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Smoking Thick Cuts the Right Way

Smoking Thick Cuts the Right Way

My 'go-to' long smoke is almost always going to include a big fat brisket and some chunky short ribs. Occasionally I'll also throw in a pork shoulder to pull out early and turn into pulled pork. Nailing these three thicker cuts is easy, but like most things, the preparation is crucial. Here's a few tips to make your smoke a breeze:

Use Enough Coal

Make sure you load up your Big Green Egg or kamado style smoker. The last thing you want to do is have to re-stock the coal when you're meat is starting to plateau. I'd always rather overload my smoker with charcoal than not have enough. The rule of thumb is filling up to the line, and I give it a little prod to make sure it settles properly.

Room Temp

If you've had your cuts in the fridge basting in sauce overnight, make sure you let them rest at room temperature for at least an hour or two before you put them in the smoker. Yeah, I know, that's an early start if you plan on getting your smoker going at 5am. But it will mean a more even and predictable cook because the heat and smoke isn't trying to overcome a chilled inner meat temp. If you live in a cold climate...obviously room temperature becomes a relative term. I also like to throw on some more rub after a night in the fridge.

Let it Get Hot

Usually because it's a hellish time of the morning, I'll find myself rushing and not letting the coal catch properly. I use BGE charcoal starters, but there's plenty of brands that do the same thing. Just make sure you give them the 15 minutes or so that they need before shutting down your vents. Nothing worst than the heat fading 2 hours in.

Technology Smechnology

Well yeah, but if fancy dooby-whackers mean I can nap and watch Jurrasic Park while I'm doing a long, slow smoke - well I'm in. I use the EGG Genius and while it's got a few wires and tricks to it, once you've gotten used to it, I swear I can't live without it now. Also, because I don't like the cables running through my meat, I use the WiFi Meatsticks. These things are fantastic for setting alarms and watching the progress of your internal meat temps. Yes, it's an expensive set up, but when the room goes quiet as family and friends tuck into your brisket and ribs - it's just about worth it.


Constantly Check your Meat

I'm only kidding. Don't open the lid if you can help it. Personally I'll open it about 20 times and add a bit of sauce, fill up the water tray and of course wrap the meat for the last 2 hours. I can't help myself, I love to look at it. But don't do as I do, do as I say. It'll mean a better meal at the end of your smoke....probably.

Texas Crutch

When to wrap your meat, or if you should wrap it is an ongoing debate. Known as the Texas Crutch in some BBQ circles, wrapping your meat to ensure an internal temp of 195-200°F is considered cheating by some. For me, if cheating means I win...then call me a cheat. I usually wrap when I have about 2 hours left on a 10hr smoke. But it's really something you just use your intuition about. From 170°F to 195°F can take an hour or two depending on the consistency of your pit temp. I use a thick foil, but butcher paper is also great and doesn't stick to the meat. Just make sure it's not windy when you're trying to wrap.


I was never into resting meat. I thought it was fancy, cheffy hogwash. But after resting a dozen or so times now, I'm totally convinced that it gives your thick cuts the juicy edge that will elevate them to the next level. Like resting before putting into the smoker, I personally think resting for at least an hour after your cook is essential for getting the most out of a long smoke.

Okay, I thought this was going to be a short 'tips-and-tricks' type post, but it turns out there are a few more factors than I though when it comes to nailing your thicker cuts. Be patient and keep smiling. 

- Lucky Boy BBQ Pitmaster

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