulled meat...more of something that i could slice

                1. re: encoretraiteur
                  MGZ Jun 29, 2012 06:12 AM

                  Cooking a loin on a grill like that is really best done with more of an indirect grilling technique than a true barbecue smoking technique. There is not sufficient collagen in the meat to benefit from a 8 hour cook at 225 with a finished meat temp of 190 or so. Instead, you can infuse a significant amount of smoke flavor into the meat by mixing wood chunks with your coals and cooking at a temperature around 300 for a much shorter period with a finished temperature of 145 or so.

                  Davwud's approach to the tenderloin, mentioned above, could also be modified to work, but would result in a different product than what I have just explained.

                  1. re: encoretraiteur
                    nofunlatte Jun 29, 2012 06:27 AM

                    I am actually planning to smoke a pork loin (not tenderloin) on Sunday. Easy, relatively quick, and sliceable. A three-pound pork loin takes about 2-2.5 hours once it is on the smoker. The loin is brined overnight, patted dry, injected with apple juice ( you can probably skip this step--the first time I made it, I wore more apple juice than that which went into the loin), and rubbed. I used the Minion method for the coals. Recipe is from Saveur issue 139 (June /July 2011).

                    1. re: nofunlatte
                      ThanksVille Jun 29, 2012 04:52 PM

                      Smoking a pork loin is one of those crossover dinners that dresses up really well but has many of the flavor profiles of a pulled pork butt. I treat them in a similar manner for basic prep, just scaled way back. The loin gets a good rinse, dried well before lightly seasoning with a very mild rub (dizzy dust and Mary cherry at 50/50) and no more than 4 hours. An hour before cooking remove from fridge and inject kosmo's pork marinade made with apple juice.....a 4 lb roast takes about 1.5 cups. Pat the loin dry and clean up my mess and then rub the outside with olive oil, chopped rosemary, and either fresh ground pepper or some mcCormick's Montreal steak seasoning. It goes onto our BGE set for direct searing heat to grille and char the exterior turning frequently. After 6 to 8 minutes remove to a foil pan and throttle back the fire by shutting all air vents to maybe 10% flow, throw a log of cherry or apple wood and a few large chunks of charcoal. Gets the fire down from 700 degrees to 225 and steadies there within 10 minutes. Set up the plate setter to create an indirect smoke, place a drip pan of apple juice below the cook surface and get the loin in position with a wired thermometer probe inserted in its center. I use a dual probe thermometer so monitor the chamber temperature for the 2 to 3 hours it takes to bring the loin up to 155 degrees. I peek every 30 minutes and look to see if it needs to be rotated and for the final 30 minute cook, I brush the crust with some melted salted butter. Pull it off the BGE and tent lightly for 15+minutes. Never fail very moist with crusty exterior. Slices easily for beautiful presentation. Smoke, fruit, pork, rosemary flavors coupled with the trace richness of some melted butter. Sauce with a pork based demiglace with dried tart cherries and a touch of fresh sage. Killer.

                      1. re: ThanksVille
                        encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 05:00 PM

                        that sounds fabulous! thank you soo much for that!

                        1. re: ThanksVille
                          encoretraiteur Jul 5, 2012 10:09 AM

                          well...i guess i am hooked...went back to the butcher this morning, got a loin...which i will smoke tomorrow....i will be rubbing tonight, and injecting with apple cider tomorrow...but I think instead of brushing with butter I will brush with maple syrup for the last 30 mins....as for the sauce, a nice reduction of demi glace, apple cider, and sortilege...I also picked up some beautiful peaches so I think peach crumble for dessert....and while all of that is happening, making sweet potato gnocchi for 25 guests for an event later this month...a day of pure bliss for me...

                          1. re: encoretraiteur
                            nofunlatte Jul 5, 2012 11:28 AM

                            Great to hear that you're hooked, fellow female smoker! I smoked a pork loin Sunday and it was VERY well received by guests. The leftover meat made wonderful sandwiches, too.

                            1. re: encoretraiteur
                              sbp Jul 5, 2012 04:52 PM

                              Just smoked a pork shoulder and veal breast for the 4th. Hooked is the word. If you haven't done so already, make sure to have a probe thermometer. Loin is not forgiving. You want it to cook to just medium, around 140-150 degrees.

                              1. re: sbp
                                encoretraiteur Jul 5, 2012 05:19 PM

                                thanks for the tip, and i do have a thermometer, though I have changed my method a bit....I decided to brine instead(i used brown sugar salt H2O, star anis, mustard seed, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and peppercorn) tomorrow i will chop some rosemary, with olive oil and garlic while smoking...and I still plan to baste with maple syrup the last 30 minutes...the sauce will stay the same! I will be sure to keep you all posted...

                        2. re: encoretraiteur
                          mike0989 Jun 29, 2012 07:56 AM

                          I’d do a Boston Butt with this setup. It is more forgiving. Set it up for indirect. Coals one side, water pan\meat on the other.

