Hi there, new boy here!

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Hi there, new boy here!

Post  Lozart on Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:48 am

Having been a fan of meat based dining for many a year and been tempted by smoking my will was finally cemented when I went to Disney World and had a smoked turkey leg. Oh. My. God. Clearly I have been missing out so I went home and bought a water smoker. Now granted it isn't a ProQ (figured I'd see if I could get it to work in theory before dropping the readies on an E20!) but it is basically a copy of an Amigo.

Did a bit of reading up and bought some coconut briquettes, a starter chimney and a meat thermometer.

The turkey leg (singular - came with the thigh though weighing in at just under 4lbs) was bought and brined for 4 hours.

A full starter of charcoal was lit (my first mistake it would seem) and reverenty dumped into the bottom dish of the smoker. Waited for the thermometer in the lid to read 230F ish and then in with the water bowl (filled from the kettle) and a foil pack of soaked Applewood chips. Meat went in the top and I sat back to absorb the wonderful aromas and anticipate the joy of meat.

The reading I had done suggested that at 220-240F the leg should be ready in about 2 1/2 hours. However, once the meat and water bowl had gone in the temperature guage resolutely refused to go back above 120F. We tried adding more coal in the form of a lit stack of weber briquettes (which resulted in the water bowl gong everywhere - lesson learned) we fiddled with the top vent (open, closed, halfway none of which seemd to make any difference) and still the temperature wouldn't budge.

To hell with it. I'm sticking the damn thing in the oven says I, but the wife is made of sterner stuff! She wanted to persevere as the temperature of the meat seemed to be gradually climbing........

Once the water boiled away the temperature started to climb in the meat quite rapidly, the guage in the lid however stayed sulking at the wrong end of the scale - we think it has either gone on strike or suffered a fatal wound in the various stages of messing about with a hot smoker.

FINALLY about 5 hours after the whole debacle started the meat thermometer said that the leg had reached the requisite 75F to prevent death by turkey so out it came. It rested. I salivated. There was an amount of soot involved that was never going to stop me. The skin wasn't exactly crisp but it had taken on a golden hue that was positively stunning and the meaty end had that beautiful deep pink look of a well smoked leg.

It was....well......fantastic. Wonderfully moist and succulent, perfect smoky flavour. The thigh got refrigerated and sliced up to serve three people the next day and was even more amazing. I am officially hooked.

So...to the questions:
As the smoker has no bottom vent (only the annular gap around the charcoal bowl) does the top vent still need to be fully open to get up to temperature?

Did the use of all lit charcoal actually hold me back? (to be fair it was still warm enough to cook on in the middle of the next day so longevity doesn't seem to be a problem)

Should I keep the whole thing assembled and add the water through the door rather than fill the bowl, take the stack apart and then drop the bowl in?

Thanks for your time and advice guys.........next target is a small brisket for my annual birthday BBQ at the end of May. No more sausages and manky burgers for me!
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Lozart
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Re: Hi there, new boy here!

Post  Mack on Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:25 pm

So...to the questions:
As the smoker has no bottom vent (only the annular gap around the charcoal bowl) does the top vent still need to be fully open to get up to temperature?
The top vent should be fully open when the cooker is in use. I assume the charcoal bowl doesn't have a small grate that lifts the charcoal up slightly, this will affect air flow around the charcoal and cause the cooker to run colder. Also sounds like the temp guage isn't working.
Did the use of all lit charcoal actually hold me back? (to be fair it was still warm enough to cook on in the middle of the next day so longevity doesn't seem to be a problem)
No, using unlit charcoal, just extends the total time you can cook for.
Should I keep the whole thing assembled and add the water through the door rather than fill the bowl, take the stack apart and then drop the bowl in?
Add the water while you are waiting for the fire to settle, then put the cooking grill, food and lid on.
Thanks for your time and advice guys.........next target is a small brisket for my annual birthday BBQ at the end of May. No more sausages and manky burgers for me!
Don't forget to post some pictures of the event and food!
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Re: Hi there, new boy here!

Post  Lozart on Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:09 pm

Hey Mack, thanks for the advice!
The charcoal bowl does indeed have a little grate in the bottom, but the amount of charcoal it was loaded with came right out over the top of it. I guess the grate is just to allow some extra airflow into the heart of the fuel?
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Re: Hi there, new boy here!

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