First cook on 22 WSM, w/DigiQ

GilFisher

New member
Just gunna give a run down of my first cook, that could help others out who are looking into the WSM, specifically the 22.

I've been a fan of the WSMs from a distance for quite some time, and after my old offset's smoke-box finally bit the dust, that gave me the excuse to finally go in on one. I went with the 22" just for the ease of getting two racks of spare ribs flat on one grate.

I had originally ordered the WSM from Amazon, which had originally said that the two-days shipping with Prime was available, but after a few days and still no shipping confirmation, I had to call and figure out what was going on. After two different online chats and two phone calls, I finally was given a date of April 8th as a shipping date.... for the WSM I ordered in February. Fortunately they refunded my money and I ordered from Home Depot. The WSM arrived three days later and in great condition.

For me, putting the WSM22 together was a breeze. Took me less than an hour. Also, I'll take this time to add, that at least from Home Depot, my WSM22 came with a COVER!

I've also read that these do not require "seasoning", or "burn-off." I'll definitely agree with the burn-off. It makes sense that all of the holes etc... were pre-drilled before the enamel paint/coating was placed on. In order to do that, they're going to have to clean up any greases and oils that were deposited on the grill during the drilling process etc... I'd imagine everything is packaged sometime after the coating/paint cures and/or is oven-dried (not exactly sure of their process).

I did however decide to do a semi-seasoning, just to get a start on sealing up any spaces that would let out smoke. I simply sprayed the areas where the mid second sits on the bottom, and where the lid sits on the mid section, and around the inside of the door with a little cooking oil from the can. I then cooked a 1lb log of 73/27 hamburger. I just used a simple 7ish-lb bag of charcoal with a few wood chunks, foil coated the drip pan, and let her rip. This also gives you a chance to play with your bottom vents and fire control/etc... It also gave me a chance to at least semi-learn my way around the DigiQ.

I had a little leakage out of where the mid-section and lid meet, and also some from out of the door. I removed the door and kinda bent it a little over shape, then got it back on, that seemed to do the trick. It seemed to all go well, which leads me to my first real cook from this past weekend: Two racks of St. Louis style spares, and a 5.5lb rack of beef ribs.

I used 12 to 13lbs of KBB (we'll come back to this), dumped on top of five pieces of pecan wood chunks, with a small metal coffee can in the middle for that version of the minion method. Started about 22 briquettes in the chimney, got them going and poured them in and over the can, remove the can, and let the fire get going a few minutes with all of the vents open. Once it appeared everything was gunna light and be fine, I put the grill together, including the water pan which was only wrapped in foil, no water.

I let the smoker get up to 320 degrees, saw decent smoke, then cut off all of the bottom vents, and set-up my DigiQ's fan into the bottom with the fan maybe 30% open. I set the DigiQ to keep the temperature at 280. The temp dropped down, a little below 280, but the digiQ fan then got it right back up. There would be a few more dips and overshoots within the first hour or so, but It was basically me learning how open to leave the fan. I finally settled somewhere around 60, which would hold my temps fine.

I then actually bumped the temp up to 285 after a couple of hours. And it help well there.

I put on the Beef ribs first, on the top rack, for two hours, before putting the spare ribs on the bottom rack. Everything I have read says the bottom rack could run 10-20 degrees cooler than the top, where I had my DigiQ's temp set to, so I figured they'd cook around 260ish.

After four hours total on the beef, two hours on the spares, I pulled the spares and wrapped them, saucing only one. Full-disclosure: I've never wrapped my ribs. Rarely will I ever wet them outside of a little water/vinegar spritz, and maybe a bit of sauce if I'm feeling froggy, but most of the time they stay unwrapped and dry, and I've turned out great ribs doing that. But all of my research into the WSMs introduced me to all of the wrappings/saucing etc... so I said what the hell. I decided I'd wrap both, saucing only one, leave them for two hours (four hours total), then check on them and maybe pop them back on un-warpped for 15 or so minute to tighten up the bark..... HAHAHA! Joke is on me. I went to pick up that first rack and I knew right off: overcooked. I felt like I was picking up a ribs shaped piece of foil filled with mud. WAYYYY TOOO MUCH FALL-OFF-THE-BONE! (flavor not bad, though). I'm guessing wrapped them sped the cooking up THAT fast? Four hours is usually what I go with the offset, at 285ish.

