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A little disappointed

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    A little disappointed

    So as a first time poster I'm sure this has probably been covered before but I would have to go through 5000 titles and messages to try to find what I'm looking for so I'm just gonna put it out there. I have had five cooks with my new KBQ. None of them turning out with as much success as get with my stick burner. I don't really want to be a debbie downer here but… I purchased the KBQ based on Meatheads review and recommendation. So far I have had 5 cooks on this unit and can't seem to get enough smoke on my meat. I even have both poppets open for the entire cook time. What I do notice is that you lose a lot of smoke compared to a stick burner. When the fan cycles down and stops drawing smoke into the chamber the rest of the smoke just goes out through the chimney and doesn't get used. Which means you lose about 50% of the smoke that would be used when the fan is not drawing smoke into the chamber. Also huge temp. fluctuations between peak and trough as it cycles. Probably as much as 15-25˚'s

    So what am I doing wrong if anything and is this just typical for this type of cooker? So far honestly I've been very disappointed and prefer my stick burner. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    #2
    Welcome from Virginia! Sorry, I cant help with this cooker, but I am sure that others will lend a hand. You have come to the right place!

    Comment


    • Joephoto
      Joephoto commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanx

    #3
    What temp are you running?

    Temperature fluctuations are nothing. They average out. My indoor stove set at 170 peaks at 195 and bottoms out at 145. My stick burner fluctuated b/n 190 and 330 and it still turned out some mighty fine brisket.

    Comment


    • Joephoto
      Joephoto commented
      Editing a comment
      OK thanks, but that seems like a lot to me. Just sayin'.

    #4
    Joephoto The unit has a learning curve so to speak. I too purchased it based on reviews and comments from this website. I’m happy with it, but It did take me a few tries to get there... so let me ask you a few questions if you don’t mind. It’s probably going to take a few back and forth, but let’s give it a try.

    What have you cooked in it thus far? What type of wood are you using? Is the smoke flavor too mild for your preference or do you find the finished product a bit blend?

    How do you start the fire? How do you tend the fire? Are you using the lid? How much wood are you putting in, type of wood, and how often? Photos by any chance that you can share?

    Its a small world. I see you are in Naples, wonderful place to live and work.

    Let us know and we will gladly share some suggestions that have may help get this up to your expectations.

    Take care and talk to you soon.
    Ricardo
    ps: This unit works differently than the rest of the traditional smokers, so one of the things you should consider not worrying to much about are those on off cycles, so long they stay pretty even, you are fine. More on that later.
    Cheers,
    Ricardo

    Comment


    • Joephoto
      Joephoto commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Riccardo, thanks for your response and all your questions.I will answer themAs best I can.

      1. So far I have cooked racks of baby back's and Kansas City style ribs. AlsoTurkey legs and wings.
      2. I am using either or hickory when I do my burns.
      3. I find the smoke flavor to be too mild for my taste even with both poppets open throughout the entire cook.

    • Joephoto
      Joephoto commented
      Editing a comment
      4. I start my wood on a bed of hardwood coals to start. Usually put in a small log or two to get it going, Wait for it to burn down and then add more wood to get the cook started.
      5. I tend my fire by setting a timer for every 20 minutes to check on the wood. If there's room I add more wood.
      6. Yes, using the lid.
      7. Sorry no photos.
      8. On off cycle temps vary greatly in my opinion. I get much more even temps in my stick burner once it levels off.
      Yes, Naples is great and thanx for your response

    #5
    Welcome to The Pit. Sorry, but no experience with the KBQ.

    Comment


      #6
      Very clean hi-temp smoke can be interpreted by smoke lovers as mild or delicate smoke flavor on meat. You could just love a more pronounced smoke flavor, something you're used to with the wood and how you use it on your stickburner.

      Comment


        #7
        Welcome to the Pit from the California Delta.

