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Smoking on a Ketlle BBQ - Page 2

post #21 of 37

I also apologize for bad behavior it is 106 degrees and I just got off work. I tend to get a little fired up as this is a very big passion of mine. No excuse and I removed the crap. Sorry guys. Please watch the video. You might get a kick out of it as she really thought she was making great chicken with the top vent closed.

post #22 of 37

Rule #1-Top vent always open.  This applies to all pits, no matter the size or shape.

You regulate air to the fire with the bottom(intake) vent to control how hot the fire gets and thus control temperature. Heat rises and exits the top(exhaust) vent. If you close the exhaust vent you will build up combustion gases and smoke, as the fire cools those gases and the smoke will cool and condense on the food. If this happens for a prolonged period the food will look and taste terrible. The only exception to this is if you have runaway temps that will not come down by closing the bottom vent, then by all means close the top vent as well until the temps drop back to your target temperature, then open the top vent up again. (BTW I have only had to do this once in the past 5 years with my kettle.)

post #23 of 37
I don't think anyone was arguing to close the vent completely. Heat rises and as it exits the vent it creates a draft that pulls air in from the bottom. The larger the vent is open, the stronger the draft. The stronger the draft, the more oxygen being pulled in to fuel the fire.
post #24 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by mneeley490 View Post
 

To each his own. To the OP, you have a couple of different techniques now. It's up to you to find which one works the best for you.

Timberjet is correct, and I think almost everyone here would agree, that you need to monitor your temps with a good, digital thermometer like a Maverick.

 

Yes, the monitoring of the temperature is crucial and the Maverick is a great digital thermometer. Some, like me, need a thermometer but others can do it just by feel from expereince.,


Edited by Wade - 8/12/14 at 2:05am
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yotzee View Post

I don't think anyone was arguing to close the vent completely.

 

I agree. I usually find that keeping the vent about 25% open still gives good air flow - keeping the charcoal burning and also giving fine control over the inside temperature. Shutting the vent completely though will certainly kill the fire very quickly, will result in the chamber cooling and condensation forming and the likleyhood of drips forming under the lid. I only close the vents completely once the cooking is over and the food is out long before then.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffcarter View Post
 

Rule #1-Top vent always open.  This applies to all pits, no matter the size or shape.

You regulate air to the fire with the bottom(intake) vent to control how hot the fire gets and thus control temperature. Heat rises and exits the top(exhaust) vent. If you close the exhaust vent you will build up combustion gases and smoke, as the fire cools those gases and the smoke will cool and condense on the food. If this happens for a prolonged period the food will look and taste terrible. The only exception to this is if you have runaway temps that will not come down by closing the bottom vent, then by all means close the top vent as well until the temps drop back to your target temperature, then open the top vent up again. (BTW I have only had to do this once in the past 5 years with my kettle.)

 

I totally agree with your rule #1 Chiff. The top vent does need to be open - just not completely open. Unfortunately if I were to interpreted your rule to mean that it should be completely open then I would never be able to cook ribs or brisket. My Webers get a lot of use and even with my bottom vents fully closed, if I leave the top vents fully open then the internal temperature likes to stabilise at about 180-200 C (350-400 F). By also restricting the top vent I can reduce and maintain a nice steady 108-110 C (225-230 F) over several hours.

post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade View Post

...My Webers get a lot of use and even with my bottom vents fully closed, if I leave the top vents fully open then the internal temperature likes to stabilise at about 180-200 C (350-400 F). By also restricting the top vent I can reduce and maintain a nice steady 108-110 C (225-230 F) over several hours.

 

Sounds to me that either you are using too much lit charcoal to start your fire or you are waiting too long to begin shutting down the bottom vent on the kettle. Granted, I cook at higher temps than you, but when I started using my kettle for BBQ I cooked low and slow and I know I can keep temps in the range that you cook for 12 plus hours with the top vent wide open and the bottom open very slightly.

Are you cooking with lump charcoal? Or are you using something, like Aussie Heat Beads, that we don't have in the states?

I am interested in how you start your fire and how you set up your kettle for a long cook.

post #27 of 37

Hi Cliff

 

I primarily use Heat Beads with a little lumpwood or pellets on top for flavour but I sometimes use either Weber briquettes (almost identical to Heat Beads) or restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal. These are usually arranged Minion/Snake with 3 or 4 lit coals at one end to start. With a lot of use the Weber bottom vents do tend to get less air tight over time and so let more air in - even when fully closed. As this happens the coals tend to burn hotter. I do give in sometimes and replace them every few years.

 

These days though on one of my Webers I tend to cheat a little and use an iQue 110 as a fit-and-forget temperature controller. Yes, lazy I know but it does keep the cooking chamber within a couple of degrees of the set temperature for many hours without any attention needed. Now even the recommendations from PitmasterIQ themselves when using this unit is to 3/4 close the top vents to improve fine temperature control.

