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posted: 6/27/2012 5:00 AM

Five rules for smooth smoking

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Don't over do it. "The biggest mistake rookies make is adding too much wood, chunk after chunk, to the point where the food tastes bitter," says Jamie Purviance, author of "Weber's Smoke" (Sunset, 2012)

Watch the color of the smoke. White smoke is good; black is bad. "If it starts to get dark, you're getting soot in the smoke, and on your food," Purviance says. "You need to give it more air to make it cleaner."

Wait for the smoke before putting your food on the grates. Put the coals and wood chips on one side of the grill, the food on the other side. "The lid goes on with the vents opposite the coals so it draws the smoke over the food and out the vents," Purviance says.

Have plenty of patience. "Smoking does take time; it will always take longer than you think. Take your time. Relax and have fun with it," says Ted Reader, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Smoking Foods" (Alpha, 2012).

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Open a cookbook, surf the Internet or email an expert. "I'll answer any questions," Reader says. "I have no secrets; I want to get people inspired." You can email him at ted@tedreader.com.

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