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Looooong first cook

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    Looooong first cook

    PBC came today, just in time to set up to do 3 chickens for family dinner. I have lots of experience with smaller and larger Weber Kettles, with and without Smokenator, but bought the PBC as it seems well suited to my style of cooking.

    I did everything exactly as instructed. Live in PA, about 60 miles NE of Pittsburgh about 1000 feet + / - so very carefully set the vet 1/4 open. Outside air temp about 50 degrees. Chickens were about 2.5 lbs each, halved and hung as in the PBC video. Start went well, using King Blue with a couple small chunks of apple. Unfortunately the cook took 3 hours and 45 minutes and then was just barely done. Admittedly the cooker was setting on my small patio, under metal roof and between houses but that is the same place I've cooked for years. Not the best "air" but certainly not the worst either and likely the reason for a bit of extended cook time. Chicken did not taste like coals were smouldering, just sloooow.

    After 2:30 I reset the vent to what would amount to 3/8, part way between 1/4 & 1/2 and also cracked the lid a bit but wow, good thing it was family. Temp went up to finish the cook and all ended OK. Unfortunately I did not have capability of measuring temp of cooker as my unit died.

    Is this a common experience? Video says 2 hours, no more - no less ! Really ? I will adapt my cooking to the way the PBC works, but nearly double cook times seems out of line. Any suggestions ?

    Thanks, Happy.

    You really need to monitor cooker temp, especially with chicken. They can really cool off this cooker since they are hanging right over the coals. I want at least 325 hitting them birds.


      Welcome Happy! You'll get the hang of her real quick. Replace your thermometer asap so you don't have an unHappy family or ruined meat. From what I read the PBCers are a happy bunch, you'll fit in nicely.


        Hi Happy, welcome to the PBC bunch! I've had my PBC since June and do at least a couple of cooks a month on it, often more. I had a similar experience with my very first cook, also with chicken. It took way longer than I had anticipated and certainly than the video said, but darn it was good! I also fiddled with the intake opening to no avail. That's when I came here and asked some questions and Dave Parrish, Jerod Broussard and others gave me some great tips about lighting the coals that made a huge difference in all of my subsequent cooks.

        While the PBC can be a "set it and forget it" type of smoker, it's only that way if you get a good light on those charcoals in the first place. You may want to read this sticky topic on lighting the PBC. There is a lot of good info there. Once I started following some of those methods, my PBC gentled out nicely and every cook has turned out good food with minimal effort on my part--minimal effort, that is, as long as I can make myself stop tweaking things with it!

        If you follow some of those steps so that the fire lights nicely, your next cook will be a lot more fun and the food will be done in a more timely manner. In general, PBC cooks are shorter than those on other types of smokers, so if yours are longer, monitoring the smoker temperature might be the way to figure out what's going on.

        Also, Noah and Amber are so good to respond to an email to offer more advice. As some folks say here, their elevation and typically dry environment sometimes don't translate to those of us in different parts of the country, so feel free to fiddle a bit with the lighting procedure if the one on the video does not work for you.

        About sheltering the PBC, I've done cooks in the pouring rain and while that may slow down the cook, it still gets done in good time. I cooked the Thanksgiving turkey in the PBC when the temp was in the low 30s and the wind was blowing, and the 14 lb turkey was done in 1.5 hours!

        As you read more here on The Pit, your technique will get better and better. You're going to have a lot of fun with that PBC, for sure!



          Sounds like they have you covered, it just seems that some of us (me included) have issues with the standard lighting procedure. Mine ran really low and went out a lot for about a month, but I finally figured it out and the data is in the sticky Kathryn provided above. All I can add is that I found good luck adjusting the intake more, it didn't make sense that you are a quarter open at 1,999 feet and double that with one more foot. Being at about 1,000 as well I opened it a bit closer to the half open setting.


            Welcome, Happy. As everyone has said, you will get the "hang" of it. I sort of find chicken to be the hardest, since you do need to sustain a higher temperature than with brisket, ribs, or pork butt, for example. Get a good thermometer--it will help you while you figure out your procedures. Later, you may not even use it. I did three racks of baby backs today, and never put a probe near the unit. Pulled them at about 3:45 and they look great. I've had mine for about 18 months now, and feel very comfortable with it.

            I think Kathryn hit the nail on the head. The most important thing to get right and then standardize (for consistent results) is your lighting procedure. I'm a lighter fluid guy myself--started with a chimney, but found I was more consistent with lighter fluid. But both methods give great results to those who use them--just figure out which works best for you.

            For chicken, if I am not using both rebars, I will pull one of them to get a little higher cooker temp. You can also crack the lid a little. Agree with Jerod that you want 325.

            If all else fails (and it won't...), Noah is more than willing to help out. I called him a few times when I was starting out and his expertise was always spot on.



              Thanks all for the replies. Good advice, and researching cooking is almost as much joy as cooking.

              I'll be ordering a couple thermoworks DOTS tomorrow, along with an extra probe for the cooker. I like backups so I'm more comfortable with two DOTS than one 732.



                3 chickens, that's 6 halves = a lot of drippings. Drippings do cool off PBC temps, if you don't have blazing hot coals.
                My suggestion is if you're going to cook chickens on both rebars then place a piece of something on the lid lip to have it slightly cracked open.
                If you cook on just one rebar, then take the other one out.
                Once you get a hang of it, your life will change for forever!!

                The PBC brings all the chickens to the yard......


                  Originally posted by Ernest View Post
                  The PBC brings all the chickens to the yard......
                  That is does, my PBC friend. I'm doing 3 chickens and a dozen Italian sausages in a couple of days (family visiting). The taste of those PBC'd chickens will knock their socks off, I can say from lots of experience!




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