I posed a question in another thread about this contraption and realized I didn't initially understand how it worked based on the responses I got. I have questions about times to smoke things using this new tool. In the past, we have used a classic Weber grill and have done slow cooked meats like ribs and brisket by starting them in a slow oven and finishing them on the grill with wood chips over natural coals. Now we will be smoking/bbqing them the whole time using the firebox. I looked on the internet, and didn't find much reliable-sounding information. I realize it will take time and experimentation to learn how to boss this new pit, but some ballpark figures as well as any additional tips would be helpful.
First, a question with a probably obvious answer, but just thought I'd ask: if you want to merely grill things like fish, steak, hamburgers, or vegetables without smoking them, I'm assuming you would put your fuel of choice right in the barrel part of the grill, not in the firebox, and proceed as you would with the classic Weber.
Second, some guesses about cooking times using the fire box as both heat and smoke source:
Brisket--10-12 hours, rebuilding the fire once or twice (shooting for internal meat temp of 210).
Ribs--6-8 hours (ditto on meat temp).
Pork shoulder--6-8 hours (ditto on meat temp)
A whole chicken (or more than one), butterflied and splayed out on the grill--2-2 1/2 hours (internal meat temp @ 155).
Third, do you advise tenting any of the above-mentioned meats with foil at a certain point to prevent dryness?
Fourth, wood chips: to soak or not to soak? Pros and cons of each method?
Finally, any advice about managing the ventilation system would be greatly appreciated. From my understanding, the temperature will rise a lot with the vents open wide, and the degree to which you close the vents is how you control the temperature. Tomorrow's 4th of July virgin adventure will involve chickens, with ribs or brisket to follow this weekend.
Thanks in advance for reading and for helping us out.