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Thread: When to add meat/start timing?

  1. #1
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    When to add meat/start timing?

    Hello,

    New WSM owner here (first post). I own the 14.5" model. I used it for the 2nd time today, and I had the same issue I had the first time. The first time I did baby back ribs, this time I did a combo of baby backs on the top rack and chicken thighs on the lower rack. Here's my issue/question: When I get the fire going (using Minion method), put it together, and get it up to temp (225-250), when I open it up to put the meat in, I obviously lose the temp; both times it went down to between 150-200. Both times it eventually got back to around 225, but for the majority of the cook time (based on recipe I was following, about 2:15 of the 2:30 hrs) it stayed around 200; should I be putting the meat in at the beginning while it gets to temp, or am I ok doing it the way I have? To follow that up, if I am timing the cook, do I start from the time I put the meat in, regardless if it's at the 'right' temp, or once it gets to/back to the temp? I'm guessing that might depend on if I've already gotten it to temp, then lost it when I put the meat in, or if I've put the meat in at the beginning after putting the WSM together to get to temp for the first time.

    I know, this is probably tl;dr, but while I haven't really known what I was doing the first 2 times, everything's come out pretty decent. I know if I can get this temp/timing issue figured out, it'll be even better.

    Thanks for any info you can share.

    Tony

  2. #2
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    Do you have a remote temperature probe that you can put into the ribs? I cooked some St Louis style loin ribs over the weekend on my 18" WSM. I used a meat probe and found it be pretty accurate. Took a lot longer than expected. About 8 hours to reach 191. The temps were consistently around 225. I did not foil it.

    Very tasty.

    Anyway, I used the Minion method. After dumping the coals, I let the WSM reach temp before putting the meat on. It reached temp pretty quickly.

  3. #3
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    Unless you have every vent wide open, you probably have the wiggle room to adjust the airflow and raise the temperature. As you keep cooking on it you'll learn how your WSM settles in, but if the temperature's not where you want it you have ways to increase or decrease the temp using the air flow. It doesn't really matter when you put what you're cooking on, if you have a big hunk of something that's cooler than the air temp it's going to act like a big ice cube in a drink and bring the temperature down and that's normal.

    If you did not have the top vent 100% open that's the first place I'd adjust. If it was, start adjusting the bottom intake vents one at a time until you get to the temperature you want.

    I start timing whenever I put what I'm cooking into the cooker. I think you'll probably see a lot of sentiment around here of not relying strictly on time, it's done when it's done.

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    Thank you both for your replies. Good info. Steve, I've heard that before about not being tied to a specific time. I guess the more I use it, the better feel I'll get. Bill, yeah, I should probably get a thermometer as I've heard the dome thermometer isn't the best way to monitor the temp. Thanks again to you both.

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    New guy here, so fwiw... After a half dozen or so cooks I've found it takes me about an hour to get the temp fairly steady on my 14.5, not including starter coal startup. started waiting the extra hour before putting on the meat, and starting the clock. Keep in mind the temp does drop due the coolness of the meat when you put it on, using a water bath helps it hold temp better as long as you wait for the water to get up to temp before putting on the meat, I fill it with hot tap water after adding the starter coals to the coal tray. I have started using a thermometer probe at the upper grate for smoker temp and ignoring the top gauge. That's about all I know so far, or think I know.

    The last couple times I've added smoke wood a few minutes before the meat, although it's easy to forget!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobJ View Post
    New guy here, so fwiw... After a half dozen or so cooks I've found it takes me about an hour to get the temp fairly steady on my 14.5, not including starter coal startup. started waiting the extra hour before putting on the meat, and starting the clock. Keep in mind the temp does drop due the coolness of the meat when you put it on, using a water bath helps it hold temp better as long as you wait for the water to get up to temp before putting on the meat, I fill it with hot tap water after adding the starter coals to the coal tray. I have started using a thermometer probe at the upper grate for smoker temp and ignoring the top gauge. That's about all I know so far, or think I know.

    The last couple times I've added smoke wood a few minutes before the meat, although it's easy to forget!
    Thanks Bob. This is practically step for step what I've done my first 2 cooks (including almost forgetting the wood chunks). I guess I'll keep doing it this way until/unless I figure out something better. The thing I have to get used to is the temp drop when I add the meat and figuring how that affects when it'll be 'done'. Suppose that is where an outside thermometer will come in. Thanks again.

  7. #7
    TVWBB Hall of Fame Dwain Pannell's Avatar
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    BBQ isnít done to time. Itís done to tenderness. Sure, youíll get the hang of about how long something takes but one chunk of meat from one critter might take a longer or shorter time than a very similar chunk of meat from another critter. Some critters are just tougher than others. Crank that puppy up to 275*F and when to put cold meat on it youíll be in the vicinity of cooking.

  8. #8
    TVWBB All-Star BFletcher's Avatar
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    Welcome! Here is my humble opinion: since you are new to smoking and have a new smoker it would be advantageous to know if your dome thermo is in the ballpark. To determine that, you're going to need a thermometer at your grate. Don't let a huge delta stress you out, just use that data for your workflow on subsequent smokes.

    If your temp was hanging out at 200*f for most of the smoke then I'd ask how many lit coals you started with and I'd ask about your intake and exhaust vent control. 200 is way too low and long for this hobby, lol, and you may never get some of your meats to the right temp by cooking that low.

    There have been times that I've placed my meat while the smoker was coming to temp. But for a while now, I wait for it to come to temp and I'll add the wood chunks ahead of time and then I'll add the meat after the smoke mellows. While getting it up to temp my intake and exhaust vents are open 100%. Then, once I hit--let's say 220*--I choke all 3 intake vents (if I'm aiming to smoke at 275 I'll start choking at 220'ish, if you want to smoke at 225 you'll want to choke earlier). The amount will vary among smokers and other parameters but on average my intakes spend much of their time at 15-20% open. It is a rare occasion when I adjust my exhaust vent; it normally sits at 100% open.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by BFletcher; 07-01-2019 at 02:31 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BFletcher View Post
    If your temp was hanging out at 200*f for most of the smoke then I'd ask how many lit coals you started with and I'd ask about your intake and exhaust vent control. 200 is way too low and long for this hobby, lol, and you may never get some of your meats to the right temp by cooking that low.
    I've heard that 225 was the ideal temp. Do you think it's still too low? I don't use water/sand in my water pan and I don't have any trouble modulating the temperature. I have a probe at the grate and one in the meat/ribs. I may try a higher temperature this weekend because 8 hours to cook two St Louis style ribs was a bit long I think.

    What temperature do people cook their ribs to? I cooked it to 191 and pulled it off. The meat probe and Thermoworks probe both agreed on the temperature so I know it's accurate. The ribs came off the bone easily which is the way I like it.

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    TVWBB Platinum Member Timothy F. Lewis's Avatar
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    Members TonyUK and Rich Dahl gave me similar advice as to how to do it, let the fire become established and put everything together and let things come up as they will. Tony told me ďIf itís good enough for Harry Soo, itís good enough for me!Ē Words to live by!
    I tend to shoot for 250-275 so, you will learn what works for you donít get discouraged, you can, usually, still eat the flops as well as the hits, the more you do the more the ďHits keep on coming!Ē Sorry, bad radio reference, Iíll go stand on the corner.
    Distinguebant Sed, Ignoret In Particulari!
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease too big a skillet!" J. D. Clampett

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