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Question for pellet smokers

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Recently did my first brisket on Chargriller pellet smoker, was thoroughly disappointed with the bark. I smoked the small 3.5 lb brisket at 200-225 degrees with P2 smoke setting until I wrapped it with an internal temp of 170. Took the brisket off when the IT was 190. The rub was mushy and not a bark. So far I'm really not a fan of this Chsrgriller pellet smoker, want to go back to MES, but trying too master the pellet smoker. Any help
post #2 of 14
Maybe you wrapped it too early? From my understanding, wrapping it will always soften the bark. How was the bark at the time that you wrapped it?
post #3 of 14
Also, while I've never tried a brisket that small, it's possible that a brisket that size wouldn't require enough smoking time to form a good bark.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
The bark was getting good at the point of wrapping it, like normal. Had decent smoke ring, just wish there was more smoke though. There really was not rolling smoke coming out of the stack.
post #5 of 14
Have you tried other p-settings? That should increase the amount of smoke. Mine is supposed to be delivered today, so I'll be doing some troubleshooting myself trying to find the ideal settings. Also, consider adding an A-maze-n pellet tube to increase the smoke consistency.
post #6 of 14
Yep, agree with Pillpusher....if you foil the bark will pretty much be gone. If you're a smoke hound I would suggest a AMNS to add to your unit for continuous smoke through the cook. A 3.5 pound brisket seems very small....maybe was just the point? or a very small flat. I'm considering the Char Griller as an entry level pellet smoker for myself so disappointed to hear of your disappointment. What else have you done on it? any success stories?
post #7 of 14

I have a Traeger, and have done a few briskets, with some good luck.  But the bark was not that thick crispy bark, because I wrapped (usually closer to 180).  I have had the same experience with pork shoulders and disappointment with the bark.


However, 2 weeks ago I did my first pulled pork without wrapping at all:


The bark was absolutely wonderful. Nice and crispy, thick and definitely not that little bit of mushiness I was getting from wrapping.  It did not dry out either, which I was a little worried about.


This weekend I will be doing a brisket the same way (aka no wrapping), and will take pictures to share.


It does take a little longer without wrapping, the pork shoulders I did (2 @ about 9lbs each) were about 13 1/2 hours in the smoker on 225.


Try it on pork first since it's a little cheaper, and as long as it stays "food safe" you can't ruin it, just maybe turn it into pork candy.

post #8 of 14
Get a larger brisket, smoke at higher temp, don't wrap until probe goes in nice and easy (usually around 200 IT). Smoke Daddy or AMAZN smoke generators will add some smoke flavor as just about all pellet munchers are weak on smoke due to cycling of the auger and convection fan.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
I had ANMS going also but I think I may need to cut a vent in the barrel to get some more air to ANMS, had to re-light it. I used P2 because of shorter idle rate, believe it was 115 seconds. I would normally use a bigger brisket but it was more of a test run to try a new rub and smoker.
post #10 of 14
Don't cut a vent. Remember that you have fans feeding air into thing and the convection swirl of air should keep things lit. I actually use the AMAZN tube smojer in my traeger and it usually works great. Just have to get that thing going real good before you put it in. I also have a smoke daddy that i use on all my cooking devices and thats great for the traeger too. Don't give up on that char griller....its a pretty good cooker, rspecially for the money.
post #11 of 14
Geerock, and recommendations for the p-setting? I posted a question about in another thread, but I haven't gotten any insight on it from anyone with much CharGriller experience. Mine was supposed to be delivered today, but they screwed up the delivery schedule so now it won't be until Thursday.
post #12 of 14
Originally Posted by lethal12 View Post

I had ANMS going also but I think I may need to cut a vent in the barrel to get some more air to ANMS, had to re-light it. I used P2 because of shorter idle rate, believe it was 115 seconds. I would normally use a bigger brisket but it was more of a test run to try a new rub and smoker.
My understanding of it is the larger p-settings will give you more smoke (less ignition and more time for the pellets to smolder and smoke), but possibly higher temp swings.
post #13 of 14

