Charcoal, how much how often

Discussion about Charcoal and Lump Charcoal for smoking meat
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Big Steve
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Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Big Steve » February 19th, 2014, 7:41 pm

Today we broke in the RFS that I've posted about in the RFS group. 4 pork butts. Question I have for your experts is, how much charcoal do you use and how often to add more to the firebox? I thought I could do a 5 hour cook at 275 and get the butts where I wanted them. I was wrong. Instead of pulled pork we had sliced pork from two butts the other two butts were able to keep cooking and came out good. Nice mellow smoke flavor, good smoke ring present. After the initial light off with one chimney of burning charcoal and one chimney unlit coals we proceeded to feed the firebox at a rate of 1 or 2 splits of either oak or orange wood on average every 40 minutes. Sound about right to you all or am I off track.
our RFS cook chamber is 24" by 67" long, firebox is 24" by 24". Lastly for a hot and fast pork butt what temp do you go with, 300? and for how long approximately? Yes, I know there's no timers on BBQ.



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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Big T » February 19th, 2014, 9:38 pm

I feed my pit at about the same rate that you mentioned, it varies a little from time to time based on weather conditions. I have cooked pork butts that were nearly identical in size weight and shape and they took different times to cook so I'm not sure on an approximate time, I just wait for it to hit internal temp and pull them off.


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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Clover Ridge Smokers » February 19th, 2014, 10:10 pm

I agree with Big T, you are on the mark for feeding coal to you smokers. Cooking pork butts can one of the biggest challenges in BBQ. Every butt will cook differently. They all tend to hit a stall and that is where many cooks start to panic. The key is not to panic and start to make adjustments to pit temps. All you can do is wait through the stall and the temp will once again start to rise. There is lots of debate around low and slow vs hot and fast. Even more so people can't agree on that temp hot and fast really is. I've cooked butts and 225 and seen them take 9-12 hours depending on the stall. I've also cooked them at 300 and had them finish in as little as 5.5 hours. Not sure if all this helps, but hopefully it will point you in the right direction.


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Pete Mazz
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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Pete Mazz » February 20th, 2014, 6:37 am

For larger cuts I always like to start too early and take them off and wrap them till dinner. Makes them better all the way around. I tend to throw other things on the smoker if I have room so it always helps when the big stuff comes out and I can throw in chickens or sausages that cook quickly.


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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Gizmo » February 20th, 2014, 7:13 am

Since most of us have a "Day Job" we don't get to cook frequently around the distractions of work, family, etc.
So if you're like me you forget stuff - from one cook to the next.

So I've got some good news and some bad news.
The bad news is that you should keep a log of each burn and refer back to it.
The good news is that after a few burns (about 6 - 7) you can throw out the log because you know the smoker.
I give this knowledge to the new owner when the smoker sells. In a couple weekends on their own they are good to go.

Your numbers sound very plausible to me. :D


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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Rodcrafter » February 20th, 2014, 7:18 am

The rate of fueling the fire sounds right for a fire around 235* in my cooker. As for the pork, I run the 225-235 temp for about 4 hours until internal temp is around 160. Then I wrap them in foil, because they are not going to take on any more smoke anyway, and this will avoid the stall. Then crank up the temp to around 300. Then I just check the temp every once in a while to get to internal temp of 197 pull it, put it in a cooler until ready to shred it.

jm2cw


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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Big Steve » February 20th, 2014, 11:10 am

Gizmo wrote:....

So I've got some good news and some bad news.
The bad news is that you should keep a log of each burn and refer back to it.
The good news is that after a few burns (about 6 - 7) you can throw out the log because you know the smoker.
I give this knowledge to the new owner when the smoker sells. In a couple weekends on their own they are good to go.

Your numbers sound very plausible to me. :D
I'm a big fan of cook logs and we did start one with the cook yesterday. The pressure on BBQ cook is when you have a business meeting you're cooking for, like yesterday. Lunch time is lunch time and it's got to be done. I thought I'd be able to do a hot and fast pb cook and pull it off. So what I learned is the RFS is a firewood eating beast! Miss one feeding and you've got a temperature yo-yo to ride out. ALWAYS a lot more time for the cook than expected, I can always foil and put into a hot box to hold. I didn't want to get going before 4 AM but I sure needed to. The RFS needs some work. We need to get the cook chamber door fitting better and sealed up. The themo-image gun showed a massive temp difference on the door versus the cook chamber. Sucking too much air into the chamber which is cooling off the temp. Also need to put some taller feet on our firebasket so the basket has more room to fall before it backs up. That'll help with firebox airflow and temp management. A I need to install the thermometers in the cook chamber so I have a better feel for temps.