                          1. re: encoretraiteur
                            porker Jun 29, 2012 08:45 AM

                            "i didnt want serve a pulled meat...more of something that i could slice"
                            You can bake a pork roast with charcoal - it ain't BBQ (low and slow), but you'll still get a smoky product. Theres also nothing *wrong* with doing so, it all depends on what you want.
                            I happen to like this method in my repetoire. You can see a picture of a whole leg I baked on a barrel smoker at the end of this thread:

                            Just my 2c: keep notes on what you do (times/temps/amount of smoke/charcoal etc etc). Its likely that you'll have something good, but will probably want to tweek it next time (and the next and the next, until you get what you want). Notes help when, 4 months down the line, you give it another whirl.
                            Realize that you can oversmoke (something that I only came to know after plenty of trial and error). I like the smoke-then-wrap-in-foil method, but *when* you have enough smoke is a personal choice and will come with experience. Once wrapped, you can use just charcoal for a heat source, or you can finish in a conventional oven.

                            1. re: porker
                              encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 09:02 AM

                              heres an update! just got back from my butcher, i got two pieces from the neck(he assured me it was best for pulled pork) , and all my spices for a rub....then off to Canadian tire where i found apple, and cherry wood, and the hardwood briquets...i will rub the pork later and let it sit overnight. i plan to smoke for about 3 to 4 hours, and then finish in the oven...i have been working in the food industry a really long time, so i am a pretty good cook by now, but living in Montreal where the bbq season is quite short, i have never ventured into smoking before...even at culinary school, it is not a method that we were taught...pretty sure itll be great, and thanks so much for the input!! i love all the opinions here, keep them coming, and i will definately keep updating!!

                              1. re: encoretraiteur
                                porker Jun 29, 2012 02:49 PM

                                "but living in Montreal where the bbq season is quite short"
                                I live 10 minutes from downtown (well, an hour and a half taking construction into consideration) and I BBQ year-round.
                                The bigger problem is the lack of local BBQ culture in Montreal (and the north in general, I guess); no one I knew BBQed while growing up in the 70s. "barbecue" meant brickets in a budget grill with hamburgers and hot dogs.
                                I started BBQing and smoking in the 80s and really didn't know what I was doing. The world wide web wasn't what it is today and references were mostly obscure books. It was lots of trial and error.

                                1. re: porker
                                  encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 04:47 PM

                                  i live in Laval, also grew up in the 70's to hot dogs on the grill....i stand corrected....MY bbq season is quite short, I only fire up the grill in March, and keep it going maybe til October....and since this is my first time smoking anything, I am not sure yet if I will become passionate enough about it to go through the winter....and you are right, there is definately a serious lack of bbq culture here, and that is very unfortunate!I was really thrilled to find everything at Canadian Tire, though they didnt have the chunks, so i setteld for chips this time around...

                                  if anyone is interested in my progress, you can follow me on twitter @encoretraiteur...in fact my first post is all ready up!

                                  and if anyone is REALLY interested, I will be taking notes, and blogging about my experience on my website

                                  thanks for all the helpful info guys, please keep it coming!! i love chowhound...

                              2. re: porker
                                encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 09:04 AM

                                and porker, i will definately keep a log so that i can tweek and readjust for future reference!!

                          2. b
                            Burritobreath Jun 29, 2012 06:11 AM

                            A whole pig shoulder is comprised of the butt (upper part) and the picnic (lower part near "bicep"). Get the butt (or Boston butt), and not the picnic. The butt doesn't have any skin on it and it is what is normally used for pulled pork. Cut as much of the fat cap off as you can, there's enough inter-muscular fat to keep it moist. No need to brine as long as you take it low and slow. If you try to rush it with higher smoker temps, you may end up with something drier and tougher. Your rub on the meat will form a bark. More surface area (that's not fat), more bark.
                            Keep the smoker around 225* - 250* for around 10 -14 hours or until the butt's are 190*-195*. You'll find that the temp will plateau around 160*, but be patient. They will eventualy rise above that and continue the steady climb. Wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and place in a warmed cooler lined with towels to rest for 1 -2 hours. Unwrap and pull. I've had butt's resting in the cooler for over 4 hours and they were still too hot to touch when I finally pulled them.
                            For temp control using charcoal, look up "Minion method". Using the Minion method, I'm able to keep my Weber bullet steady at 235* without touching anything for 8 hours of the 12 -14 hour cook. Usually I'm jockeying with the heat and air flow at the beginning and the end of the cook.

                            1. Uncle Bob Jun 29, 2012 06:27 AM

                              I teach to start your journey with chicken... Easy to cook.....It's very good to eat...and should you make some mistakes along the way the investment is small.....It's a great teacher......

                              Have Fun & Enjoy!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Uncle Bob
                                RealMenJulienne Jul 1, 2012 03:02 AM

                                I agree with you. I have at one time or another ruined every other meat cut on the smoker but a whole chicken has never failed me. For the first time I would puree chiles, limes, cider vinegar, soy sauce, allspice, thyme, and brown sugar to make a salty jerk marinade, soak the whole chicken 24 hours and smoke upright on the grate.

                                If you must do pork your first time out, I personally think the spare ribs are the most forgiving. The only tricky part is trimming but there are many good online guides for that.

                              2. Hank Hanover Jun 29, 2012 08:37 AM

                                Your first attempt should be a pork butt because it is the most forgiving. Even if you screw up, it will still be pretty good. I wouldn't bother brining this time. You can try it another time.

