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Light my (PBC) fire: tips on lighting and maintaining temperatures

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    LOTS of great information in this thread, and I'm just getting started in it! Apologies in advance if this is already a thread (couldn't find it) but has anyone used lump charcoal in their PBC? I used to use it in my Weber Kettle and liked the flavors. I only see Kingsford or other brickets referenced here.

    thanks,
    Michael

    Comment


      It's not recommended to use lump as the temps may or may not be consistent. The PBC is specifically designed to be used with KBB. I do know that on UDS (drums) you can use either, but that barrel is a whole different animal.

      Comment


      • MichaelJB
        MichaelJB commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for the response Tim.

      One PBC user I know used Ozark Oak Lump to great success on the PBC. Some who have used Stubbs lump did not report such good results. You can always give it a try, MichaelJB , to see how it works in your PBC but be prepared, as SoCalTim says, for some inconsistencies. Personally, I strive for consistency with my PBC and use only KBB for all cooks except poultry where Kingsford Professional (formerly Kingsford Competition) shines for those higher temps (325-400) that I like to smoke chicken and turkey with.

      Kathryn

      Comment


      • phoccer
        phoccer commented
        Editing a comment
        Yep, my PBC runs in the 350-380 range using Kingsford Professional. I plan to tinker with B&B briquets one day but for now I cook everything at those temps and it works for me. Gotta try whole chickens one of these days.

      • fzxdoc
        fzxdoc commented
        Editing a comment
        Jerod Broussard keeps those B&B briquet folks in business. You'll probably like the results, phoccer , especially since you like high heat smoking for all meats.

        Kathryn

      • phoccer
        phoccer commented
        Editing a comment
        Adjusted my PBC intake to the default hanging position so there's a 1/8(?) opening. I'm puffing away in the low 300's today with two boneless pork shoulders. I think I finally found the sweet spot


      Is 1/8 lower vent opening recommended for your altitude, phoccer ?

      With my lower vent opening set close to recommended and Kingsford Professional, my PBC runs happily in the low 300s as well. With KBB, it likes to run at 275.

      Now that you've found the sweet spot for your PBC/type of charcoal, that PBC should run more like an appliance for you.

      Kathryn

      Comment


      • phoccer
        phoccer commented
        Editing a comment
        Their recommendation from 0 to 2000' is 1/4 open. Mine seems to run too hot at that setting so I decided to try a little lower today and I like how it runs like this so I'll run with it. Definitely running more like an appliance the last couple of cooks.

      Great, phoccer . Knowing the best setup for your own PBC is golden. That setup includes charcoal selection (type and amount), lighting method, and lower vent setting. Next comes knowing the optimal load of meat. Loading the PBC to the max certainly can be done, and I do it often, but fire (temp) management for a big load is more hands-on. Knowing that going in to the cook makes it a more pleasant experience.

      Kathryn

      Comment


        So my PBC came yesterday, and I gave the fzxdoc method a whirl, and read through the thread. Thanks for all the information shared! I'm at sea level, so I have my vent 1/4 open, and did 10-10-10 (chimney-no lid & bars-no bars). I attempted a dry run with no meat. Outdoor temperature was in the low 70s.

        At the point where the meat should be added, I popped a probe in, and the temp spike to 460. After 45 minutes, it was still 390. I re-read the instructions, and I think I followed them accurately. What is the first thing you would change to try get the temp spike more under control? My lid seems to fit perfectly, but perhaps I will spray it with cooking oil to try build a seal. I'm planning to try some pork ribs today. Thanks!

        Comment


          I have never seen a point to a dry run, as when you ad the meat the temperatures change. So light he up and throw a couple of chickens in and tray that, chickens are cheap good luck.

          Comment


            I agree with JohnF , dustbuster. . There really is not much point to a dry run, as the amount and type of meat is the game changer. Toss some chickens or ribs on using PBC's All Purpose Rub as Noah instructs in his videos. See how you like the results.

