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New Cooker, Same Problems. Any ideas?

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    New Cooker, Same Problems. Any ideas?

    Hey folks,

    I've posted before about my woes with my BBQ cooks taking absurd amounts of time (typically 2-3x estimated time) on my Spirit E310 that I was using the standard one burner on to cook low and slow. I recently found the money for a proper smoker and have a Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24" now. I've also since switched out my iGrill that I found was off by a few degrees for a more accurate (boiling water is actually 212 on this one) ThermoWorks Smoke.

    Unfortunately, even with the new equipment changes, I'm still seeing the same thing. Yesterday a chuck took 11 hours to smoke when my Smoke was saying it was between 225 and 245 the whole time. When I took it out, it was pretty darn dry as well. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures as I was a little upset about how it turned out. Hoping to get some troubleshooting ideas from you all. I'll describe my cook as best I can in detail and hopefully someone can spot what's going wrong.

    - Dry brined chuck for 24 hours beforehand
    - Filled water pan
    - Set up ambient probe on lowest shelf of Smoke Vault
    - Started preheating smoker until 235
    - Added wood chunks to wood tray in smoker
    - Rubbed Chuck with BBBR
    - Inserted meat probe into side of chuck roast such that the tip was roughly in the middle of the cut
    - Placed chuck on rack in middle position of smoke vault
    - Held temp between 225 and 245 inside vault, only opening to replenish wood after the first hour and to refill the water pan at about 4 hours
    - Took chuck out when the probe reached 180, 11 hours later
    - Wrapped in 2 layers of tin foil and a beach towel
    - Placed in FC for 1 hour
    - Sliced chuck to find disappointingly dry meat

    Any of that stick out as wrong? I hope I'm just missing a crucial step here as I can't seem to figure out why my cooks are taking an inordinate amount of time and in some cases coming out extremely dry. Any help is much much appreciated.

    -WhiskyBadger
    Last edited by WhiskyBadger; October 9, 2018, 12:27 PM.

    #2
    Like a brisket or any large piece of meat you're probably hitting a stall. That means the meat is literally sweating out it's liquid and can't continue to cook because it's cooling the adjacent heat that would otherwise cook it. Next time if you notice the internal temperature starting to flat line after say 155-160*, wrap that sucker in either foil or pink paper to power through that stall. It gets the job done quicker and helps preserve the moisture. You can even add a little bit of beef broth or some other liquid to the foil to enhance and somewhat braise your meat, again retaining moisture and increasing tenderness. You also get an excellent liquid that you can pour back over your meat when finished !!! Good luck, you'll get it !!

    Comment


    • WhiskyBadger
      WhiskyBadger commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the reply Troutman! The stall is definitely a large chunk of the cooking time. I think it was about 4 or 5 hours yesterday. I've typically tried to avoid wrapping to get it right without, but perhaps I should give in and try it!

    • bardsleyque
      bardsleyque commented
      Editing a comment
      I used to think wrapping was cheating! The first time I wrapped brisket was a revelation,wait for your bark to form and wrap that sucka! (then rap your success to the world!)

    #3
    Just checking but where are you taking the temperature of the cooker? Did/do you see a difference when you move that probe elsewhere?

    Chucks are worse than even briskets for coming out dry. I usually wrap around 170F and mine still take 10 hours so your time is not that far off. I’ve started putting a drip pan under the meat and saving every last drop to mix in at the end (if pulling).

    Or or I do QVQ on chucks which solves the dryness problem at the cost of more steps and more waiting.

    Comment


    • Polarbear777
      Polarbear777 commented
      Editing a comment
      I go to a pulled chuck consistency so it takes longer.

    • WhiskyBadger
      WhiskyBadger commented
      Editing a comment
      Gotcha, that makes sense then. Thanks for the responses.

    • EdF
      EdF commented
      Editing a comment
      Right. Move your ambient probe to the same rack as the meat, and at least 2" away from it to keep it out of the "meat shadow".

      I've never had a chuck go less than 8 on the LBGE.

    #4
    I would definitely wrap after letting it stall for just a few hours. Also, catching those drippings makes for a nice au jus to pour over the finished product.

    I prefer to cook chucks to the point that they can be pulled, and I have never experienced dry meat, so maybe taking the IT a little higher might render more of the fat and give you a juicier result.

    Comment


    • WhiskyBadger
      WhiskyBadger commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the recommendation! Seems like the consensus is I should wrap it up and enjoy moister, faster cooked meat! Thanks!

    • EdF
      EdF commented
      Editing a comment
      Here's a fussier way to do it, but it's never failed for me.

      You can vary the rub and other parts as you see fit.

      https://dizzypigbbq.com/recipe/clays-pulled-beef/

    #5
    Camp Chef SmokePro smokers do not need a water pan. And use an AmazeN Tube or Wegie and pellets for added smoke. If you want to finish in 6 hours you may need to turn up the heat.

