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First test smoke on WSM

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Morning guys,

So finally got to fire up my new WSM yesterday which considering I popped my smoking cherry went pretty well.

I used minion method by stacking a ring of coals and leaving a central hole for my quarter of hot coals to drop in, two chunks of oak and two apple wood.

One chicken half brined and rubbed the other half rubbed only.

One pork shoulder about 1.3kg with cap removed, rubbed and mopped.

Couple of issues I had was firstly temperature control I had to stir the coals once as it really dropped so possibly I'd closed off the vents too much?

Second was I presumed my small cut of shoulder would cook around the three hour mark so I put the pork on first for an hour then the chicken for the next two.

However, the pork really stalled at hour three at 73 degrees so at hour 5 I foil wrapped it which then brought it back up and by hour 6 it got up to 92c.

Chicken was superb but my brined one was too salty but had great moisture retention however the non brined half  also had a decent level of moisture.

My other issue was probe placement, as I probed the pork on the top shelf, when it came to me wanting to put the chicken on the lower shelf it was tricky AF so any probe suggestions are appreciated...

Attached some photos of the smoker setup and pork result after 6 hours!










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Great photos Neil - and the meat looked great.

When it comes to the smaller birds (like chicken) I really don't see much benefit from brining. It will stay moist so long as you don't overcook it. Bring it up to 75-80 C and then wrap in a couple of layers of foil for about 20 minutes before carving and it will be juicy.

Larger birds, like turkey, do seem to benefit from brining but, like chicken, it will usually only go dry if it is over cooked. 

A couple of rules of thumb when you brine...
If the brine tastes too salty before the bird is immersed in it then the bird will probably also taste too salty.
Never try to brine a bird that has "ready basted" on the label as it has already been brined. It is a good idea to make sure that any bird you are thinking of brining has no salt or water already added.

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Cleaning a bbq/smoker is a tricky subject, as most of the surface you might want to clean, you actually want to leave well alone, as this seasoning provides good insulation. The grills themselves certainly do want a clean between cooks. I do this at the start of a cook by leaving out the water tray after putting coals in for 10 minutes, and then scrubbing them with a good wire brush. 

If I was leaving it more than approx. 3 weeks between cooks, just take your grills inside and give them a good scrub with hot soapy water. Worthwhile trying to get most of the grime off outside if you can. The best way is to clean your grills at the end of a cook though, once your meat is off, take the water pan out to get direct heat to your grills, give it 10 minutes and then apply the wire brush treatment. Easy to forget as you are tucking in to your meat or preparing sides as it rests though.

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Also , if after you have left it for the 3 weeks or so and you see white mould on the inside of the smoker do not worry. Just give the grates a brush with a wire brush and a wipe down with a soapy cloth. Then bring your smoker up to temperature and leave it there for a few minutes before putting in the meat. Once the inside of the smoker gets above 100 C for 15 minutes or so then then almost everything inside will be killed. Not quite sterile but for cooking purposes as close to sterile as you will need.

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Ok awesome thanks for all of the advice again it's hugely appreciated :) I'll be smoking again next weekend as I'll start earlier this time to give my pork shoulder some contingency cook time.....

I managed to have some left over un burnt and partially burnt coals so I am going to use these as my starters when it comes to my next attempt see how that works out for me! 

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