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

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  • Michael_in_TX
    replied
    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.

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  • fzxdoc
    replied
    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

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  • Spinaker
    replied
    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!)

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  • Sandpaper
    commented on 's reply
    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.

  • pkadare
    commented on 's reply
    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.

  • stickbit
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • Sandpaper
    replied
    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.

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  • HawkerXP
    commented on 's reply
    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.

  • Bobmcgahan
    replied
    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.

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  • fzxdoc
    replied
    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 30th, 2019, 06:47 AM.

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  • phoccer
    replied
    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.

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  • Michael_in_TX
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • Bobmcgahan
    commented on 's reply
    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.

  • Sandpaper
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bobmcgahan
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:

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