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This might have been better posted in the "Humor" forum, but I thought you experienced cooks might get a chuckle from my ignorance.

Two years ago this past fall I was doing some cleaning (throwing out the junk) on the old chicken house/storage facility before tearing it down, when I came across my dad's old smoker. It had been purchased but never used. I had the wonderful idea that I'd clean it up and use it to smoke a turkey for the upcoming Thanksgiving. The instructions had long since been turned into a nice warm house for a family of mice, so were completly useless to me. I gave this no real concern, because I was internet capable. HA! 4-5 different searches neted me the same thing...We'll be happy to sell you a cookbook, but there's nothing for free! Ok, this can't be that big of a deal, I'm not unintelligent, and man has been smoking his food for a million years, this can't be that hard.
However, having always been a skeptic, we bought TWO turkeys that year, that way if things don't work just right, the parents, kids and grandkids can still have thanksgiving dinner if we go ahead and bake one the traditional way.
Ok, the plackard on the smoker says it is a "charcoal and water" smoker, I peek inside, and find two racks and a pan. This is simple! Top rack, turkey, lower rack, hummm, ok I got it! Pan of water!! Adds steam, prevents fats from dripping on the flame and causing flare-ups, and keeps heat indirect so that it's not grilled. See, I told you this was simple!! Ok! Lets, see, at 400 degrees, it takes 20 minutes a pound so for a 15lb turkey thats 5 hours, ok, at 180-200 it should take a little more than twice that, I'll give myself 12 hours, and expect it to take a little less.
Early the morning before Thanksgiving, I get my charcoal going, water in an old dutch oven and the turkey on the rack. I start waiting for the thermometer to start rising to the "ideal" setting. I wait some more. After two hours and a bag of charcoal, the hood is still cold!
I will NOT be out done by something this simple!!! I grab the chainsaw and ax and head for the oak and hickory trees that had blown over in a storm the previous spring, cut and split a BIG box of pieces 6-8 inches long. I get back and pull out the pan of stupid charcoal that won't get hot and start a REAL fire, let it burn down to coals and put the pan back in the smoker, and sure enough, here comes the heat and smoke. Hot dang, we're in business now!!
I spent the day with my box of wood, waterhose, sixpack and an unread copy of field and stream. Could life get any better than this!!?? I smoked and stoked till about 10pm, and I just couldn't take it any more, I had to peak, it should be almost done, if not completely.
Even by the dim yellow bug light on the carport, I could see that this bird was blacker than a coalminers' butt traped in shaft number four!!! Huh!? I had been really careful with that thermometer!!!! It NEVER went higher than a short climb into the "hot" after I added wood and the waterhose insured that those excursions were brief! A wet finger on the bird to the tip of my tongue- YUCK!!
BITTER!!!!
CREOSOTE!!!!!
DEB!!!!!!! Get the other turkey cooking!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, that was my arogant experience with smoking turkeys.
Early Thanksgiving day I'm cleaning up my mess on the carport and on my way to see if the dogs will even eat this bird, it sliped, I caught it (saved that greasy mess!). When I caught it, I broke the skin.
HEY!!
Wait a minute!!
Shades of rosey red and pink under that charred mess!
I sat my turkey down and pinched a piece of that rosey meat. THANK YOU LORD! You've blessed me already this day! I had never tasted anything as good before!!!
Apparantly, neither had the rest of my family, it was the first time we had ever completly cleaned a bird at one meal. We had to break out the reserve bird for dinner. Talk about leftovers! The baked bird was barely touched! (and Deb had done a good job with it!)
Have "burned" four more since and they were just as good but now I guess it's time to learn how to do it correctly.

So, any of you know how it's suppose to be done, I'm ready to learn.



Butler Ford
 

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Wal yeah actually I do. Now I am by no means a cook having been married since age 20 to the same woman who cooks all the meals including breakfast on mornings I go hunting. BUT all outside cooking on either smoker or grill is my job.

So first off I need a wee bit of info on just what kind of smoker you have and what components of it you have. The most common is made by Brinkman. If it is round and has the two grills it is almost for sure made by them. Some come in two and some in more pieces for the main structure. The very top of the line is called the Gourmet Smoker. It has a bottom section with feet. Not to worry if they've rusted off use bricks or rocks. NOT WOOD tho. Inside of that bottom section is where the fire pan sits and here is what makes this the best of them. The fire pan has a hole in the middle of it. Does yours have this hole? If not make one about 1/2" diameter is plenty. Don't go over 1". Don't care what ya use just get a hole in that fire pan bottom. This allows the fire to draw air essential to burn that charcoal.