        Comment


        • Joephoto
          Joephoto commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanx

        #8
        I am not as experienced as many on here as I have only had my KBQ for a few months. I do seem to get plenty of smoke flavor out of it though. Are you keeping the lid on the firebox when you using it? I have read that makes a difference and have always kept mine on.

        What wood are you using? I have only used hickory and oak so far and it seem like hickory gives a stronger smoke flavor. My temp does fluctuate a bit but has never been a problem on the final product. I keep my bottom poppet fully open and the top about half to full on most cooks and get a nice bold smokey flavor.

        Comment


        • Joephoto
          Joephoto commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, lid always on and both poppets open full.
          Oak and Hickory
          Thanx

        #9
        Are you tending the coal bed? Keep a layer of coals covering the bottom of the firebox at all times. I frequently use the tending tool to push the coals around to make sure there is a solid layer of coals, and to break down the larger pieces above. If there are gaps in the coals air is sucked in, diluting the smoke and causing temperature variations. Keep the box full and the lid on. This insures you have coals at the ready and your wood will last longer. Do all coal tending and wood additions when the intake fan is idle, or unplug the unit. That will minimise ash being drawn into the cook box.

        Comment


        • Joephoto
          Joephoto commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes I do the same.

        #10
        Howdy from Kansas Territory, Welcome to Th Pit!
        Lookin forward to learnin along with, an from ya!

        I don't have a Karubecue, but there's lotsa smart folks here who do, I'm bettin they will help ya git it all sorted out...

        Comment


        • Joephoto
          Joephoto commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanx buddy

        #11
        Use Mesquite if you want a heavy smoke flavor. It belches out smoke like no other wood and has good flavor. Use mainly for beef

        Comment


        • texastweeter
          texastweeter commented
          Editing a comment
          mesquite and red oak for beef, lamb, and venison!

        • Joephoto
          Joephoto commented
          Editing a comment
          Ok I'll try it but it's def. a different smoke profile. Thanx

        #12
        Welcome to the Pit!

        Comment


        • Joephoto
          Joephoto commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanx

        #13
        Originally posted by RonB View Post
        Welcome to The Pit. Sorry, but no experience with the KBQ.
        thanx

        Comment


          #14
          Joephoto Pork is a good choice to start. I would suggest sticking to pork till you get the feeling that you’ve got your KBQ dialed in. Nothing wrong with poultry, but the skin texture requires some higher levels of tight temperature controls and the pork, at least in my experience, has been more forgiving and ideal to start with.

          Hickory should impart a good level of smoke. Are your splits seasoned or kiln dried? If you can, go with seasoned. That helped me; however, I use seasoned FL live-oak, which is abundant in our parts... Collier and Martin Counties. Splits that are too dry will burn faster, but not necessarily impart smokiness. Oak is considered milder than hickory, but I would still try seasoned native oak if you can. With pork or beef, it imparts an awesome smoke ring, of course, that’s a matter of individual preferences too, but I like it.

          Poppet management is very important. Once the unit heats up, the poppets tend to dance, and can and will move on you. Some of the KBQ owners use simple modifications, most of them non intrusive nor permanent, to keep poppet settings fixed, like metal paper clips and folio fasteners to reduce the chance that the poppers get to moving on you without noticing.

          If your not getting the smoke levels you like, then change the wood type, open the top poppet more, and try low and slow instead of hot and fast. The lower poppet allows passage of clean, or cleaner smoke. The smoke gets drawn from the firebox, but when it’s pulled from the bottom and forced by the fan through the holes, the temperature and thickness of the coal bed is what finishes cleaning that smoke. Smoke gets heated and forced through the holes, which is essentially clean or maybe “sweeter smoke” if there is such a thing, resulting from good combustion and self cleansing smoke as it’s forced into the cooking chamber.

          The top poppet lets more of that incomplete combustion and heavy or heavier smoke particles into the cooking chamber. That’s the smoke you mention gets lost when the fan stops for a few seconds or minutes really. Drawing this dirtier smoke will for sure impart more of a smoke flavor; however, I would go easy on this till you get the setting right for your liking. I keep the top poppet always closed, and the bottom open all the way. It’s a matter of preference.

