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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tales of Smoking with the Weber Smokey Mountain

The Husband had been talking about getting a smoker for a while but it wasn't until we went over to our friend Ben's house for some smoked ribs that I realized it was true - a smoker was a necessity for awesome BBQ. You know those ribs from your favorite BBQ restaurant? You can make those at home! (and for a fraction of the price... Costco has babyback ribs - 3 full racks - for $30!)

The Husband researched intensely and finally decided that the smoker to get was the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker - an upright bullet shaped cooker by Weber which allows you to create old-fashioned BBQ using the "low and slow" cooking method over wood and coal.

The Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) is pricier than others of its kind (retails $299) but it's leagues ahead of the competition and compared to professional smoker/cookers on the market, it is a bargain in that respect but provides the same quality.

Some professional BBQers use several WSMs lined up in a row during their BBQ competitions across the U.S. There is a website devoted to every detail about the WSM, which was an asset to us while we were getting started in this adventure.

Since our investment, the WSM has been used more than our Weber grill! We've made around 20 racks of ribs, at least 4 pork butts (pulled pork), and three beer-can chickens. I'm never going to be touching that "liquid smoke" crap again, that is for sure. The WSM works in all weather - it's been chugging along on hot August days, rainy summer nights, and in the single-digit temperatures in Michigan's Upper Peninsula .. and the WSM reigns champ and keeping its temperature at a very steady slow burn. The main factor in temperature consistency is wind and the outside temperature seems to barely make a difference, which is excellent for us.. great barbecue year-round!

We of course bought several smoker accessories - Smoke and Spice, a great book of recipes and barbecue history, a sauce mop for sloshing on some spicy goodness, a spray bottle for applejuice spraying, a thermometer for use in the dome of the smoker, welder's gloves for handling the smoker, a Weber chimney starter for quickly getting the coals going, and bags of wood chunks - apple and hickory are some of our favorites.

Thankfully, had very detailed steps with pictures for everything related to this smoker - from setting it up, to preparing meats, accessorizing, keeping the smoker going, correct temperatures and timing, and several delicious recipes for all kinds of smoked food. They also have a forum with tons of information and other smoker fanatics who you can share idea with! I printed out tons of information from this website and we still use it as a reference because it has resulted in perfect smoked offerings every time.

We started out with the simple baby back ribs recipe "Basic Baby Back Ribs" and had friends over to try it out. The ribs were outstanding, and the only thing we noted was that the Magic Dust recipe is a little spicy (hot!) for our taste but the ribs were smokey, tender, and the flavor was delicious! We still use the Magic Dust recipe for our ribs but with a little less cayenne/black pepper and sometimes other fun spices!

We tried ribs one more time with additional friends and they were again, delicious, and then it was time to try a new smoked meat - pulled pork. We would smoke ribs for 4 or 5 hours, until the "pull-test" showed they were perfectly tender, but for smoking 7 or 8lb pork butts, you're looking at maybe 16-18 hours on the smoker.

This was our first adventure into overnight smoking and I must say the first time resulted in less sleep than usual. It was a stormy summer night and we put the prepared pork butts on around midnight or so, and we were nervous about the rain and the smoker maintaining a good temperature (around 225 degrees) so we were waking up almost hourly to check. As it turns out, WSM smoker maintains temperatures awesomely and withstands rain and snow without a problem - we now sleep more soundly for overnight smoking!

We followed the "Renowned Mr Brown" pork butt recipe and cooking procedure, which also included the spicy southern succor rub and using the mop with the Southern Sop.

It was awesome! Since then, we've also tried the "Slathered with Mustard and Rub" recipe which was equally delicious.

You can get a set of two ~7lb pork butts from Costco sometimes, and it is a great deal, around $30. So it is similar pricing as the baby back ribs, however the pulled pork is the most cost effective meal. We figure three racks of ribs will cover about 6 people, while the two pork butts will feed you and a dozen friends, possible more! Still, both are way cheaper than going to your typical BBQ joint, which will rob you for at least $20 for "full" rack (but not as full as the racks you would buy!)

During our fun Germany-American party with Andrea, Jan, and their friends visiting from Germany, we had some pulled pork going but also wanted to try out Beer Can Chicken.

Nothing says "Welcome to America" like this kind of barbecue, and the beer can chicken turned out awesome. Chicken might sound a little boring but when you put on a delicious rub and smoke it, as noted in this recipe on, it turns out so tender, flavorful, and delicious. The smoke is just what the chicken was missing, and say goodbye to dry and boring rotisserie chicken! This recipe was excellent and we've made it again since then.
While just smoked meat may be all you need, there are all sorts of sides and accompaniaments to be had with these delicious entrees. For the pulled pork sandwich, why not try it Carolina style with mustard-based BBQ sauce (my favorite is Sticky Fingers but Shealy's is also delish!) and coleslaw on top?

Or, if you're like my husband, then you'll have to have garlic smashed redskins as a side dish. No recipe necessary - just keep adding butter and pressed fresh garlic and salt and pepper until they are addictive! Another favorite side dish that I've made several times are the classic baked beans - sweet, tangy, with bacon! I found this recipe on and I think you will like it too.

Down Home Baked Beans

1 pound bacon
2 (28 ounce) cans baked beans, drained
1 (12 ounce) bottle chili sauce
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cups packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
In a large bowl combine beans, chili sauce, onion, brown sugar and bacon. Pour into a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Worried that your pork butt will yield too many leftovers? Besides pulled pork making the BEST mexican dishes (quesadillas, tacos, burritos, etc!) Try this recipe which we just enjoyed with leftover smoked pulled pork - a barbecue pork cornbread casserole!

BBQ Pork Cornbread Casserole

2 lbs or several cups of shredded pulled pork
1 cup of your favorite BBQ (or add enough to your liking)
1 onion, diced
1 can of corn, drained
1 package of Betty Crocker cornbread muffin mix (and ingredients listed on back of package)
1/2 of each - green and red bell pepper, diced -- or toss in any other veggie you'd like to have

Preheat oven according to cornbread muffin mix directions. Mix up cornbread batter as noted on package, set aside. Add the other ingredients to a casserole dish and stir to combine. Pour/spread cornbread topping on top of your BBQ and bake in the oven, according to the cornbread muffin directions.

Sorry for the lack of details but I don't have the exact recipe/directions I followed in front of me.


  1. Wow, you should do an ad for the product! :) I wish I could smoke enough meat to justify the $299, sounds like you guys are really making the most of it.

  2. Hey! I noticed you used Shealy's barbecue sauce from my home state of S.C. There is nothing like good ol' mustard-based sauce...mmm...

  3. Hi! Thanks for stopping in! The Shealy's was a gift from my brother and sister-in-law who live in S.C. and it is delish! I love those mustard based BBQ sauces for a change of pace.

    Noelle - true! Our similarly priced weber gas grill has been sitting idle for quite some time now, poor ole guy (but it's almost summer).. but both should last a long time so I plan to get our money's worth and make the most of it, if we haven't already. :)

  4. Hi Anne! Andy and I were wondering if we should start making a list of things we are hoping you'll make when we visit? :D

    They actually closed down our Sticky Fingers :( The closest one is in Greenville, I think, but at least the sauce is still in stores. We found a few more bbq restaurants we really like that you guys will have to try if you're ever this way! I think Andy called to tell you about the one that had a holder of taxidermy business cards on the counter next to the menus, LOL!