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    PBC issues

    I have not posted in quite a while and also had not cooked on the PBC in a while. I have been very frustrated with the results so far overall. I only have about 5 cooks under my belt. Because of issues and company suggestions not working I bought an oven thermometer today and hung it on one of the rebars with a piece of wire about 3 inches down from the rebar. I wated after dumping the lit coals today and 10 minutes later it was at 250 degrees, 20 minutes 260, 30 minutes 275 and that is when I put the ribs on. Half hour later it was at 300 degrees and a half hour after that it was back to 275. Been at 260 for the last half hour now.

    I sent Amber an email today because we have had communication previously asking if the temp normally starts out higher and settles in lower or the reverse and she said it starts out higher and settles in lower. Mine did not do that. She has also cautioned me about lighting the coals too much, having me try 12 minutes in the past without results. Saying you don't want the coals all lit over in the chimney which they were not. I can't understand using their recommended lighting and immediately after dumping the chimney into the cooker adding the food that it would reach hotter temps initially and gradually lower. I would think it ould be the reverse.

    At this point I am confused and don't know what temp I should look for when adding the meat. Also, how would I go about getting the temp hotter without letting the chimney get raging and or putting in more coals than the 40 I use.?

    I know some of you have altered your lighting procedures and I know there are different variables in all situations but I am curious if you look for a specific temp before adding the food.

    Would you be happy with the settle in temp of 260 or look for something a little higher. How long the cooker will run on the back end is also a consideration. I see Noah says the bottom vent is not for temp adjustment just for the sea level thing. Also, Amazing ribs bumped their bottom vent from 1/4 to 1/2 and it messed up their temp and they had to set it back. I would appreciate any and all feedback.

    l had these briquettes leftover from last year but they were sealed. Don't know if that could be an issue.
    Last edited by Irrivirsible; November 15, 2015, 01:39 PM.

    #2
    I'm still learning the PBC but have had issues controlling temp as well...until I started using foil to cover up the rebar holes. On my last bacon cook I covered 3 of the 4 holes and the cooker settled in at 225-230.

    (I'm cooking at about 200 ft above sea level and have the bottom vent set for sea level).

    I use Kathryn's method of filling up the coal basket and pulling 40 briquettes for the chimney. I might alter it a bit since I may be cooking in a warmer climate, but I think the steps she uses are a solid start.

    Comment


      #3
      Irrivirsible , what a bummer that you have had 5 failed (or marginal?) cooks on the PBC! No wonder you're frustrated.

      Have you, by chance read the first post in the following stickies? Just click on the links to get to the posts that may help:

      Light My (PBC) Fire
      and
      PBC Cook Times

      Like you, with my first PBC cook, I had trouble getting the same results that Noah did in the smoking time he stated. Plus, my PBC temperatures were lower than described here in the product review section. So I did just as you are doing, I came to AR and asked some questions. This was in the days before The Pit was started, so I asked questions on the Pit Barrel Cooker topic in the free posting section. Everyone was tremendously helpful. Now, I'm a super happy PBC user with dozens of PBC cooks under my belt and (blushingly) say that I've never had a bad cook from that PBC.

      First of all, get a good dual-probe thermometer so you can monitor the PBC temperature and the temperature of the meat. Many folks here prefer Maverick thermometers but go to the Thermometer Review section and choose the one that suits your needs the best. If you're having trouble, knowing the temperature of both the smoker and the meat are essential to the troubleshooting process.

      Secondly, try the lighting method outlined in that first link I gave you (the Light My (PBC) Fire one). The lighting method is different from the one Noah and Amber recommend on their website, and maybe it will help. It sure helped me with my cooks.

      For me, there are two critical components to having a good steady cooking temperature:
      1. getting a good light to my fire
      2. having the lid to the PBC on tight enough so that no smoke wisps escape

      Thirdly, if you do indeed get a good light to the fire, don't sweat the temperature at which the PBC finally settles in at. Sometimes my PBC settles at 260, sometimes 290. It never settles over 300 degF unless I tweak the burning conditions like keeping one rebar out or cracking the lid. I only use temperatures over 300 deg (preferably 325-360) when smoking poultry. Just let the PBC do it's thing and you'll have good food every time.