Probably too much info here, but I thought I would share (this refers to controllers with a digital display and specific temperature settings (i.e., 180, 225,250, NOT controllers with Low, Med, High):


The "P" settings for the controller adjust the "idle fuel feed rate".  When in the "smoke" setting, the controller works by cycling 15 seconds of pellet feed followed by 45 second delay (with P-2 setting) before it cycles again - essentially it stays in the idle fuel feed mode.  When using temperature controls (e.g., 180, 225, etc.,.), the controller continuously feeds pellets until the temperature reaches the set temperature.  It then goes into what is called the idle fuel feed mode where it cycles 15 seconds on and then "n" seconds off depending on the P-setting.  The purpose of the idle fuel feed is to make sure that pellets are periodically fed into the firepot, thus keeping the fire going.  The idle fuel feed mode continues to cycle until the temperature drops 3 degrees below the set temp  and then the auger motor feeds pellets until the temperature rises to/past the set temp (e.g., 225 set temp and 222 degree low temp).  The process then repeats and you should get temp swings that average close to the temp setting on the controller.


For most conditions, P-2 is a good balance to minimize temp swings.  There are reasons to adjust the P setting, but you have to be careful or you can create more problems than you solve.  Although in some scenarios changing the P-setting can increase the amount of smoke, that is not necessarily a good thing.  I'll explain in detail below.  If you want more smoke, I would recommend an AMNPS or tube smoker to provide more smoke.


If it is very cold or very hot ambient temperature, it is possible that the idle fuel feed rate needs to be set lower or higher.  If it is very cold, a faster feed rate (e.g., P-1 or P-0) will reduce the temp swing by feeding more pellets during the idle fuel feed mode.  In very hot temperatures (e.g., North Carolina summers) it is possible that the idle fuel feed rate is too aggressive and may cause the temperature to never drop down to the target temp setting.  In this case, setting to a higher P-setting (e.g., P-3) will reduce the overall amount of pellets fed during the idle fuel feed mode and allow the temperature to get down to the target temp.  Each increase in P-setting adds 10 seconds to the feed delay for P-0 through P-10, 5 seconds more for P-11 to P-15.


Setting to P-1 or P-0 will worst case cause the smoker to run above the target temp.  Setting it beyond P-4 increases risk of the fire going out and that can be dangerous and damage your smoker.  It can also cause extreme temp swings.  A setting too high will cause the fire to almost go out and then when the low temp is reached, the auger runs excessively dumping pellets into the firepot (it can overflow!).  Once the fire gets started again, you can have an inferno with a blazing pot full of pellets.  If you have a high P-setting and you see your smoker cycling periodically with a lot of smoke, you are likely experience high swing temps and at risk of damaging your smoker.  Traeger does not recommend settings higher than P-4.  For my smoker, I have experimented and I usually lose the fire at P-8 or higher.


For high ambient temperatures, I would recommend running the smoker in a shaded area, especially for long smokes. 


As to the hot rod, it only heats at initial start up (most controller versions for four minutes).  It will NOT re-ignite a fire that has gone out unless you turn the smoker off and then back on.  The absolute worst case scenario is setting the P-setting too high, having the fire go out, then having the auger run to the point of overflowing the firepot, and finally turning the smoker off and on in hopes of getting it to re-ignite.


There are various sources that explain how these particular controllers work but the best I have read is the one available online from Ortech (original supplier to Traeger).  although there are minor functional differences, the algorithm for managing the pellet feed/temperature is the same.  That is, continuous feed until set temp, idle fuel feed mode running 15 seconds on and P-setting value delay, repeat of cycle 3 degrees below set temp.

post #14 of 14
I can't speak for the detailed stuff above. I can say all my "small" brisket cooks were failures, the rules don't apply to a 4# flat. Cook a whole packer. Vac seal and freeze what you can't use. After that make a judgement.
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