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Charcoal arrangement in PBC

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    Charcoal arrangement in PBC

    Much has been written regarding various methods of lighting the PBC. I have seen much less written about charcoal arrangement and am curious as to what you use and why.

    I have pretty much just dumped the charcoal into the basket, removed about 30 to 40 coals to light in the PBC chimney, run 12 to 15 minutes and dump back over the remaining coals. Pretty much the recommended way as per the mfg.

    Now, I am wondering about what happens if I were to remove only center coals, lighting them and attempting to dump all or most of them back into the hole to get a minion method going from the center outward.

    For cooler cooks, say to smoke fish, I wonder about making a snake around the outside of the interior diameter of the basket and simply lighting one end of the snake similarly to using a snake in a kettle.

    Now please don't say why don't you try it and let us know. I am a CPA and am in the middle of tax season. I don't have time to cook and its driving me nuts! But I have been wondering about this and would love to read your ideas.........especially if you have tried them and liked the outcome. So, what did you do, and how did it work out?
    Last edited by Alabama Smoke; March 11, 2020, 03:30 PM.

    #2
    For cooler cooks, I just put in less charcoal and light fewer briquettes - about half of each. So far, it's worked out fine.

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      #3
      Originally posted by TheQuietOne View Post
      For cooler cooks, I just put in less charcoal and light fewer briquettes - about half of each. So far, it's worked out fine.
      I also have experimented with this and found similar results, but this always results in less fuel so shorter cooks also. Would love to find a way to keep temps lower and still go for longer cooks. Perhaps a different smoker is the answer for this situation? Yes, I have played with plugging holes which seems to work to a degree, but at least with my unit, attempting to smoke below 250* always results in the fire smoldering and then dying.

      Comment


        #4
        Yeah, I find it nearly impossible to keep it below 250° for long cooks too. I've come to terms with there not being much difference (for pork and beef anyway) between keeping it below 250° which takes too much fiddling around and 300-325° which it easily holds for hours. If there's a taste or texture difference, I can't detect it.

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        • Alabama Smoke
          Alabama Smoke commented
          Editing a comment
          Agreed.

        #5
        I believe the PBC was meant to run at 270*ish with both rebar in. Cooking chicken? take one rebar out and you'll get into the mid 300*s. I tried doing hot coals just in the middle and wasn't thrilled. I'm back to spreading them around on top.
        I mostly use my PBC for brisket, chicken / turkey and wibs. I use my kettles for other items.

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        • fzxdoc
          fzxdoc commented
          Editing a comment
          Yep. Although I do spread the love to my WSCGC as well with briskets, butts and ribs. But the PBC still gets a lot of action.

          K.
          Last edited by fzxdoc; March 12, 2020, 10:57 AM.

        #6
        I usually remove the chimney briqs from the center and put a couple hunks of wood in there and dump the lit coals on top. With a fan control I just dump the half chimney, load up the meat, slap the lid on and walk away.

        You can run for a very long time at 225 (24+ hours with char logs). The fan eliminates the need to futz with the rebar holes. In fact I have forgot to put the rebars back in when using a grate and the fan took care of things so I didn’t even realize it until after the cook.

        https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...ibration-tests

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          #7
          Originally posted by HawkerXP View Post
          I believe the PBC was meant to run at 270*ish with both rebar in. Cooking chicken? take one rebar out and you'll get into the mid 300*s. I tried doing hot coals just in the middle and wasn't thrilled. I'm back to spreading them around on top.
          I mostly use my PBC for brisket, chicken / turkey and wibs. I use my kettles for other items.
          I totally agree with your comments. Not hard to get the PBC to run above 275. Difficult if not impossible to get it to run much below 275. For that matter I am having difficulty getting my Jumbo Joe (18" kettle) to run consistently below 250. Betting I am not supposed to totally fill the SNS basket completely if I want it to run cooler. Am going to experiment with half a load of coals in SNS basket for cooler temps.

