The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Photo/Prep Tip-How Your Photos Help Prep

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As you will see some of my tips may be a little unorthodox. Many of the folks I know who share this hobby also like to take pictures of what they make. You may already have a collection of photos that can serve as a valuable resource when you are getting ready to make a new meal. By taking two photos you to can help yourself with future preps.
Okay so where am I going with this. Let me tell you a little story, a true story. This past week I was making BIG BOB GIBSON’S BAR-B-QUE CHICKEN. I had two sides I wanted to finish up with the chicken. I was working my way backwards to see when I should light the smoker. The recipe said the whole spatchcocked (butterflied) chicken would take 3 hours at a cooking temperature of 325 degrees (160C). this just didn’t sound right. It seemed far too long for something the size of a chicken. My gut was telling me just under 2 hours. If I used the 3 hours and it was wrong my chicken would be done 1 hour early.

What could I do to resolve this question? I remembered I made a similar sized BEER CAN CHICKEN on the same smoker at the same temperature-around 325 degrees (160C). Since I had photos of this cook (and most of my other cooks) in my photo library, it was a simple task. I found the photo taken when the food was ready to go out to the smoker, and I found the photo taken after the BBC came off the smoker. I looked at the date time stamp and saw I was looking at a time of around 1 hour 38 minutes. I figured the BBC would cook a little faster because it was on a poultry stand and the liquid used would serve to cook it inside and out. So I figured the cooking time would be in the 1 hour 45 minute - 2 hour range. I had great confidence in this time because it was the same sized chicken, cooked at the same temperature and I had the photos documenting the time. As it turned of the chicken was on the smoker for 1:50 minutes and my sides finished up with chicken. So if you have a digital camera snap a picture of your food going on the grill and one coming off. These two pictures can prove very useful in many other ways, but now you have a permanent record of just how long it took. Below the pictures will be a couple more tips about this tip.


Here is the shot of the chicken just before it went on the smoker-time: 3:14.


Here is the chicken hot of the smoker-time 4:42. Total cook time 1:38 minutes


  • Be sure to take the time to set the Date and Time correctly for your camera.
  • Having the time of year can be helpful too. You may have cooked this type food in both the summer and winter. The cooking time for the same time of the year should be more accurate.
  • Even if the clock in the camera was not set correctly, you should still be able to use it. This assumes you didn’t reset the time mid-cook-not likely. So even if the photos show bright sunlight and the start photo shows a timestamp of 8:30 PM and the finish photo shows 10:45 PM, you still have useful information here. Just subtract the start time from the end time and it tells you the cook took 2:15 in the example described here.
  • Every photo software package has a different way of showing the info about the EXIF info recorded when you took the photo. Sometimes a menu command brings up a dialog box, other software has an info panel that is always visible when a photo is selected & other software, like Aperture which I use, has a popup info box which becomes visible when you mouse over a picture in the photo library.
  • I encourage you to take lots of photos, they can help you see how well things turned out and a photo record 6 years in the future is much more accurate than your personal memories of the event.

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