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Coaching Needed

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    Coaching Needed

    I just recently got a weber performer and I haven't used a charcoal grill in over a decade. I filled a chimney with briquettes and when they were all red I dumped them in the baskets. I moved the baskets to the outside edges and put the lid on with a temp probe in the center of the grill. The top vent was opened about a quarter and the bottom was at the third dot. Temperature was over 400° so I moved the bottom vent to the first dot. After 15 more minutes the temp only dropped a few degrees. So I thought I needed to open the top vent to let more heat escape. I also had the lid off a little longer to help drop the temperature. That got me down to about 300 so I put some chicken thighs on. I moved the coal baskets to the same side, and put the chicken on the other side. I put the lid on with the vent over the chicken. Even though my temp probe stayed close to 300, it didn't seem like it was cooking the chicken. I added some more briquettes and moved the baskets to the center. I didn't hear any sizzling and it took about 2 and a half hours to get the chicken above 150.

    What did I do wrong?

    1. Initially you likely started off with too many briquettes, but 400 ain't bad for dark meat chicken if you ask me

    2. Removing the lid allows a ton of oxygen to hit the coals, surprised it didn't spike your temperatures above 500, but your briquettes were likely on the down swing by then

    3. You might want to look into a SNS


      Yep what he said. When I do chicken I do just like you. I light a whole chimney and dump the coals in an SNS and let it go wide open.

      I put the chicken on one side. I temp the chicken only as I know the kettle will get screaming and it doesn’t matter if it’s super hot, screaming hot or molten hot when cooking that dark meat. It just needs to be a variation of hot as I’m temping/probing the chicken.

      for other chicken cooks I may close the top vent to 3/4 with the bottom mostly open too.

      it will take some practice but you were on the right track for cooking hot. It just got away from you a little.

      if your cooking hot it’s ok the dark meat loves it and you have a probe in the chicken. You are not cooking with a timer.

      let’er Rip!
      Last edited by HouseHomey; March 10, 2021, 10:54 PM.


        If you waited for all the charcoal to be fully ashed over and red, you probably lost about half your cooking time. I dump the chimney and start cooking once all of the coals are lit and the flames start dying down, but don’t wait for the entire chimney to be ashed over. My Performer has propane ignition, and if using the Weber baskets, I often just put them over the ignition tube and light the charcoal directly in them, then kill the ignition after about 5 minutes. I then use tongs to move the baskets where I want them, once all charcoal is at least partially lit.

        For chicken I run with top and bottom vents wide open, with the dome vent around 350-400. It will drop when you add a bunch of cold chicken. With those baskets, I would either leave them together in the center, and have a hot zone in the center to crisp chicken over, with a cool zone around the outside, or I would spread them out, and have the two sides hot, and indirect in the center. I would run the chicken thighs indirect, then finish over charcoal. For me, it should take about 45 to 60 minutes to have the thighs at 170F - the right temp for chicken dark meat to render.

        The biggest issue with those two baskets that come with your Performer is they don’t hold a lot of fuel and tend to run out of steam about 45-60 minutes into the cook. So I don’t use mine often, and tend to either use a Slow ‘N Sear or just a chimney or more of charcoal on the grate. For chicken I often put down a half chimney or so of unlit, and top it with a half chimney of lit, so that I can extend my cooking time.


          I am a visual learner, this guy's videos helped me learn how to control temps:






            Just keep fiddling with it and you'll get the hang of controlling temp. I too would recommend getting a Slow'n'Sear, as the fuel capacity is a significant upgrade over the teeny Weber baskets.

            Closing the top vent will decrease the draw of air through the bottom vents, which in turn will lower the temp inside.

            Bottom vent (for me) is rarely moved from barely open - less then 1/5 - or full open if I'm grilling.

            Good luck and let us know what you find!



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