                                I would hope your bbq came with a manual and some recipes. Go with that the first time. You can experiment as you gain experience.

                                Oh... pork carnitas are chunks of pork butt and don't take as long to cook. You could try those.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Hank Hanover
                                  bagofwater Jul 2, 2012 07:08 AM


                                  Pork butt will cook evenly, and is pretty hard to overcook.

                                2. 1POINT21GW Jun 29, 2012 09:16 AM

                                  Since your main concern seems to be temperature control, I will focus primarily on that.

                                  As nofunlatte and Burritobreath said, the Minion method is the best method for building your fire. It will give you long, consistent temperature smokes time after time. In short, the minion method is building a bed of unlit coals in your smoker then pouring lit coals on top of that. The fire burns downward slowly, igniting new coals as the fire moves downward. This gives you very consistent temperatures over a very long time 8 - 12 hours, depending on how big your bed of unlit coals were in the beginning. Read all about the Minion method here:


                                  Read a very easy to understand guide on smoking your first pork butt here:


                                  You don't have to use their rub, sauce, brine, injection, or mop - just use that guide as a guide. Look more to the method rather than the ingredient list. Over time you'll begin to adjust your seasonings and develop your own rub, sauce, etc..

                                  To keep it simple and easy to read, here are a few bullet points (feel free to ask for expansion on any of this):

                                  - The air temperature in your smoker is infinitely more important than the internal temperature of your meat. Pulled pork is done when it's done. Internal temperatures can be very misleading. If you're looking for pulled pork, it's done when it pulls easily with two forks. After a few smokes you'll quickly start to get the hang of when to start checking for doneness. For a 6 - 8 pound butt, I'd start checking around 8 hours, then every 30 - 60 minutes thereafter depending on how underdone it was in the last check.

                                  - You can brine or not brine, it's up to you. If you don't, you can always add those flavors in with a finishing sauce after the pork has been pulled.

                                  - The key to maintaining good temperature control is a sealed smoker. You want your smoker to be air tight - literally. The only air holes you want in your smoker are the ones you can control: your air vents.

                                  - If you need to make an adjustment to your air vents, move them in small amounts, not big amounts. Move them no more than 25% of their potential in either direction, wait for 15 minutes and reevaluate the air temperature, then make additional adjustments from there.

                                  - Continuing with air control, you'll want to open your smoker as little as possible. This is why I'm a fan of the Minion method (you'll only need to work with the coals one time during the entire smoke) and why I'm not a fan of basting or mopping.

                                  - Shoot for an air temperature of 225 - 275 degrees F with 250 degrees F being ideal.

                                  - Once the butt is off the heat, wrap it in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil and let it rest for an hour before you pull it. If you need to hold it for an extended period of time (2 - 4 hours), wrap the foiled butt in a big towel and place this in a cooler. You can safely hold it there for 4 or more hours using this method.

                                  - Use 3 - 4 tennis ball sized chunks of smoking wood placed on the coals at the beginning of your smoke.

                                  - Take notes before, during, and after the smoke of things you're learning along the way so you'll remember to implement what you've learned or want to do differently in your next smoke.

                                  - Relax! We're not making a bomb. It's just pulled pork. It's cheap and, either way, you're going to do it again soon. So, relax and enjoy your first smoke. It will be a great learning experience.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                    mike0989 Jun 29, 2012 09:57 AM


                                    This is a good site for her to look at. It also has detailed instructions for a pork loin if she chooses to go that route. Though the directions are for a bullet smoker, she should have luck on her setup.

                                    1. re: mike0989
                                      encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 10:01 AM

                                      thanks mike:)

                                      1. re: mike0989
                                        nofunlatte Jun 29, 2012 01:07 PM

                                        +1 wrt that site. That's how I learned (and am still learning) the art and science of smoking.

                                    2. dave_c Jun 29, 2012 09:37 AM

                                      For a first timer, I suggest the Boston Butt (which is actually a shoulder cut). Tenderloin is okay too, but the butt is more forgiving and pretty much infallible.

                                      Brine, for the first timer, I would just go ahead and brine. If you get hooked, you can try no brine in the future. I guess my attitude is to go all-in.

                                      Boston butt, brine, dry rub and smoke.

                                      Temperature control... What are you using as a smoker?

                                      For smoke, I like hickory.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: dave_c
                                        encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 09:41 AM

                                        i bought one on the cheap, a kingsford, didnt want to invest too much til i know that i am hooked!i also picked up shoulder from the butcher, and got apple, and cherry wood with hardwood briquets...i have decided not to brine, though i will dry rub tonight...an early start tomorrow, about 4 hours or so in the smoker, and then finish in the oven, i think!

                                      2. b
                                        BigE Jun 29, 2012 10:05 AM

                                        I guess I can use this thread for my own question/concern:

                                        I bought an 8.5# butt that will be smoked tomorrow. Gas grill, indirect heat, hickory chunks, rub on tonight, mop sauce, blah blah blah. Now, I know the conventional wisdom says 225F for as long as it takes, but we're going to be doing some serious construction/framing type housework all day and I guarantee folks are going to start to get hungry by 5-6pm. Is it complete and total sacrilege to go up to (gasp) 275F or so to speed up the cooking time to perhaps 8 hours? This isn't happening at my house, and I'm not sure I want to get there at 5am to ensure a perfectly done dish.