    Comment


    • WhiskyBadger
      WhiskyBadger commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the reply! I'm using their Smoke Vault series, not the Smoke Pro. I should have clarified that in my original post, I'll do that now!

    #6
    How thick was your roast? I’ve never had a chuck roast take longer than 8hrs at 230-250 degrees wrapped or unwrapped.
    I have the camp chef vault also and usually have an issue getting/keeping my temps below 260 or so.
    Something doesn’t seem right.

    Comment


    • WhiskyBadger
      WhiskyBadger commented
      Editing a comment
      I didn't end up properly measuring it, it was slightly on the thicker side but not by much. Maybe 2-3" thick or so? I really feel like I'm missing something major, I just can't figure out what it is.

    • WhiskyBadger
      WhiskyBadger commented
      Editing a comment
      Also interesting that you seem to not be able to hold below 260. I can get it under 225 if I want usually. I wonder if it's a different in temperature where you live versus where I live. Maybe humidity? I'm not sure but I'm definitely intrigued

    #7
    I would agree with others who suggest wrapping. One question - how thick was that chuck? Thickness of meat determines cook time. I do lots of Boston Butts that are 4” plus thick at 225 on a BGE. They routinely run this way - Refrigerator temp to 160 takes 3 hours, 160-180 takes another 6 hours and if I finish to 200 it will take another 3 hours. Depending on the thickness of the meat 9 hours is in the ball park. If you wrap from 160 to 180 it should cut the cook time to a total of 6 hours.

    Comment


    • WhiskyBadger
      WhiskyBadger commented
      Editing a comment
      Awesome, thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely have to try that next time!

    #8
    FWIW, I'll second/third, etc. what others have said. I have a Smoke Vault 24 and cook a lot of chuck roasts.
    When I want pulled beef, I always wrap when the roast stalls. The results are always very juicy and tasty.

    You mentioned that you're measuring the cooker temp on the lowest rack, and placing the roast on the middle rack. I have noticed a pretty large vertical temperature gradient in my smoke vault. There can be 10-20 F difference between racks. I usually try to put the ambient probe on the same level as the food, keeping it far enough away to not get influenced by cold meat at the start. I'll use multiple ambient probes if I am cooking on more than one rack (the Fireboard is really great for this).

    Good luck!

    Comment


    • WhiskyBadger
      WhiskyBadger commented
      Editing a comment
      Awesome, thanks for the response! Do you usually wrap when you're doing sliced as well? I think one of the big issues seems to be for sure the probe placement. I'll have to move that next time. It was on a lower one and I just didn't bother moving it. Thanks again!

    • theroc
      theroc commented
      Editing a comment
      Have to admit that I haven't done sliced chuck roast, so I'm not sure I can answer your question. What I do a lot of is sous vide chuck roasts, chill them and then smoke up to medium rare and then sear. That's an entirely different beast, though.

    #9
    I think wrapping will be okay since you are pulling it at 180 instead of 200.

    Comment


      #10
      Like others said, I see you put ambient probe on the bottom rack and meat on the middle rack. what is the temp difference between racks? typically I put probe on same rack and wrap when bark looks good.

      Comment


        #11
        I have been using the same smoker for 2 years now and use the top shelf for all cooks that only require 1 with the ambient probe on it as well. Not sure how much it makes a difference but have not experienced the issue you are having.

        Comment


          #12
          I think you have some solid advise here, all I can add is buy the best grade beef you can. When I was learning and getting lower grade beef it was sometimes harder to get good results.

          Comment


            #13
            Smoking a chuck roast for 11 Horus is not out of the ordinary. They take time. If I am not wrapping, they take me about that long as well. Waaaay lounger if I cook at 225 F on the BGE. My suggestion is too cook at 275 F. The meat was dry, more than likely because of the quality of meat you bought. Especially if it was grass fed. You should also hold it for AT LEAST 2 hours and up too 4. And save the Au jus in the foil to dizzle back over the meat, once pulled.

            Comment


              #14
              I second/third the meat quality suggestion. A chuck roast should be very well marbled.

              Comment


                #15
                Hmm. If you are measuring below the meat you are probably measuring 20 or so degrees cooler than the meat is seeing. This means you are running hotter than you think, not cooler. Definitely mess with the probe placement next time but I don’t now think that is the contributor.

                if I don’t wrap I’m guaranteed a dry chuck. but im not doing anything special to increase humidity and shorten the stall at the start.

                Ive also noticed in the same cook multiple chuck roasts at the same level where one is great and another is dry, which echoes some of the above. Some chucks are better than others.
                Last edited by Polarbear777; October 9, 2018, 07:55 PM.

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