Steer clear of green wood to start with
You should always use seasoned wood to start with in order to get good results. The old guys who have been Q’ing for years have the ability to use a mixture of seasoned wood and green wood, but beginners are wise to steer clear of this until they get a good idea about temperature control and fire.
Green wood is a sure-fire way for a beginner to BBQ smoking to ruin their food. What happens is that the meat becomes bitter and it cannot be saved.
Don’t make too many changes at once
Resist the temptation to fiddle with controls. You aren’t using a gas grill! Smokers take time to set properly to start with, and inexperienced users can become frustrated and try adjusting various things at once in order to “balance” the things they think are wrong.
Change one thing at first, wait and see what happens, then change another.
You will only learn the rudiments of BBQ smoking by taking your time and taking note of what you are doing while you go along.
When adjusting vents, change them a little at a time. If they are adjusted too much in one go, the temperature will swing too far and you can end up with a problem on your hands which will invariably lead to meat that is overcooked, or in the worst case, burnt.
Small changes are good, big changes are bad.
Avoid using cold meat
Beginners should remember that when cooking any meat, the temperature of the meat should be room temperature. The reason for this is that if the cold meat is placed inside a smoker that doesn’t have a clean burning fire, it will lead to condensation of creosote on the surface of the meat which will make it bitter and inedible.
The best thing to do is place meat that is to be smoked, onto a countertop for around 30 minutes to an hour and allow the temperature of the meat to come up.
When you are more experienced, you will be able to forego the necessity to do this.
Don’t push yourself to impress friends and family
One of the best things about cooking Q is that you will have no shortage of friends who want to eat and enjoy your food with you.
Beginners often place themselves under a little pressure to impress their guests by cooking expensive meats which can end up with mixed results at best, so treat your smoker as one of your best friends. It takes time to get to it know it well.
Learn how to control its temperature, learn it’s quirks, strengths, and weaknesses, and use them to your advantage when you cook. The journey and rewards of using a BBQ smoker are priceless, and before long, you will have a long line of people outside your yard who are eager to eat your tasty Q!
Start off by cooking for yourself and a friend or two, learn their likes and dislikes, and cook to their tastes to start with. Try out some whole smoked chicken, or a pork shoulder and you will not go far wrong.