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using side fire box for first time

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 


we just got a Char-Griller duo with the side fire box, and we want to smoke ribs this weekend.  I have never done anything like this before and I am not sure how to accomplish this.  We have some dead apple trees that we cut down, and we were going to use the chopped wood from that.  But my question is (and this is a real newbie question here I'm sure) do you start the fire?  Keep it going?  Do I have to light the side box with charcoal first, then add the wood?  Will the fire keep going through the 4-6 hours the meat needs to cook, or do you have to add additional charcoal?  I just really don't know what I am supposed to do here.  Thanks. 

post #2 of 9





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Have a great day!!!




post #3 of 9

Welcome to the SMF!!!

Originally Posted by bgaviator View Post
how do you start the fire?  You can use coals or wood or a combo of both.
Keep it going?  You will have to stoke the fire periodically (every 30-45 min or so). Every rig is different, so you'll have to learn yours and how it reacts to changes, etc.  If you're good with a campfire, this will be pretty intuitive.  You do not want a blazing fire; you need a nice, quiet small fire for your smoke.
Do I have to light the side box with charcoal first, then add the wood?  I actually like to use hardwood lump coal which burns smoothly and generates the smoke in and of itself.  But no, you can start directly with wood.  You'll have to let the initial starter wood burn down to coals and have your temps stabilize before starting your cook.
Will the fire keep going through the 4-6 hours the meat needs to cook, or do you have to add additional charcoal?  (See answer to your second question.)

If you used the apple wood only, your most likely problem will be keeping temps down and steady at first.  You'll have to babysit that rig until you learn its habits and quirks.  I like to build and keep my fire as far away from the cook chamber as possible to keep cook chamber temps as even as possible.  The side nearest the firebox will be the hottest, so rotate your food to get a more even smoke/cook.

Keep your food at the far away from the fire as possible (that's where you temps will be lower and more stable). 


There are some great mods for your SFB unit here on SMF.  Some are quick and simple, others more involved.  Search around and you'll be able to get a few in place before the weekend to help make this smoke easier and better.


Cheers, and good luck!


post #4 of 9

Sounds like James covered it all.

post #5 of 9

yep he covered it.  just post some pics "Q view"thumb1.gif

post #6 of 9

A few other thoughts.


I would, since you're unfamiliar with the grill, start with charcoal. Spend the first hour or adjusting the vents to see how she responds and get the temperature to the 200-10 zone. Make small adjustments to your intake vent on your firebox and wait 10 mins until the temp restabilizes to see the true effect. Otherwise you'll be rubber-banding up and down driving yourself nuts. When you think you have a handle on that, start feeding in sticks of wood, split to the size of you wrist, and see how that affects your temps and work to get it up to 225-250 and then put your meat on.


One option, since the grill is new, is to "season" it. So a search on "seasoning smoker" here and you'll find threads on it. The idea is that it coats the inside of your smoker and prepares it for food. Perhaps just as importantly, it gives you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with your equipment and learn how to regulate your temperature and get the right smoke which is what it's all about.


My main point is that if you don't have a handle on maintaining temps before you put your food on you're going to be anxious and could in fact ruin the food. Also, go sparingly with the wood when you start adding it. Generally, one stick at a time and let it burn down. It's mostly just for smoke and too much of it too quick and you'll have too much white smoke instead of the "thin blue smoke" you're looking for. To maintain heat you may find you need to add more charcoal later in the cook.


You're a lucky man to have a few apple trees to use. Don't burn it all up on your first cook :)


post #7 of 9

Get a chimney to light your charcoal. It will heat up quicker and you don't have to use lighter fluid. If you don't put a baffle of some sort on the firebox side it will be way hotter on the right side of the smoke chamber. Like James said do a search on Chargriller mods.

post #8 of 9

Looks like everyones got you covered.

Only thing I can add is make sure your wood is seasoned.

Split wood burns better than logs, you can control your fire with different size pieces of wood, I use thin splits for hot controlled fire, less smoke and large chunks will give more smoke, I alternate between different size pieces of wood to control the fire.

post #9 of 9

Great job guys,


Remember the Qviewbiggrin.gif

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