      That said, you can tweak the temperature of the PBC, cracking the lid for a few minutes (watch the smoker temp carefully because it can really run away on you) to get the temperatures higher, or plugging the holes around the rebars with aluminum foil to starve the fire and get the temps to drop.

      I have found that the position of the lower vent is critical only insofar as it is open enough for your altitude. If it's open more than that, I find no difference in the PBC temperature throughout the cook. I've had 2 PBCs and the effect was the same on both of them. So, at my altitude, I have to keep that lower vent 1/2 open. I find if I open it 3/4 of the way, there is no difference in the smoker temperatures throughout the cook. It was that way with both the PBCs I have owned. Your mileage may vary, just as Max Good's did in his review. My point is, keep an open mind.

      And finally, when you change something on your PBC, change only one thing at a time so you can see its effect.

      For the Pork Butts I've done, I've taken them all the way to 199-203 without wrapping but have found that they pull more easily if I faux cambro them for 1/2 to 1 hour while I scurry around the kitchen getting the rest of the fixins on the table. OTOH, Meathead does not cambro his pork butts. I didn't cambro my first PB on the PBC but have cambroed every one since. It works for me. You have to do whatever works for you.

      Give a cook on that PBC another try, but this time try that method described in the Light My (PBC) Fire link that I gave you above and come back here and let us know how it works for you.

      Best of luck! I know you'll get this sorted out sooner or later. Don't get discouraged. You'll make the good cooking happen if you just kick any frustration to the curb and have fun with that PBC.

      Kathryn


      Last edited by fzxdoc; November 15, 2015, 02:55 PM.

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you. I have been counting out 40 briquettes for most of my cooks and use the smaller Weber chimney now because the big one had the coals all completely ashed over very quickly. I also use the aluminum foil on the bottom.I did most of what you say except for leaving the top off and rebars out for 10 minutes after adding the lit coal and then letting it go 10 minutes more. I will try that.

        The biggest problem is not enough cooks. Winter on the horizon the colder weather can add variables too. Tonight the ribs came out fantastic although a lot of red color as you can see in the top right picture. There was a time when that would have scared me but now I know better. I made some Dinosaur baked beans which is just doctoring up Bush beans and after the ribs came out of the PBC I put the beans in the cooker for about an hour. I was out of rub and there wasn't much to choose from in the store so I got Emerils original and together with the PBC the taste was great.

        Comment


          #5
          Sorry the pictures looked smaller in the post before posting.

          Comment


            #6
            Irrivirsible , I can't see the photos at all. Darn. I bet they show some tasty-looking food. Those beans sound particularly yummy.

            Try the 10 minutes-lid-off; 10-minutes-lid-on-rebars-out steps of the lighting method and see if that works a bit better for you. The PBC temp will spike anywhere from 360 to 450 in this phase, but the PBC temp will settle right down after you add the rebars and the cold meat. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you. Best of luck!

            Kathryn

            Comment


            • JPP
              JPP commented
              Editing a comment
              Kathryn, I've used the technique in your sticky multiple times and never once had it get to 360F+. Highest temp I've ever hit seems to be around 340 or thereabouts... Once , it even started low, and built up to 275 where it stayed.... which is totally counterintuitive.... usually get the spike and then drop to a stable temp. Every now and then, an odd thing seems to happen....

            #7
            I can see them but I did get a message to upload at least one photo even though I uploaded multiple photos. How do you do it?

            Comment


              #8
              I'll second the recommendation to buy a good, preferably dual probe, digital thermometer. If the oven thermometer you bought at the store was a dial unit with a bimetalic sensor, that's not too useful. (1) They are not generally accurate, (2) you can't read them, poor precision, and (3) you have to open the lid to read it which immediately lowers the temperature, then spikes it back up, so you don't really know what it was or is afterwards. You need good data to make changes and adjust. OR, just do as Noah says, light it per the instructions above, and trust the PBC to do it's thing without measuring temperature. You still need a probe thermometer for the food. I found that the lid to my PBC does not seat tightly unless I tap it down firmly; I use a soft hammer. It makes a significant difference, and is probably why people have different experiences and set temperatures with different PBCs. Good luck.

