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

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  • Skip
    Founding Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 2354
    • Blue Earth, Minnesota
    • Memphis Pellet Grill, Large BGE, Weber Kettle with SnS, Weber Gasser, Pit Barrel Cooker, Cast Iron Pans & Griddle, Grill Grates

    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.
  • fzxdoc
    Founding Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 4138
    • My toys:
      Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center (WSCGC) aka Mr. Fancypants
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      Camp Chef Somerset IV 4-burner outdoor gas range


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      Fireboard Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
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      Shun Classic 8" Chef's Knife
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      Shun Classic 3 1/2 inch Paring Knife

    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?
  • fzxdoc
    Founding Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 4138
    • My toys:
      Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center (WSCGC) aka Mr. Fancypants
      Pit Barrel Cooker (which rocks)
      Weber Summit S650 Gas Grill
      Weber Kettle Premium 22"
      Weber Jumbo Joe Premium 22" (a weird little 22" kettle mutant on 22"-long legs) (donated to local battered women's shelter.)
      Camp Chef Somerset IV 4-burner outdoor gas range


      Adrenaline BBQ Company's SnS, DnG and Large Charcoal Basket for WSCGC
      Adrenaline BBQ Company's Elevated SS Rack for WSCGC
      Adrenaline BBQ Company's SS Rack for DnG
      Grill Grate for SnS
      Grill Grates: five 17.375 sections with GrateGriddle for Summit S650 gasser (they sit on top of existing Weber SS grates)
      2 Grill Grate Griddles
      Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser

      Fireboard Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
      Fireboard Competition Probes 1" (two) and two more Ambient Probes
      Pit Viper Fan (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
      Thermoworks Thermapen MK5 (pink)
      Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 (pink too)
      Thermoworks Temp Test 2 Smart Thermometer
      Thermoworks Extra Big and Loud Timer
      Thermoworks Timestick Trio
      Maverick ET 73 a little workhorse with limited range
      Maverick ET 733
      Maverick (Ivation) ET 732
      Grill Pinz
      Vortex (two of them)

      Two Joule Sous Vide devices
      VacMaster Pro 350 Vacuum Sealer
      Instant Pot 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
      Charcoal Companion TurboQue
      A-Maze-N tube 12 inch tube smoker accessory for use with pellets

      BBQ Dragon and Dragon Chimney

      Shun Classic 8" Chef's Knife
      Shun Classic 6" Chef's Knife
      Shun Classic Gokujo Boning and Fillet Knife
      Shun Classic 3 1/2 inch Paring Knife

    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

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