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Virgin smoker. Big or Small?

TailkillaTailkilla Posts: 202 Officer
I am new to the smoking world. Picked up a small Brinksman smoker at homedepot for 39.99. yesterday was my first attempt to smoke something. Made wings,whole chicken and 2 spanish macs.
Chicken came out good. I didnt like the fish though. Too soft.
Just have some questions..

Big chips or small?
Do you soak your chips?
Do you add charcoal as you go or is it just chips?
how do you know when something is finished smoking?
Any help would be great!

Replies

  • nuclearfishnnuclearfishn Posts: 8,356 Admiral
    We need a smoking forum.
  • gandrfabgandrfab Posts: 21,685 AG
    Some great cooks and smokers here.
    Dig around here http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/index.php
    It's a forum dedicated to smoking food.
  • Capt'n. ChumbucketCapt'n. Chumbucket Posts: 1,366 Officer
    Boy this is gonna open up the dam to flow a river of opinons.
    Specializing in poor life choices since 1954.
  • HomerSimpsonHomerSimpson Posts: 6,573 Admiral
    not to be a jerk here, but the smoker you got is not a very good smoker. I use a UDS (ugly drum smoker built from 55 gallon drum) I use charcoal when I can't get Royal Oak lump coal

    Ribs: couple hours at around 250. Done when you pick up one end and the ribs bend to form an "L" shape
    Butts: 12 hours at 220. Done when you can pull the bone out easily
    Brisket: 12 hours or more

    Chicken breasts: I do about 1 hour at 275 put them in a tray of butter.
  • pupraiserpupraiser Posts: 10,261 AG
    not to be a jerk here, but the smoker you got is not a very good smoker.

    What exactly is wrong with it?
  • HomerSimpsonHomerSimpson Posts: 6,573 Admiral
    small, not very well insulated, not sealed very well
  • pupraiserpupraiser Posts: 10,261 AG
    small, not very well insulated, not sealed very well

    It's a poor cobbler who blames his tools.
    :)
  • HomerSimpsonHomerSimpson Posts: 6,573 Admiral
    pupraiser wrote: »

    It's a poor cobbler who blames his tools.
    :)

    so whats your excuse, she just can't be satsified? :grin
  • FlashFlash Posts: 11,215 AG
    Big chips or small?..................no chips, chunks
    Do you soak your chips?............not necessary, but if using chips....yes
    Do you add charcoal as you go or is it just chips? ...........what are you smoking? Depending on time til finish, you may have to add more charcoal
    how do you know when something is finished smoking? ...........when the Internal temp is met.
    Any help would be great! http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/f/

    Hopefully you put the fish ABOVE the chicken, but better yet, I would not do anything else with fish when it is smoking.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    Never seem more learned than the people you are with. Wear your learning like a pocket watch and keep it hidden. Do not pull it out to count the hours, but give the time when you are asked. --- Lord Chesterfield
  • Salty GatorSalty Gator Posts: 1,829 Captain
    It's tough to do fish with the other meats because the time is usually less and it is susceptible to picking up unwanted flavors. If it was soft, I's consider increasing your drying time after brining. It should have a shiny, almost glazed look before going in the smoker.

    Chips are OK for small pieces of fish with quick times. Chunks for everything else.

    Take notes on your successes and failures and the learning curve won't be as steep.
  • TailkillaTailkilla Posts: 202 Officer
    Ive read a couple web sites were I can modify my smoker to work better. Like drill small holes in the charcoal can, add a better thermometer,etc etc. Im going to jack up my smoker this weekend. Dieing to smoke some Wahoo but need to catch one first..lol
  • FlashFlash Posts: 11,215 AG
    Tailkilla wrote: »
    Ive read a couple web sites were I can modify my smoker to work better. Like drill small holes in the charcoal can, add a better thermometer,etc etc. Im going to jack up my smoker this weekend. Dieing to smoke some Wahoo but need to catch one first..lol

    Many things you can do. Sent you a PM. Depending on Firepan access, remove those legs.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    Never seem more learned than the people you are with. Wear your learning like a pocket watch and keep it hidden. Do not pull it out to count the hours, but give the time when you are asked. --- Lord Chesterfield
  • TriplecleanTripleclean Posts: 6,591 Officer
    All what Flash says...

    I'd like to add.
    You always need a water pan above your fire box no matter what because this adds humidity.
    You never want to have a fire in a fire box while smoking, only smoldering smoke.(bad flavors and toxic stuff)
    Your food to be smoked needs to be dry on it surface, this aids pectins and smoke rings.
    You want to through alot of smoke on the food first and let the heat cook is at the end because a little smoke is better than too much.
    Brining is over rated for salts sake because most turkey, pork, chicken already has brined, but it can add flavor, think maranating in coke.
    Cheese cloth is your friend. wrap birds up in it and something magic happens.
    remember 20 mins is a lot of smoke for fish and 1 hour chx, 2 hour beef and pork..... Guys will tell you they smoke for hours but they be mostly cooking, you can always smoke and finish in the oven.

    Have fun and love life, and smoking foods is all part of it.
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