Author Topic: My smoke is a little 'rough'  (Read 4624 times)

Offline johnny roastbeef

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My smoke is a little 'rough'
« on: July 18, 2013, 07:06:46 am »
I've had my smoker for 4 or 5 years, and I really love it and the taste. Over the last several months I've been on an extended BBQ kick and have been eating awesome Q all over the country. So here's my problem. Compared to the meats Ive been getting at restaurants, I think that the meats I smoke are a little 'rough', unrefined, not as mellow as the pros. I wont say that the food tastes like an ash tray, but there is a slight hint of acrid taste that turns some of my family off.

The other night I smoked chicken breasts (covered by bacon) using cherry for around 90 minutes. I smoked around 225 or so and kept the damper open around 1/4". The chicken was still plenty moist and had a beautiful color, but to me the smell and taste coming off the meat was more like that of the fireplace (ash?) and less of a smooth mellow smoke that I really crave.

What could be the cause of this? Is it my technique or just the way things are?

Offline Saber 4

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2013, 07:19:11 am »
I haven't run into this, however from what I've seen posted here I would say that keeping the damper at 1/4 may be your problem the experts here talk about getting black rain if the damper isn't open all the way to let the moisture out with the smoke, you may be trapping the smoke to long in your chamber, you may need to clean off your puck burner to get the old burned stuff off, I keep a putty knife with my smoker and scrape off the residue after each smoke and blow the burner and puck pusher area with canned air to keep problems from building up. I'm sure the more knowledgeable guys will chime in as they see your post with more help.

Offline KyNola

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2013, 07:35:41 am »
My personal opinion and I am no means an expert is as Saber said.  The vent being open only 1/4 is trapping the smoke inside and not allowing it to escape as rapidly as it should.  You only want the smoke to kiss the meat and then pass through the vent.  In addition, with the vent being closed down with poultry you are trapping a lot of moisture in the tower which indeed will cause the black rain Saber referred to and the moisture will also hold down your temp within the tower.

Others will come along and provide you with better advice.

Offline Tenpoint5

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2013, 07:54:13 am »
You could also switch the type of wood your using mesquite and hickory are your stronger flavored woods. Try something like apple.
Bacon is the Crack Cocaine of the Food World.

Be careful about calling yourself and EXPERT! An ex is a has-been, and a spurt is a drip under pressure!


Offline tskeeter

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2013, 09:26:53 am »
Johnny, my first reaction was to think you have your vent closed too far, as others have indicated.  High moisture content products, such as poultry or sausage, and large amounts of meat need the vent completely open, or nearly completely open, to allow moisture to escape.  I made the mistake of leaving the vent closed during the first hour or so of a sausage smoke.  The sausage came out tasting kind of "sooty" and with a gray cast to the color.  To prevent future mistakes, I dummy proofed my smoker by completely removing the adjustable part of the damper mechanism.  My six rack has worked just fine for the better share of a year without the damper.

Regarding 10.5's comments about the wood you use, it depends on your preferences.  I find I usually like a light, delicate smoke.  So it's apple for me for most things.  Ribs, turkey breast, cheese, nuts, Canadian bacon, etc.  The more delicate flavor is such a hit with my neighbors that some provide cheese for me to smoke when I'm planning a cheese run.  When I smoke salmon, I use alder.  So far, the only time I've used hickory is for pulled pork.  It's a large cut of meat that can handle big, strong flavors.  For brisket, I think I'd use a big flavor wood, such as hickory, mesquite, or oak.   
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 09:29:14 am by tskeeter »

Offline pz

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2013, 10:12:19 am »
...  When I smoke salmon, I use alder...

I've been smoking salmon for quite a few years, and always use alder as well. 
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beefmann

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2013, 10:40:53 am »
with chicken, keep the vent wide open, also you  might try brining or marinading the breast prior to smoking it, also be sure you  take it to 180 IT or it  will have the issues you  speak of, I am a  lot like you, just  does not seem finished or tender under 180. IMHO

Offline johnny roastbeef

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2013, 07:34:55 pm »
So here's my post smoke follow up.

Following the good advice I received here, I smoked 8 racks of ribs and 1 brisket. The food was so good, I think I saw some of my guests weeping with joy. My problem was definitely keeping the damper closed too much during the smoking time. My thought process had been that I should try to keep the smoker warm during the smoking and to maintain enough contact time between the smoke and the meat. That was just the wrong method This time I opened the damper fully-wide and then closed it down around 15%. That was all that I needed to make absolutely perfect meat.

Offline Tenpoint5

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2013, 07:56:50 pm »
Congrats on a great meal! Just don't be a stranger!
Bacon is the Crack Cocaine of the Food World.

Be careful about calling yourself and EXPERT! An ex is a has-been, and a spurt is a drip under pressure!


Offline rveal23

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2013, 09:19:53 pm »
Congrats on the success of great meal!
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Offline ragweed

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2013, 07:42:19 am »
Congrats on a successful cook and welcome to the forum from Nebraska.  Since I started leaving the vent full open, I've been happy, happy, happy!!

Offline pensrock

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2013, 12:58:43 pm »
I agree with all the comments and congrats on your good test. I always keep my damper wide open, even after the smoke part is done. Doesn't matter if its ribs, chicken. pork butt or brisket, its wide open. I have never had a complaint...... Ok I guess I get one complaint...... Wheres the to go bags!  ;D

Offline Tiny Tim

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2013, 12:54:52 pm »
I agree with all the comments and congrats on your good test. I always keep my damper wide open, even after the smoke part is done. Doesn't matter if its ribs, chicken. pork butt or brisket, its wide open. I have never had a complaint...... Ok I guess I get one complaint...... Wheres the to go bags!  ;D

My only complaints come from my belly...."is it all gone already?" and "why did you eat so much dummy".

beefmann

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Re: My smoke is a little 'rough'
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2013, 03:07:22 pm »
congrats