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

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  • Spinaker
    Moderator
    • Nov 2014
    • 10521
    • Land of Tonka
    • John "J R"
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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

    • fzxdoc
      Founding Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 5008
      • My toys:
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      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

      • Michael_in_TX
        Club Member
        • Dec 2018
        • 368
        • Texas Gulf Coast
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        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.
      • stickbit
        Club Member
        • Jun 2017
        • 43

        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

        • fzxdoc
          Founding Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 5008
          • My toys:
            Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center (WSCGC) aka Mr. Fancypants
            Pit Barrel Cooker (which rocks)
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            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
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            Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser
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            Fireboard Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
            Fireboard control unit in addition to that in the Extreme BBQ Package
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          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

          • stickbit
            Club Member
            • Jun 2017
            • 43

            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
          • lannylautenschlager
            Club Member
            • Nov 2015
            • 2

            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.
          • mnavarre
            Club Member
            • Jan 2018
            • 525
            • San Diego

            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.
          • Byrang
            Club Member
            • Nov 2019
            • 41
            • Keller, TX

            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

            • fzxdoc
              Founding Member
              • Jul 2014
              • 5008
              • 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 (retired to storage)
                Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser
                2 Grill Grate Griddles
                Steelmade Griddle for Summit gas grill

                Fireboard Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
                Fireboard control unit in addition to that in the Extreme BBQ Package
                Additional Fireboard probes: Competition Probes 1" (3) and 4" (1), 3 additional Ambient Probes. 1 additional Food Probe
                2 Fireboard Driver Cables
                Pit Viper Fan (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
                Pit Viper Fan new design (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
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                Thermoworks Temp Test 2 Smart Thermometer
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                Thermoworks Timestick Trio
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                Maverick ET 733
                Maverick (Ivation) ET 732

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                Instant Pot 10 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
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                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

              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
            • jpsep
              Club Member
              • Jun 2018
              • 10

              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!
            • Tman4024
              Club Member
              • Jun 2020
              • 5

              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

              • fzxdoc
                Founding Member
                • Jul 2014
                • 5008
                • 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 (retired to storage)
                  Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser
                  2 Grill Grate Griddles
                  Steelmade Griddle for Summit gas grill

                  Fireboard Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
                  Fireboard control unit in addition to that in the Extreme BBQ Package
                  Additional Fireboard probes: Competition Probes 1" (3) and 4" (1), 3 additional Ambient Probes. 1 additional Food Probe
                  2 Fireboard Driver Cables
                  Pit Viper Fan (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
                  Pit Viper Fan new design (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
                  Instant Pot 10 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

                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

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                Napoleon's NK22CK-C Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It's hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the NK22CK-C a viable alternative.

                Click here for more about what makes this grill special


                Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker

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                Green Mountain's portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it's also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

                Click here to read our detailed review and to order