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Thread: First thoughts on the WSM 14.5 and some questions

  1. #1
    TVWBB Fan Kristof Jozsa's Avatar
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    First thoughts on the WSM 14.5 and some questions

    I got my shiny new WSM14.5 for a few weeks now so I thought it's time to sum up my experiences so far. I have a few years background now smoking in the kettle and I was really wondering how different cooking with the WSM will be.

    Well, it *is* different, for all the better! I only had 3 shorter cooks in it so far and a Boston butt for 14 hours some days ago, but I'm already in love with this thing. It makes the whole smoking process extremely relaxed, it's really a no hurry, no worry experience which is very different from what I was doing in my kettles when smoking. I did not filled the water pan yet for any of my cooks and was using lump from day 1, but still, this little guy holds temp well, can switch gears easily on vent changes and has no sudden movements or unexpected surprises. I also appreciate the amount of lump it takes (a few handful, basically) and the really short time I can pull it out, clean it and get it up to temp. Judging from a single experience, I also had no trouble with the long cook, the first load of lump lasted for 11 hours and then I just threw a few unlit lump through the door and got easily to 14 hours with that - piece of cake! At last, I realized that a small cooker makes a small mess, another thing I really appreciate.

    I have gathered a bunch of questions though in the last weeks which I think should be easier to answer for someone having more experience with the small WSM (numbered them for easier reference):

    1. Would I use water in the water pan some day, the water should go into the foiled pan or I wouldn't need the foil then?
    2. As I start the minion method using only a handful of lump, would it be possible (easy) to start the fire without using a chimney? I used my chimney upside down and it works fine but I wouldn't necessarily bring my chimney for travels if I can do easily without it.. I thought of creating a small fire with some lighter cubes on top of the unlit lump could maybe work as well.
    3. What would be the easiest way to pack up this cooker for travel? I drive a sedan so it'll probably be a bit more challenging than using a pickup for this job.
    4. For cooking goose leg, chili, etc, I thought of picking up the right size pot to use in the WSM. Would a stainless mixer bowl work for this purpose? Sure it has no handles but it would make a much better fit size wise.
    5. Could I use the two grates of the WSM to cook completely different food in parallel? Starting out early morning some day, I thought of cooking pulled pork at the bottom grate for dinner and making something meanwhile on the top grate for lunch. Could that be eg. chicken, ribs or even salmon on the top grate or that would ruin the butt at the bottom grate completely?
    6. I have lots of wood chips stocked at home but no wood chunks. Throwing these chips in through the door they burn up really fast.. could I place them inside my smoker box and put the box on top of the fire (assuming it fits there at all), or is there a better approach for this?

    All in all, I'm a real happy WSM owner now and already looking forward for my next smoke!
    Last edited by Kristof Jozsa; 09-30-2017 at 12:50 PM.

  2. #2
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    Congratulations on your new acquisition. I'm glad you're enjoying it. I can try to address some of your questions.

    1. I would recommend against foiling if you're using water. If you foil there is potential for water to sneak under the foil and boil out the edges, down into the fire. This is definitely not a good thing. Clean up will be a wee bit messier without the foil but I've never found it that bad as long as the pan doesn't boil dry. Save the foil for when you're using a dry pan.

    2. There are no rules here. If you don't mind starting really small you could probably hold a piece of lump over a lighter and blow on it once it starts to burn. Lighter cubes in the middle of the pile should be okay. Whatever works.

    4. The mixing bowl would be a bit awkward but it should work. I wouldn't want to use it over a direct heat source but in an oven-like environment like the WSM pretty much any metal container that's food safe should work fine.

    5. Sure, why not? I probably wouldn't mix fish with anything else, but other than that I don't think there'd be a problem. You might get slightly different results having chicken fat drip onto the pork butt but I don't think it would be terrible.

    6. The smoker box should work. I've wrapped the chips in a couple layers of heavy duty aluminum foil and poked a few holes in the packet for the smoke to get out. That works fine too. Thing is, with wood chips you're likely to only get smoke for an hour or so no matter what you do, so if you want more smoke than that you'll have to replace the chips whenever they stop smoking. That's one reason I like the foil packets. You can prepare a second one and do a quick switch when the first one stops smoking. No need to reload the smoker box while it's still smoking hot.

  3. #3
    TVWBB Fan Kristof Jozsa's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot Jay, very helpful!

  4. #4
    TVWBB Emerald Member Jerry N.'s Avatar
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    Lighting without a chimney:
    Wire the charcoal basket to the charcoal grate. Fill with charcoal and wood as desired. Lift basket with charcoal an place a Weber starter cube on the bottom of the charcoal bowl. Put charcoal basket in place. Give starter cube time to burn to completion and you're good to go. Assemble cooker and cook.

    Note, the last time I did this, the initial smoke was just a bit much for me. I think next time I'm going to assemble the cooker and let it settle in a bit and get rid of some of that thick white smoke before I put on the food.

    On mixing foods:
    I don't like to do it. When I have done it, I put a meat on the top that will be okay in a foil pan so that the dripping in contained. Nothing wrong with mixing, but for me, the chicken fat and the differences in the spices I use would prevent me from doing that. I might throw a fatty off to the side but otherwise, I'd us foil or a pan.
    1880 / Genesis S-320

  5. #5
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    i always foil with water, never had any issues and cleanup is ALOT easier

  6. #6
    TVWBB Wizard Timothy F. Lewis's Avatar
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    I used a"sidewinder" Minion method lightingthe coal with a torch on one side and that allows the burn to crawl from one side to the other really easily. Worked like a charm!
    Full disclosure, it had been a very late night the night before and I was not fully awake when setting everything up so, I'd neglected to leave a "hole" for a handful of lit. I looked at it and just decided that was easier than getting very grubby while half asleep
    Distinguebant Sed, Ignoret In Particulari!
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease too big a skillet!" J. D. Clampett

  7. #7
    TVWBB Fan Kristof Jozsa's Avatar
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    Few days ago we visited a friend at his holiday cottage and we brought the small WSM with us for fun. That friend of me just loves tinkering and is pretty good with tools, so once we arrived, he took a piece of old stove pipe, disappeared for 60 minutes and then turned up holding this:





    This custom made chimney looks big in the picture but is measured to fit laying down precisely inside the WSM 14.5. Using it in the morning made me wonder though if I need to fill any lump in the chimney itself.. as it lighted perfectly coals under it as well

    Sharing the rest of the day as we got so far into the story, our plan worked out fine making pulled pork at the bottom for dinner and ribs for lunch at the top. We feeded 6 hungry adults both times with some leftovers at the end.. it was a fun day.




  8. #8
    TVWBB Pro Lew Newby's Avatar
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    That's cool and the food looks great Kristof. Obviously you figured out how to transport the 14.5 in your sedan.
    Old dog, learning new tricks - one cook at a time :-). - -14.5" WSM , 22.5" WSM , 1998 22" SS Performer (Red) with Vortex, Auber ATC. CB Rotisserie

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