The Smoker Thread - recipes, techniques, ideas

On bark, three things that I can think of that are different from you Michael. Two of them may matter, the third may or may not:

  • Amount of Seasoning - I do season quite heavily (primarily with kosher salt and coarse pepper). From what I understand the seasoning is a definite factor in the formation of bark as it helps disturb the air flow around the meat. But I totally understand why someone would shy away from that.

  • Timing Seasoning - The other difference is that I go straight onto the smoker after I season. It’s just right out of the fridge, I apply the seasoning, an then straight onto the grates. This is very different than when I do grilling, where I’ll always do what you do - season the night before (or earlier - usually 24 hours before) - and put on a rack in the fridge. I do think that seasoning in advance does give better flavor development, but the downside is that salt absorbs into the meat, which as I said above I do believe detracts from bark formation.

  • Spritz - About half-way into things I’ll spritz with a mix of apple cider / apple cider vinegar, if things look like they are drying out on the outside. I do this every 30 minutes or so.

About half the time I wrap, half I don’t. Primarily dependent on whether I’ve already got good bark formation and need to get things pushed to the finish line sooner.

Couldn’t agree with this more. Even with briquettes, in fair weather with no wind, using minion method, it’s quite variable. As long as it’s somewhere between 250 and 275 I typically just let it ride, or if it gets below that towards the end and I’ve got time, I’ll let it ride as well. But I do find I’m futzing with the bottom vents every hour or so.

Thanks for that confirmation. Glad it’s not just me.


Use this. Set my WSM to do over night briskets and it doesn’t miss a beat. Best $70 you can spend.


Tim, you’re going to make fun of me, but I enjoy futzing with the vents etc. I may break down and buy one eventually, but I’m resisting…

Me too. I only use it for longer (brisket or butt) cooks that are overnight or when I am running around and can’t keep an eye on things. Chickens or ribs, I always go manual. My biggest issue with the WSM is that I like to low/cold smoke things (red jalapenos for chipotles, cheese, kielbasa) and I can’t keep the bloody thing down between 170-200. No matter what I do with the vents mine sits somewhere between 215-350.

Last weekend Costco had a sale on pork ribs at $1.99/lb, so I picked up a package of baby backs and a package of St. Louis. The wife prefers baby backs so we cooked them first.

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Hi Mike. Curious to know what techniques you used for the Baby Backs.

I just did a couple slabs last weekend on my Kamado Joe. Seasoned, placed on top rack with slo-roller and smoked (with cherry) 2 hours at 275, then wrapped for an hour with a little cider vinegar.

They were good, but not great/awesome. I’ve spent lots of time with spareribs/St. Louis style, so comfortable with those. But looking for pointers on smoking baby backs.



I unpack and of course remove the membrane if there is one (was removed from the Costco ones), I then salt and leave in the fridge for 16-24 hours.

I apply a light coating of oil, mustard or mayonnaise (on these I used Mayo) and apply a homemade rub that has no salt. I normally put them on the smoker at 225, but I’m starting to experiment with some higher cook temps so I started these at 250. I try to be sure to keep the smoke going (my Stumps smoke box is a bit finicky) and I have gravitated to pecan as my favorite rib wood, I find hickory a bit too strong.

After around 3 hours I wrap them in butchers paper. This time I added butter and brown sugar to the wrap, but honestly I’m not sure it needs it and don’t think I’ll bother with that the next time. At this point I thought they were cooking a little fast so I lowered my temp to 225, my smoker is steady as a rock temperature wise using the BBQ guru.

1 and a half hours later temp on the ribs was just over 190 so I took them out of the BP and coated them with homemade BBQ sauce. Based on look/feel one rack was ready 30 minutes later and the other two took another 30 minutes. We cut one rack in half, vacuum sealed them and froze, the other two we ate immediately with some friends.

Next time (St. Louis ribs) I’m not going to sauce one of the racks and for the other two rather than add butter and brown sugar to the butchers paper, I’m going to make a blend of 1/2 BBQ sauce and 1/2 of apple jelly to coat the other two racks. I’ve done this before and it gives them a great finish but can get a little sweet, so I may add a little heat (cayenne pepper) and some apple vinegar.

Thanks for the details, Mike. Think we’re kind of on the same track. I was intrigued by some internet video that suggested that because baby backs have less fat than spare ribs they don’t benefit as much from low and slow. Not sure that after cooking at 275-300 for 3 hours total that I agree with that. Think mine were a hair overdone (guess that’s on me for not checking early enough).

I’m troubled with sauce. I don’t like putting sauce on ribs to finish them because I think that overly affects the flavor too much. Rub is fine, but sauce dominates. I want to evaluate the taste of my ribs before saucing them. Let me know how your experiment with the spares comes out.


For what it’s worth I tend to do my ribs around 275 on my egg. Only thing I change between spares and baby backs is cook time as spares can take 60-120 mins longer depending on size

If and when I foil I add some moisture- apple juice or back in my competition days Parkay squeeze butter. Though lately my go to is a white grape juice. Nice sweetness without screaming apple juice. I also add a little more rub and usually a peach or apple jelly as well to the foil pouch

I also tend to sauce at the end but it’s more of a glaze. I thin out the sauce big time, brush it on and let it set for 5-10 mins then take the ribs off. Gives it a nice shine and some extra flavor without overpowering as I thin out the sauce

I’ve gone back and forth on wrapping. Didn’t used to, then a friend who used to compete on the BBQ circuit gave me some pointers and I started using foil. I bought some BP for a brisket and then decided to wrap a butt with BP (had never wrapped a butt before) and it turned out really nice. These were the first ribs I wrapped with the BP, probably my imagination but the BP doesn’t seem to destroy the crust as much as foil seems to.

