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

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    Just ordered my PBC. Hasn't arrived yet. Enjoying reading this sticky. Question: Why so much talk about controlling the temp in the PBC. Their videos sound like one temp (established in a routine and uncomplicated set up) is fine for all meats. I know the "low and slow" slogan and its value. What problems arise when you use the PBC video method for all meats? There must be some or there wouldn't be all this info about controlling the temp? What is the virtue of the PBC that allows its maker to go against the common established wisdom of "low and slow"? Thanks. Jim Burgin


    • Jerod Broussard
      Jerod Broussard commented
      Editing a comment
      Low and Slow or Hot and Fast, both will result in an excellent product. Coincidentally, the Pit Barrel falls in the middle with respect to temp, but the rate at which it cooks leans closer to the Hot and Fast method.

      Different altitudes, humidity levels, charcoal quality, will affect the temps to some degree.

      And since you are hanging the meat right above the heat source , how much meat you hang will also affect it.

    • smarkley
      smarkley commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree with Jerod on all his points... Plus I think Noah's main thing is, PBC is a set and forget unit... and it is good at that.

      But...... a bunch of us are control freaks and want to hit a certain temp and keep it there. With the PBC that is harder to do, keep reading and you see we have all kinds of tricks to control that beast hahahaha... but the bottom line is, once you get the fire going good, it really is a set and forget cooker.

      I have come full circle on controlling that cooker... I am back to get my fire real hot at first, then load it up and walk away and check the meat every once in awhile
      Last edited by smarkley; October 2, 2015, 05:30 AM.

    Thanks much Guys,


      We're tinkerers at heart. Hang and walk away works pretty well as is but it gets boring.
      You'll enjoy the PBC right out of the box


        The PBC works great right out of the box, Jim Burgin , and if you follow Noah's videos, you'll have some wonderful cooks and great food.

        However, I find that with many of Noah's videos the cook times are way different from what I and other PBC users here experience. It's sometimes difficult enough to "encourage" a meat to be done in time for supper, but doing it blind, not knowing Pit Barrel temperatures as shown in Noah's videos, did not make me comfortable. For that reason, I started another PBC topic (now a sticky as well) listing, by types of meat/veggies, cook times, internal temps, and PBC temps for many cooks. Compiling those data gave me a good place to start when trying to figure out how much time to allow. Here's a link to that topic, if you're interested.

        Controlling the PBC temperature is not very difficult, and for me, leads to a more reproducible result.

        That said, it's nice to have the insurance that if you do choose to set and forget, you'll still get a good result in however many hours it takes with that PBC setup on that day.

        Bottom line: you're going to love the food that comes out of that PBC. Smoke on!



          Kathryn, this is my second cook on the PBC (chuck roast) and your lighting instructions seem to do the trick. I'm in Rochester, NY where even in a mild winter it's pretty cold and the temperature is up where i need it. Thanks.


            So a couple of weeks ago I decided to try the OCD method of loading the charcoal in the PBC. I saw this a few months ago in the pit. I was cooking a chicken. I use the charcoal lighter fluid method of lighting. I let it burn for 15 minutes before putting the chicken on. Maybe I put too much fluid on it but this thing really burns hot. Not sure if I would do it again. I didn't keep temps but I puuled one of the rebars out and plugged the holes and it was still reading 350 degrees.


            • Jerod Broussard
              Jerod Broussard commented
              Editing a comment
              Plenty fluid equals plenty high temps. I put enough to blast off the space shuttle when I want high temps. And that is with a Non-OCD method.

            Kathryn is the Queen of PBC Do you suggest the 10-10-10 method of lighting or are you sticking with the 15-10-10, remembering I'm at 705ft here. The PBC customer service Gal called back after my post yesterday, and said 12 minutes period then put the meat in, I have enough experience and being I don't have my Maverick yet I'm going with your lighting method.


              Big Daddy Jay , I use a chimney and I do 15-10-10 all the time with Kingsford Blue Bag charcoal. After 15 minutes in the chimney, the topmost coals are just starting to ash over. That's what I look for before pouring them onto the cold coals in the basket. If your coals ash over sooner than that, then go ahead and pour the chimney earlier than the 15 minute mark.

              For some reason, Kingsford Competition charcoal does not light up as fast, so when I use it (for my chicken cooks) I let it ride with a 20-10-10 combo.

              Good luck with that cook! And P.S. Thanks for the "Queen of PBC designation" (and the giggle). I do indeed love cooking on my PBC. I try to make my husband call me "Your Highness", but for some reason he balks at the notion.



              • fzxdoc
                fzxdoc commented
                Editing a comment
                Sounds like a good plan, Jerod. Jerod Broussard . At first I thought there was something wrong with the bag of Competition I was using. I've since gone through several bags of Competition charcoal and getting them well lit always takes longer than my ol' friend the Kingsford Blue Bag.