Next section is the main section. It will be the largest piece of sheet metal in the crowd. It should have three sets of braces to hold the racks and water pan. There is a special water pan that came with it. If you don't have it I'd contact Brinkman for one. They are online and even have a tool free phone number and seel every thing for all of their cookers. Just above this sits the lower rack and on some models this rack just lays on the water pan. Some have a separate bracketts for it. Then up near the top is the bracketts for the upper rack. Now add a top and it is all complete.

So to smoke meat you fill the fire pan full of charcoal and heap it in the middle. Just make sure you have room for fire pan without it touching the charcoal. Now take some charcoal ligher fluid and squirt it real good on the middle of the pile of charcoal ONLY. Not on all of it like in grilling. Let it set for 20-30 minutes. Yeah if you just can't wait 15 might do OK. Light it up and let it burn down. If needed an old hair dryer blown into it really fires up that charcoal. Careful you can melt the bottom out of the pan. It do get hot with that air blowing. Usually this shouldn't be needed IF you have that air hole in the bottom I mentioned earlier.

Now let it get burning good so it is so hot you don't wanna leave your hand above it at top of cooker. If possible and it is with the Gorumet but not with all smokers. Take off the center section and insert the water pan with a little water. Not a lot a little and put in the lower rack if you are gonna use it. Set it back on the loer unit with fire. If you have the type that is all one piece it complicates matters a bit as you have to have the water pan and lower rack in place much sooner or it is too hot to reach in and set them in place. Put meat on and set back and cool your heels for about 5-6 hours. Check on water pan level (you did fill it before you put in the meat right?) If low refill. Check on charcoal at about 4-5 hours. Check meat then also. With charcoal used like this it won't blacken the outside like the wood does.

I now have a huge brinkman with separate fire box on side and it uses wood and it is almost impossible to cook it just right without the blackening you mention on outside. If wood is real dry and I'm real careful I can. If not peel away that and enjoy the best smoked meat you ever had.

More questions? Just ask. Tell me more of what your smoker looks like and what you have or don't and I can maybe help more to figure what is needed and where to get it.

GB
 

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Discussion Starter #3
GB, Howdy! and Thanks

What I have is a MECO water and charcoal. Its about 3 1/2 fet tall, 20 inches around and except for the hood, 1 piece. With the hood removed, I have one grid on top. about a foot down a second grid. In the bottom there is a pan about the size of an old wash basin for the charcoal. The smoker is on legs that are about 6" high. on the lower side, near the charcoal ban there is a vertically stacked double sliding door. When the coal pan is installed, the bottom of the pan is about 3-4 inches off of the ground. The pan is solid, no holes. The hood has a thermometer of sorts, it just indicates, Cold-Ideal_Hot. I just could not get the charcoal to get things hot enough, and I had plenty of coals that had burned off the flame and should have been just right for cooking.


Butler Ford
 

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Pretty close to the design of the first two of them I had. Without that hole in the bottom of that fire pan the charcoal just doesn't get enough air to burn properly. Figure you out a way to cut a hole in that fire pan and you'll see a world of difference in the way it cooks. The Gourmet is about $40 or so and is the absolute best I've ever used for smoking meat. Having that center section that will set off the fire allows you freedom to work with the fire and then to set your pans and racks in it before you set it back on the fire rather than fighting the heat to get them placed like you have to on yours. They will work but work much better with the hole in the middle of the bottom of the fire pan.


GB
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, GB.

Do you think .458" would be close enough for an draught hole? :grin:

Here's wishing you and yours MERRY CHRISTMAS!



Butler Ford
 

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I tried all those different smokers, or watched some one else try them.
we have one at work that works well but it is mounted on a 2 wheel trailer
and will hold about 1/2 a beef. Several years ago i broke down and bought
an electric smoker, this was after answering all the questions about my
manhood, i bought it any way. Best thing i ever did, first was a OLE SMOKY
i now have a brinkman (i think) made exactly like the ones described above
except instead under the fire pan it has an electric heating element.
I put in my favorite wood, water, 15-18lb turkey about 10pm set the heat to
medium, lock her up air tight, go to bed and get up about 6-7am thanksging
day and their it is smoked turkey. I know it is not the MANLY cooking
show BUT it is smoked turkey.
 

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Wow is this ever an oldie, I had completely forgotten about it until Rex brought it back to the top. So Bill how did it work out after ya made a hole in the bottom of the fire pan?
 
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