Totally agree re: BP vs foil. Foil is death, destroyer of bark.

I do 275 degrees on my WSM for all BBQ. Quicker than 225 with great results here. Much prefer spares to babyback. I do wrap in foil for about 45 minutes, but never with liquids. I like a bit of chew on my bite.

I do a light glaze the last 20 minutes or so.

FWIW, I also prefer spares to baby backs, and the full spare slab vs. the now-popular St. Louis style, which trims off lots of good stuff. Getting harder to find full slabs any more. Also concur that foil is death to bark. In addition, it just looks terrible. BP so much better looking.

well I dont think its your imagination, the different materials (BP vs foil) will produce different results.

It may seem odd to say, but some people don’t like a crunchy bark. I personally do but in contests it wasn’t a big thing for brisket to have a bark, it was about tenderness and flavor. So for me, just became a habit to use foil because I always have it around the house.

For pork ribs, I am not much for a crust on them, so the foil packets suit my desired result well. I tried a brisket in BP once and I got mixed results, and gave away my BP to a preschool. Maybe I’ll buy another role and try again

My brother has a lot of experience smoking briskets and sent me his technique a while ago. Never got around to posting it here until now. Hope someone gets some ideas and use out of his version. This is from his text exchange with me, edited for clarity. Parentheses are my clarifications.

I have a completely new approach to brisket now.

I’ve never seen it done before, but after cooking so much I’ve found that each part of it cooks differently. This method gets you burnt ends and slicing brisket thats both point and flat, a little meat to make jerky out of, and a bit of flat with no point.

You’ll end up with smaller usable portions. Ideal for you, as you could cook a whole brisket and seal it and use it for a long time.

Whole packer brisket

The tail end is too small and thin with little to no fat. Cut it off.

Remove all the fat from that end piece.

Slice it thin and use it to make jerky or stew or whatever else.

Cut out the huge chunk of hard fat I call the tumor.

Cut this in half more or less, at the bottom of where the tumor was removed.

All three pieces so far.

Trim the fat to 1/8".

This trimmed, the point laying on top of the flat. This piece is completed now. It will be sliced from the short side all the way across. The grain starts running in different directions and this way you are against the grain on both pieces. Slice fat side up so the juices run over the meat.

Remove the piece of flat sitting on top of the point and trim the fat on both.

Should look about like this. This section of flat cooks well and has nice marbling.

You end up with this.

Now you have much more manageable pieces. the small flat is about a lb cooked. The point about 2.5 and the slicing flat about 2.75. the slicing flat can be used for ends and the point can be used for slices. very versatile

When you cut off the first bit you can see if it has decent marbling or not and is even. I often cut it in half if it does and cook it with the other small flat.

I’ve been smoking the small flats for as long as possible till they hit about 160, then 18 hours at 158 or 24 hour at 155. (He uses a water bath at 158F or 155F, not smoker temp for this part) The Point gets smoked wide open in the smoker until it hits 203 and and feels like butter in the summer left out on the counter. The slicing flat/point combo gets wrapped tight in foil with about 1/3 cup of water and cooked until it hits 203 in the center. Smoke between 200-225 if possible. Can go higher, especially after the little flats are off and the slicer is wrapped. 300 is fine then, but 250 is better.

Once the point is finished let it sit out on a rack for about 20 minutes or so till it starts to move down a bit. when it gets down to about 160 wrap it in foil, then plastic wrap, then hold it for a few hours, or all day, keeping it above 140 internal. oven, cooler, blanket. then use it or bag and ice it, then seal. (with a vacuum sealer) retherm 155-165. (water bath, 155F-165F, not on a smoker) good as new.

When the slicing flat is done open the foil and pour off the juices and fat. Let it sit in the same manner, foiling and wrapping in plastic, holding for a few hours. The longer the better. same deal, use it or seal it.

after the little flats are done, ice em. retherm them in the smoker while cold, spritzing with apple juice to keep em just kinda moist. Ready to eat.

Some pics of process and finished product.

Brisket slice

Burnt End

And some smoked short ribs and beef belly pastrami just for fun.


I was waiting for that. I always make a lot of pastrami this time of year because I am lazy so I buy cheapo corned beef at the St. Patrick’s day sales. I made one a week ago and it seems to have disappeared into my son’s stomach so I took the last three out of the refrigerator and covered them with my own version of pastrami spice this morning. I will smoke for about 8 hours this afternoon and evening and then steam tomorrow.

Not as good as when I pickle the corned beef myself, but acceptable.

Doing the same thing tomorrow night with my Costco corned beef. But it’s only about a 4 or 5 pound flat, so I expect smoking will take around 4 or 5 hours. Will also steam at the end for a couple. Look forward to seeing your results.

One note from my Pastrami last year. I sliced about a quarter of the way in before realizing I was cutting with the grain. Made a huge difference when I changed direction. Texture totally different (and way better).

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I smoked two small points and a small flat together in the BGE for about 6 hours. I am not a big bark fan - too dry for me. As to slicing, cutting with the grain is almost fatal. GASP. another good reason to avoid bark - lets you see the grain.

About 10 years ago, I got into a lot of trouble here when I referred to pureeing the extra fat half way through and putting it on top for the final smoke as going “full retard.” It was politically incorrect until I explained that it was an homage to the movie Tropic Thunder. Whoever upthread said they render the fat and inject it wins the double full retard award, but it motivated me to take off some of the fat before I wrapped it tonight and put it into a jar, pastrami spice and all. In the morning, I will render it, strain it and inject it before I steam it. I do not know why, but steaming Pastrami seems to be a critical part of the process.

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