Ok, so now that I have had my Weber Smokey Mountain for about 5 months, I figured it’s time to experiment with different setups.
So my default setup is to fill the charcoal ring 3/4 full. I then light a full charcoal chimney with coals and light it up. Once lit, I top off the charcoal ring for a minion method cook.
My vents are fully open because I have gasket seals on the whole smoker. I also fill the water bowl with about 4gal of water. This evens out at about 225 – 240 degrees.
Experimental Setup #1: No Water
So I have read online that a few people will cook without water. They leave the water bowl in and cover it in foil. I took this method and modified it a little. I put in an 18in pizza stone in the bowl and wrapped it in foil.
I am using Cowboy lump charcoal with the same ratios as before. 3/4 full and a full chimney. I left the vents fully open but this topped at 350. I pulled all three bottom vents down to 15-25% open (you can’t really be exact) and the temp dropped to 275. This is perfect for a fast cook ribs.
The pizza stone did not seem to make a big difference. But I’m keeping it in there anyway.
I think for long term cooking at a lower temperature keeping water in the basin is the way to go. I have trouble getting the smoker over 250° when the basin is full. This makes it more difficult to burn my food. Now if I want to go hot and fast the new water is definitely the way to go. I think the foil and the pizza stone act is a perfect deflector so that the meat does not get direct fire. The real takeaways from this experiment is that you shouldn’t be scared try new things with your own smoker. Try throwing firebricks in the bottom or try new kinds of woods while cooking. You never know what you may discover by changing things around a little bit.