Pulled pork and brisket cooked for 12 or 14 hours make a great story and taste outstanding, but some days an all-day cook is just too much. Thankfully, there are plenty of meats you can cook on a smoker in 4–6 hours. In this story I fired up "Big Black," my Meadow Creek TS250 Smoker, for a quick and tasty barbecue of ribs and chicken.
The TS250 comes with two sliding cooking grates. In this cook, I'm only doing four racks of pork ribs and six whole chickens, so I didn't use the top grate. This smoker can hold a total of 45–47 whole chickens or 26–34 racks of baby back ribs, so we could have gotten about 4 times as much meat on.
I fired the smoker at 10:15 am with Royal Oak's 100% Hardwood Charcoal Briquettes.
The easiest way to fire a Meadow Creek tank smoker is with a propane torch. The torch quickly heats up the steel tank and the inside of the smoker, which is important for getting the temperature in the smoker stabilized.
If you've been following along, you know Big Black has the optional insulated firebox and charcoal basket. Technically, I can load it with 40 pounds of charcoal and a couple of log splits and it will burn for close to 6 hours without needing to be refueled. This cook took around 40 pounds of charcoal.
However, it's a little tricky firing the smoker this way and is easy to overheat OR put creosote on your meat. The trick is to get the tank heated with the torch, then light a small portion of the charcoal (enough to give it a good start so it doesn't smolder, but not enough to overheat the smoker). Then you must close the firebox door and shut down the vents to about 1/4".
If you're just starting, you probably want to start with 20 pounds of charcoal and then add more once that burns down. Even if you're experienced, you might choose to go with a smaller and hotter fire instead of adding so much fuel at the beginning and trying to keep it hot enough to avoid creosote and cool enough to avoid overheating the smoker.
Big Black Blog Posts
By 10:30 I had the meat on.
Rolling smoke and having fun...
Ain't they pretty?
I wrapped the ribs around 2:00 after 3.5 hours in the smoke.
Ribs back in the smoker, wrapped for 1.75 hours.
Ribs unwrapped and back in the smoke for another hour.
Dandy looking ribs!
Sliced and ready to serve.
Ribs worth smiling about!
For more photos, features, and available upgrades for the Meadow Creek TS250 smoker, view this smoker in our online product catalog. Once you're there, click on "Request a Quote" to send an inquiry to your closest dealer.