Welcome!


This is a membership forum. As a guest, you can click around a bit. View 5 pages for free. If you would like to participate, please join.

[ Pitmaster Club Information | Join Now | Login | Contact Us ]

There are 4 page views remaining.

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

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

Collapse
This is a sticky topic.
X
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Thanks jecucolo . I'm new to the PBC club. I've done less than 10 cooks on mine and feel some days like I've learned a lot and some days like I know less than nothing. I've got a lid Gasket ordered but also had to slightly prop my lid open during a Bacon cook yesterday. I'm not frustrated just a little confused. For now I'll keep reading and cooking. The last couple cooks I put my BGE Thermometer (which I tested and reset the calibration on to match the Smoke Themomter) thru a lid handle bolt hole besides using my Smoke Digital Thermometer. I struggle a little with the idea of adding a good Tru Tel Dial Thermometer but not sure where to drill the hole to place it. Have any of you added a GOOD Dial Thermometer? There are a few Fairly Accurate Dial Thermometers they are just a little costly.

    Comment


    • HawkerXP
      HawkerXP commented
      Editing a comment
      No thermometer mounted in mine. I do hang a probe off the rebar, but like its been said, temps in the PBC can be different in various places at the same time. I use it as a guide. Mine, lit correctly with rebar in runs 270ish. One rebar out 340 ish. Yes a big hunk or multiple hunks will drop the temp and cracking the lid for a little while helps with that.

    Oh gosh, Parisie , don't give up on the PBC! That said, I can understand your frustration.

    I find that "loaded" cooks with 3 chickens almost always adds around 30 minutes to the cook because the fire has a hard time keeping up with all the moisture released by the chickens. It's more difficult to keep the temps in the desired 350°F range without keeping the lid cracked the whole time.

    I too had to add a gasket after about 1.5 years of heavy use of my PBC. With that lid leak problem solved, it once more was easier to get more consistent cooks.

    Some people at sea level report that they have to close their lower vent more than the recommended amount to have consistent cooks. You may want to play with that. Since I live at 3700 ft altitude, I actually have to have my vent open slightly more than recommended. Try adjusting the position of the vent's disc for the next cook and see if you have better results.

    Every now and then I have a cook like you describe where the temps are solid at 275ish and then after a few hours begin to drift down. I always use two ambient probes in the PBC and find that often when one probe trends down the one on the opposite side of the barrel is actually trending up. They are often 40 to 50°F different from each other.

    However, if I see that temps of both probes are trending down, I crack the lid repeatedly, about 3 times or so (every 10 minutes for half an hour) to get the fire lit back to where it needs to be for a solid cook temp for the coming few hours.

    Let us know how making some small changes works for you. If that PBC worked well for you for over 2 years, it will do so again, I'm sure.

    Kathryn

    Comment


    • Parisie
      Parisie commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks much for for the response everyone, I will keep it in mind the next time I use the PBC.

      fzxdoc - It to be clear, there has been reports of consistent results at sea level with a vent opened less than 1/4? It really would be useful if the PBC came with notches on the barrel to use as a guideline for the vent.

      For cooks with foods that are ready at different time what is best practice? For example, w/ chicken and ribs should I load at once or start with the ribs and then add the birds?

    Parisie

    About the vent setting: some people here in The Pit have said that their PBCs work better at sea level with the vent closed more than the setting recommended by the PBC folks. I’m suggesting that you close the vent more and see if it makes a difference for your PBC.

    For cooks ready at different times:It shouldn’t make a difference what you start first for most foods that are best cooked at the same optimum PBC temperature. For example, you can smoke a meatloaf and a pork butt at the same time but the meatloaf will take less time to cook. If you want everything to come out at the same time, then you can easily add the shorter-cooking meat later on in the cook. The PBC will cook both just fine.

    I don't smoke ribs and chicken at the same time because they have different optimum temperatures. Meathead recommends smoking chicken at 325 deg F or higher to have moist chicken and crispy skin. I smoke my chickens in the PBC at around 350deg F. They are done in just over one hour.

