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

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    Originally posted by stickbit View Post
    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?
    Also, adding a little weight to the lid will help it to seal better. I find that will make the barrel run a little closer to 275F As time goes on, you will not need the weight. As the under side of the lid gets more gunked up, the seal gets better and better.

    (It is great to see this thread is still rocking, it is one of the best and longest running topics in the forum, and with good reason! Cheers to the Doc!)

    Comment


      stickbit , you could try to back your lighting times down to 15-5-5 or 15-10. Or just wait a bit until the white smoke has subsided after pouring the chimney coals in and then add your meat.

      I haven't used Stubbs briquettes but know people who do who still use 15-10-10 pretty much all the time. The purpose of letting the fire burn for a while between adding the lit coals and adding the meat is twofold: to get a good light on the unlit coals so the cook temp is pretty stable and to burn off some of those unpleasant charcoal fumes/smells (that can result when the briquettes in the basket are first lit) before adding your meat.

      For the next time, though, for ribs, perhaps you won't want to change a thing just to see if the fire behaves the same as this last time. Pork can handle the high heats, as pkadare alludes to. I usually smoke them in the 275 to 290 range. As he suggests, if you want to get the fire a bit lower first check to see that there are no lid leaks and then if necessary, plug a couple or more rebar holes until the temp comes down a bit.

      As I've mentioned before, if you're only using one probe it may not accurately reflect your PBC's temp. I use 2 ambient probes placed across the barrel from each other. The temp readings on them often differ by 40°F or more, so I always go with the average.

      FWIW, my rule of thumb with the PBC is to make very small changes, one at a time, for subsequent cooks until I get the result I want.

      Kathryn

      Comment


        I'm about ten cooks in and I've noticing that my lid is fitting much better than it did right out of the box. For the first few cooks that thing just slid around like crazy and I had to resort to putting two bricks on top of the lid, which helped immensely but still had the thing running a bit hot.. Now there is some significant friction underneath it and I may try dispensing with the bricks.

        In fact, I did ribs yesterday and with the bricks and the PBC lighting method the PBC held 276 on-the-dot for three hours. My Theromoworks Smoke just flickered from 275-276-277 and back for three solid hours. I was beside myself. No sine wave at all like what I get with my Kettle.

        Comment


        • HawkerXP
          HawkerXP commented
          Editing a comment
          PBC, pbc…… of course I still love my kettles. Each has a place depending on what's being cooked.

        Thank you ALL!! You are the best!! I do have a lot of gunk built up and also use a gasket - I've had the pbc for several years with mixed results until now with that last chicken cook where it just hummed along. I just remembered last night my chicken halves took over 2 hours so as fzxdoc pointed out my readings must have been off and I bet my barrel temp was lower than i thought. Stoked!

        Comment


          stickbit , if my temps are much below 300°, my chickens take closer to two hours as well. They take an hour or so at temps 350°+ and about 1.5 hours around 325°, depending, of course on how many chickens are in the barrel. Nothing douses a fire as quickly as a bunch of chickens can. They drop off a lot of moisture but always have plenty left when smoked in my PBC, no matter what the temp between 270° and 350°.

          Kathryn

          Comment


            fzxdoc thanks for the feedback. I was going to say - when I've had the heat higher (325-350 range) my split chickens would be closer to 1 hr-1 hr 15 mins....these took over 2 hours - so to your point my probe must have been reading a bit higher than the actual barrel temp...which means my pbc is most likely running ...dare I say right where it was designed too?

            Comment


            • fzxdoc
              fzxdoc commented
              Editing a comment
              Agreed. At least it's a good possibility.

              Kathryn

            I followed these instructions (as outlined on the first post in this thread) on a PBC Junior today. It was the cooker's maiden voyage and the temperature seemed to hold at 300 for the majority of the cook time for the ribs (which means they were a little dryer than I had hoped). Should I reduce the number of briquettes I initially put in the cooker?

            Comment


            • fzxdoc
              fzxdoc commented
              Editing a comment
              Sometimes new barrels have leaks around the rim of the lid. That will make the temps run at 300 or more for a few hours. Put something heavy on the lid, but protect the finish with a soft cloth under the object.

              After the first few cooks, the lid should stop leaking.

              Let us know how it works out for you in coming cooks. You've got a nice cooker there. Enjoy using it.