                                        Raichlen actually says 4-5 hours at 300F (for a 5 pound shoulder) in the Bible...so can I use that guideline for an 8.5# piece?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: BigE
                                          1POINT21GW Jun 29, 2012 10:24 AM

                                          225 degrees - 300 degrees F is just fine. Your smoker's air temperature will fluctuate anyways. As a matter of fact, many ovens fluctuate as much as 50 degrees when going through their cycles. So, it's nothing to worry about. 275 degrees F will be just fine.

                                        2. e
                                          encoretraiteur Jun 29, 2012 02:15 PM

                                          i am feeling pretty confident, i think itll go well...i do have a good base knowledge, and that may help...i know practice makes perfect, and by tomorrow night, i should know if i am hooked, or never wanna smoke anything again lol...

                                          1. e
                                            encoretraiteur Jun 30, 2012 06:20 AM

                                            so the temp keeps rising, and ive closed the bottom vents, but its still rising!! what to do?

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: encoretraiteur
                                              porker Jun 30, 2012 06:27 AM

                                              Close all vents and wait for the charcoal to settle down. Once at desired temp, open top vent a bit and go from there.

                                              1. re: porker
                                                encoretraiteur Jun 30, 2012 06:32 AM


                                                1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                  porker Jun 30, 2012 07:24 AM

                                                  Yo encore, since you're all fired up on smokin (hehe), I'd suggest going for a MSM (Montreal smoked meat). Have a looky here
                                                  where I list my method (comes out like Schwartz'). Sure, its time-consuming (9 day cure) and multi-step (cure-smoke-rest-steam-rest), but the results are amazing. Actually, the trickiest part is getting instacure (aka pink salt, ie salt mixed with sodium nitrite) around here.
                                                  I just started dry-curing a brisket today - planning to bring it up to the Tremblant Blues Festival as smoked meat in a coupla weeks.

                                                  1. re: porker
                                                    encoretraiteur Jun 30, 2012 08:16 AM

                                                    sounds soooo amazing, porker, (love the name) please keep me posted, and i wanna hear all about the process, step by step! i am thinking of trying a beef brisket next weekend if all goes well today...and i will be sure to check oputh the link later...on a side note, on the 14 of july, i am heading to Dallas for a family visit....i have warned them that we will be visiting Peacn Lodge(featured on DDD, and highly recommended) and still working on a great steakhouse(i am a carnivore yes!!), so i will talk about that experience too, maybe as a follow up blog to the one i am gonna write about todays journey!i have already posted a couple of pics on twitter, if you are on you should go take a look!!

                                                    1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                      Davwud Jun 30, 2012 08:32 AM

                                                      boy encore, I'm not sure you're ready for a brisket yet.

                                                      If pork butt is the easiest cut to do on a smoker, brisket may very well be the hardest. Meat selection and preparation is as important as anything with it. I'd strongly recommend you smoke a few other things to get a good feel for it before you jump into the shark infested waters.


                                                      1. re: Davwud
                                                        encoretraiteur Jun 30, 2012 08:50 AM

                                                        well i may w\ait on the brisket, but in the past i have had very much success cooking it at home, i know smoking is a different story all together but i do have a pretty good cooking base:)

                                                      2. re: encoretraiteur
                                                        porker Jun 30, 2012 08:57 AM

                                                        MSM starts life as beef brisket. Its cured, seasoned, smoked, and steamed. The step-by-step is in the link above.

                                                        1. re: porker
                                                          encoretraiteur Jun 30, 2012 09:11 AM

                                                          that i knew...i also really love brisket just eaten as brisket, but i will read about the process definately...i had recently sous cheffed an event at john scotti in st leo, where we almost served bison smoked meat, which we would have done ourselves...changed the menu at the last second though, unfortunately

                                              2. 1POINT21GW Jun 30, 2012 09:45 AM

                                                How are your temperatures holding?

                                                How's the smoke going overall?

                                                Once you're able to consistently hold a steady temperature with your smoker smoking a brisket will be just fine. It's not that difficult, especially with the high heat method that has it done in 5 hours.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                                  encoretraiteur Jun 30, 2012 10:00 AM

                                                  it was way too high at the beginnng, now great fluctuating between 250 and 275, so pretty steady.i used the minion method, and just had to add more, charcoal and chips, im gonna remove it at around 2 and finish in the oven...

                                                  1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                    1POINT21GW Jun 30, 2012 10:21 AM

                                                    Glad to hear you got it under control. That's a great temperature range.

                                                    Did you want to use chips instead of chunks or is that just all you had?

                                                    1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                                      encoretraiteur Jun 30, 2012 10:36 AM

                                                      i wanted chunks, but couldnt find any close to home...i wil expand my search and find some close to home. i did however see some apple wood that was pressed into disks(resembling pressed wood) > they were in the section with all the pther wood chips. is anyone familiar with this product?

                                                      1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                        1POINT21GW Jun 30, 2012 10:39 AM

                                                        I would use regular old wood chunks. I wouldn't want any off flavors or irregular combustion from the binder that holds the wood particles together.

