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First Low and Slow, and First Major Issue

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    First Low and Slow, and First Major Issue

    Well, I made my first attempt at a 5lb pork butt today. I used the Weber temperature probe and also a Meater temperature probe just so I had two points of comparison. I started at 225 degrees and pushed it to 300 to get past the stall. I'm not entirely sure what happened (and I'm VERY new to this) but it was bad. Completely overdone. I also had a major issue with my new SmokeFire.

    I monitored the cook closely, taking temperature readings every 30 minutes. Based on my temperature readings, I was almost finished with the cook when I noticed the ambient temperature of the cooker started dropping quickly. Upon investigation, while it SEEMED that there were plenty of pellets, in fact, a “cave” had formed and no pellets were dropping into the auger. I only discovered this by running the paddle through the pellets.

    I’m not exactly sure what happened after that, but after I collapsed the "cave", there was a scary period of about 10 minutes where the grill was rolling smoke like an angry diesel engine. I pulled the butt and did my best to finish it in the oven. I also turned off the cooker, and the “shutdown” period was nothing but crazy flames for about 20 minutes.

    All in all, it was actually a bit frightening and definitely a discouraging end to about 11 hours of cooking. For those that are interested, here's the temperature data and videos:

    Click image for larger version

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    Here's the "MEATER" chart:
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    Here's the video of the smoke issue at the end of the cook: https://youtu.be/LlDquX4i8oY

    And here's a video of the flames that went crazy during the shutdown period: https://youtu.be/KPdM4bxK7VM



    #2
    Looks like you need to close the lid and shut off the oxygen.

    Comment


      #3
      The pellet feed seems to have an issue with bridging on these,glitchy seems to have had the same problem and I've seen several YouTube videos showing the same thing.

      Comment


      • MikeTru
        MikeTru commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes there is two guys on YouTube with the same issue.

      #4
      Your posts are awesome! Lots of interested people who want to know the good an the bad before they pull the trigger. Keep up the good work.

      Comment


        #5
        Looks like you ended up with an abundance of pellets after the bridging then they suddenly all caught at once. That’s not a completely unusual thing, but it’s something the should only happen once every few years and usually when you haven’t cleaned well, it’s really windy or some other strange circumstances. There shouldn’t be numerous reports on it in first week a grill is out.

        Comment


        • fzxdoc
          fzxdoc commented
          Editing a comment
          Blazing the trail... pun intended, tbob4 ?

          Kathryn

        • Jordan S
          Jordan S commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree, glitchy. It seems like, if these grills were rigorously tested, I might run into an issue once every blue moon - not twice in the first weekend. I'm a bit discouraged at the moment.

        • tbob4
          tbob4 commented
          Editing a comment
          fzxdoc - I’m going to say it was! Hahahahaha.

        #6
        When you say overdone, what to you mean? Hard to overdo a butt. That was a teensie one (supermodel butt? I prefer a little more meat on the bones, gotta fill out those jeans), so that might be the issue. Did you inject? Crutch? Looks like you took her out of the smoke sauna at 200° ish. I take 'em up to 208°, let a minimum of a 4 hour hold in a yeti, cambrio warming drawer.

        Comment


        • Jordan S
          Jordan S commented
          Editing a comment
          I'm sure, in my panic to finish it off and not light my house on fire, I made NUMEROUS mistakes in that 30 minutes period. Should have let it rest. Should have checked the pellets for bridging. Should have wrapped it. Etc, etc. I'll probably try again next weekend.

        • fzxdoc
          fzxdoc commented
          Editing a comment
          Jordan S , as texastweeter says, many roads lead to Jerusalem. I for one never inject or wrap my pork butts and I don't cambro them either. They get to rest a bit while I get the supper on the table, then I pull them and we all dig in. They're usually probe tender around 200-205° for me.

          That said, it's always fun to try different techniques. I'm going to give texastweeter's method a try on the next PB cook. Inject, crutch, take to 208ish, cambro for 4 hours and see how we like it.
          Last edited by fzxdoc; February 18, 2020, 06:12 AM.

        • texastweeter
          texastweeter commented
          Editing a comment
          fzxdoc let me know what you think.

        #7
        Looks like the other guys have nailed the pellet issue.

        Like texastweeter said I too am curious about what exactly were the results of the butt that made you think it was overdone?

        Comment


          #8
          Liked your post, not because of the problem, but because you guys are doing awesome work for the rest of us. Keep it up!

          Comment


          • Jordan S
            Jordan S commented
            Editing a comment
            Damn expensive lesson to learn! 😂

          #9
          Baby back maniac has a YouTube video where he talks about that cave. Seems like you’re not alone.

          Comment


            #10
            You may have had a "supermodel" butt that overcooked, as texastweeter suggests, but I've done many pork butts in the 5 lb range. In fact I usually take a larger 10 or 12 lb PB and slice it in half to smoke both pieces, getting more flavor by using more rub and getting more bark with two smaller pieces instead of one.

            Like others, I'm curious to hear what you didn't like about it. Was it wrapped when it went into your oven? What was the oven temp and how long did it stay there?

            And P.S., all that smoke and then the fire. Yikes. Good videos. I don't think that's why Weber named it the SmokeFire, though.

            No wonder you were rattled. I bet Weber Customer Service is getting a ton of calls from new SmokeFire users.

            Kathryn
            Last edited by fzxdoc; February 17, 2020, 06:28 AM.