 

This whole discussion started about the merits of keeping the top vents fully open on a kettle BBQ versus the merits of partially closing them. We all develop our own techniques that work for us and I find that by balancing the top and bottom vents I can get a much tighter temperature control at lower temperatures than when trying to use the bottom vents alone. Providing you don't actually shut the top vents completely, as far as I can see we are simply using two slightly different methods for achieving the same desired end result. Neither method is right and neither is wrong. Thumbs Up

 

Cheers

 

Wade

post #28 of 37
My second try using a plain old weber. I don't have a smokenator yet but thinking of getting one. 6 lb bone in Butt weber loaded with about 90 unlit briquettes and applewood chunks lit about 12 and attempted minion method. Water pan above coals and aluminum foil placed in grate holes to act as heat shield. about 4 hours in I found the temp way high at 375 and most of the charcoal lit. I got that under control and got temps back down to 230 just kept small amounts of charcoal and restocked every couple hours. Foiled at 9 hours pulled off at 13 hours temp of Butt 205. Pulled apart beautifully.
post #29 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by kj64 View Post

My second try using a plain old weber. I don't have a smokenator yet but thinking of getting one. 6 lb bone in Butt weber loaded with about 90 unlit briquettes and applewood chunks lit about 12 and attempted minion method. Water pan above coals and aluminum foil placed in grate holes to act as heat shield. about 4 hours in I found the temp way high at 375 and most of the charcoal lit. I got that under control and got temps back down to 230 just kept small amounts of charcoal and restocked every couple hours. Foiled at 9 hours pulled off at 13 hours temp of Butt 205. Pulled apart beautifully.

You don't need a smokenator. Just get a couple of weber charcoal baskets. They cost about $16 and you only need one. If you can find someone to buy the second one it'll only set you back $8.

You get a similar effect at a tenth of the cost.
post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by timberjet View Post
 

Please watch the video. You might get a kick out of it as she really thought she was making great chicken with the top vent closed.

 

Great video Timberjet - as you say it is very amusing. Thanks for sharing.

post #31 of 37
The chicken in the video looked NASTY! I don't think my dogs would eat that!
post #32 of 37
Thread Starter 

wow! I started quite a debate. I think I can learn some stuff for this for my second cook on Saturday...

 

I do have some other questions, but don't know if I dare ask... ha ha ha!

post #33 of 37

Lol - You only drew blood the first time - are you going to go in for the kill now Gunner.gif

post #34 of 37

Where in the UK are you from plofty1981?

post #35 of 37

Hello.  WOW!!  Are we having fun yet?  I almost missed the party.  I find myself with a dilemma.  I see some well respected members on both sides of the "friendly dispute".  It did get a bit ugly and I am surprised a Moderator didn't slap fingers but things calmed down quickly which was great to see.  I am glad to see that when members recognise they may have gone a bit overboard the apology is made before a Mod has to step in .  Not that my 2 cents would make any difference but I just HAVE to stick my nose in.  I have been smoking meat for a few years now and I have always used the top vent to help control the smoker temp no matter what smoker I am using.  When giving advice to new folks we always try to insure that their first smoke turns out GREAT so we advise leaving the top vent fully open.  I advise that myself for new folks.  Of course there is some experience involved but closing down the top vent doesn't NECESSARILY ruin your smoker or your meat. IMHO.

 

As a side note:  I grew up in Tx. watching the old men smoke brisket and such.  I learned old school hard way with no therms.  I smoked meat last weekend with Wade.  I watched him like a hawk.  Is he all mouth and no show??  I am here to tell ya he is the REAL DEAL!  If he says his chicken dips snuff ya better be lookin for tha can.  For a Limey or for someone rasied in Tx. I was impressed.  Take it or leave it, whatever you think my input is worth.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #36 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade View Post
 

Hi Cliff

 

I primarily use Heat Beads with a little lumpwood or pellets on top for flavour but I sometimes use either Weber briquettes (almost identical to Heat Beads) or restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal. These are usually arranged Minion/Snake with 3 or 4 lit coals at one end to start. With a lot of use the Weber bottom vents do tend to get less air tight over time and so let more air in - even when fully closed. As this happens the coals tend to burn hotter. I do give in sometimes and replace them every few years.

 

These days though on one of my Webers I tend to cheat a little and use an iQue 110 as a fit-and-forget temperature controller. Yes, lazy I know but it does keep the cooking chamber within a couple of degrees of the set temperature for many hours without any attention needed. Now even the recommendations from PitmasterIQ themselves when using this unit is to 3/4 close the top vents to improve fine temperature control.

 

This whole discussion started about the merits of keeping the top vents fully open on a kettle BBQ versus the merits of partially closing them. We all develop our own techniques that work for us and I find that by balancing the top and bottom vents I can get a much tighter temperature control at lower temperatures than when trying to use the bottom vents alone. Providing you don't actually shut the top vents completely, as far as I can see we are simply using two slightly different methods for achieving the same desired end result. Neither method is right and neither is wrong. Thumbs Up

 

Cheers

 

Wade

 

You, sir, are an anomaly IMHO.

Do you use wood chunks for smoke flavor as well? If so, how much?

IMHO if your method works, it ain't broke so... you know:icon_lol:

post #37 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffcarter View Post
 

 

You, sir, are an anomaly IMHO.

Do you use wood chunks for smoke flavor as well? If so, how much?

IMHO if your method works, it ain't broke so... you know:icon_lol:

 

Lol - thanks Cliff

 

The wood chunks are there primarily for flavour and I try to keep them about the size of half a briquette (very roughly). They just get laid at intervals along the top of the coals so that as the burn reaches them in turn they provide an almost constant source of thin wood smoke. Sometimes these are replaced by pellets and these are simply sprinkled liberally along the top of the unlit coals so that they provide smoke as the fire gets to them. I recently found a clip on YouTube that uses a very similar technique to me - The couple of differences are that they use slightly larger wood lumps than me and they burn theirs from right to left - I prefer left to right...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ehH4php-3A

 

You do need good quality briquettes though when using this method as the cheap ones can give off some pretty nasty flavours as they first catch light.With this method your snake of briquettes are constantly just catching light throughout the cook. That is why I stick to brands that I know well. They may be more expensive up-front to buy but in the end you use far fewer of them during a cook.

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