              Comment


              • Livermoron
                Livermoron commented
                Editing a comment
                Never thought about tapping the lid down...good idea!

              #9
              Can these dual probe thermometers be used in the winter in the really cold weather?

              Comment


              • fzxdoc
                fzxdoc commented
                Editing a comment
                Yup. The probes are inside the PBC where it's nice and warm and the temperatures read out to a remote unit inside your house. The transmitter hangs on the handle of the PBC which should be pretty warm as well. I use it throughout the winter in below-freezing temperatures.

                Kathryn

              • Spinaker
                Spinaker commented
                Editing a comment
                I have used mine in -15 weather with no issues. I put the unit in a wool sock, and put the sock on the lid. Problem solved. The sock keeps it from getting to hot. And everybody is happy. (and warm) Irrivirsible

              #10
              Hi Irrivirsible . Sorry you've had problems getting acclimated to the PBC. I've had mine a couple of months and have had good success following Kathryn's recommendations. It produces the best barbeque I've ever made. Hang in there and work at learning it. You'll be glad you did. There is a great community here to support you. Good luck!!!

              Comment


                #11
                Irrivirsible fill the basket heaping full of unlit charcoal. Then I take half a chimney worth out of the basket and light that. Keep the basket out of the PBC. After you get the coals going, they don't all have to be white hot like PBC folks say. Dump them on to the center of the unlit basket of charcoal. Let it catch for maybe a minute or so. Then use a claw hammer or something similar, hook the basket, and lower it into the PBC. Put the lid on, push it down to make sure its on tight. And thats it. If its running a bit hot. Put some foil in the rebar holes. One on the opposite and kiddy-corner side of each other. This will solve your problem if your running hot. The PBC lighting suggested by the company has never worked for me either. This method has always been my go to. I have made a lot, and I mean a lot, of great food on my PBC doing this very easy method to lighting.

                Below I have included a few pics. The first pic is my "OCD arrangement" The coals don't have to be this perfect, I just do it like this because I am insanely OCD about my BBQ. You can see I make a small void in the middle, this is where the lit coals are dumped. Also, notice that none of the coals are all searing white hot. They are going, but not blazing hot.
                I used to do it like the third picture that I have posted. And it worked fine. The OCD arrangement just gives you probably 3 more hours (up to 13 hrs of cook time easily)
                I have also posted some of my finished product as proof of my results using this method.
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                Comment


                • Spinaker
                  Spinaker commented
                  Editing a comment
                  There are two layers or charcoal. Two layers, two concentric rings. With wood chunks in the middle. Once you get to the end of placing them, they kinda lock together. Then when you dump the lit coals in, you get a really nice even burn after that. It really doesn't take that long to set up. I'd say maybe 15 mins tops. It just looks like it does. Let me know if you have any more questions. I am happy to help. I was in your shoes once too my friend!! Craigar

                • PappyBBQ
                  PappyBBQ commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Interesting. Never thought about filling the basket this way. I just fill 'er up, remove 1/2 a chimney and light that, throw on a couple of wood chunks and then sprinkle the lit charcoal over the top evenly and I'm off to the races. Can typically run it for 8 to 9 hours this way. Packing it in the way you do I can see that you might very well get an extra 2 to 3, maybe even 4 hours of cook time. I might give that a try next time I have a real long cook planned!

                • Craigar
                  Craigar commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thank you Spinaker! I guess when I finally pull the trigger on buying a PBC or a WSM I will have a special little project for the grand kids when they come over. They always get dirty when they come over so I might as well use their energy to do something productive.

                #12
                PappyBBQ You can just "fill'er up" there is certainly no problem with that. I am just OCD with my BBQ. Hence the name of the method. "OCD Method" I find I get a more consistent fire doing it this way.

                Comment


                  #13
                  I have a dual probe Maverick, but to tell the truth I haven't taken it out of the box - it seems like a big hassle to be honest.

                  I did order a nice TEL-TRU thermometer, drilled a small hole about 4-5 inches under the Pit Barrel and stuck it in there.