              Kathryn
              Last edited by fzxdoc; March 23, 2020, 06:14 AM.

            lannylautenschlager The PBJr. seems to light up a bit different than the big PBC. I do more like 15-5-10 for low and slow cooks, but I don't really time it. I usually light 20 briquettes, fill the basket with unlit charcoal and once my lit coals are pretty well going dump them into the basket and put the basket in the pit. Then I let it burn for 5 minutes or so, until I can see unlit charcoal lighting up. Then put in any wood I'm using, the grate if I'm using it, and the rebar, and put the lid on. Then I go do any final prep, grab the food, whatever, not worried at this point. Hang the food and... don't worry too much. My PBJr. likes to run about 290, but it also matters how much you load it up, how drippy the food is, and, yeah, the temp it runs at. But once you get it down, it really makes you realize that you're cooking the food, not time and temp. There's a learning curve, especially if you're used to other cookers; but once you get the Zen of the thing, it's a great cooker.

            Also, spray the rim of your lid with PAM, and cook some chickens. Once it starts to gunk up a bit it get better and the temps stabilize.

            Comment


            • phoccer
              phoccer commented
              Editing a comment
              Decided to give this a try today and made one little "mistake". For the last 10 minutes I had the lid on AND the rebars in but it's worked fine. My PBJ is chugging along right around 250 which is simply awesome. Thanks for the post and giving me a new idea to try.

            Just had a thought, has anyone tried filling the charcoal basket, and lighting them with a couple of tumble weeds and then let the coals ash over? Watched a Malcom Reed video and that's how he lit his Gateway. Do you think the temps would get way too high with the lid off the entire warm up period?

            Comment


              That's how the Oklahoma Joe Bronco folks light their coals as well. I know from experience that, due to the PBC design, the better one gets the coals lit, the more stable the temps throughout the cook. For that reason I don't mess with the 40-(or 42 ) well-lit coals-in-the-chimney approach.

              But hey, tradition is meant to be broken, so try the tumbleweeds and let us know how your cook goes, Byrang.

              Kathryn
              Last edited by fzxdoc; April 6, 2020, 03:34 PM.

              Comment


              • Byrang
                Byrang commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks! I just didn't want to create a flame thrower in the backyard.. but eh.. could be fun

              Hey @fzxdoc the sticky here, thanks for the details! I just put the meat and probes in, I’m showing 435° ambient - I know it starts hot. 347° internal seems oddly high. I’m going to stuff the rebar holes with foil per your instructions.

              Comment


              • jpsep
                jpsep commented
                Editing a comment
                Adjusted the probe location and everything started to settle down. Super excited for the first cook!

              I’m adapting this recipe and just smoking two duck breasts.

              https://pitbarrelcooker.com/blogs/food/tea-smoked-duck

              my question is what is the best way to setup the charcoal basket with smaller cooks like this? Should I use less coals overall (still 40 briquette in chimney) spread evenly across the whole basket or should I just put everything on one half of the basket?

              Comment


                Tman4024 , take a look at this topic, where we discussed how to load a basket for shorter cooks.

                I seldom reduce the basket below 1/2 full, evenly distributed, and then put 40 lit coals on top of that.

                Others, however, have other methods. The topic will provide you with a lot of good info so you can make the choice that best fits your needs:

                https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...-shorter-cooks

                HTH,
                Kathryn

                Comment


                  Today my temps are not holding and I have no idea why. I lit using the ash + 10 min + 10 min technique. When I got the meat in the temp was a little over 400. So far so good. It dropped slowly over the next 40 min or so to around 270, so all good.

                  But it kept slowly falling, so by around 2 hours it was down to under 225 and still falling. I cracked the lid up to about 260, put the lid on, and it slowly dropped again over 20-30 min. Cracked the lid to 275, put it back on, and it's continuing to fall again. I've moved the probe location a bit. It's about 70-80 degrees outside, so ambient temperature shouldn't be an issue.

                  I just pulled one rebar out of one hole and rotated the charcoal basket relative to the vent to see what that does.
                  Last edited by Green Caribou; July 2, 2021, 02:35 PM.

                  Comment


                  • fzxdoc
                    fzxdoc commented
                    Editing a comment
                    impishgrin , I loop the probe's wire once around the rebar and then let the probe dangle at mid-level of the hanging meat, an inch or more away from the meat so they're not in the meat's "thermal shadow".

                    HTH,
                    Kathryn

                  • impishgrin
                    impishgrin commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks fzxdoc , I had mine on a clip on a spare hook so it was very near the top of the barrel, will have to reposition for next time and see how that affects my readings. Was going to do my tri-tip this evening but it's lashing down here and I've read the PBC isn't a big fan of rain.

                  • fzxdoc
                    fzxdoc commented
                    Editing a comment
                    impishgrin , you're right--rain pelting on the PBC will cool it down for sure. Enjoy your tri-tip when the skies clear.

                    Kathryn

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