Barbecue Advice for an Engineer

Jackson Ortega-Scheiner Smoking Leave a Comment

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Dr. BBQ:

I apologize in advance for the multitude of questions in here but I just want to get down to cooking and I have some loose ends to tie up. There are so many conflicting styles, books, write-ups, etc that I go into overdrive when I read up on the subject. Basically I love to cook, love BBQ, and I am trying to put the two together by starting with some pulled pork at home. I bought your book and I am eager to try the recipes. The problem is I am an idiot when it comes to actual technique and equipment. I have a large gas grill that I can light one side and leave the other side “dark” to create an indirect heat. I was going to buy a woodbox to put in the grill, but where exactly do I need to put it to yield the best results? Over the lit side, on the main grill? Down closer to the burner under the grill? Do I need to wet my wood or should I leave it dry? Do I leave wood in the entire time or after several hours should I cut the wood out to not over smoke it? Assuming I nail down the right temperature (210 – 275°F) at the grill height, follow your recipe correctly, wrap the butt, etc., and the stars align am I really going to get a decent product or am I wasting my time with my current “BBQ”? Should go get an actual smoker like a Brinkmann or equivalent? I don’t want spend 12 hours to get a barely edible product. Help, I am a BBQ fan trapped in an engineer’s body.


Hi Chris,

First off, don’t be so stressed. It’s BBQ and that means it should be relaxing. You can cook decent food on that gas grill but it will be better and your life will be easier if you buy the right equipment.

As for the placement of the wood box, it needs to go on the lit side and needs to hot enough to be smoking. This gets a little tricky when you are also trying to keep the temp down in the cooker. You can try it right below the cooking grid but you may have to remove the deflector on that side and put it right above the flame. If you can access the manufacturer’s suggestion via the owners manual that would be best. I’d smoke the food for the first half of the cooking and probably wrap the meat in foil for the second half. Obviously you’ll have to make adjustments based on your grill and what you’re cooking. You may also find that you have more heat hitting the top of the meat in this setup, but that’s easily fixed by flipping the meat over once in a while.



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