MISTAKE: Barbecuing at too high a temperature or for too short a time
The key to proper barbecue is to cook low and slow. If you're too impatient to get the job done, your final product won't be as delicious as it could be. By cooking at a lower temperature for a longer time, you'll be able to infuse your smoked meats with a lot more flavor. Your meat will also retain its juiciness and tenderness. Cooking at a higher temperature will make for a dryer and tougher end result. Make sure to keep the temperature within the optimal range and give yourself plenty of time to complete the process. Rushed barbecue is simply no good.
MISTAKE: Choosing the wrong type or cut of meat
Although using a smoker could probably make a shoe taste pretty good, the type and cut of meat you choose does matter. In other words: don't just choose the cheapest cut of meat you find in the grocery store. A high-quality cut will result in high-quality BBQ. For brisket, look for some marbling and hard fat that's a quarter-inch thick and white in color that covers the flat portion of the cut. For ribs, go for fresh over frozen and select a cut with good meat coverage over the bone without much surface fat. And for pork butt, choose a cut that has a large muscle at the end of the bone. Befriend your local butcher and defer to their advice, rather than hunting for a bargain in the meat section of the supermarket.
MISTAKE: Using too much sauce or incorporating sauce too early
Although the smoking process will impart a lot of flavor, there's no doubt that we all love a good barbecue sauce. However, you need to know how to sauce your smoked meats correctly. Hint: if you're putting the sauce on prior to cooking, you're doing it wrong. With ribs, the sauce should be applied in thin layers during the last 30 minutes of cooking. With other types of meats, don't sauce until the last few minutes of cooking. Alternatively, you can sauce it after it's finished cooking or as an accompaniment. Resist the urge to over-sauce, as it'll just conceal all the fine work you did with your smoker.
MISTAKE: Failing to treat your smoked meats with respect
Any good pit master has to respect the meat. Pit smoked meats take a while to cook -- and even after the cooking is over, you may have to practice patience. If you cut into your smoked meats too quickly after taking them out of the smoker, you might cancel out all your hard work. You have to let your meat rest properly (this allows the juices to redistribute). This can take up to 45 minutes, so make sure to factor that in if you're throwing a get-together. Never stab the meat before or after cooking either, as this can allow the juices to run out. Once it's time to cut the meat, make sure to slice against the grain of the meat for best results.