So today I decided I was going to try a new rub on some chicken breasts and smoke them up over some apple and hickory wood.  And that is when it happened, I got cocky and ruined a today’s smoke.  I decided I didn’t need the rack over the water pan, I didn’t want to have to clean another rack, one is enough. I was going to have some delicious chicken breasts for dinner, but ended up with Subway.

Here is how it happened, the chicken was cooking along and I had basted it with some bbq sauce and honey.  I then allowed it to come up to temperature and was ready to remove it and that is when it happened.  I pulled the lid off and somehow the rack swung around and dumped my delicious looking chicken in the water pan.  Which was disgusting, so I threw it away, but not without trying it first.  It was incredible, so look for that in the next couple of weeks I have a special rub I made for it that is tasty.

So with all of that aside I did take lots of pictures along that way and thought this would be an excellent opportunity for a smoking primer using the tools and methods I use. I am working with a Brinkmann Gourmet (Charcoal), I also have the electric version of the same but opted to go with the charcoal one today.  I didn’t use the charcoal portion of it I used my propane after burner.  Smoking with propane is easy, this was a worth while mod for easy smokes, almost so easy it takes away some of the challenge; light it and find the temperature and away you go.

Well its not that easy so here is the easy to get going guide, I am sure I will adopt my process as I get more experienced in smoking but until then here is how I do it.

Getting fire started and the smoke rolling

Getting the fire started is easy turn on the gas and light it up.  Getting the smoke started with this set up is almost as easy.  I have an old large tomato juice can I set over the flame on the rest built into the after burner.  Once the can is in place I add my wood chips or chunks, depending on what I have on hand.  I do not soak my wood.  I don not add all the wood for my smoke at once but I add it throughout the smoke.

The burner and the smoke can

Regulate the temperature

I start by putting the rest of the smoker on the burner and then adding the water pan and water to the water pan.  I like to boil my water on the stove prior to adding it to the watering pan.  It helps to bring the temperature up quicker.  I add enough water to fill the pan up to about 1 inch from the top of the water pan.  For short smokes, less than 4 (at 225°F) hours this is usually plenty of water.  For longer smokes keep an eye on the water pan.

The full water pan in the smoker

Once the water pan is full, I start out with the burner on its lowest setting and work my way up to the sweet spot for most hot smoking, 225°F.  It is important to keep on eye on the temperature during the smoke since things such as ambient temperature, sun and wind can directly impact the temperature of the smoker with the same burner setting.

The Smoking Sweet Spot

Adding the meat

Now for the best part, add the meat.  Well not so fast, first I oil up my rack with canola or olive oil to make sure the meat doesn’t stick and to make clean up much easier.  Then its on with the meat and throw the rack in the smoker.  Now is an opportune time to insert an electric remote thermometer if you are using one.  Replace the lid and get smoking!

Meat on the Smoker

Final notes

Once you temperature has evened out and settled where you want it and the smoke is rolling nicely, you job is not done.  Check back frequently, make sure the smoke is still flowing, the water pan has plenty of water or at least is not dry and the temperature is right where you want it.  Smoking is not a fire and forget task, it requires frequent attention to deliver a consistently fantastic result.

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Another day, another way to eat chicken, this one a little bit more involved.  Like the turkey breast I had cooked last year I stated off with my standard brine and added some black peppercorns, sage and basil.  I also use garlic cloves in place of garlic powder and I chopped up a couple of onion and added them to the brine.  After an afternoon of hunting and a thorough rub down with cajun spice to throw this bird on the smoker.

Chicken on the smoker

It took about four hours over a combination of hickory, apple and cherry wood to finish out bird.  Although we did baste this bird it probably would have been just fine without, it was the moistest chicken I have ever had.

Carving a Smoked Chicken

Not only was the chicken moist but it was also full of flavor and possibly by far the best chicken I have ever eaten.  We will be eating chicken again this way and next time we might go for more of a barbecued type of thing, just to branch out.  Oh yeah the potatoes were smoked too and not half bad.

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Today is my first time smoking with gas and so far so good, will be providing updates throughout the smoke here.

What’s smokin’: A 6ish pound pork tenderloin rubbed with Penzey’s BBQ 3000
What’s it smokin’ in: Brinkmann (El Cheapo) Charcoal with Afterburner mod (available at
What’s makin’ smoke: Apple and hickory chunks intermixed

The meat waiting for the smoker:


The smoker with meat inside.  Hank Hill would be proud.


Saucing the loin a little on the grill with a Pomegranate BBQ Sauce.

Loin on the smoker covered in BBQ sauce

All done.


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Well before we get right down to it prehaps I should mention that today was an exceptional day for smoking (bitter sarcism injected throughout that last statement), if I had not been forced, have already prepared my meat for smoking I would have just thrown in the towel for smoking today, but I had no choice, so I did what you do when you have no choice.  Upon rising at 0900 this morning it was rainy and windy, so I thought I would wait tell after noon to smoke my fatty, after all it had already been rolled.  Well noon brought around no positive change in the weather so I just did what I had to do, I got the charcoal ready.

Smokin' on a rainy day

I digress so after getting the smoker going in less than ideal smoking weather I popped the fatty on the smoker and let it smoke for 1…2…3…did I mention it was windy…4 hours until the thermometer read 165.

My Fatty on the smoker

Once it was done I pulled it off, let it rest and then dug in.

Picture of the Fatty

A sliced fatty

All said and done it was worth the effort, my tomato basil fatty has been my first fatty but certainly not my last.  It took a chunk of the day to smoke this fatty over charcoal and bits of hickory and cherry but it was worth it.  It was a culinary delight and an arterial nightmare.

Disclaimer:  While I may rave that this was in fact a delicious meal it would not be right to omit the opinion of my wife, who claims it was good but salty, it was certainly a man meal.

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While this ia  new concept to me many of you may be turned off by the title, I would encourage you to roll on.  Like its contraband counter part the fatty we are talking about must first be rolled, so that is where this process will begin.  But before we do perhaps we should look at a definition of what exactly is a fatty.  A fatty is a bit of sausage rolled out filled with some tasty goodness rolled up, wrapped in bacon and smoked (more info over at Smoking Meat Forums.  Having never assembled, much less smoked one of these tasty looking things I thought I would give it a try.  So I took some pork sausage and bacon out of the freezer last night and tonight assembled my master piece I will smoke it in the morning.  Below is my ordeal in a step by step fashion with pictures.

1.The Pork Sausage all rolled out.

Pork Sausage Rolled out for the Fatty

2. The bacon weave found out after all was said and done a much easier looking way to accomplish the same thing.

Bacon Weave awaiting the Fatty

3. Getting the fillings ready to the tomato basil fatty

The Fatty all filled up with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozz Cheese

4. The Fatty ready for the smoker…

The Fatty waiting for the smoker

It almost looks tasty enough to eat right now, but in the morning I shall throw it in the smoker and try it for lunch.  Check back later tomorrow for an update.

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