I am assuming that you have already put the thing together and seasoned it – You can read a short tutorial on seasoning a new smoker here if you need to before we move on.
I am also going to assume that you have properly prepared some meat for smoking and have it ready to go into the smoker all rubbed down with Jeff’s Naked Rib Rub.
Step 1 – Hook up the propane tank (remember righty loosy – lefty tighty) and make sure it is snug. Propane as with all fuel gases use left handed threads.
Step 2 – Open the door of the smoker by turning the handle 90 degrees counter clockwise.
Step 3 – Remove the smoke box, fill it full of mesquite, hickory, oak, apple, cherry, etc. wood chips or chunks. Replace the lid on the smoke box and return it to the wire frame cradle just above the burner where you removed it originally.
Step 4 – Get a large piece of heavy duty foil and line the water pan which is located just above the chip box. If you make this step into a habit it will save you lots of time cleaning all of the goo out of the water pan. You can simply remove the foil and dispose of it leaving a clean water pan ready for your next smoke.
Step 5 – Go into the house or if you’re lucky, the sink in your outdoor kitchen area and fill a half gallon pitcher full of hot water and then go back to the smoker and pour the water into the water pan that you just lined with foil.
Step 6 – Now for the fun part! Turn the large knob on the left a few clicks and make sure it is spitting a spark next to the burner. If no spark is coming out then feel below the control area (the area just below the two knobs) and find a wire; make sure its securely connected then try again. You may need to contact the company if you are still having problems.
If it sparks properly, turn the right side knob to high (start) and immediately turn the left knob a few clicks to ignite the propane burner.
Step 7 – While the smoker is coming to temperature, you need to make sure the vents are set properly. If you have the type with two lower vents then set them to closed at the tab stop which is the “GOSM” way of helping you to not make a mistake by closing them all the way.
Now set the very top vent to the same position of closed at the tab stop.
You may have the type with only the top vent and if so then simply set it to closed at the tab stop.
I know some folks who have learned that with certain milder woods they can get more smoke flavor by bending up the stops and closing the vents a little more.
For now, leave them be and stay on the safe side.
Note: it is extremely important on ANY smoker to set the vents correctly to allow proper airflow into the smoker and out of the smoker. This allows your fire to burn properly and lets the smoke “kiss” your meat without settling on it and building up creosote.
Step 8 – Let the smoker continue to burn on high for a minute or so then lower it to an area between low and medium to allow it to settle in at 225 degrees.
Step 9 – The wood will start smoking in about 4 or 5 minutes maybe even sooner so you want to quickly get your meat into the smoker.
If I am only smoking a small amount, I will use the rack at the same level as the thermometer to make sure I know what the exact temperature is at meat level.
If you are loading it down then make sure to leave a little room between the meat to make sure everything is smoked properly with plenty of room for airflow.
Step 10 – Once you have the meat in the smoker, close the door and latch it by turning the handle 90 degrees clockwise.
Step 11 – Sit back for about an hour or so with your favorite beverage, checking occasionally to make sure it is maintaining your target temperature and make small adjustments as necessary.
You will find that it sometimes takes as much as 2 or 3 minutes for the temperature to level out once you make a change so make a very small change and then wait to see what happens.
With practice you will find out exactly where to set it to maintain a certain temperature.
You will also notice a difference based on how much meat is in the smoker- a smoker full of cold meat will take more heat to reach and maintain temperature than a smoker with only one pork butt in it.
Step 12 – After about 1.5 hours you will probably need to add more chips/chunks to the chip box. Just before the wood completely burns up and stops giving off smoke it will start smoking very heavy; this is a tell tale sign that it is almost time to add more wood.
Quickly and carefully open the door and with some heavy duty tongs (big channel-lock pliers also work great) and a welding glove or something similar, pull out the chip box carriage and remove the lid, then the chip box with the pliers or whatever you are using and set it on the ground.
Quickly close/latch the door so it can maintain heat while you are replacing the wood chips/chunks.
Step 13 – Pour out the ashes and pieces of coal still in the chip box into a metal container making sure there is nothing that can catch fire within the vicinity.
Refill the chip box with chunks or chips and return it to the chip box carriage in the reverse order of removal as quickly as possible to minimize heat loss.
For ribs, poultry, etc. you will probably only need to replace the wood one time but for larger cuts like brisket, pork butt, etc. you may need to do it 2 or 3 times.
A good way to measure it is to keep replacing wood until the temperature of the meat reaches 140 degrees and it will be about right.
Step 14 – When the meat reaches time to be almost done based on a digital probe meat thermometer or a tenderness test depending on your personal method get yourself another cold beverage and hang out around the smoker so you can be ready to pull the meat out when it reaches perfection.
Here are some times and temperatures that I use:
Time – 6 hours
Target Temperature – 170 degrees
Time – 4 hours
Temperature – 167 degrees
Turkey (12 pounder)
Time – 6.5 hours
Temperature 170 degrees
Pork Butt/Pork Picnic
Time – 1.5 hours/pound
Pulling Temperature – 205 degrees
Slicing Temperature – 160 degrees
Time – 1.5 hours/pound
Thick Slicing Temperature – 190 degrees
Thin Slicing Temperature – 180 degrees
Tip – If the brisket is tough slice thin and against the grain, if the brisket is falling apart tender slice thick with the grain.
Step 15 – Turn the knob on the right to the OFF setting and then turn the propane tank off by turning it clockwise until it stops turning.
Step 16 – Carefully remove the meat from the smoker and carry it to your kitchen or wherever you are planning to prepare it for eating (i.e. slicing, pulling, etc).
Step 17 – Go back out one last time to make sure the smoker door is shut and latched, and that all ashes and hot coals have been cooled down with water and are incapable of starting a fire. (That would pretty much ruin your day!)
Step 18 – Enjoy the food and the praise!