                  I check my temps once every couple of hours or so and crack the lid if the temps are running low and check the meat a couple of hours before I anticipate it to be done with a instant read.

                  For the life of me I do not understand why Noah & Co. did not add a nice simple (and good) thermomoter to the PBC - every other cooker from cheap junk to top of the line usually has one.

                  At least they finally came out with the ash pan - GEEZ LOUISE why didn't that make the original design?!?!?!?

                  The ash pan is a must have - after only using it 3 times I no longer dread cleaning out the PBC.

                  IMHO as a newbie to the PBC you SHOULD NOT use one of the high fallutin' dual probe do-hickeys that connect to your iPhone via Bluetooth, etc, etc ad nauseam.

                  Just go get a decent thermometer (like this one - http://www.amazon.com/Tel-Tru-BQ225-...ywords=tel-tru) and put it in the PBC, follow Noah's instructions and as stupid as it sounds - watch the cooker and take mental notes.

                  The only issue I have with Noah's instructions is that they give the impression that the PBC is "set and forget" -- it certainly is not, it's close once you understand it, but knowing that you will need to crack the lid when the temps drop is a huge failing on their part IMHO.

                  After "babysitting" 3 or 4 cooks, watching temp of the cooker and making proper adjustments you should be on your way.

                  At this point I can almost guess to the hour how much charcoal to use and have even had one firebasket of coals last 11-12 hours.

                  That is just my perspective of how I successfully dealt with the issues I had when using the PBC - I love it for sure, but Noah really should make a video on necessary adjustments for when things don't go as perfectly as they do in his videos.

                  I know they want to keep costs down at PBC Company, but I would have gladly paid more if they included a nice TEL-TRU (or something of that cailber) thermometer AND the new ash pan.

                  Also listen to the PBC pros here on AR fzxdoc, Ernest, Spinaker --- take everything everyone says and put it in the old hopper - they have certainly helped me with my PBC issues in the past. I know they will disagree about ditching the Maverick dual probe, but hey - different strokes for different folks.

                  Comment


                  • New2Cue
                    New2Cue commented
                    Editing a comment
                    "The only issue I have with Noah's instructions is that they give the impression that the PBC is "set and forget" -- it certainly is not, it's close once you understand it, but knowing that you will need to crack the lid when the temps drop is a huge failing on their part IMHO."

                    I kinda agree. I probably have close to 20 cooks on my PBC by now, and my temps have been all over the place, and mostly on the lower end. I've tried all different ways of lighting the basket as well, and I haven't really gotten the consistent results others are getting. So, I find I'm closely monitoring the temps and needing to crack the lid a bit when temps get too low. Not that big of a deal, but the set-it-and-forget-it model has not been my experience - though, my first cook I just followed the directions and didn't monitor temps and my ribs were amazing, so who knows?

                    That being said, all the food I've cooked on the PBC has been amazing. I'm still trying to figure out chicken - the meat is incredibly moist and juicy, but I'm not getting the kind of crisp skin I've loved getting on my Weber Genesis rotisserie. I really wish the PBC gave better crisp skin as prep and clean-up are so much easier than using the Weber. I'm going to try baking powder overnight on the chickens to see if that is any better, but if that doesn't work, then Weber it is.

                  • HC in SC
                    HC in SC commented
                    Editing a comment
                    You might try using only Kingsford Blue (if you are not already). I started out using lump in my PBC but had to drop back and punt and go back to Kingsford until I was more comfortable with the PBC. Lump does burn hotter and cleaner than Kingsford, but it does not burn steady or uniform like Kingsford does. If you are using lump, do yourself a flavor and switch to Kingsford Blue for a few cooks just to take the X factor out of it.

                  • New2Cue
                    New2Cue commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I actually always use Kingsford Blue, except when doing poultry where I use Kingsford Competition for a hotter cook.

                    There are a lot of variables at play for me I think. Summers here are very hot and humid without much air movement. I also put the PBC in front of my detached garage (with the garage doors open). Last time I moved it out a good 5 feet in front of the garage, and the temps were much hotter. So, it could be an air circulation thing.

