Barbecue is slow cooking over indirect heat with seasoning rubs and wood smoke to add flavoring to the food.
Very long, typically measured in hours. However good smoke flavor can be developed in a matter of minutes, and foods can be finished sous-vide, on the grill, or in the oven.
Very low, somewhere around 225°F.
I use the Weber Smokey Mountain 14½ inch smoker. It's a charcoal fired smoker - small, fits neatly on my patio. It can cook enough for all my family needs. It has a water pan that helps to add moisture and control the internal heat. There are two racks inside the smoker; the lower rack is slightly smaller than the upper.
The cooking process benefits from a water pan cover. Line the cover with foil to catch the delicious drippings and to make cleanup easier.
Supplies and Accessories?
Aluminum foil to line the water pan cover
A watering can to put water into the water bowl
Good charcoal (sometimes on sale at Costco)
A chimney starter for the charcoal
U-Haul packing paper (blank newsprint) for igniting charcoal in the chimney
A lighter to fire it up
A coal hod to hold the spent coal ash after cooking
Heatproof food-grade BBQ gloves
A great source for wood chunks (use chunks; avoid chips)
Where to go when something wears out
I have never needed any accessory thermometers or temperature controllers, but they are very popular. The FB groups have good information, as does Meathead Goldwyn. My personal recommendation is to try the smoker "right out of the box" just the way it was designed and built before you start adding accessories. Then add the water pan cover. Then consider whether you might want other accessories.
Ideas and Learning Resources
My wood preferences include alder for fish, post oak for beef, pecan for everything else. I also like hickory, cherry, and apple.
There are endless arrays of dry rubs. Experiment and enjoy the journey! After years of experimentation I've come back to salt, ground black pepper, and granulated garlic as my favorite rub ingredients. BBQ aficionados call this "SPG." We use less salt than some might like; we like a ratio of 2:8:1 S:P:G.
Like rubs, there are as many sauces as you can imagine. The differences are usually regional - contrast Carolina BBQ and Memphis BBQ. I never put sauce onto meats in the smoker, simply because we prefer to serve it on the side.
Pork shoulder (called "butt") makes great pulled pork. Plan on using 12 ounces of raw butt per sandwich because it will cook down to 6~7 ounces. Whole Foods Market often has small boneless pork butts. Try putting the pork butt on the top rack and a pan of mac-n-cheese on the bottom rack.
Experiment with pork sausages. Try bratwurst, and hot or sweet Italian. Smoke some breakfast sausage links. Smoke some meatballs for spaghetti sauce.
Smoke some baby back ribs. You may never go back to a restaurant again!
Smoke some raw, uncured pork belly. Add the smoked belly chunks to slow-cooked baked beans.
Smoke an uncured ham for soup, beans, salad, or sandwiches.
Try smoking chicken or turkey for about an hour, then finishing it in the 450°F oven to an internal temperature of 155°F. The skin will crisp up nicely and the meat will be juicy, tender, and delicious.
Go beyond beef brisket. Short-smoke a tri-tip to 130°F, then finish it on a searing hot grill. Slice it thin for French dip sandwiches.
Short-smoke lamb shanks, then braise them. Smoke lamb chops or rack of lamb.
Smoke some sliced eggplant, and let that be your inspiration for smoking other vegetables.
An engaging and indispensable book: Franklin BBQ
What to tell the butcher when you want Dinosaur Ribs? Ask for IMPS/NAMP 124.
FB group for the WSM
An Aggie Education with links to several good web sites
Smoking can play well with sous-vide. A pork butt, cooked sous-vide at 160°F for 24 hours, releases a lot of liquid. This liquid is captured in the sous-vide bag. You can boil down the reserved liquid to reduce it by half. Rub the cooked pork butt and short-smoke it just long enough to make the bark, about 2 hours. When you pull the pork, add back some or all of the reserved liquid and you'll have amazingly juicy and flavorful pork!
Smoked sausages are a heavenly thing. Smoke your favorite sausages just until they develop a bit of smoky color, then vacuum-seal and cook the sausages sous-vide. After cooking, plunge the sous-vide bags into an ice water bath and chill until the sausages are icy cold. The sausages can be refrigerated for weeks! When you're ready to serve, blister the sausages on a searing hot grill for a minute or two. The result is smoky, juicy, delicious.
I'm Ray Paseur, an occasional chef
p: 703.346.0600 (message OK)
Here is a pulled-pig sandwich