Originally Posted by jarjarchef
I ran my car griller without a basket for a few years. Would get frustrated that in long cooks I would consume a lot of fuel to keep the temps up above 225. I made a charcoal basket and have not had any issues since. My fuel consumption was cut in half. I found the ash was smothering the fire and by adding more charcoal I was just making the issue worse. I would suggest for anyone who has an off set to use a basket of some sort. Even if it is just to keep the fire out of the ash and make it easier to clean out the ash during a cook.
There are a few on this site. I don't remember the thread, but there is one that only requires some expanded metal, ruler, clippers and pliers. Looked to be very simple with a little effort.
Here is a post from my web site;
- Have your starter wood ready to go.
- You can dump some coals from a chimney starter to get the party started.
- Checking for draft
- I will sometimes place the splits on top of the firebox to help them get through the combustion stage quicker.
- Charcoal and Lump Charcoal, sometimes I will start the fire with charcoal or Lump, I will usually light a 3/4 full chimney, as that is igniting I will add some smallish splits and junk wood to the basket and place some junk wood to the side. After 20 minutes or so I will dump the charcoal into the basket and place the wood on top. *Tip for starting a chimney, use 3 pieces of newspaper, crumble each piece loosely, place in bottom of the chimney starter, drizzle a little oil on the paper and ignite.
I will quickly go into fire management here. This is where you should start to take accurate notes and understand your Pit. Learning how to control your fire for your particular pit is a key component in a successful cook. Wood will have different requirements than charcoal and Lump Charcoal.
I primarily use wood on my cooks and will only use charcoal when starting a fire. I would love to give more specific advice on fire management but there are too many variable to give specific instructions, however I will provide the following tips.
- Split size matters: Use smaller splits and add more often as opposed to larger splits less often, this will reduce the amount of the "Combustion" smoke that you do not want. Remember, adding large splits will make the wood smolder longer before it ignites. Place the wood that is to be added inside the firebox to the side where it will not ignite, my fires usually get too hot to place the splits inside the firebox so I sometimes place my next few splits on top of the firebox.
- Choking: Do not choke your fire, make sure you have proper draft. You can see the flame going towards the cooking chamber if you have proper draft, you can also see and feel the heat coming out of the top of the exhaust stack.
- Ventilation: Make sure your wood does not choke itself in it's own ashes, make sure to build the fire in a basket with holes and/or build the fire on grates. The air should flow underneath the fire through the fire and toward the cooking chamber. Make sure these vents are not blocked. If there is ash in the basket or in the vents clear the ashes.
- Stoking: Every now and then you may need to stoke the fire, however do this gently as you do not want ash traveling through the Pit and resting on the meat.
- Backing Up: If you are getting smoke pouring out of the firebox, check your intakes and vents and stoke the fire. Make sure the exhaust vent is unobstructed and wide open. Open the cooking chamber lid for a few seconds if needed.
- Wood is Fuel: Do not focus on imparting smoke flavor in the food, focus on the cleanest burn possible, you will still get a smoke flavor. You do not need to, "see smoke" to get smoke flavor.
- Combustion stage: Helping the wood get through the combustion stage quicker can be beneficial as it will reduce the amount of unwanted smoke that will touch your food, this is especially important while the meat is cold and wet. Add your splits to the top of the firebox, once they start to turn black rotate, just be sure they do not catch up on fire. It is best to baby sit the pit if you plan on doing this.
- Adding Wood: When adding wood to the existing fire, leave the firebox door open a little bit, if a white billowing smoke starts pouring out of the exhaust vent, open the cooking chamber lid for a few seconds allowing the smoke to escape quickly. Close once the white/gray smoke has cleared, I call this burping the Pit.
- Running the pit hot! 450° for my Fast and Hot Ribs!
- Notice where the ash is going?