          Now, this step that I’m about to mention is a very critical one. In my case, getting the logic took me a bit to understand the first go around, and made a world of a difference once I got the concept down and with some tips that folks in this website pointed out to me just in time, ended up being the missing piece I needed. It has to do with managing lit coals. This step alone, in my case, resolved any initial misgivings.

          Start with some charcoal on a chimney or even in the firebox, let them get going and after they are ready, fill up the chamber with wood splits, by fill it up, I mean, till you can’t put anything more in it safely, and that you can set the lid on.

          Run your smoker with the lid installed on top. I wish the design had a more user friendly lid. In any case, put the lid on it after every firebox split placement, set the lid back on top. That forces smoke to be readily available when the fan pulls smoke and heat into the cooking chamber. Without it, you will allow more hot air instead of smoke to get in.

          I little bit of planning helps. I found it ideal to have the splits cut to size, so that they are easy to feed into the firebox. Have your splits ready. You want the wood fibers running along the longest direction, parallel to the longest dimension. Place the splits carefully so you have a thick even layer with no gaps, patches or visible gaps.

          Maintain a thick layer of lit coals. Don’t let them get too thin on you. If by any chance you happen to see any of the holes on the base of the firebox, just one, that’s a clear signal that you don’t have enough lit coals, or that the coal bed is just too thin and the unit is drawing Into your cooking chamber, more air than smoke. You don’t want to see any of the holes, nor see the flames being pulled into them. My first cook, I saw the holes everywhere and I thought that was good, but quickly learned that’s not the case.

          You may be looking at feeding the firebox like every 30 to 45 minutes, but it’s worth it. Not sure it’s a time thing In all honesty.. It’s more like a thickness of lit coal bed. In the photo below, you can see the holes I’m talking about. This of course is not what you want. You don’t want to see them. You don’t want lit coals here and there, but everywhere.

          Click image for larger version  Name:	AD2C02E8-8B21-4413-9356-A4E33435A1F9.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	2.12 MB ID:	837138

          ​​​​​​Try feeding the firebox when one of the fans stops. i.e. when you see that smoke starts to go up and away, instead of into the cooking chamber. Before you add wood, tamp down the coals, even them out, add wood, cover it up with the lid, let it do it’s thing. I use a lobster tickle stick to tend the coals.

          Once you get the hang of it, you will see a steady pattern of on off cycles, tending to the lit coals, feeding the firebox. You will suddenly notice that the machine starts to hum, it’s like in the zone so to speak. That’s what you want. You want your KBQ humming.

          if you get long draws and short off cycles, you don’t have enough coals. Load it up.

          Once you are done, check the fans. If they look black, your cook was maybe a bit too much of the dirty smoke and the food could end up being a bit bitter. If the fan blades look more like light gray smoke, then you had a clean or cleaner run and that’s what in my case, my family prefers.

          Hope this helps. Don’t get too concerned with the cycles and temperature swings. It’s normal, so long they are cyclical and even. Look out for that humming.,. In the zone.

          Some people recommend using water in the cooking chamber. Most of the time, I have some water in an aluminum hotel pan that I place at the bottom, but it’s more for ease of cleaning and to collect drippings, not so much to keep water in the chamber. That’s a very different topic and one that would require a different thread, so you decide. I would put the pan in with water. In any case, it will help with cleanups.

          Best of luck and give these tips a try. They worked for me. You are likely going to get further tips from more advanced or proficient pit masters here. These KBQ units have some loyal followers, with some members having a collection of them. I agree, they are excellent cookers, but there is an initial learning curve and I’m pretty sure you are going to get better results if you follow these tips.

          I too also enjoy fixings from a more traditional stick burner, but in the beginning, I probably would have leaned toward classic over KBQ, but not sure that’s the case every time now. KBQ smoked goods, when you get the unit dialed in, is truly second to none.

