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Dark Smoke

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    Dark Smoke

    Have made 2 cooks on my OK Bronco, pork ribs and Boston butt. Holds temps so well I love it. First cook (ribs) used several large chunks of hickory. Second (Boston butt) tried sprinkling hickory pellets over the charcoal. Both cooks had some pretty dark smoke coming out of the cooker and the bark on both was much darker than I am accustomed to with pork, almost black. Both were a bit dry, even though I cooked them to the same point as I have done on my Weber Performer in the past, 205 for the butt and probe tender for the ribs. And the butt was a little bitter, which I think is usually a sign of poor combustion and bad smoke.
    Questions: How much wood do you use with your charcoal? How do you keep white or blue smoke when you have such a tight cooking environment that you have to choke down the intake vent to 1/4 of the opening or less? Do barrel smokers require that meats be cooked to a slightly lower temperature to keep them from drying out? Not accustomed to having butts and spares come out dry.

    #2
    I use 3 or 4 tennis ball sized chunks of hickory with my charcoal in the PBC. Smoke profile comes out how I like it. Mostly it's thin smoke - either white or maybe blue. Sometimes I have to check to make sure smoke is still coming out.

    As for your other questions - someone smarter than me will have to chime in.

    Comment


      #3
      Black smoke no good unless sending smoke signals.

      What temp are you running at? I would think going higher would help. I have a PBC and it likes to run around 270ish. Usually I can't even see the wood smoke.
      Those meats can handle cooking that high.

      Comment


        #4
        It sounds like incomplete combustion and your wood is smoldering, not igniting. I use splits in my offset and what I do is put two splits on the grate while smoking. Then when the fire is ready for another split, I use one of the pre-heated splits. The split catches fast because it is hot and off gassing, which is what you want (volatiles in the wood is what catches fire). Cold wood takes a bit to ignite properly.
        Last edited by TripleB; June 24, 2020, 10:11 AM.

        Comment


          #5
          I had that on my first cook on the OJB.

          I got some advice from the experts in this thread: https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...for-the-bronco

          How are you lighting the charcoal?

          Also, I've cut my chunk use down to maybe 3 at most. Generally two, based on advice in that thread. Posts 9 and 11 have lighting and other advice from the two foremost experts on the cooker here.

          Comment


          • KenC52
            KenC52 commented
            Editing a comment
            Light with a Weber cube in a depression in the charcoal. Leave everything open until the cube is consumed and the charcoal around it is burning. Then put in the diffuser, close the lid, and open intake and exhaust vent all the way till the temp is about 50 degrees below my target. First cook (ribs) was in the 240s second (butt) was in the 220s.

          • Potkettleblack
            Potkettleblack commented
            Editing a comment
            I think I'd let the fire burn a bit more with the top open and the diffuser out. That's what I've been doing based on advice from FishTalesNC. Get it ashed over all over, and then set it up and dial it in.

            I'm also using the OKJ fire starters, but I don't think that could make a difference. I'm gonna start with a chimney though, as I got one. Previously, had to light in the basket due to the lack.

          #6
          One trick I learned from Harry Soo makes a big difference in smoke profile in closed chamber cooking. Bury your wood chunks in with the charcoal instead of just placing them on top. You get better ignition of the wood and a cleaner burn. Try it, it works for me in my WSM.

          Other than that, you might want to introduce some moisture like a small pan of water or spritz your meat several times during the cook.

          Comment


          • Potkettleblack
            Potkettleblack commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for that... will try on next cook... makes perfect sense.

          #7
          When I light my charcoal for the PBC I throw my wood chunks on top of the chimney and pour them in with all the other charcoal. I never use more than 2, because often after hours of running those chunks are still intact and giving off smoke. I also find that a whole chunk is too large and split them with a hatchet, cause I'm cool like that.

          Comment


          • HawkerXP
            HawkerXP commented
            Editing a comment
            I also chop my chunks into smaller pieces. Also agree with not needing a lot of wood.

          • Potkettleblack
            Potkettleblack commented
            Editing a comment
            This sounds like it produces much the same as the Harry Soo advice that Troutman shared. Wood on the bottom...

            PS- Since you hatchet your wood, can I subscribe to your newsletter? ;-)

          • hoovarmin
            hoovarmin commented
            Editing a comment
            Potkettleblack first I need an email address and valid credit card information. Once we have that you will receive your hatchet signed by hoovarmin, a coonskin cap, and your first issue of the newsletter.

          #8
          KenC52 - while I've had some bumps along the way with my new OJB (including my first pork butt which also was dry), my smoke experience has been very good, no black smoke at all. The first piece of advice I've followed comes from Meathead in his recipe for Last Meal Ribs, which is basically to go easy on the wood in your first cook and adjust from there. (You sound like an experienced smoker who is just new to the OJB, so this might be basic for you; I'm new to both the OJB and smoking in general so I've been going easy on the wood.) The second piece of extremely helpful advice was from FishTalesNC in the thread above which Potkettleblack referenced; that advice about how he lights the charcoal is complete with photos, what side to light the charcoal from, etc - it really helped me with fuel efficiency and temperature, but is also good advice when it comes to getting the smoke right.

          All that being said, it sounds like your method of lighting the charcoal was fine. I guess there's always the usual question of where in the cooker you were measuring temp (I'm assuming you were using an external thermometer and not the one that's installed on the OJB), but again, you sound way more experienced at this than me so I doubt that's the issue. For what it's worth, I'm thinking the suggestions in this thread about the wood itself is the thing to focus on (use smaller chunks, fewer chunks) and just waiting til you get to white smoke before putting the meat on. Sorry I don't have more helpful experience to share (yet). Good luck!

          Comment


            #9
            "...How do you keep white or blue smoke when you have such a tight cooking environment that you have to choke down the intake vent to 1/4 of the opening or less?..."

            I don't have this cooker, but your comment here makes me wonder if your fire is a little too large for the purpose. Maybe a little smaller/slower fire will keep your temps under control without having to smother it so much?

            Comment

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