• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Importance of regular cleaning/vacuuming (clean smoke vs. white) - no smoke at all?

coss

Newbie
9
7
Joined Aug 18, 2020
Seems I've been smoking incorrectly the last few months, or at least partially incorrectly on my Camp Chef DLX. I haven't cleaned it in a while and completely forgot about the clean "blue" good smoke that's the essence of BBQing/smoking. I've been smoking steak and chicken, and the grill would give off white smoke in the beginning (getting to temp, completely normal) and a lot of visible, but not billowing, smoke during the actually cook every few minutes (pellet grills work this way, I've been told, not constant smoke).

Yesterday, I decided to clean everything inside, and boy, there were piles of sawdust in the main chamber and around, like several cups all over, plus around the firebox. There was also a lot of blackened grease that I scrubbed from the drip tray.

After, I went to smoke some chicken tenders at 250-300, and there was no smoke at all! Neither during the start-up and getting to temp, nor during the cook. When the grill was dirty, all cooks involved lots of smoke, especially during start-up and when the lid was open and the temps dropping.

Was I getting the blue/clean smoke yesterday during the cook and just haven't noticed it? I couldn't see it at all during an hour of smoking and couldn't determine whether I smelled it or not (I attributed this to the rub on the chickens as too strong of a flavor). Not even a faint line. Inside the chamber, there was a sweet smell, but again, I couldn't tell whether it was smoke or the rub.

Did not notice the smoke flavor on the non-rubbed (just salt/pepper) pieces also while eating them.

Should some sawdust from the pellets remain in the chamber to "enhance" the smoke? or is regular, before every cook, cleaning the best practice, even if there is absolutely no visible smoke?
 

kilo charlie

Master of the Pit
1,437
1,278
Joined Sep 25, 2017
While I am not 100% sure the instructions on a Camp Chef, On my Pit Boss Vertical I use the Shop Vac to clean out the ash before every new use. The ash is not going to help produce more smoke. It can get blown around the inside and land on your food though so it's a good habit to clean them out on a regular basis.

There are a lot of factors that affect the amount of smoke you are seeing. One is the brand of pellets. Two in the weather.. the temp, humidity, wind direction and speed and how that is affecting the air flow in and out of your smoker.

I would clean it as you've done and make that a habit. I would run the smoker and not worry so much about the "this blue smoke" that is preached so much around here. Pellet smokers aren't going to give that "good" smoke like a stick burner will. They're designed to cycle on and off just like the electric oven in your house does to maintain a steady temperature through the duration of the smoke.
 

RoadRunner18

Fire Starter
31
10
Joined Feb 5, 2021
I am not familiar with the Camp Chef DLX, but I see you were cooking some chicken at 250-300 degrees. Most pellet smokers get good visible blue smoke up to 225 degrees.

I have generated blue smoke on my Pitts & Spitts Maverick 2000 up to 275 degrees, but not much hotter than that. On your next cook, try cooking at 225 or lower. It takes a little longer but its worth it. To give you an example, my last brisket (Memorial Day) was cooked at 200 degrees overnight for about 18 hours. The burn't ends were "melted in your mouth tender" and the slices from the flat were tender and juicy.

If you want to cook hotter and faster, then you should invest in a pellet tube that you can light and set inside your cooker to generate the smoke you are looking for.
 

coss

Newbie
9
7
Joined Aug 18, 2020
I am not familiar with the Camp Chef DLX, but I see you were cooking some chicken at 250-300 degrees. Most pellet smokers get good visible blue smoke up to 225 degrees.

I have generated blue smoke on my Pitts & Spitts Maverick 2000 up to 275 degrees, but not much hotter than that. On your next cook, try cooking at 225 or lower. It takes a little longer but its worth it. To give you an example, my last brisket (Memorial Day) was cooked at 200 degrees overnight for about 18 hours. The burn't ends were "melted in your mouth tender" and the slices from the flat were tender and juicy.

If you want to cook hotter and faster, then you should invest in a pellet tube that you can light and set inside your cooker to generate the smoke you are looking for.
Would the chicken dry out more with lower temps? Does it depend on the type of chicken part and skin and % of fat?

I will try this with thighs, since the tenders (skinless from Costco) were kind of a bust yesterday, too dry. I did thighs using this guy's method a few weeks back, and they came out amazing and juicy.

 

RoadRunner18

Fire Starter
31
10
Joined Feb 5, 2021
Would the chicken dry out more with lower temps? Does it depend on the type of chicken part and skin and % of fat?

I will try this with thighs, since the tenders (skinless from Costco) were kind of a bust yesterday, too dry. I did thighs using this guy's method a few weeks back, and they came out amazing and juicy.

Skinless chicken tenders are basically white meat, which will dry out way before dark meat (thighs, legs). If I was cooking bonless breasts or tenders I would either inject or brine the chicken first.

But if you don't want to brine, I would put a small pan of water on the bottom rack of your cooker, and your chicken on the next highest rack directly over the water pan. As the water gets hotter and starts to steam, that steam providing moisture to your chicken.

Anytime you cut or part out chicken or other pieces of meat for that matter, you lose moisture no matter what you are cooking. When it comes to chicken, your chicken will be at its juiciest when cooking the whole bird, as in beer can chicken. Try a beer can chicken and see for yourself.

Also, the video you provided of the Mad Scientist cooking Chicken Thighs. You do realize he was not cooking on a pellet grill, right? He was cooking on an offset smoker., which generally cooks at higher temperatures.
 

kilo charlie

Master of the Pit
1,437
1,278
Joined Sep 25, 2017
Spatchcocking a whole bird is the way to go.

The bird ( chicken or turkey ) is laid flat and cooks far more evenly than trying to cook a ball.

I feel like you can make those thighs just fine on your pellet smoker with the higher temps. Looks like you've already had some success with them.. keep experimenting and don't be afraid to ask questions.
 

coss

Newbie
9
7
Joined Aug 18, 2020
Also, the video you provided of the Mad Scientist cooking Chicken Thighs. You do realize he was not cooking on a pellet grill, right? He was cooking on an offset smoker., which generally cooks at higher temperatures.
Yes. I did it how he did it in the video and it came out great on the pellet as well

I plan on buying an offset in the future
 

RoadRunner18

Fire Starter
31
10
Joined Feb 5, 2021
There is a youtube video where Myron Mixon makes his own brine from fresh vegetables, salts, peppers and spices and smokes a whole chicken that looks mighty tasty. He used one of his pellet grills in the process. Its worth checking out.
 

SmokinEdge

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
2,343
2,031
Joined Jan 18, 2020
Keep the grill clean (ash grease) don’t have to be OCD about it, but vacuum it regularly.
For a pellet machine and smoke, get a smoke tube. You fill it with pellets, light it and place it inside on the cook grate. This will help with TBS.
 

GonnaSmoke

Master of the Pit
1,050
1,658
Joined Sep 19, 2018
As for a pellet grill, I have no experience, but I clean out my offset stick burner after every use, usually the next day when it's cooled down. Ashes will draw moisture and that will cause rust, I never leave ashes in my firebox more than a day or so. The grease gets wiped out with paper towels and the grates get a light brushing with a wire brush. When it gets back up to temp for the next cook, I brush the grates a little harder. But this is just me....
 

bill1

Master of the Pit
1,100
426
Joined Apr 25, 2015
I find an old paint brush and improvised mini dust pan makes a pretty good substitute for a shop vac. I tidy up "almost" after every cook.
I only go the full vacuum route if I have the vac out for other reasons...so maybe twice yearly.
 

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.