Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
He returns all questions . . . . . . .
Topic: I recently purchased a Pitts & Spitt's smoker . . . .
Subject: Re: Firing up and maintaining heat
I sure enjoy your web sight. For a frustrated backyard cook who is constantly looking for the perfect grill, I recently purchased a Pitts & Spitt's smoker and had that thing delivered on a tow truck to my house. I think I am on to something with this contraption - it does some great things with a piece of meat; however I have a lot to learn.
I notice in your articles that you too own and operate a Pitts & Spitt's smoker. My Questions - 1. Can you give me some tips on the correct way to fire up this thing and to maintain a constant temperature once I have it hot. 2. Can you give me some ideas on how to use the big smoker box on the end.
For this I will be forever grateful. I look forward to your response.
You have yourself a real entertainment center.
As to firing up: For barbecuing - long cooking periods - I like to start out with the fire box full of oak and hickory. Take out the fire box meat grate (leave it out except when broiling on it) and open the lid, and let it burn down somewhat before closing the lid and running the smoke through the cooker to warm it up. When the wood is reduced to coals, close the air vent to leave about a 1/8" opening. Temp should drop to about 215 when you place the meat on.
As to keeping it going: With the firebox full of good coals and the air intake controlled as above, it ought to maintain the temp. for 3-4 hours. You may need to adjust the air vent for more or less air to maintain the 200-225 degree range. About 30 minutes before you need to replenish the coals, start another fire in a bucket, tub or pit. When wood or charcoal is reduced to embers, using a suitable shovel, add to the fire box from the top. At some point, you may need to open fire box door and clean out some ashes. Careful, they're hot.
As to using the smoker/warmer section: I use that area for cooking sausages, chicken wings and finger foods for nibbling while the big stuff cooks on the grill. Also, when ribs, etc., get done, but I'm not ready to serve, I throw them in the smoker to keep warm.
Suggestion: I never did put water in the bottom of mine. I don't believe in steam bath method of cooking - except for veggies. I also think it is easier to maintain. After a couple of big cookings, however, clean out the grease collection in the bottom. Save it to start fires with. Smells great.