Cold & windy, I didn't use a charcoal basket

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by coyote-1, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    Did 6 racks on Saturday on my CGSP. Ambient temps never rose above 40 degrees, and the wind was steady at 10+ with regular gusts over 30.

    I simply did a Minion method in the stock SFB rack. Filled the right side of the firebox with RO, filled the chimney with Cowboy, and started it up. When the chimney was burning well I dumped it onto the left side of the firebox, and tossed on a handful of hickory chips. The wind made it burn across fairly quickly, so it had burned over to to the right side of the firebox within 90 minutes. At that point I threw on a large split of cherry. Then an hour later a 5" diameter maple log, and an hour later another maple log.

    It held a fairly consistent 225 from 1:30pm to 6:30pm. At that point I put the firebox grates over the still-burning log, and put some sauce over one of the racks of ribs and fired it for 15 minutes. When I took it off, it began to bend & separate in the middle.... so it was near, but short of, "falling off the bone". And they were delicious!

    So my fuel consumption was higher than average, but given the conditions not bad at all. I never moved any of the ribs during the cook; heck, I only opened the thing once and never mopped or anything. Nothing burned, the rack we ate was the one that had been closest to the SFB and that rack was tender and juicy.

    What I found is that the charcoal basket is not always desirable. It inhibits tossing large logs into the fire, and those logs get a nice long steady burn. In the past I've also found that I don't want a baffle; instead I use a large commercial baking sheet that is positioned 'diagonally' in the smoke chamber. It lets in a lot more heat than you get with the baffle blocking things; the baffle forces a lot of heat to be lost via the SFB. Very inefficient. The bake pan lets in almost all that heat, while (if positioned properly) distributing the initial heat blast effectively so you don't burn the food by the SFB.

    Of all the standard mods, IMO it's extending the exhaust stack down to grate level that is the most important. That's the one that forces the heat throughout the chamber.

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