            Remember there is a lot of salt in the PBC rubs, so use them for the dry brine step instead of salt. If the meat has been brined at the packing house, go lightly with the PBC AP rub, or make up a salt free rub of your own and use it.

            Tweak your method from there, based on the results, for the next cook if you like.

            Question: at the end of 10 minutes, were the topmost coals in the chimney starting to ash over? That's what you have to go by for that first part of the lighting procedure; giving the chimney coals time for the uppermost ones to get some ash on them.

            Kathryn
            Last edited by fzxdoc; September 16, 2017, 12:14 PM.

            Comment


            • dustbuster
              dustbuster commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks fzxdoc and JohnF I picked up a chicken and will give that a whirl this afternoon. I look forward to sorting this thing out, the capacity and stabilization the PBC achieved post-spike give me something to look forward to!

              The top sides of the uppermost coals in my chimney were about 20% ashed over I would estimate.

            Have a great cook, dustbuster . Let us know how it turns out.

            Kathryn

            Comment


              Well imagine that, following the rules (aka adding meat) nets much better results! Here's my chart for the first hour of my current chicken cook. My dry run was a bit discouraging, so current cook this makes me feel much better about my purchase. (X is minutes from start, Y is pit temp in degrees F). Thanks for the help fzxdoc & JohnF
              Click image for larger version

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              Comment


                That's a great PBC temperature profile for your chicken cook, dustbuster . Was the chicken done in about an hour? How did it taste? How many chickens did you smoke?

                For your rib cook, you'll want the temp lower, in the 260 to 290 range within the first 20 minutes or so after adding the meat. Maybe you'll want to try a 10-5-5 lighting method for it to get that temp not to peak quite so high. Is your pit thermometer placed about mid level of the meat? Are you using Kingsford Original?

                Kathryn
                Last edited by fzxdoc; September 17, 2017, 07:30 AM.

                Comment


                  Hello to all-relatively new here and loving the AR! Since I got the Smoke thermo I have seen that my PBC is running hotter than I would like, somewhere north of 300. I put some concrete blocks on the lid-temps started dropping immediately. Took them off-temps started climbing. Lid has never been dropped or banged against anything. Seems to fit evenly on the drum, with no warp or bend noticeable. So I have decided I'm going to try a gasket as I've seen others do. Question for those who have put a gasket on their lid-what do you use to clean the lid prior to sticking the gasket on? I've tried hot soapy water and some vinegar and there is still a buildup there which doesn't want to come off. Appreciate any suggestions.

                  Tim

                  Comment


                    Tax Man Tim, I cleaned mine with Krud Kutter degreaser and a 3M scrubber square. Then I rinsed and dried it well. Then I let it sit overnight before putting the gasket on. Worked just fine.

                    Kathryn

                    Comment


                      Thanks Kathryn

                      Comment


                        When I looked at the lighting instructions from the Pit Barrel Cooker website, that seems a lot simpler than some of the other steps mentioned in these posts. Are additional steps monitoring the temperature like cracking the lid or stuffing foil in the re-bar holes really necessary? What if you just followed the PBC website instructions?

                        I always thought one of the upsides to the PBC was that you set it according to the instructions and it's built to have the right temperatures on its own.

                        On y'all's PBC cooks, how often are y'all making adjustments to the lid or holes for temperature adjustment vs. letting it do its thing? And if you don't really do many adjustments, are the results just as good or not that much worse?

                        Comment


                        • RobertC
                          RobertC commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I used to brew beer. It's quite easy to brew very good beer; what's hard is brewing the same beer consistently batch after batch.

                          That applies to most drum cookers. You absolutely can make great food without careful fire prep or monitoring. What's harder is consistent results, with predictable timing. Consistent protocols and monitoring help (but don't guarantee) you get consistent results.

                        • Psinderson
                          Psinderson commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I agree RobertC. I used to brew beer a lot several years ago. That was the challenge - make the same thing each time, which almost never happened. That why I love both brewing and BBQ. The challenge of tinkering around. That's why I've shied away from temp controllers and other devices that make it too easy. But, in the end, great food is always worth it no matter how you got there.

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