When you start your BBQ, I would prefer to start a batch of charcoal in a "chimney". This will give you a nice bed of coals to start with, and not give a fuel taste to your meats. I will use a little firestarter block made of sawdust and bees wax, available at any BBQ supply store.
When the coals are going nicely in the firebox of your smoker, add some of your favorite smoking woods. I like to use split wood about inch and a half to 2 inch diameter. These I will put in dry, so that it burns instead of smoldering. About every 30 minutes or so, add a piece or two, depending on the size of your firebox. if you add too big a piece, or too much, it will smolder and put creosote in the smoke. This adds a biter flavor to your meat. By the end of your cook, there should be barely any smoke visible.
> Oak... Produces a good base of coals, and a little flavor. I like to use
a white oak for a cleaner smoke.
> Hickory...Adds a lot of smoke flavor, but it is a strong flavor.
> Pecan.....Much less of a strong flavor, my favorite.
>Fruit woods...Adds a nice flavor to your meats. Soak wood chips in water
for at least 1 hour before placing on coals.
> Lump charcoal...I find that if you use a hardwood lump charcoal, it will
help to stabalize the temp. to prevent huge temperature swings.
If you use a gas grill and use a steel box to place the wood chips in. These I will soak in apple juice for a couple of hours.
When you dampen the fire, you should pay careful detail to how you do this. Always dampen the outlet side of the cooker to help keep the heat in. Adjust your oxygen inlet at the firebox to control your temps. Still getting too hot? Build a smaller bed of coals. It takes awhile to get adjusted to how each cooker works.
I tend to add more fuel about every 45 minutes or so as needed.
And most important of all, plan to mop with a mop sauce every 30 to 45 minutes to help keep the meat moist and add flavor. Plan each opening of the cooker to keep open time to a minimum. Showoff time is at the plate, not in the cooker, cause if yer lookin, ya ain't cookin.
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