                                                        1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                          porker Jun 30, 2012 12:09 PM

                                                          I don't see chunks in the Montreal area. Grocery and hardware stores have them (I usually get hickory) in the US (Champlain/Plattsburgh/Burlington/etc), but I usually reserve these for grilling.
                                                          I also keep an eye open for people cutting down apple trees (not that common, though). A guy a few doors down had cut 4 trees and I put as many 1"-4" branches in my trunk as possible. I then cut them down to 6" lengths. Still have a supply, but its dwindling now.
                                                          I buy a few bags at Canadian Tire (or where ever) when they're on sale (<$4), usually hickory and/or cherry. I use Maple lump as fuel.

                                                          1. re: porker
                                                            1POINT21GW Jun 30, 2012 12:26 PM

                                                            Apple wood chunks for sale on ebay for less than $2 per pound shipped:



                                                          2. re: encoretraiteur
                                                            bagofwater Jul 2, 2012 07:11 AM

                                                            I usually buy my wood chunks on Amazon. I can find them locally at the stores in FL, but sometimes the selection is slim.

                                                    2. e
                                                      encoretraiteur Jul 1, 2012 05:52 AM

                                                      it went really well everyone, thanks for the help ! and i think i may be a little hooked! lol! i posted some pics which i took with my bb to my twitter...if anyone is interested, go take a look! @encoretraiteur
                                                      thanks again guys!

                                                      31 Replies
                                                      1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                        jjjrfoodie Jul 1, 2012 06:04 AM

                                                        It's not that hard and very forgiving.
                                                        But VERY rewarding.
                                                        But you knew that.

                                                        A constant heat source, a good probe themometer, a good cut of meat and patience.
                                                        That's all ya need.

                                                        And I think patience is the hardest to come by of the 4.


                                                        1. re: jjjrfoodie
                                                          encoretraiteur Jul 1, 2012 06:09 AM

                                                          when it comes to food, i have all the patience in the world! sometimes a bit scary venturing into the unknown...but when it works out for the best, , that is the best feeling!

                                                          1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                            Davwud Jul 1, 2012 06:50 AM

                                                            Glad it all worked out for you and welcome to the wonderful world of smoked meat.

                                                            I still stand by my earlier advice, for a while, keep it simple. I've been doing this for 12 years now and I just tried bacon for the first time last weekend. Partly because I wanted to get the basics down right. Partly because there were a few things that weren't as good as I wanted them to be. Partly as well because I didn't want to poison us.

                                                            Anyway, it's a great way to spend a weekend day.


                                                          2. re: jjjrfoodie
                                                            MGZ Jul 1, 2012 07:27 AM

                                                            "A constant heat source, a good probe themometer, a good cut of meat and patience.
                                                            That's all ya need."

                                                            You forgot beer!

                                                          3. re: encoretraiteur
                                                            nofunlatte Jul 1, 2012 08:32 AM

                                                            Congrats, Encore! This is only year 2 for me (wrt smoking), but I am so glad i decided to learn this. Just took a smoked boneless pork loin off the smoker--nice smoke ring, tasty. I have a pork shoulder in the freezer that'll be turned into pulled pork in the next week or two.

                                                            1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                              porker Jul 1, 2012 10:05 AM

                                                              Way to go encore!
                                                              I can understand your beginner shakes (you seemed a little nervous there), but as you see, theres rarely a need to panic. Whats the worst that can happen? Ruin a piece of meat, or the extreme (as Davwud puts it - haha) poison us?
                                                              Just relax, experiment, and have fun.
                                                              I put a half leg in my barrel smoker about an hour ago to bake. Meanwhile, having a few refreshments, whipper-snipping, and getting up the nerve to clean my gutters....

                                                              1. re: porker
                                                                nofunlatte Jul 1, 2012 10:39 AM

                                                                I vote for having a few more refreshments and skipping the gutters!

                                                                1. re: porker
                                                                  encoretraiteur Jul 1, 2012 11:01 AM

                                                                  ewww...gutters, and i do get nervous, a voyage into the unkown!! and just ruined meat?? how can you say that???sacrilige lol!!!

                                                                  1. re: porker
                                                                    encoretraiteur Jul 2, 2012 02:50 PM

                                                                    so how was the half leg?

                                                                    1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                      porker Jul 3, 2012 06:41 AM

                                                                      It was....deeeeelicious.
                                                                      Crisped skin (cracklin), nice bark, juicy meat. Used an electric knife to get very thin slices on half a platter, used a conventional knife to hack up the skin and bark for the other half. Shoulda took a picture...

                                                                      1. re: porker
                                                                        encoretraiteur Jul 3, 2012 09:53 AM

                                                                        sounds delicious....i have decided to go ahead and try the pork tenderloin this weekend...i need to develop a great recipe and have it perfected by mid august so, ill get cracking right away....besides, its pork...never can have too much!

                                                                        1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                          Davwud Jul 3, 2012 10:38 AM

                                                                          Not sure what you're looking for in a PT but what I do is make a dry brine of my home made BBQ rub (which I keep salt free) and salt. I do 1:1 and rub liberally on the tenderloins. Let it sit in the fridge for a week. Remove, wash all the brine off and dry. Put on smoke for 2 - 2.5 hrs. Allow to cool (if you can). It's got a really nice salt kick and is a lot like really low fat bacon.