    Ribs are best done at your PBC’s sweet spot, usually between 260 and 290 deg F and take around 3 to 5 hours. If you smoke a chicken at this lower temp it will take 2 to 3 hours to get the chicken breast to 165 degF, the safe serving temp. It will still be juicy and delicious but the skin will most likely be rubbery. You can always crisp the skin by leaving it in the PBC with the lid off for a few minutes at the end of the cook, as recommended by the PBC folks on their website. I don’t do this for fear of over cooking the chicken, but it may work just fine. Maybe others who have tried this method for crisping chicken skin will chime in with their results.

    HTH,
    Kathryn

    Comment


      Tons of great info in here.

      Looking forward to getting my PBC in the mail this week so I can start getting it streamlined! Plenty of stuff waiting to go in the cooker.

      Thanks for putting all this together!

      Comment


        I posted about this in another thread, but want my experience and conversation with the folks at PBC to be on this thread as well. In about 12 cooks over the last 5 months, my PBC has been running hot (360+) with smoke wisping from the lid. My cooks were finishing pretty fast, but the quality was fine - but it has been unnerving that the barrel has been running so hot. I gasketed the lid but that didn't change the cook temps.

        After smoking 4 turkeys this Thanksgiving (all different cooks), I couldn't take it any more and emailed PBC. They called me back within an hour and told me that the 12-10-10 method is responsible for my temps.

        The 10 minutes with lid off (Step #11) is over-igniting the coals and causing both the high temps and the excess smoke. More precisely, putting the lid on after the 10 minutes damps the fire to the extent that more smoke than desired is produced from the coals. He strongly urged me to try the PBC-recommended method of 13 minutes in the chimney, then dump and cook.

        I am going to try this on my next cook - as I have used the method in this thread from my first cook. Obviously, your mileage will vary, but I wanted to share this issue of over-hot, over-smokey barrels, and PBC's proposed solution.

        Comment


          It's a good thing that you are going to try another lighting method, Sandpaper --perhaps it will provide you with a solution. Please report back to us after your next cook with the new approach, to let us know.

          FWIW, I didn't have a lid leak when I first bought my PBC. It developed over a year after I had used it, pretty heavily, in the area between the rebars where the barrel's seam is. Like you, I began experienced abnormally high cooking temps, even though I had used the same x-10-10 lighting method from the very beginning.

          I verified that the lid leaks were the problem because if I crimped a skinny length of heavy duty aluminum foil on top of the lid, wrapping it around to the underside of the barrel's rim in the area where the smoke was coming out, the smoke would stop coming out and the pit temperatures would stabilize. That's when I decided to insert a gasket into the indentation of the lid's rim, and my wispy leaking smoke problem (and concomitant high pit cooking temperatures), went away for good.

          May I ask, how is your gasket installed, and which gasket did you use?

          Kathryn

          Comment


            Another question, Sandpaper , are you running your remote thermometer probes over the top of the barrel or through the rebars? Just curious.

            Kathryn

            Comment


            • Sandpaper
              Sandpaper commented
              Editing a comment
              I used the LavaLock 1/2 inch and the wires were run through the rebar holes.

            Sandpaper, a couple of observations, thoughts and a suggestion: first, I’m not crazy about the “official” PBC way because I think (or, at least the rest of my family thinks), that food comes out “too smoky” and can have an acrid flavor to it. I prefer @fzxdoc’s method as it lets the coals burn down without all of the “white smoke” you have when using the PBC method. A modification to Kathryn’s method is what I call 15-10. Let the coals burn in the chimney for 15 minutes, then dump on the basket and let burn for ten minutes with the barrel uncovered, then add rebar, hang food and cover. I find using this method the temperature starts out at about 325 and then will drop to the right temperature of 270-280. This last weekend I was smoking two chuck roasts and, after the temperature dropped, it unexpectedly climbed to 310 and wouldn’t come down. I stuck foil and closed up two of the rebar holes. When the temp dropped down to 260, I removed the foil and it climbed back to the 275-280 range and held for the rest of the cook. The chuck roast was great. As you note, though, YMMV.