              • Big Daddy Jay
                Big Daddy Jay commented
                Editing a comment
                Your Royal Highness Queen Kathryn: Using your lighting method I was able to score some Awesome Baby Backs ribs this afternoon. I also found that the lid was not fitting properly until I hit it which my Rubber Malllet! The proof was in the final product. You are Amazing! Thanks again

              • fzxdoc
                fzxdoc commented
                Editing a comment
                Yay, Big Daddy Jay ! I'm so glad to hear that you had some tasty baby backs out of that PBC today and that you're on your way to a having great smoking experience every single time you fire it up! Congrats!


              jecucolo does the OCD method allow more briquettes to enter the party?


                Hello all. I've really enjoyed this thread. I got my PBC a couple weeks ago and broke it in right away with the Signature Chicken as Noah described on the video. It turned out amazing in just about 2 hours flat. The next day I did 3 racks of baby back ribs and a tritip. I did the same method as the day before and figured that the temp and instructions would be the same as the previous day. So, I went to check on them after only 2 hours and they were already done. I'm glad I checked sooner rather than later. My guests liked them but they ended up charred. I didn't have time to try to bring them back to life wrapped in foil and juice so I served as is.

                That made me realize that maybe there was a temp issue inside. I purchased the Maverick ET732 to monitor some dry runs without meat inside. Yesterday I lit per Noah's instructions and inserted my probe. I read every 15 minutes and here were highlights of what i read:
                15 minutes-297
                30 minutes-338
                1 hour -437
                2 hours - 487
                2 hrs15min-473
                2 1/2 hrs- 441
                3 hrs- 405
                4 hrs- 334
                4 1/2 hrs- 304

                That's where i stopped because I had to go somewhere. Not liking what I saw, I tried fzxdoc's method. I am at sea level and had the intake set at !/4 open. I used Kingsford Original and placed 40 in my chimney. I let burn for 10 minutes and emptied into the coal basket. I'm only and hour into that and the temps rose from yesterday.

                15 mins- 487
                30 mins- 520
                45 mins- 527

                I'm curious what your folks may think is going on? At this point, I shoved some foil into the rebar holes and even closed the intake all the way. The temp dropped to 489. What can I expect the temp to do once I put a couple racks of ribs in? I know it will lower a bit, but i'm guessing not 275 degrees. I want to figure this thing out a little before i char some more ribs. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.


                  Wow, Joe, Joedvasquez , that sounds strange indeed.

                  Have you checked the Maverick probe for accuracy in boiling water and an ice bath?

                  Where in the PBC is the Maverick probe hanging?

                  Are you running your PBC in these empty barrel tests with the rebars in (and the lid on)?

                  When you peek into the barrel, are there flames dancing on the coals? A thermometer probe directly over a flame can record some pretty high temps.

                  Have you checked to ensure that the lid is on tight? The temp can climb when some of the smoke leaks out from under the rim of the lid. It's really hard to see, especially in the areas of the rim above the rebars. I hold a piece of cardboard horizontally, one edge against the barrel above the rebar holes to block the rebar hole smoke wafting up so I can see if smoke is coming out from under the lid in those areas. I usually have to bang the lid of my PBC down with the rubber heel of my shoe (or a rubber mallet). It leaks in the area where the seam of the barrel is. On my second cook, the temperature took off on me, and after I tamped the lid on tight, the temperature settled right in. From that point on, I always check the lid for leaks.

                  I get temps like you're getting only with the lid off with/without the rebars, or with the lid on without the rebars. Never with the lid on securely and the rebars in place. My Maverick probe cable is wrapped a couple of times around the rebar and the probe tip hangs at the mid-level of the hanging meat.

                  Have you spoken with the PBC folks about this?

                  It will be interesting to get to the bottom of this problem. Don't get discouraged, you'll have a great-cooking PBC just as soon as this is figured out.

                  Last edited by fzxdoc; April 14, 2016, 06:41 PM.


                    You might want to check and make sure the lid is on tight. Sometimes just a little crack can bring the temp up.
                    Did you put the bars back in?


                      Thank you for the quick response. To answer some of the questions:

                      I have not checked the Maverick for accuracy. That is a brilliant idea though. I will do that for sure.

                      I ran the probe through the rebar opening and installed the grate. The probe is affixed using the grate clip.

                      Bars in and lid on. I just assumed that the lid is solidly in place. There doesn't seem to be any way for it not to be closed all the way. For the record, I went out and tapped on it with a rubber mallet and it appears the temp is dropping and is now at 426, which is down approx. 35-40 degrees. (I stopped my readings just because I figured I had to make an adjustment on this anyway.)

                      I have not contacted PBC about this yet. I wanted to check with you all on here to see what I might be screwing up first.


                        I'm about to join the PBC family, so I'm truly interested on what is going on there. Part of the allure of the PBC is the almost 'no brainer' operation of the cooker. I don't mind fussing in the least, and certainly with something like BGE, tweaking is expected and is very achievable.... Hoping that whatever is going on is solvable. It sure sounds to me like a lid not quite seating right, more airflow through it, higher temps and in this case, not too controllable....



                          Just an update, the temp continues to fall. I can't believe it could be something as simple as a tap of a shoe or mallet that could fix this issue. The temp is now at 378. It has dropped a considerable amount once I did that. We will do another one of these this weekend but I may throw some ribs in it. Tired of just faking it. Thank you so much for a simple heads up.



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