1. Plan to add at least 1.5 hours to prep, startup, and cook times.
  2. Invest in meat probes with a wireless system.
  3. Prepared rubs are good, but homemade rubs have more meaning.
  4. Charcoal burns differently from brand to brand. High end charcoal lumps burn hotter and longer. Don’t use lighter fluid. Get a chimney starter and use paper.
  5. Don’t be tempted to peek at the meat! If you must peek, be prepared to lose temp, especially in smaller grills. Also, don’t be tempted to fiddle with the coals or the air vents. Cheap grills are like cheap cars: quirky, need TLC, and prone to unusual swings in temp. If you know your cheap grill well, and like it, use it. I have a cheap grill and a competition grill. I use them both, sometimes at the same time.
  6. Wood smoke is flavorful. Cut your pieces ahead of time, so all you have to do is feed the fire. Cut more than you think you need. You’ll likely use all of it.
  7. Patience is a virtue, especially when smoking meat. Low and slow is the key to tender, juicy pork that tastes like heaven. Don’t pull the meat just because it’s close to the right temp. It will not be nearly as tender.
  8. Trim the butts. YouTube has tons of videos on how to do it.
  9. Good tools are a must. High temp gloves work well, but keep them dry. Wet gloves conduct heat.
  10. I use a good grill tool with the slinky end. I heat up the grill, scrub it down and then rub half an onion on the grates.
  11. Last, but not least, nothing will go according to plan. Make a backup plan.
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