            Comment


            • rickgregory
              rickgregory commented
              Editing a comment
              The 10 degree temp difference is annoying but a non issue in terms of cook quality. I think some of the Fireboard, graphing stuff has been harmful to BBQ... do you see any of that at the best pits in the South? No. Your cook won't be different if you do it at 260 vs 250 (and 225 is fetishized WAY too much).

            • Jordan S
              Jordan S commented
              Editing a comment
              I guess I was more concerned about serving pork that was underdone and unsafe, but you make a good point.

            • rickgregory
              rickgregory commented
              Editing a comment
              Anything above 165F will be safe. Pulled pork is typically ~200F so you're fine there. But my point is that the air temp of the cooker varying by 10 isn't going to change the quality of the meat in any noticeable fashion. 25F will start to affect the time to done with a cook at 275 being noticeably faster than one at 225...

            #11
            Haha. I didnt even make the smokefire connection until you mentioned it. Very aptly named.

            Comment


              #12
              just watched the videos. I'm thinking grease fire. When pellets stopped the grease that was still rendering solidified in bottom of pit. Fired it back up, and lots of smoke until it finally burst into flames. Sound about right?

              Comment


              • Jordan S
                Jordan S commented
                Editing a comment
                Yep. And while pellet "caves" or "bridging" and inconsistent feeding are all annoying issues, a grease fire is dangerous. That's what's got me most concerned.

              • Dewesq55
                Dewesq55 commented
                Editing a comment
                Looked like a grease fire to me as well.

              #13
              I'm not familiar with the SmokeFire system; but does it have a "Smoke" or "Start-up" Setting?

              I have 2 Traegers and I have had issues before where the pellets have created a hole and not fed. The only way I was able to save it without shutting down and starting over; was to put it back to "Smoke mode"

              Smoke on a Traeger is the only setting that actually turns on the hot rod, after you turn it up to cooking temp, the hot rod stays off.

              The large amount of smoke after you re-filled in the pellet void is likely because it loaded unburnt pellets onto old embers and they were just starting to get going again... This has caused Traegers to explode in the past (For lack of a better word). There are videos online that show the lid of a Traeger blowing open after a pellet void.

              The safest way is always to shut down the smoker, vacuum out the unburnt pellets, and start over. But I have also had good luck if you catch it early enough, and can turn the hotrod/igniter back on in time, you can keep the smoker going. Basically let it go through the start up again, get the fire caught back up, and then turn it up to the desired temp.

              I don't even know if this is an option on the SmokeFire, but it works on Traegers with similar issues.

              Hope this helps.

              Comment


                #14
                UPDATE: After yesterday's issue, I left the smoker to shut down and cool down, then covered it for the night. This morning, I made this follow up video: https://youtu.be/yv_-hwcrxMI

                Takeaways:
                1. I'm going to have to monitor the pellets a lot closer than I want to. The "cave" or "bridging" issue is more prevalent and common than I had hoped.
                2. Any grease from your cook drops down to the bottom of the grill and immediately mixes with ash and clogs the grease drain channel. I had serious "dams" on both sides of the channel with pooling in the bottom of the grill and almost no grease in the grease catch pan. I'm not sure how to fix this, but I'm going to have to monitor the grease build up very closely as well. This is a problem when you're doing 10, 12, 20-hour cooks. This is probably a bigger concern than the pellet issue, because pellet issues are annoying but grease fires are dangerous.
                I also just want to quickly say that I'm a Weber fan. I've owned lots of their less expensive products. My videos are not "public" (you have to have the link to watch them) so I'm not trying to publicly shame Weber or make a lot of noise to get attention from them. My YouTube channel is also not monetized, so I'm not self-promoting. I'm just doing my best to give the perspective of a guy who's brand new to pellet grills and having some issues that will be hopefully taken care of by Weber.
                Last edited by Jordan S; February 17, 2020, 11:44 AM.

                Comment


                • BDCarp04
                  BDCarp04 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I'm starting to think that they were not expecting us to get this much ash in the bottom of the cooker. I can't come up with any other reason why they would have designed it like this unless they were really expecting most of the ash to end up in the drawer and not sitting in the grease channels just waiting to get dripped on. I'm going to clean mine up first before I do any long cooks so that the extra ash from the burn in isn't down there just waiting for me to mess something up.

                • divisionbell77
                  divisionbell77 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  The pellet and grease issues are design flaws. Not sure how they never saw this with all the testing they say they did. This can't be fixed with a firmware update(unless they can somehow control the ash better).

                  Thanks for all the work you are doing, some of us are holding off to see how this turns out.

                • KenC52
                  KenC52 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  It may not have been a grease fire. I have a Pitt Boss and have had problems with the pellets bridging and the fire going out. Then the auger keeps turning and dropping pellets. If you then turn the cooker off and back on the igniter lights up and a huge pellet fire can occur. I know it has happened to me several times. Temps run to over 650 degrees when the controller shuts off. Flames shoot out all around the diffuser plate. Pellet grills are not really "set it and forget it."

                #15
                I'm guessing the pork may have been dry due to not holding it long enough. I've pulled them at 212 degrees before by accident but after a wrap and left to rest in a cooler with some warm towels for a couple hours they were fine. Sorry if you already answered this question but what temp was it when you pulled it from the pellet smoker and how long was it in the oven before it cam to temp?

                Comment

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