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Short cook. Fewer coals or just fill it up and let it go?

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    Short cook. Fewer coals or just fill it up and let it go?

    I'm sure this has been covered at great detail somewhere on the board but I didn't find it.

    This past weekend, I cooked three racks of BB ribs.....they turned out well....good taste but slightly different texture than I've been used to. Total cook with saucing came in at 3 1/2 hours. Grill ran about 275-285 the whole time. When I finished, I had lots and I mean lots of coals left. After I pulled the meat off, the grill continue to run at temp for another 5 hours....would have probably done more if I played with the lid a little.

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    Anyway, I've read the posts about choking out the fire with foil or magnets.....I've also heard that some are using fewer coals on cooks they believe will be shorter.

    I guess my question is: Is it worth trying to figure out a lesser amount of coals, or should I just fill it up and let it go? My cooks have been pretty good filling it up and using fluid to start (no taste or smell of fluid at all). And besides....Lowe's was having a sale and I do have a few bags of charcoal.
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    So let's say you decide to use 1/2 basket......would the lighting procedure be the same. ie douse the 1/2 basket with fluid and set it on fire? I remember someone saying in a PBC forum when asked how much lighter fluid to put on the coals.....they responded with "pretend you're refueling the space shuttle."

    Thanks for your help.
    Last edited by TheBigLebowski; May 27, 2015, 03:09 PM.

    If you can choke your Pit Barrel of oxygen the coals will stop burning and can be re-used for your next cook. That would take the guesswork out of it. Using fewer coals is also an option but it's one that comes through experience - learning your device and how much it burns over certain periods of time. It would suck to use too few coals so I wouldn't try to get it perfect but there should be no reason why you couldn't cut it back a little bit when cooking, say, ribs.


      I've used a half basket several times with success using a chimney and dumping them across the top instead of trying for a fuse or something. If you are still an hour or 2 out and feel like you need to keep the lid open to maintain temp, do so and start up another chimney and it should get you the rest of the way and be ready before you drop too low. The only time I have had to add more was when I was loaded with a lot of cold meat on a windy day.


        "If you can choke your Pit Barrel of oxygen the coals will stop burning and can be re-used for your next cook. That would take the guesswork out of it."

        I like this idea, but my coals are always at least somewhat burnt, so using them would create guesswork for the next cook. I guess you could save them for something you knew would be an hour or so, but otherwise, I wouldn't start a long cook with a bunch of cola leftover from my last cook.


          Excuse me if this sounds terribly dumb, but if I had a 1/2 basket of unburned coals that were choked out from my previous cook. Loose ash was shaken off them and everything......and I filled up the basket with new charcoal. Once the basket is reignited, is there any difference? I mean you still have a level basket full of charcoal. Right?


          • Jerod Broussard
            Jerod Broussard commented
            Editing a comment
            I've done that. I just make sure to start with fresh briquettes as for as the lighting goes.

          • Fire Water Music
            Fire Water Music commented
            Editing a comment
            I do it all the time. I just make sure to let the food drippings burn off before I snuff out the cooker.

          I use half a basket for any cook less than 5 hours.


            I lift the basket out of the pit barrel using a garden rake and place it in a weber kettle to snuff out the charcoal. I then use them in my next basket but not for lighting. Just to get the charcoal to the top of the basket. On a long cook I start with a basket of fresh charcoal.


              I used a half basket tonight, worked really well. Still used lighter fluid to start. Pulled the top round roast in a little over two hours. PBC held temp easily and continued for another 3 hours.

              Thanks for the help.



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