“5 Must Have Items for Your WEBER Smoker”
My 1st “Unofficial” Guest Post… My Husband. *My husband approached me probably a month ago around Thanksgiving asking me if he could write about his smoker on my blog. Naturally I said “yes” how could I say no? I’m pretty sure this post is a big “Thanks Honey you rock” type of post because I gifted him with this smoker as a birthday present a couple years back! Eventually I’d love to share more about the smoker and how it has become a “family affair.”
So You Like BBQ – Brisket, Ribs, Pork Shoulder Oh My!
In short, I didn’t “love” the smoker you can read about that here. As Brian started to learn and get better at smoking food, the meals became better (ha!). I think one time we served friends a “meteorite” bless their heart they sure ate it. Let’s put it this way, I may or may not have burped the smell of smoke. (ha – gross!) My tune has since changed. We’ve made a lot of fun recipes and served both friends and family members around our table. Zachary (my oldest) and Brian won a rib making competition at Bri’s work and most recently prepared a brisket for his holiday party.
Do you see why I called it “the meteorite”?!
This is one of Brian’s first attempts at making pulled pork. I believe this was either a pork shoulder or pork butt my husband would have to clarify. See why I tease him? Either way smothered in Sweet Baby Ray’s it was delicious(ish)…
Without further ado – here’s Brian, my husband. “The Actual Smoker Guy”
Hey guys, Brian here (Amanda’s husband). I thought I’d come on here and write up a post about BBQ and smoking meat specifically. She’s had some friends ask for more specific information on smoking meat. As all of you probably know, I won my office’s annual BBQ Cookoff… so I’m regarded as somewhat of an expert in this field (haha). Obviously, if you’re a vegan, you can probably just skip this one. If you enjoy taking your time preparing a good meat-based meal for friends and family, you need a smoker.
(From left to right – bacon wrapped pineapple mozzarella rings, atomic buffalo turds (jalapeño poppers) and smoked chicken thighs)
Smoking Meat/Vegetables & Apparently FRUIT
Smoking meat is a fun process that leaves you with some of the best tasting food you’ll ever have at the end of the day. It’s like an art project that results in delicious food. Think of how many more friends you’ll have once they find out you’re an amazing pit master! I’m kidding, but seriously, all of your friends will start begging you to bring them stuff.
(Approximately a 15lb Brisket – burnt ends)
Anyway, I got into smoking food a couple years ago. It’s an intimidating process that will likely result in a few meals that end up looking more like a meteorite than a delicious pork-shoulder. But, I guess that’s part of the fun. Last year Amanda foolishly let me smoke a Turkey for Thanksgiving… the entire house wreaked of an overpowering smoke-smell which, you guessed it, she still brings up to this day. This year, though, it was amazing.
Over the course of the year I got better at using my smoker and learned that a little bit of wood goes a long way and it’s super easy to go overboard with smoke on a delicate meat like poultry. But, I digress. The point is that it’s fun, it’s delicious, and its not too hard once you get the hang of it. It’s a great gift for anybody who likes BBQ food basically; your husband, father, brother, girlfriend or yourself?
(Left to Right – Last Year’s Turkeys versus this years… The thing you aren’t doing is SMELLING these… The smoked turkey on the right isn’t overwhelmingly smokey tasting/smelling.)
So, of course, you all came here to get my recommendations on where to get started right? I mean, I already fed my family the meteorite pork shoulder… so you shouldn’t have to.
6 Must Have Items for Your WEBER Smoker
I highly recommend the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker. Coming in at just under 300 bucks, it’s not obscenely expensive and it’s super easy to use once you figure it out. In my experience the Weber Smokey Mountain holds a consistent temp pretty easily. You’ll learn early on that it is pretty much the most important thing when it comes to smoking meat. The front “door” allows for easy access to add additional charcoal or wood chunks.
The Weber Smoker is big enough to smoke:
two whole turkeys,
a turkey and pork butt,
three racks of ribs
a pork butt and jalapeño poppers
…you get the idea. The one I linked to above is the mid-size (18-inch), but for $100 less you can get the 14-inch version, or for $100 more you can get a 22-inch version. Honestly, the 18-inch has worked out well, but part of me wishes that I just dropped the extra 100 bucks up front to buy myself a little bit of extra room. Don’t worry, Amanda doesn’t know it yet, but someday I’ll be cooking on this beauty: The KBQ. That thing can fit 4 briskets, 8 pork butts, or 12 chickens…and by the look of it probably about 9 racks of ribs. Definitely need that… someday.