          Cheers,
          Ricardo
          Last edited by Ricardo; April 24, 2020, 09:10 PM.

          Comment


          • EdF
            EdF commented
            Editing a comment
            Great technique and advice!

          • Joephoto
            Joephoto commented
            Editing a comment
            Hey Ricardo, This is all great info. thank you! Maybe I will try to pack more wood in the hopper but not sure that will make much of a diff. As I expressed earlier in my original post, you lose a lot of smoke when the smoker cycles down.

            Thanx so much for all your input. I really appreciate it.
            I see you live in Palm City. We have friends in Port Saint Lucie and Jupiter. And I used to live in Fort Lauderdale and Coconut Creek. Be well stay safe and keep on smoking'! 😀

          • Meathead
            Meathead commented
            Editing a comment
            You are a hero! I learned a trick or two!

          #15
          Joephoto here are a some thoughts relative to your experience:
          • For the strongest smoke flavor and darkest color profile, it is important to keep the top poppet fully open AND to keep the bottom poppet shut. Strong flames flowing through the bottom poppet can burn some of the uncombusted smoke being drawn through the upper poppet as the two flows merge in the Firebox "tailpipe"
          • Take care to keep your face out of the smoke rising from the Firebox during the cook. Just a few good snorts of that heavy smoke can drastically lower your sensitivity for many hours. I discovered this years ago after being disappointed one day and reversing my opinion the next day when the leftovers came out of the fridge
          • As you know, the Firebox Lid plays an important role in strengthening flavors, in addition to reducing sparking and fuel consumption
          • Small and/or dry wood weakens the flavor profile. Kiln-dried wood in particular will burn too hot. You want air-seasoned logs of 20-30% moisture content - typical of air-seasoned hardwood firewood. Avoid store-bought chunks or mini-logs if they have been kiln-dried (this is commonly done to avoid mold growth inside the packaging). Finding the right fuel can be a challenge in Florida - I'm not sure if this has been an issue for you or not
          • The temperature control deadband is much lower (40-70%) than that of your kitchen oven. The mechanical thermostat is of the same type, but with a 40% tighter spec, and the convection flow past the sensor further reduces the deadband. The average temperature is what matters - you could put an infrared thermometer on your meat and find the surface temperature remains nearly constant as the draft fan goes through its cycle. Brush the sensor clean periodically (per the OM), as the accumulation of soot will insulate the sensor, slowing its response and increasing the deadband
          • Smoke does escape from the Firebox when the draft fan cycles off, but the smoke in the Cookbox from the previous cycle continues to recirculate (i.e., there is no purging with fresh air) and impinge on the meat surfaces, and it is not appreciably "used up" in the short time it takes for the next cycle to begin. The net amount of smoke flowing through the Cookbox is equal to that from a smaller, perfectly-sized fire being drawn at a 100% duty cycle. I.e., it is exactly equal to that of an offset operating at the same average temperature
          • If all of the above fails, you may simply have a preference for a heavier flavor profile than the KBQ is designed to produce. If so, please let me know (my phone and email are laser-etched into the top of the Controlbox) and I'll do my best to resolve the situation to your satisfaction
          With kind regards,

          Bill

          Comment


          • hogdog6
            hogdog6 commented
            Editing a comment
            KBQ you rock. So many reasons to love a KBQ and this is a biggie!

          • Timbo54
            Timbo54 commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks Bill, my complaint is the same. I've been using very dry Almond and Mesquite and not getting the profile expected. This could be the problem as well as the fact my nostrils are burned out after a cook. Someone suggested taking a shower before eating and that helped. Also poppet position has been an issue and I will continue to experiment per your recommendation. Thanks.

          • jfmorris
            jfmorris commented
            Editing a comment
            Good advice on avoiding "smoke overload" during the cook. Any time I use my offset, which requires a lot of tending, I find that things don't taste smokey, as I am on smoke overload just from being outside by the cooker. Things don't taste smokey until the next day when I have leftovers, but everyone else things its super smokey.

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