I have been using my CG Smoking Pro as a stick burner for 4 years and I was asked recently for the method I used when cooking with wood. This thread is the result of that conversation between fpmich and myself and as a result I have begun to take a closer look at the method I have been using and see if I can improve on it.
As a bit of disclosure- my CharGriller has been barely modded. All I have done to it is add a decent thermometer at grate level and replace the charcoal grate in the SFB with a lava rock grate rescued from an old gas grill.
These are the size splits that I used- 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 inches long and 2-3 inches at the widest point
I have replaced the original charcoal grate( which broke up and became unusable 2 years ago) with a grate from a gas grill that held lava rocks.
I started the fire with about 2 chimneys of lump in the center of the charcoal grate
Once the pit was up to temp I added the chicken and some maple chunks for smoke and let it cook. The next pic shows a split heating up on top of the SFB
I added the first split at 50 minutes into the cook
This where things got interesting.
Friday into Saturday we got a taste of hurricane Arthur as it passed by on it's way to Canada,
As a result Sunday brought gusty swirling winds that effected the fire, cutting down the flame and making the wood smolder. I had to open the ash drawer to get enough air to the fire to get the wood to burn.
That worked, after that I added a split every 20 minutes.
After I added the second split the temp climbed to 335° so I closed the ash drawer to bring it down a bit, it settled back to 280°. After I added the 3rd split I had to open the ash drawer again to get enough air to the fire. About 8 minutes later I had to add a second split in order to get the temps up to the 280°-300° range. 11 minutes later I had to add split #5, #6 14 minutes later and the final one 6 minutes after that. The reason for adding so quickly is because there were not enough live coals to help keep temps up and keep the fire burning.
15 minutes later the chicken was done, total cook time was 2 1/2 hours. 1 hour and 40 minutes of that was cooking with wood splits, I used 7 splits total. I could have cooked another 15 minutes after the meat was done without adding more wood.
One thing- don't be married to a particular cooking temp, I find that cooking with wood it is easier to maintain the fire at higher cooking temps. 275°-325° range works well for me.
What did I learn from this cook? Gusting, swirling winds are a PITA if you are trying to keep a fire burning, which I already knew from previous cooks. Normally I like to have the prevailing wind blowing toward the intakes on the SFB and I have turned the pit 180° in order to keep the wind blowing toward them in the past. In this case simply opening the ash drawer worked. If it hadn't I probably would have turned the pit.
Also, documenting when and how much wood you add and the conditions before and after adding it will help you learn how to manage the fire efficiently and keep it burning cleanly.
I cooked again this past Sunday under better weather conditions and will post that cook soon as a comparison.
Edited by cliffcarter - 7/18/14 at 5:59pm