                                                                          As for my brisket, what I did was, 2 days out I trimmed the brisket. A 1/4 inch of fat left on the fat cap is all that's needed I was told and that seemed to work well. There is a large pocket between the flat and the point which I trimmed a lot as well. I basically had a flat there. No big deal. Rubbed liberally with my BBQ rub and then slathered with mustard (prepared). Put in the fridge until a few hours before smoking time. Got my fire ready, poked my probe into the meat and put it out there. The meat will rise in temp and then plateau around 180°. Keep going until it reaches 200 - 210°. Remove, wrap in foil and put in a thermo bag for 3 - 4 hours before slicing.

                                                                          Here's a thread I posted results in. Including pictures.

                                                                          I left a witness mark in it so I knew which way the grain ran but when I removed the point and scraped off the fat, you could tell very easily so it wasn't needed.


                                                                  2. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                    1POINT21GW Jul 1, 2012 10:25 AM

                                                                    Glad to hear everything went well.

                                                                    Did you do anything with the drippings?

                                                                    What did you think about the amount of smoke the butts took on?

                                                                    1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                                                      encoretraiteur Jul 1, 2012 11:07 AM

                                                                      the pork was on for 5 hours, me and all of my guests thought the amount of smoke was perfect! as for the pan drippings, i had apple cider in the pan, so i reduced it and used it as the base for my bbq sauce!

                                                                      1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                        1POINT21GW Jul 1, 2012 12:24 PM

                                                                        Very, very nice.

                                                                        Have you thought about what you'll smoke next?

                                                                        1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                                                          encoretraiteur Jul 2, 2012 07:04 AM

                                                                          i really wanted to try brisket but quite a few people here are telling me that its complicated and I could use a bit more experience first! I may try whole chicken this weekend, and then after my trip to dallas where i will be going to the pecan lodge for beef brisket, ill think about trying it myself lol!

                                                                          1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                            Hank Hanover Jul 2, 2012 07:15 AM

                                                                            I know it sounds stupid but it sounds really good. I'm going to smoke a meatloaf this afternoon. The recipe I have calls for 3 hours at 250°F.

                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                              jjjrfoodie Jul 2, 2012 07:42 AM

                                                                              You doing a bacon wrap on that meatloaf or not Hank?

                                                                              Meatlaof is done at a 165F internal temp.
                                                                              As for time, I never keep track, but usually it's a 2 to 3 hour cook time IIRC.

                                                                              Constant 250 F and a probe thermometer. I's done when its done.
                                                                              Doesn't get any easier.

                                                                              1. re: jjjrfoodie
                                                                                Hank Hanover Jul 2, 2012 01:45 PM

                                                                                I'm not going to wrap bacon around it. I suspect it would impair the smoke. I have heard of people putting ground bacon inside a meatloaf. I probably won't do that either.

                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                  Njchicaa Jul 2, 2012 03:19 PM

                                                                                  I've done baked meatloaf wrapped in bacon a couple of times and I just didn't enjoy the flavor that it added... and I LOVE bacon.

                                                                                  That being said, I've done meatballs wrapped in bacon and then smoked and everyone (including me) loved them. Go figure.

                                                                              2. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                Njchicaa Jul 2, 2012 07:47 AM

                                                                                I love smoked meatloaf. It really is outstanding.

                                                                              3. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                                Davwud Jul 2, 2012 07:34 AM

                                                                                Do a lot of homework on a brisket. Unlike a whole chicken or pork butt, you can't just buy a brisket, put it out there and get excellent results.

                                                                                If you can, get one that hasn't been trimmed and do it yourself. You need plenty of fat and most briskets you'll find in the meat case have all the fat trimmed off. So talk to a butcher and get what's known as a "Packer." It's still in it's cryo pack that the butcher gets from the distributor. Or at least one that has plenty of fat on it.

                                                                                I lept into brisket and got very, very average results. I realized the second time that there wasn't enough fat. The second time I put bacon on top and it was better but the bacon was far and away the best part.

                                                                                Two summers ago I did a bunch of research and came up with a method that produced spectacular results. I'll post it later.

                                                                                A couple other suggestions for you.
                                                                                First, if you can get out of the city to some fruit farms, you can buy logs. I love apple but cherry is quite good too. You'll have to break them down into manageable chunks so a chain saw, axe and mallet are very useful to required.
                                                                                Secondly, focus on time and temp management. Learn who to control those and the results will follow.
                                                                                Thirdly, don't be afraid to experiment. If you're smoking stuff, add some jalapenos, or garlic, or salt. Start putting some other things on there and see what you like. I love smoked garlic.

                                                                                You have lots of enjoyment ahead of you.


                                                                                1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                                  Njchicaa Jul 2, 2012 07:46 AM

                                                                                  I've tried brisket twice and it was as tough as shoe leather both times. Never again.

                                                                                  1. re: Njchicaa
                                                                                    Davwud Jul 2, 2012 07:56 AM

                                                                                    Don't give up. It's worth nailing it.


                                                                                    1. re: Njchicaa
                                                                                      sbp Jul 2, 2012 08:06 AM

                                                                                      Tough as leather means not cooked long enough. If you overcook, it will be dry, but not tough. Brisket timing is tricky, because 2 pieces of meat, same weight, won't necessarily be cooked within hours of each other.

