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BBQ in the State of Michigan

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    BBQ in the State of Michigan

    Watching my Dad bbq when I was growing up in the Tri-City area of Michigan, I learned that everything was to be grilled over direct high heat until burnt and dry. Somehow it still tasted good and I always looked forward to it.

    Many years later I started the cycle of purchasing cheap gas grills that worked okay in the beginning, but that ultimately needed to be completely replaced in two to three years. Each time I would spend a little more, and kept telling myself that the next time I would splurge on a Weber due to the rave reviews I read about them. (I never seriously considered charcoal because it always seemed like too much of a messy hassle to deal with.)

    As I became more and more interested in barbecuing, I kept looking for ways to improve my flavor. After several disappointing attempts at making ribs without a good method or patience, I stumbled upon AmazingRibs.com. That changed everything. I had never heard of the indirect grilling method, and that alone made a huge difference not only in ribs, but across the board. Meathead’s site has been the “go to” reference ever since for techniques, recipes, and equipment reviews.

    As my latest grill was quickly wearing out due to overuse and being constructed of cheap materials, I became obsessed with upgrading to something that would last years and be set up to allow options for proper direct and indirect grilling. I finally convinced my wife that investing in something that will last several years and provide a better grilling experience was the smart way to go. Ultimately, largely influenced by AmazingRibs.com, I purchased the Weber Genesis EP-330. This purchase, along with Meathead’s techniques and recipes, once again made a big difference in the end products. In addition, based on AmazingRibs.com’s recommendations, I made several more important purchases such as the Maverick ET-732, a ThermaPen, GrillGrates, and a 12” A-maze-n Tube Smoker.

    The Weber Genesis has worked better than expected for more than two years, but as I read more and more from the site, I became increasingly curious about charcoal and smoking meat. In order to save on cost, I began researching plans to build an Ugly Drum Smoker out of a 55 gallon drum. The hardest part ended up being able to find the right drum, in my area, for a reasonable price, that didn’t have a lining that needed to be removed. Early this summer, as I continued to search Craigslist for drums, I came across a new posting in my area for a Weber One Touch Gold Kettle (that had only been used once) for $75. I instantly scrapped the plans for the UDS, and quickly snatched up the kettle.

    Charcoal barbecuing on the Weber Kettle became my new obsession, and the Weber Genesis is now more frequently used for the side burner. The increase in flavor from gas to charcoal is truly amazing. Not to mention how well it works to smoke meats. Previously, I had incorrectly assumed that there was little to no temperature control when using charcoal, but now I realize what an art it can be by using proper charcoal positioning and vent control, along with configurations such as the minion, and the snake method.

    As much fun as I was having with the Weber Kettle, I still couldn't get the idea of having a dedicated smoker out of my head. Due to running out of deck space, I just couldn’t see putting a 55 gallon drum next to my other units. The smaller Weber Smokey Mountains caught my eye, and when I saw how cheaply and easily you could make a homemade version out of a Smokey Joe Grill and a steamer pot, I knew I had to try it. I picked up the parts after work on a Friday, and had a finished, painted Mini WSM by Saturday evening. The paint job was the most time consuming portion of the build, but I am very happy with it.

    For the past several weeks, the Mini WSM is now getting the most attention on my deck, with the Weber Kettle coming in a close second. It is a lot of fun to figure out, and for the first time ever, I have successfully made a good batch of smoked jerky on it. The family is looking forward to me smoking both a ham and a whole turkey on it in the coming weeks since they really enjoyed Meathead’s version of both even on the Weber Genesis.

    To make a long story longer, myself and my family owe a lot to Meathead, his supporting crew, and the AmazingRibs.com website, for all of the good meals we have had. I was excited when I first heard about the Pitmaster Club, and only regret that it has taken me until just recently to join. I look forward to learning many more techniques from everyone in “The Pit”, and sharing both the success stories and the occasional failures.

    B A Doe

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    Welcome B A Doe! Loving the Michigan State logo on the smoker! I might live in Columbus, Ohio now but I Bleed Green & White! Born and raised in Michigan!



      I am liking that Mini WSM! Wondering how you go about building it?


        B A Doe Welcome! That's a wonderful intro post! And I (and I know Pit Boss as well) will be pleased to see you've done such a great job on your signature, and it looks like you've also viewed the picture posting guide. WELL DONE SIR! I'm Michigan born & raised myself, not too far from the tri cities. Still in central MI now. I too grew up with a dad who liked to grill and I thought burgers were supposed to be dry, lol. Meathead has helped us all become the wizard chefs of our neighborhoods. Great pic by the way. Look forward to hearing & seeing more from you. Thanks for the support!


          HEY BA! Welcome. Glad to have another Weber loving Great Lakes member!


            Welcome B A! Your story rings true for many of us, in my case the major exception being that my Dad handed grilling duties off to me by the time I was 14. I guess he just didn't like it that much.

            Nice post. Nice job using the photo upload feature. Nice job setting up your signature. You get the trifecta!


              Welcome B A Doe, I am also a Tri Cites Michigander.Looking forward to your posts on future cooks, would love to see a good jerky recipe (hint hint) since bow season is just around the corner.


                Welcome home brother



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