I surely appreciate all the input into my question.

Rodcrafter wrote:The rate of fueling the fire sounds right for a fire around 235* in my cooker. As for the pork, I run the 225-235 temp for about 4 hours until internal temp is around 160. Then I wrap them in foil, because they are not going to take on any more smoke anyway, and this will avoid the stall. Then crank up the temp to around 300. Then I just check the temp every once in a while to get to internal temp of 197 pull it, put it in a cooler until ready to shred it.

jm2cw
I missed the mark by not wrapping after 4 hours and not cranking up the heat higher at that point. In reality I had a difficult time learning how the beast cooks to begin with. Like I said it has an appetite for wood, even at 300 temp, that I was not expecting. I'm use to a kamado ceramic smoker which cooks for 15 hours on like 5 pounds of charcoal. THIS isn't that, and that isn't THIS, I know but getting my head tuned to a new smoker I was bound to carry over something that did and didn't work right. My Rule #1: More time is always your friend.

Thanks again everyone. Agree or disagree?



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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Rodcrafter » February 20th, 2014, 12:45 pm

Yep, I agree more time is better. You know you can get those really long cook times with a simple UDS with very little fuel.


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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Big Steve » February 20th, 2014, 1:49 pm

Rodcrafter wrote:Yep, I agree more time is better. You know you can get those really long cook times with a simple UDS with very little fuel.
Sure do. For smaller cooks I use my Kamado. The idea of this Feastie Boy BBQ originated over Saturday breakfast with a group of guys that meet every Sat morning. A BBQ competition was recently held in town and someone said "We should build a trailer mounted BBQ and enter the competition next year". In the heat of the moment the motion was seconded and passed by the breakfast council. So now we have this huge reverse flow smoker that we built, which was a great project, now we need to scale up everything we know due to the size of the beast and learn to cook on it. As you all know it takes a lot of time, patience, trial and error, to get to the point I call a "good BBQ cook". Once there then you have the variables like weather, wood density, meat anomalies, etc. Getting from where we are at to be able to cook consistant BBQ (pulled pork, brisket, ribs, chicken) for everyday eating is the first goal. Goal 2 is to transform everyday BBQ into competition quality one bite wonders. Maybe we'll be happy with just turning out everyday great quality BBQ and enter that into the competition. I mean aside from the challenge of KCBS level does anyone eat a whole plate of competition one bite blast your mouth off KCBS BBQ?
Next week our goal is to have corrected the issues on the smoker itself. I think we'll run a batch of ribs and chicken on Beast and see how that turns out. Any advise or input on staging of a ribs & chicken cook?



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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Pete Mazz » February 21st, 2014, 7:05 am

I do ribs and chicken quite a bit. It's all about the prep, IMO. I remove the membrane from the ribs the night before and use a mustard/rub/turbinado sugar, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Spatchcock the chicken (butterfly), apply some rub under the skin and salt the outer skin. Put them in foil trays and refrigerate.

For ribs I do the 3,1,1. 3 in the smoke ~250, 1 wrapped in foil and some honey, squeeze margarine, and some additional rub just for some heat. Crank the smoker up to 325 when you take the ribs out for wrapping, and put your chickens in. Put the wrapped ribs back in for an hour. After an hour, open up the foil on the ribs and let them go another hour or until they're where you want them. Check the chicken until an internal breast temp of 165. Let them sit for 15 minutes and start ringin' the dinner bell!


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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Big Steve » February 21st, 2014, 11:48 am

Pete Mazz wrote:I do ribs and chicken quite a bit. It's all about the prep, IMO. I remove the membrane from the ribs the night before and use a mustard/rub/turbinado sugar, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Spatchcock the chicken (butterfly), apply some rub under the skin and salt the outer skin. Put them in foil trays and refrigerate.

For ribs I do the 3,1,1. 3 in the smoke ~250, 1 wrapped in foil and some honey, squeeze margarine, and some additional rub just for some heat. Crank the smoker up to 325 when you take the ribs out for wrapping, and put your chickens in. Put the wrapped ribs back in for an hour. After an hour, open up the foil on the ribs and let them go another hour or until they're where you want them. Check the chicken until an internal breast temp of 165. Let them sit for 15 minutes and start ringin' the dinner bell!
Thanks for the tips. Sounds like you have a few cooks under your belt.



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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Pete Mazz » February 21st, 2014, 6:17 pm

Sounds like you have a few cooks under your belt.
Don't know what's under my belt....haven't seen it in years! :beer:


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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Gizmo » February 22nd, 2014, 7:54 am

=))


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Re: Charcoal, how much how often

Post by Smokeone » February 23rd, 2014, 5:38 pm

=))
I know the feeling Pete!


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