                                                                                      I know the experts say it's not necessary, but you really need a good remote thermometer. Brisket will reach a mid-range temp (under 180), then stall for a really long time. It won't be anywhere near tender, but it will look like it's not going anywhere. Then it will suddenly start heating up again.

                                                                                      I cook low and slow until it reaches 205. Others remove it a bit earlier, then wrap in foil (I like the bark crunchier). Others cook on high heat. Either way, Patience.

                                                                            2. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                              bagofwater Jul 2, 2012 07:13 AM

                                                                              Looks like you nailed it! I'm cooking some butts tonight for a potluck at work tomorrow. I hope they turn out as well as yours.

                                                                              1. re: bagofwater
                                                                                encoretraiteur Jul 2, 2012 07:42 AM

                                                                                thanks everyone for all your help and tips! i lool forward to hearing your method for brisket later Davwud!! bagof water, i am sure your butts will be fantastic!!and hankhanover, i adore meatloaf, but unfortuantely the 3 babies i have in this house(did i mention that one is 42?)do not...whats a girl to do???and dont say make a meatloaf that i can eat all by myself because i am such a carnivore, that i would do it....working in the food industry leads to some craziness, and lets just say i have eaten a 20 oz rib steak, rare, at 9 am for breakfast before...so present me with an entire meatloaf, and god only knows what i would do lol!!

                                                                                1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                                  Davwud Jul 2, 2012 07:47 AM

                                                                                  Try a smoked meatloaf. Perhaps your 3 "Kids" will like it better. If they don't, meatloaf will freeze well and you can portion it out and eat some as you want.


                                                                                  1. re: Davwud
                                                                                    porker Jul 2, 2012 07:55 AM

                                                                                    or left-over, sliced and pan fried for breakfast.

                                                                                  2. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                                    1POINT21GW Jul 2, 2012 11:12 AM

                                                                                    I'm going to run a little counter to other posters and say that brisket is not that hard to do . . . if you use a successful method. I do the high heat method and have never turned out even a mediocre brisket. It is a winning method and, ironically, it's a relatively easy method. It works with USDA Choice or Select Grade whole brisket (smoke whole briskets, also known as "packers", rather than just the flat). Before that it was hit or miss, but the high heat method wins all the way around with me. It's consistently successful and it has the brisket done in less than half the time of the conventional method of low and slow. We won first place in brisket in the last competition using the high heat method.

                                                                                    Please don't let brisket intimidate you. It's not that big of a deal.

                                                                                    The biggest thing you'll need to make sure you can do (and this applies to any food you want to smoke, not just brisket) is control your air temperature. Once you can consistently do this, you're ready for brisket.

                                                                                    1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                                                                      encoretraiteur Jul 2, 2012 02:48 PM

                                                                                      yay!!thanks for that!!

                                                                              2. sbp Jul 2, 2012 08:07 AM

                                                                                Also good, quick and easy: smoked chicken livers. smoked almonds.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: sbp
                                                                                  1POINT21GW Jul 2, 2012 11:13 AM

                                                                                  You're right, chicken livers skewered on fresh rosemary sprigs and smoked are fantastic.

                                                                                2. e
                                                                                  encoretraiteur Jul 8, 2012 12:17 PM

                                                                                  well i smoked a loin on Friday....the taste was fantastic! Really having a hard time controlling the charcoal and temperature though...it cooked too quickly....

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                                    1POINT21GW Jul 8, 2012 01:17 PM

                                                                                    Sounds like the smoker's not airtight enough and possibly isn't designed well enough.

                                                                                    Since it sounds like you're really getting into smoking, you may want to consider eventually getting a 22 1/2" Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. It is an outstanding smoker at a very good price.

                                                                                    If you decide to go this route the best deal to be found is getting it from Home Depot or Lowes and using a 10% off coupon found in mover's packs at the post office.

                                                                                    1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                                      porker Jul 8, 2012 06:38 PM

                                                                                      This is kinda what everyone is hinting at when talking about experience. It takes awhile to get to know your equipment; how much charcoal to start with (it'll be different with briquettes or lump), how to set your dampers (which you have to adjust periodically as the charcoal goes down and when adding), when to add more fuel, how wood chips affect temp, how weather affects the whole process, etc etc etc.

                                                                                      Its also different from smoker to smoker.

                                                                                      I ran a commercial kitchen for awhile and had a charcoal chicken rotisserie, equivalent to the Chalet BBQ. It was half art, half science to crank out a consistent product; it ain't turning the temp knob and setting a timer. Its also what makes things interesting, no?

                                                                                      1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                                        jjjrfoodie Jul 9, 2012 07:20 AM

                                                                                        As porker points out Jennifer, it's really a "seat of the pants" experience due to temp, meat, etc. every time you smoke.


                                                                                        It's just small adjustments to things that give you that 'A-ha" moment of how things work.

                                                                                        That's also why i have at least one elec. smoker on hand as that is as close to set-it-and-forget-it aside from adding chunks of smoking wood that you can get.

                                                                                        Smoking is not easy nor should it be daunting. it's an art.

                                                                                        Much like a carpenter knows his hammer or a race car driver knows his car, you need to get to know your smoker. I cook for friends often and it's a learning curve when I use someone else's oven or cooktop, especially if swapping between elec. and gas.

