Been smoking my whole life!
here is what I have come up with over the years as a good "brisket rub", however it does a fine job on ribs and pork butt as well.
3/4 cp paprika
1/4 cp blk pepper
1/4 cp coarse salt
1/4 cp brown sugar
2 TBS chili pwdr
2 TBS garlic pwdr
2 TBS onion pwdr
2 tsp cayenne
I rub the meat well with this the night before smoking, set in fridge, remove in time to allow the meat to come to room temp before putting it on the rack.
full smoke a brisket for 4-6 hours ( to your taste) at 225*, at that time, wrap it up in heavy foil and return to the heat (without smoke) for an additional 6-8 hrs.
Ribs....you must remove the silver skin first, follow the above, however reduce the time's appropriate for the size of ribs you are cooking. Usually, ribs get full smoke for 4 hrs then wrap in foil to finish in around 8 - 10hrs at 200*-225*.
the recipe above should be altered to your tastes....more sugar, more cayenne etc.
the Birds...I soak all poultry prior to smoking, using the basic brine formula of; for every quart of water needed to cover the victim, add
1/4 cp cider vinegar
1/4 cp salt
1/2 cp sugar (white sugar for white meat, brown sugar for red meat)
1 can frozen juice I like the "Hawaii's own" brand, but any citrus based juice works well.
soak over nite but no more than 24 hrs. This also works well as an injection if so inclined.
allow the bird to "dry out" a bit before placing in the smoker, as this allows the smoke to adhere and seal the bird.
full smoke ( lighter woods for lighter meats is the basic rule) for 2-4 hrs (per taste) and finish unwrapped until a min of 8 hours ( for a 12 lb bird).
I soak all my meats in a 5 gal bucket adding a pot or pie plate or whatever is needed under the lid to keep the meat submerged.
If the victim is to travel with you, say to a pic-nic, family visits etc., as soon as it comes from the smoker, wrap the meat in foil ( if not already that way), then wrap in a towel and place it in an ice chest. This will allow the meat to stay hot for hours and will be warm tomorrow if never opened.
cheeses....these require a cold smoke (70* is best).
I just use a cardboard box with a small rack inside, placed above the smoke vent while the meats are inside. be sure the cheese is no thicker than 2 inches as the smoke does not penetrate deeply. watch for signs of melting as this is bad, cool the "cheese box" by lifting a bit higher off of the vent. depending on the wood used, cheese takes on that wonderful smoky flavor in about 2-4 hrs.
Smoking meat is a hobby I love very much.