          Comment


          • HawkerXP
            HawkerXP commented
            Editing a comment
            or just light 8 or 10 and place in a corner like we do with the full size SnS.

          #8
          Here is how I set mine up. I call this the OCD method, but it works well and I get really nice, consistent burns. I arrange all of the colas in a circular fashion around the basket, in two layers, top and bottom. I make sure that the coals are red hot before I put them in the charcoal basket. I always shake the chimney vigorously before dumping them in the basket. Then the ash is pretty much gone and they are roaring hot!
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          • rgriffeath
            rgriffeath commented
            Editing a comment
            Spinaker Thank you for the detailed approach. This makes a ton of sense to me. I will employ on my new PBC’s maiden voyage 👌

          • BBQCentralShow
            BBQCentralShow commented
            Editing a comment
            There's a hospital waiting for you, Spinaker! OOOOOO CCCCCCCC DDDDDD much??!! LOL!!

          • Spinaker
            Spinaker commented
            Editing a comment
            I know, but they are out of beds right now.........

            BBQCentralShow

          #9
          Spinaker, thanks for all those details. I will try this next time I do a long cook. I gotta big Butt sitting in the freezer I am looking forward to smoking. I have always wrapped in interest of time, but this time I think I will setup like you showed me, start really early and see if I can out do myself with a great black bark--no wrapping just cook till around 205 degrees or so. This looks like it would do it.

          Now that I have your ear, I see you have used the PBC for a longtime. So please let me pick your brain a little more if you don't mind. Say you want to smoke at 225 to 250 on PBC. My experience plugging holes etc is rather abismal. Below 250 we smolder and my fire goes out. Do you know a trick for lower heat including using less charcoal in basket as well as in starter? For example, I saw earlier (wish I could remember who posted it) one member wanted to cook fish for an hour or perhaps slightly more. He put maybe 25 or 30 starter coals in starter chimney and none at all in basket. Lit chimney, poured into basket and cooked. Indicated it worked pretty well. Do you have any advice for cooking with less fuel to keep temps down? Thanks for your advice! Tom
          Last edited by Alabama Smoke; March 14, 2020, 03:09 PM.

          Comment


          • Spinaker
            Spinaker commented
            Editing a comment
            You really do not want to have the PBC run at those lower temps. It is designed to run at about 275 F, this is optimal to avoid smoldering and a consistent burn. If you want to do a lower temp cook, I would do as the other member has done. Less coals, but make sure they are red hot and rolling. You should be able to keep the temp low, depending on how many coals you add to the basket. But I would keep airflow the same to avoid smoldering. (Sorry or the delay in getting back to you.)

          #10
          Spinaker no problem. Thanks for the answers! I do find that the PBC does better to just let it have its head (sort of like riding a good horse). I have used fewer coals a few times in the past and found that while it did run somewhat cooler at least at first it still ran well above 250. The fewer coals lasted a lot less time with only perhaps a 25 degree reduction in temps. Not a problem really though, I have never had a truly bad cook on the PBC, but some have surely been better than others. I can keep the Weber kettle lower much more easily, but it requires more fuss than the PBC. Not a problem really, but like everyone else, I like to tweak things sometimes.

          Comment


          • Spinaker
            Spinaker commented
            Editing a comment
            Perfectly understandable. We all do, my friend.

          #11
          I agree with Spinaker . The PBC runs stable where it wants to run.

          While I have smoked a brisket at 225° in the PBC (only once), it was no better than those smoked at 250-275°. It just took longer. I got those 225° temps by starting with fewer lit coals and a overfull basket.

          A few people here say that their PBCs like running in the 300+ range, but I've never had that experience. I have to make a conscious effort to keep my PBC running hotter than 300°, usually accomplished by pulling one of the rebars out or using skinny SS rods instead of the rebars.