                                                                                        I too agree go WSM smoker if not already.

                                                                                        A smoker is a kitchen tool. Ya just gotta learn to use it and then perfect your skills using it .
                                                                                        You're smarter and have more patience than that smoker. I think we both know that.


                                                                                      2. e
                                                                                        encoretraiteur Jul 26, 2012 04:36 PM

                                                                                        Just wanted to update! I recently went to Dallas, where I went to go eat at the Pecan Lodge...listed as the best bbq in texas, and featured on DDD. I was floored! I had the triple meat combo with a side of mac and cheese...it was truly a remarkable experience, and its fair to say that I am hooked! I introduced myself to the owner, and I will be communicating with her so that I can blog about my experience....

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                                          bagofwater Jul 27, 2012 01:47 PM

                                                                                          Wow, thanks for the report! That is some fine looking brisket in the first picture. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

                                                                                          1. re: bagofwater
                                                                                            ThanksVille Jul 27, 2012 11:46 PM

                                                                                            We focus so much on the holy duo of great smoked pork and transcendent brisket that I sometimes forget what a treat it is to smoke a salmon or shellfish or chicken. Recently enjoyed all three for some family dinners.

                                                                                            Salmon was a large 5 lb fillet; fresh sea run Atlantic variety . Rubbed with lemons, a bit of dizzy dust tsunami rub, draped with a few thick slices of bacon and hot smoked at 300 degrees indirect heat using a couple small peach logs. Cooked until the center firmed and stopped jiggling when shaking the cooking tray about 40 minutes Off heat removed the bacon, crumbled it and mixed with fresh minced dill, atomized shallot and juice of a lemon. Tented with foil long enough to get people seated and the result was impressive.

                                                                                            While the salmon was cooking we hot smoked skewers of large shrimp, peeled, deveined then brined in ice cold salt water with maple syrup. Cook time was about 10 minutes when the peach wood chunks were putting out a fair bit of smoke. A great appetizer with some nice cold Rieslings.

                                                                                            Finally got around to trying Myron Mixon's recipe for smoked, cupcake chicken following his technique with chicken thighs. Cut off the bone joints so each thigh could be tucked into a high temp muffin tin. Rubbed each thigh with his Jack's old south honey rub and indirect smoked with apple wood over a pan of apple cider at 300 degrees skin sidedown for an hour. Rotated them in the tin to skin side up, added a bit more rub and a second knob of applewood. 30 minutes later removed from the tins, brushed with a mustard vinegar BBQ sauce back on for, 15 minutes to carmelize the exterior. Beautiful mahogany color. Seasoned throughout, smoked throughout, tang on the skin, still incredibly moist; had me promising to do a lot more chicken like this.

                                                                                            1. re: ThanksVille
                                                                                              jjjrfoodie Jul 28, 2012 07:18 AM

                                                                                              "Salmon was a large 5 lb fillet; fresh sea run Atlantic variety . Rubbed with lemons, a bit of dizzy dust tsunami rub, draped with a few thick slices of bacon and hot smoked at 300 degrees indirect heat using a couple small peach logs. Cooked until the center firmed and stopped jiggling when shaking the cooking tray about 40 minutes Off heat removed the bacon, crumbled it and mixed with fresh minced dill, atomized shallot and juice of a lemon. Tented with foil long enough to get people seated and the result was impressive."


                                                                                              Thanksville, I'm hard pressed to believe that your "bacon" was crisp enough to "crumble" unless you precooked it after only 40 minutes on top of a 5lb salmon fillet.

                                                                                              Care to elaborate?

                                                                                              I've hot and cold smoked salmon ad nauseum with delicious results but I leave the bacon for my smoked meatloafs. And even then , if smoked at 300 or below, the bacon does not get crisp even when the meatloaf is smoked/cooked to a 165F internal temp.

                                                                                              1. re: jjjrfoodie
                                                                                                Davwud Jul 28, 2012 07:41 AM

                                                                                                Agreed. I put bacon on top of a brisket and smoked it for hours and it wasn't crisp at all.


                                                                                        2. v
                                                                                          VitalForce Jul 28, 2012 06:06 AM

                                                                                          Re-chunks of wood for smoking in eastern Canada, perhaps maple, birch, and ash would be the easiest to come across cheaply or for free—oak and hickory being less common, unless bought in small packages in stores. There may be a lighter taste, but it would be cooking local.

                                                                                          I’ve read of people using dried corncobs instead of wood for smoking, which is an interesting idea. Being corn season, has anyone ever tried that?

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: VitalForce
                                                                                            evansp60 Aug 15, 2012 07:17 PM

                                                                                            Burn the cobs on their own first to see what the smoke is like.
                                                                                            Hardwoods burn cleaner than softwoods (less resin). If the
                                                                                            Cobs burn with a thick dark smoke dont put them near food.

                                                                                          2. e
                                                                                            encoretraiteur Aug 15, 2012 01:56 PM

                                                                                            here are some recent smoking efforts! ribs and pork loin...

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: encoretraiteur
                                                                                              1POINT21GW Aug 15, 2012 06:55 PM

                                                                                              Looks good - especially the ribs.

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