Some of my grilling friends are surprised to learn that when you use a charcoal smoker, you DO NOT, under any circumstances, use lighter fluid. This is because the chemicals/fumes from the fluid burning will get sealed into your meat and ruin it with the quickness. You are also forbidden from using any kind of pre-soaked charcoal (matchlight, etc.). So, how do you turn it on? Enter the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter. This thing is super simple to use. Pour a bunch of charcoal in the top, crumple up some newspaper under the bottom, light it, wait until you see flames at the top. Done and done, and all without the lovely flavors of lighter fluid invading your meat.
Like I said up top, holding a consistent temperature is pretty much the golden rule of smoking. If you’re burning too hot without knowing it, you’ll overcook… if the temp is too low without knowing it, you’re going to either cut into raw meat or be eating a couple hours later than you planned. So, Thermometer. There is one on the front of the Weber smoker… it’s ok, and usable in a pinch, but I’ve seen up to a 20 degree difference between that and my real thermometer. Also, you’ll want something with multiple probes…this way you can use one to monitor the ambient temperature (temp of the smoker itself) and the other probe(s) to monitor the temp of whatever you’re preparing. I recommend the Weber iGrill 2 Thermometer. Do you need this? No. Is it awesome? Yes. It’s got room for 4 probes and it’s got bluetooth. If the cavemen could see me using this thing they’d be really friggen jealous. I can literally sit inside playing Xbox while monitoring the temp of the meat and smoker from an app on my phone. It’s awesome and it’s got way more information than any backyard pitmaster could ever use. I like it. It’s cool and it works really, really well.
Ok, so, a little secret…pretty much 99% of the stuff I make on the smoker is from one particular book: Secrets to Smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and Other Smokers: An Independent Guide with Master Recipes from a BBQ Champion, by Bill Gillespie. That award-winning rib recipe that won my office cookoff? This book. The brisket that my boss liked so much he bought me a brisket to make over the weekend and bring in for the office? This book. Yesterday’s Turkey? This book. It’s got everything from appetizers to desserts with detailed recipes from start to finish including home-made rubs, sauces, and marinades. I’ve got other books, they’re all good…but this is the only book I have that has stains on most pages because it’s constantly out with me while I’m making stuff. I can’t recommend it enough. Honorable mention: Amazing Ribs; I’ll head there from time to time to read through some of the advice they give and some interesting recipes. There’s some good info on there and some really good recipes as well…check it out some time.
*Some of our favorite Smoker Recipes Come from Bill Gilespie’s “The Smoking Bacon & Hog Cookbook: The Whole Pig & Nothing But the Pig BBQ Recipes.”
Finally, once you’ve created this beautiful meat-masterpiece, you’re going to need a way to get it off of the smoker and into your stomach. Typically you’re making a large item like a pork shoulder or brisket…not the easiest thing to just take off with a spatula (plus you can’t get a good angle on it when it’s on the smoker). The obvious solution is to take the rack out of the smoker and bring it into the kitchen. Just remember, don’t start the meat with anything… you need to get it off in once piece. Think of the juices. You can find a huge variety of “bbq gloves” that help with this process. I like them because you retain full use of your hands, but heat no longer effects you…it would be like 9th on my list of superpowers that I would want (teleportation and time manipulation are tied for first… they’re kind of the same thing… kind of). It’s great because you can use them to move hot racks around and also to flip the meat or to take off a brisket, wrap it in some HD aluminum foil, and return it to the hot smoker. I’ll link you to the Weber Premium Gloves, so you can see what I’m talking about, and you really can’t go wrong with Weber.
I had heard of bear claws before and knew it was something I’d eventually like to pick up. Fast forward 3 years? A friend of mine gave me an extra set he had and they are AMAZING. I’m not exactly sure why I put off this purchase. It has made shredding pork and chicken an almost effortless endeavor. I highly recommend picking up a set of these right out the gate. There are several different Bear Claws/Paws on amazon but these are the ones that I have linked (here).
Well, that pretty much wraps it up from me. Thanks for reading, and if you’ve got any questions leave a comment and I’m sure Amanda will let me know…you know, because we’re married and stuff. Happy Smoking!