Adventures with a 14.5 WSM

Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
Hello,
Thanks to anyone reading this! I am cooking a tri tip today. 3.5 lbs pre trim (think I paid ~3.50 lb for it and it's a supermarket cryovac, nothing special kind of cut). Will hang it in my 14.5 WSM. This is a test cook for me to hold 275 degrees. My last two cooks were at 225 (bb ribs) and 250 (turkey medallions).
Conditions for a successful cook:
1. Hit 275 (based on the stock temp gauge in the lid) and maintain that temp (coming up to temp now and will start closing bottom vents around 220)
2. Use charcoal from my last cook (this is my first recycle)
3. Pull it at 130 internal, put a grate on the bottom and sear it. Let it rest and then slice.

*edit to add I poured water in the pan. this is my first cook with water. I have had this WSM a year and had dozens of cooks but I have always ran the cooker wide open and not really had a plan for dealing with temperature. I have come to understand control over variables is probably why my consistency has been lacking. Right now I am focusing on repeatable process of starting the cooker and hitting desired temps.

Another consideration for this cook is my rub and how I want to adjust for future cooks. Right now I am really thinking to drop salt to 1/3 cup and at least double the cayenne. But for now this is my rub of choice (patiopitmaster.com rub for transparency/credit).
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt (not table salt)
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 Cup Lawry's Seasoning Salt
1/4 Cup Mild Chili Powder
1/4 Cup Paprika
1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
1/2 TSP Cayenne Pepper (or more to taste)
 

Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
Good luck and don't forget to post pictures in the photo gallery when you're done.
Hey Ron I am definitely planning to post pictures in this thread. Is the photo gallery a separate thing? Thanks for mentioning it.

Also - gee whiz it takes forever to come to temp with a water pan!
 

Ron De Hoogh

TVWBB Super Fan
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Hey Ron I am definitely planning to post pictures in this thread. Is the photo gallery a separate thing? Thanks for mentioning it.

Also - gee whiz it takes forever to come to temp with a water pan!
The photo gallery is up above this section,try no water and wrap the bowl.
 

Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
Meat is on. Wow it took awhile to come up to temp.

Before hanging i hung a thermo at the top of the rack. Huge difference from lid thermo. Paradigm shift even for me, still processing the implication.
 

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Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
Just now hit 130 internal. My smoker settled right in 1 notch below 200 on the stock thermo. I won't have time to slice for a couple hours and will hold in the oven at 150.... this is just a test cook anyway. And unsuccessful to boot!
 

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Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
I think this cheap recycled charcoal is spent... but here is another shot to show temp discrepancy between lid thermometer and prob at top of rack. Was probably cooking at 225 this evening

I've always thought I was a low and slow guy but I was really cooking hot and fast!
 

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BillSmith

TVWBB Pro
I have never used water myself. Been smoking with WSM 18" for about 2 years now. I bought a cheap probe thermometer from ThermaPro. Works well. Has 2 probes, 1 for the meat and 1 for the grate. The first time was a big nerve racking but the probes made it easy. Now I have the system down pat and don't have to fuss with it too much.
 

Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
Worried you had too much rub but it turned oit okay.
Too much smoke bothers me but I've never thought about too much rub!

We've got house guests the next couple weekends for mountain bike trail riding (some folks think weather in the 70s is great for this kind of thing). It will be a couple weeks before I try again but I will be back with a fresh load of better charcoal. Will focus on coming up to temp with my water pan and expect to be able to hit some target temps.

I want to replace the lid thermometer with something adjustable - but I may just pick up a second probe and monitor it that way for a while.
 

Jon in DFW

New member
Also - gee whiz it takes forever to come to temp with a water pan!

I start my cooks by boiling a large pot of water on the stove, then head outside to start prepping the WSM. By the time I finish getting the WSM ready to light it off, the water is boiling and I pour it into a water pan (usually with a little cool water already inside to make sure the pan is nestled correctly and minimize splash). This brings pit temp up very quickly and allows more charcoal to be used for the cook rather than bringing up temp.
 

Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
cooking some chicken leg quarters this evening as an excuse to try a bbq sauce recipe which is new to me. added less water to the pan to start and it's working great so far.

picked up a smaller Weber chimney which worked nicely and also a bag of Weber briquettes. I usually buy KBB but these Weber briquettes were priced right and I figured what the heck.
 

Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
so I kind of made this sauce this evening: https://www.texasmonthly.com/bbq/recipe-thin-barbecue-sauce/

really I am only interested in the boiling stock and am going to work on that a bit. lemons and onions were all I picked up at the store - and subbing catsup for puree without dropping the sugar was a cloying mistake. live and learn. but the lemon smack is interesting for sure. be good for lunch tomorrow.

replacement lid thermo is not delivered & installed yet - the little 14 is chugging along (with water in the pan) around 245 at the lid per my probe. factory thermo is reading at 200. I can live with this and will look to stay consistent with it.
 

Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
subbing catsup for puree without dropping the sugar was a cloying mistake.
after my thin sauce boiled and cooled down - it was pretty tasty on my leg quarter which came off at 171 after a smidge less than 2 hours. wife liked it too which took me back a bit.

shut the vents down on the cooker plan to use the grate to sift out coals, pour them and the water pan into a trash bag (tomorrow after work). hopefully I can reuse the coals. maybe even cook the other two quarters tomorrow and drown them in sauce!
 

Andy Linn

TVWBB Member
cooking another couple leg quarters tonight. smoker has settled in at 248 which is right in line with last night. had plenty of coals left (and even at least half the apple wood chunk I used) - sifted with the grate and dumped water pan/ashes into a grocery sack before disposing. worked great - I need to buy a stiff brush but otherwise like the process. I did have some vinyl gloves on and will get an extra box to put out with my accoutrements.

used just a few briquettes in the chimney to relight. that went great. forgot to open the vents on reassembly. found it 15 minutes later and thought the fire was out. opened the smoker vents back up and also lit a few more briquettes in my small chimney. meantime my original coals had come back to life. so I threw the newly lit coals on top anyway and was sure the smoker would settle in hotter -but it's right in the 245ish range.

Not making any bold statements about temp anymore - and wondering if I can maintain consistency as fall/winter set in. Looking back and knowing what I know about my current lid thermo - I would not have dropped $32 on an aftermarket replacement. will be cool to install it and see if it is any more accurate. it arrives Tues.

my butcher said he would have 10 lbs of beef kidney for me on Monday. I am going to render that down into a sop and go for a tri tip or something with it (weekend after next). for this weekend - will probably cook a slab of ribs or something to keep up the process practice and use up my sauce.
 

Ron De Hoogh

TVWBB Super Fan
I'm thinking you are getting the hang of it and find your cookers sweet spot! On your new thermometer check and see if you can calibrate it(ice water/boiling water) if it does it should have instructions on how to do it if not you can Google it.
 

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