I was born in eastern Tennessee and raised in southwest Virginia. I’m a mountain boy. So, it is fitting that I am now cooking with a smoker called the Weber Smokey Mountain. This is a huge upgrade over my previous smoker, where I had to constantly babysit the temperatures all day. I’m also now going to be a Weber fan for life, because their customer service is out of this world fantastic. The lid is kinda ‘out of round’ where I have to force it down onto the top of the smoker, and Weber is supposed to send me a new one, free of charge. You can’t beat that kind of customer service. I am already in love with my Weber Smokey Mountain.
One of the advantages of the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker vs. other cooks is its ease of use. In its ease of use, it holds and retains heat incredibly well. When you fire it up, using the Minion method, which is filling the charcoal base entirely with unlit charcoal, removing 10-15 briquettes and beginning a fire in a charcoal chimney until it is grayed and ashed over, subsequently dumping the hot coals onto the unlit ones, after the smoker heats up to 225-250, you can close all three of the intake vents located at the bottom of the smoker and lightly ‘crack’ one of the intake vents by barely leaving it open, all the while allowing the exhaust vent on the lid of the cooker to remain wide open for the duration of the cook. This smoker worked like a charm right out of the box, and I can only imagine how much better and more efficient it is going to run once a solid film of ‘grease’ coating adds up in the internal surfaces of the cooker itself after a few cooks.
I watched game one of the NBA Finals last night and wound up going to bed past 12 a.m. I woke up at 4:30 on Friday morning, just a few hours after going to bed, as I could not contain my excitement as it pertained to smoking some meats on this thing. Whenever I smoke, I like to stuff the smoker full of food, as I am usually always cooking for a large group of people (family and friends, typically, but oftentimes even acquaintances around this rural neighborhood).
Ultimately, I smoked a bacon-wrapped pork loin, two racks of baby back ribs, a family pack of chicken thighs, some chicken drumsticks and a tube of bologna. I didn’t take pictures of the thighs, drumsticks nor the tube of bologna, but I will try to (particularly with the excellent smoked bologna) in the next go-’round.
I have to admit, I was most excited for the baby back ribs. This was my first ever time smoking ribs of any kind, as I only just began my barbecue journey back in December.
I didn’t foil the ribs, despite many recommendations online suggesting that I follow the ‘3-2-1 method’, which is smoking the ribs uncovered for three hours, wrapping them in foil with a few pats of butter and drizzled honey (optional, but allegedly it adds to the flavor and gives it a bit of sweetness) and finishing the ribs by unwrapping it from the foil and allowing the smoke to pervade them for one more hour. In the case of the last hour, in regards to the addition of the honey when you foil it, one could potentially open the exhaust vents completely in order to increase the cooking temperature to allow the sugar from the honey to caramelize on the surface of the ribs. Talk about deliciousness.
My chosen method for my first ever racks of ribs was to use Uncle Yammy’s Memphs Style Chicken & Rib seasoning as a dry rub. Throughout the cook, I spritzed the ribs with a cranberry-apple juice I had in the fridge (as I did not have any apple juice at the time). As for when I chose to do so, it was around the two and half hour mark as for when I started ‘spraying’, or ‘spritzing’, the ribs with the cranberry-apple juice concoction. I made sure not to overdo it, as I did not want to somehow inconceivably taint or ruin the bark that I was working hard on achieving on these delectable pig ribs.
The smaller rack of ribs finished at around four hours in, as I surmise that they were cooking at a higher temperature than what the Weber Smokey Mountain gauge was reading. If there is one pitfall I have found as it pertains to the Weber Smokey Mountain, it is that the temperature gauge on the lid of the cooker is rather poor, and you could have your temperature reading 225 while the actual temperature of the food on the grate is being cooked at close to 300 degrees. This is a potentially exasperating fault, but with more experience in the realm of cooking should come more comfort using it, despite the errors of the temperature gauge.
The larger rack of ribs finished at around six hours. I was a little surprised by the discrepancy between the two racks, with the two hours in between finishing times, but nevertheless, for my first ever rib cook they turned out phenomenally well, if I do say so myself.
My choice of smoking wood was apple wood, which was sourced from the apple tree in my front yard that I pruned back in late February, along with two small chunks of hickory wood. When it comes to barbecue, I prefer a deep smoke flavor, and the smoky flavor imparted in the grub from this cook did not disappoint in the least. It was love at first bite for my family when they gave them a taste.
Multiple Weber fanatics and barbecue veterans from the Virtual Weber Bullet forum advised me to
not smoke a pork loin for my first cook, as the smoker was stated to allegedly run ‘hotter’ in its first couple of cooks than what it will when there is an ample amount of grease built up among the walls of the smoker, but hey, I just wanted to get my first cook in with this new barbecue toy, and what better way to learn than trial and error? The pork loin wound up being perfect: juicy as can be. I coated the pork loin with a thin layer of mayonnaise to ‘protect it’ with the fat in order to ensure it being moist when it was finished cooking, not to mention, well, the bacon wrapped around it helped quite a bit as well.
I am more than excited to continue experiencing with the WSM, and I look forward to sharing many journeys with my new smoker on my site going forward.