So at this point, the beef ribs had been on six hours, and appeared to be leaving the stall. After pulling the spare ribs, I got my temp back up, came back out fifteen minutes later to grab my beer I had left and BAM: my smoker temp was down to 250. No big deal, I opened the bottom vents and the temp began climbing back up fast. I opened the door to check the coals and there it was: I was so low. I got a little poker-digger-thingy I had made and moved the coals around a bit, getting the ash off etc..., and back up to 284 I went.... then after another ten minutes, it dropped again.

I was able to limp the beef ribs along until they were almost at target temp. They were still delicious. Still tender. That was cool, but I was pretty upset about the fire burning down. Good news is that I think it was operator error, and easily fixable.

I'm thinking: Add the max amount of charcoal for starters. Also, do the extra grate under the coals, turned 90 degrees to prevent coal loss. And also, am considering raising my basket another 3-4 inches to hold more charcoal, or having a large one made. Obviously, you can drop about $100 and get one online somewhere.

Anyway, there's my first cook experience. Excited to get back out there and go again. It's a lot different than the old offsets I learned and grew up on, but I think it's going to work out a bit better for my needs.
 
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Bob Bass

TVWBB Guru
Welcome to the (Weber) family, Gil !

Looks like you experienced a couple valuable lessons. Number one, of course, is that the WSM, with a pitmaster such as yourself, can produce great BBQ. Start with a full basket load of charcoal.... Once your WSM seals up, you'll be able to shut all vents, leaving the unburnt coals for next cook.
I suspect the lower grate temperature is more prevalent with those using water in their water bowls.

Again, welcome to the Family !
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
Sounds good.
My charcoal basket is 50% taller than stock. Cost $10 for expanded metal.

I dont know how anyone does without it.....

The next 2 are my opinion so take it for what it's worth.

One is that you don't need a minion method with the ATC. The ATC will take care of the burn rate of the charcoal.
I like spreading it out evenly on top of the bed. I don't want any cold charcoal, or wood, or at least as little as possible

2, is that you got to be careful about how long you let it burn before you put meat on. The blower on a ATC has a lot of potential to get cold coals burning quickly. This can make a lot of white smoke. Which can make your food taste like creosote. I generally go about an hour before I ever put food on. And I let the temperature line out, fluctuations with the blower are faster, more severe than fluctuations without one... It can affect the taste of the food by making that white smoke. So control and even temperatures are important. If you overshoot and it has to cool off a lot, the fire actually will go out, then the blower kicks on hard for a long time to get it lit again...then it overshoots...and repeats. This is not good. Consistent temp makes better food.
 

GilFisher

New member
Your method of lighting the charcoal is exactly how I'd light mine in my offset. Will maybe try that next time. Thanks.

Went ahead and nearly doubled my capacity (was a bit under double, but I had that piece of scrap laying around for about 10 years and it was long enough to work with).IMG_6702.JPG
 
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Bob Bass

TVWBB Guru
For the record... Spreading your lit coals over the top of your unlit coals IS the Minion method. Placing all of your lit coals inside a hole dug into the center of your unlit coals IS ALSO the Minion method.
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
For the record... Spreading your lit coals over the top of your unlit coals IS the Minion method. Placing all of your lit coals inside a hole dug into the center of your unlit coals IS ALSO the Minion method.
So, your saying everything is the minion method that doesnt start with 3 full chimneys of well lit coals ?

I spread my coals in a secret way....definitely not the minion way.
 

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