8 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Barbecue at Home

You don't have to be a pitmaster to turn out succulent smoked 'cue. Just be sure to avoid these pitfalls, as explained by Rashad Jones, the owner of a barbecue food truck in Florida and the host of Eat, Sleep, BBQ (don't miss it on Saturdays at 9|8c!).

1. You don't take your time. This is barbecue. Think low-and-slow cooking fueled by a wood-burning fire.

2. You start cooking too late. Plan to start maybe a 1/3 earlier than you originally planned. There’s nothing worse than having guests arrive for dinner and the food isn't anywhere close to being ready. Starting early gives you that leeway you need to relax and get the job done. 

3. You buy inexpensive cuts of meat. Please don’t buy a cut of meat simply because it’s affordable. As much as possible, stick with quality cuts, particularly Choice grade beef.

4. You oversmoke your meats. The tendency is to pack your smoke chamber with thick white smoke. This is a big no-no. Smoke should be super thin, faint and blue. This is called clean smoke. Thick white smoke is called dirty smoke.

5. You don't monitor how your fire is burning. Wood should always be burning and not smoldering. Smoldering wood is the result of a fire that is oxygen deprived, and oxygen-deprived fires produce heavy, thick and dirty smoke. To correct this, simply use a stoker to position your wood in a way that air can flow all around it.

6. You don't keep your smoker properly maintained. Don’t allow meat drippings to build up. This can pose a serious risk of a grease fire.

7. You don't invest in a good, accurate meat thermometer. This is particularly important when cooking chicken. Probe the thickest part of the breast and thigh. Once your reading is 165 F, you’re good to go and your chicken will be juicier than if you overlook it by allowing it to rise to a higher temperature.

8. You don't have fun. Don’t let a not-so-good time on the smoker get the best of you (I’ve had more of those than my fair share!). Keep at it and don't get discouraged.     

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