My Quest to be a Backyard Pit Master

It has begun!

The world of smoked meats has called. I have answered.

I'm definitely in the class of 'brutal amateur' smoker, however I must say that I'm pretty pumped on all the food I've pumped out thus far.

My wife picked me up a smoker for father's day (even though my child is still technically a fetus) and it took me a few months to get it going. Here's the story.

The Smoker!

I got a vertical 2 door smoker from Canadian Tire on a killer deal. Check it out here.

Unfortunately, that deal meant that some serious modifications had to be done in order to get it up and running. Firstly - this thing does not work out of the box. Seriously. I think I get 3 hits a day but if you're one of them and you're using this as advice to get a smoker I don't want any rage comments. This does not ... NOT ... work out of the box.
Since I'm pretty well diagnosed obsessive compulsive, I had to test run the unit before I put any meat in it. I hooked up my iGrill2 with an ambient probe and proceeded to heat the thing up.
On Low.
To 400 degrees F
... Shit

The chip tray design on this thing is liquid garbage. For some reason the 1" gap between bottom of the plate and propane fueled fire was an engineering masterpiece, and for the coup de grace they decided 'AIR FLOW!' yes. Holes in the chip plate 1" from fire exposing wood... to fire ... directly ... lead to many a 'wtfux' moments in my first attempt at running. Which (believe it or not) burning wood leads to BIG FLAMES and BIG HEAT.

After crafting up some pretty high tech aluminum foil guards to keep fire from touching wood (an impressive feat of engineering if I do say so myself) I tried again. The omission of uncontrolled fire did help keep the temperature under control -- but not that well. I was able to keep the heat within a range of 350 - 375 degrees F. Still not sweet. So after combing some forums I found that there is a known problem with the regulator and huzzah, It had to be replaced. Here's all the random things I had to do to get this thing up and running properly:

  • Replace the regulator. The help line gave me literally 0 problems when I called to get it replaced. They asked for the model number, serial number, and a pic of my receipt or smoker. They sent the piece ASAP. This helped with phase 1 of the temperature control problem
  • Make a fairly thick lining in the wood chip tray to keep the heat source from lighting the chips on fire
  • I also attempted to use a cast iron skillet on top of the tray, but after my over filled propane tank hit an acceptable level of pressure, there was no smoke to be had, so I defaulted back to the aluminum foil tray
  • Wind control - This thing is pretty open to the air and seemingly on purpose. If there is a breeze though the chips heat up really fast (air + fire, who would have thought) and again chaotic flames ensue. Put up a wind block or find a fairly sheltered area of your yard to set up your smoke. I migrated mine around a few times during a brisket smoke as I frantically tried to stay in the 225 - 235 degree range.

My First Smoke

Oh yeah, the time has come. I've done all my preliminary quality checks on the smoker, ensured my temperature ranges, fine tuned my flame and smoke control, and now it's time to tackle the motherload of all meat: The Beef Brisket (:drool:)

I hit up my local butcher Real Deal Meats and got myself a 7 lb cut of a Brisket Point:
Raw Brisket Point

I injected it with some beef broth, slathered it with some Yellow Mustard (French's because O Canada!) and a super secret home made rub comprised of:
Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Cayenne, Cumin, Onion Salt, Garlic, Chili powder and a few other this and that's until I hit my magic ratio of deliciousness. Here's what I had to work with:
Seasoned Brikset

Now, the overnight wait

3:45 am: The Smoking Hour

It was an early am, still groggy (and drunk probably) from the previous evening, I walked outside to the warm summer air to put my slab of delicious beef into a smoke cupboard. I used a mixture of Mesquite, Alder, and Apple wood chips. Got a nice smoke base built up and pre-heated to ~ 200 degrees F.
In my groggyness, I failed to photograph this magnificent event, but I assure you few have witnessed such glory.

Now, typically this should have been a 12 hour smoke (at longest) but in my excitement I continually opened the doors to check the wood, the heat, the look, and everything else my excitement-addled mind came up with while the cook was taking place. Approximately 17 hours later, my slab of awesome was ready.
Finished Brisket

Much Bark, Much Tender, Much Delicious.

I haven't any photos of this one sliced, however my most recent venture (for my Mom's Birthday) yielded some delicious results:

The Bark:

Brisket 2 Bark

The Cuts:

Brisket 2 Cut

Go out and Smoke some Meat friends.
After this season, I'm well on my way to becoming a fat pitmaster!