                  #14
                  Different strokes, indeed, HC in SC . It sure is nice to see your posts here again over the past couple of weeks. I missed seeing your great recipes. Give that Maverick a try--you may be pleasantly surprised. It's not that much of a hassle as long as you remember to turn on the receiver first. It took about 4 cooks before I figured that out. Usually I'm an instruction-reader, but the Maverick instructions are written for folks with x-ray vision. If I have to get the magnifying glass out to read directions, I just wing it instead. Hence the 4 cooks before I got the dang readout to work.

                  I'm always hesitant to recommend the Maverick dual probe thermometer to a new PBC user mostly because of the expense and because sooner than later, usually, one of the probes will go out. If I only had one remote temperature probe of some sort, I'd use it to monitor PBC temp and use a good hand-held meat thermometer to check the meat temp from time to time. The meat temp rises, stalls, and rises again and the times can be pretty predictable after a few cooks. But the PBC temp can make a difference between juicy/dry or eating as planned at suppertime or having to serve the meat for breakfast the next day. At least that's how it is for me. As folks here say--your mileage may vary.

                  JPP , I'm surprised that your PBC has never gotten over 340 deg F. Even in the burn-in portion of lighting the fire? Manohman, if I don't watch mine closely it will easily get over 400 degF before I hang the meat. I dread the HHH readout on my Maverick. Every time I see that, I say "well, there goes that probe", but magically it comes back. Whew!

                  I don't usually see my PBC getting over 360 or so when loaded with meat, though, assuming the lid is on nice and tight. Because I've used my PBC so much, I'm getting more smoke leaks around the rim, which can send the temp back up to 380 or 390 if I don't pay attention. Now I just take off my rubber-soled shoe and whack around the lid rim each time I re-seat the lid. Plus when I get lid rim leaks, I know the rim of the barrel and the lip of the lid has to be scrubbed "clean" to get a tighter seal before using the PBC again.

                  Spinaker , that is one beautiful charcoal pattern. I never in my life thought I'd be using the words "beautiful charcoal pattern" in a sentence, but your photo did it.

                  Kathryn
                  Last edited by fzxdoc; November 18, 2015, 02:34 PM.

                  Comment


                  • fzxdoc
                    fzxdoc commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Gosh, I feel so much better, HC in SC, now that you say you've backed away from bechamel-based mac 'n cheese! For me, it's so hit/miss--sometimes the becahamel sauce is perfect for m'nc and other times its so grainy that I want to toss it out--in fact I do toss it out because the family won't eat it. Waste of good cheese. I've been using Paula Deen's recipe adding heavy cream and more cheese to the recipe to make it creamier. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/p...ac-recipe.html

                    Kathryn
                    Last edited by fzxdoc; November 18, 2015, 06:25 PM.

                  • HC in SC
                    HC in SC commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Try using the same amount of cheese, but substitute a mixture of 2 beaten eggs, 1/4 Cup half and half and 1/2 Cup milk (at least 2%). Mix your shredded cheese and 8 (measured dry) ounces of al dente pasta into the milk & egg mixture + whatever spices (plus additions like crumbled bacon) you like. I normally just use salt, fresh ground pepper and either minced or fresh finely diced onion. I bet you and your family chomp it all down!! Leftovers are awesome too!

                  • fzxdoc
                    fzxdoc commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks for the tips, HC in Sc !

                    K.

                  #15
                  Hahaha thanks, When I see that i just think of insanity. But I am happy that someone can find the beauty in it. it actually is fun to put together. fzxdoc

                  Comment


                  • HC in SC
                    HC in SC commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Actually if you didn't know what it was it would be assumed to be a nice mosaic. You ought to take some super close ups at oddball angles with different lighting and sell the prints to the high brow crowds. I like it on the artistic level, but from a purely functional "how much charcoal can you stuff down the PBC's gullet" point of view it is even more special.
                    Last edited by HC in SC; November 18, 2015, 04:54 PM.

                  • Spinaker
                    Spinaker commented
                    Editing a comment
                    hahahahha, That is not a bad idea. See, theres' a business niche for everyone in BBQ!! Thanks HC in SC

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