            Comment


              Bobmcgahan - I am going to play around with it. I think I owe it to PBC (and science!) to try it their way once. I will give your 15-10 method a try as well. Also 15-0-10 with the last being lid on rebar out.

              Comment


              • Bobmcgahan
                Bobmcgahan commented
                Editing a comment
                Report back on how things work out. BTW, for doing chicken, I would still recommend the method devised by fzxdoc as you want the temperature hotter in any event. Good luck.

              Anyone have an opinion on arranging the lit coals on top of the unlit coals? What I have been doing is fill the basket level, remove 40 KBB, and then re-level the basket of unlit coals.

              When my lit coals are ready, I dump them in the basket and more-or-less try to evenly distribute them atop the unlit ones.

              I've seen some videos where people try to concentrate the unlit coals in the very center of the basket (perhaps even going to far as to make sure the middle of the basket is empty of coals before dumping the lit ones in), trying to promote an inside-out vs top-down burn.

              Does this seem make much of a difference?

              Comment


              • HawkerXP
                HawkerXP commented
                Editing a comment
                I tried the center way and didn't care for it. I'm with you with spreading around on top. If it will be a long cook I'll even throw some unlit on top of the lit ones. Yes you'll get nasty smoke, I wait until it diminishes then put on the meat.

              I haven't done a ton of cooks on my PBC, maybe 15-20, but I haven't found how I arrange or dump the coals to make any difference in how well or long my coals burn.

              Comment


                Spinaker arranges his PBC coals in what he calls the OCD method because it looks so precise. Perhaps he’ll weigh in here to tell you about it, Michael_in_TX .

                Kathryn
                Last edited by fzxdoc; December 30, 2019, 06:47 AM.

                Comment


                  An observation from now having used the Pit Barrel on about a dozen occasions. I'm finding more and more that my PBC settles in at around 300-310 degrees. I'm now plugging two of the rebar holes with foil and letting the temperature drop to 260 degrees or slightly less. Remove the foil plugs and the temperature goes into the sweet-spot range of 270-285 and will hold there for the remainder of the cook. YMMV.

                  Comment


                    Following up on my post (#290). Following the official PBC lighting instructions got me exactly what it says on the tin: a steady 260-280 for 6 hours. It wasn't my favorite cook and my ribs didn't bark up the way they do at higher heat. I have a baseline that I can play around with now, at least.

                    Comment


                      fzxdoc comment and question...i tried your starting method with stubb's briquettes and it worked like a charm. spiked around 388-405 and settled down to 290-300 after maybe 30 mins. or so and stayed there for a couple hours before dropping a bit. Since I was cooking 3 chicken halves it worked out perfect. Question - any suggestions or thoughts on how to dial in the PBC for a bit lower temp close to 280 or so for ribs?

                      Comment


                      • pkadare
                        pkadare commented
                        Editing a comment
                        There really isn't any need. I don't even check the temp in my PBC any more, just set it and forget it as it is designed. There really isn't going to be much of a difference of 10 to 20 degrees. I guess if you really wanted to you could try plugging up the rod holes with tin foil.

                      • Sandpaper
                        Sandpaper commented
                        Editing a comment
                        stickbit - see my post #299 just above. If you want to keep your temps in the 270 range, try the PBC recommended method: light your chimney and let it burn 12-15 minutes, dump it in the basket and start cooking immediately.

                      • N227GB
                        N227GB commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I usually use Smithfield Extra Meaty baby backs. They can take the heat if Stubbs runs hotter. I've only use KBB because that what Noah (PBC inventor) recommends, but nothing wrong with experimenting.

                        I, too, have stopped monitoring the drum temp when doing ribs.

                    Announcement

                    Collapse
                    No announcement yet.
                    Working...
                    X
                    false
                    0
                    Guest
                    500
                    ["pitmaster-my-membership","login","join-pitmaster","lostpw","reset-password","special-offers","help","nojs","meat-ups","gifts","authaau-alpha","ebooklogin-start","alpha","start"]
                    false
                    false
                    {"count":0,"link":"/forum/announcements/","debug":""}
                    Yes
                    Rubs Promo
                    Meat-Up in Memphis