          Running the PBC at 250-275° turns out great food. For me, 225° is only a number, and not my number. Not even for my other cookers which can easily run at 225° if I wanted them to.

          That said, you do you. But you may want to use another cooker when you want those lower cooking temps.

          Kathryn
          Last edited by fzxdoc; March 20, 2020, 06:32 AM.

          Comment


          • Alabama Smoke
            Alabama Smoke commented
            Editing a comment
            Once, when I did a full load of charcoal in basket and put approx 40 into chimney, I dumped those in chimney well before they appeared ready. Top coals were still black. Perhaps this was the same as using fewer in chimney, perhaps not exactly. I expect air flow through those coals would be different by comparison and expect that would impact the initial light. Result, barrel wanted to run at about 200. I finally cracked lid to get up to temp but it then went on up to around 280 or so.

          #12
          Not to talk you out of something, but just to share my experience. I bought a used PBC and it had a lid leak, therefore it burned much hotter than designed (that's another story for another day).

          Prior to the purchase, I decided that I was just going to take a "leap of faith" and embrace the hot and fast cooks, after all, that is the way Noah designed the PBC, set and forget. My rationale was that I "could" tweak this or that and get the temps down to 225, etc, but wanted to see what the fuss was about on the PBC. Plus I didn't want to make myself frustrated when it didn't do what I wanted when it really was designed to do another thing. Needless to say, it absolutely rocks a brisket and chicken, I can turn out full packers in 6 hours and they taste as though I cooked them all day.

          Having said all that, I like cooking on my PBC so much, I've been looking at other/bigger can cookers.......darn MCS!

          Good luck and welcome to the Pit!

          Comment


            #13
            I use a bbq guru with my PBC and have learned that when I take 15-20 briquettes (Royal Oak Natural) out of the coal basket to put into the chimney to get things going, if I create a hole in the coal bunch on the opposite side of the intake, and then pour the lit coals into that area, my coals last the longest. I put a couple chunks of wood UNDERNEATH the charcoal so the smolder a bit slower and that setup burns consistently with every cook. The coals slowly make their way across the basket towards the intake and the bbq guru allows me to dial in whatever temp I want.

            Comment


            • Alabama Smoke
              Alabama Smoke commented
              Editing a comment
              Interesting. Assuming you have tried this prior to introducing the BBQ GURU to the mix, what temps and fire longevity did you get?

            • Shockwave
              Shockwave commented
              Editing a comment
              Prior to adding the BBQ Guru, I used the same startup procedure but I started the chimney with 35-40 briquettes. Temps settled around 300-325 and I could very easily get 8 hours or more out of a basket of coals. When i did a brisket (prior to the Guru) I used this same method and filled the basket a bit more than usual, started with 30-35 briquettes in the chimney, and I got 10-12 hours with this method with temps settling in around 275ish.

            • Shockwave
              Shockwave commented
              Editing a comment
              Since adding the Guru, I can start with just 15-20 briquettes in the chimney and achieve whatever temp I want because the Guru continues to pump air into the cooking chamber until temps get close to the preset limit, then it pumps air in using shorts bursts to inch temps up slowly and maintain temps when needed.

            #14
            I too use a controller, Smoke & Billows, to regulate temp and keep it around 225. It still varies from about 210-240 on most cooks for the first couple of hours, then stabilizes with smaller variances. Works great, enjoy your PBC!

            Comment


              #15
              After having my PBC for many years (mine is pre porcelain). I light it the same every time with a full basket and haven't had an pit temp thermometer in it forever. Now and again I put my hand on the lid to make sure it's still hot and just let it run. I found early on that trying to control temps would drive me crazy so I quit trying. I do monitor the meat temp but not the pit. This is how I've learned to roll and cannot think of a time I was disappointed.
              There is always a exception and mine is for chicken. I slightly crack the lid with a small piece of a charcoal bag between the lid and the barrel for hotter temps and again just let it run.
              With my PBC I just keep it simple or go crazy.

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