Over Night Cook Fails

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SmokinEdge

Legendary Pitmaster
Original poster
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Jan 18, 2020
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Western Colorado
Hello my brothers.
It occurred to me that we need a sticky thread that will help the weekend warriors of BBQ. We get flooded with “Smoker shut off” or “power went out” all kinds of overnight cook fails but also just some newbee cook fails and all of this can be avoided. So my hope is that all of the seasoned cooks and pit masters here will add to this thread with techniques and advice aimed at that weekend BBQ enthusiast and maybe some great information that can help everyone.

Ill start with 2 things. When overnight smoking or really most times, keep those temps at 250-275 on the pit. These modern “set and forget” pits seem to struggle at 225F. So don’t run there if you can’t babysit.

2) Use probes with a high and low alarm on Bluetooth. This is big for those of you who want to “sleep” during the cook and be a hero the next day.

I yield the soap box and hope many others will add on.

Thank you.
Eric.
 
My method on my vertical offset is pretty simple. build fire burn down to coals. put brisket in (only overnight I do). set timer on phone for 45 min. add split or two and repeat. 40 min naps all night so not to bad next day.
I do something similar, but since I'm using a WSM I set my alarm for 2 1/2 or 3 hours...I get through the night only having to wake up twice. And for overnight cooks, I sleep on the couch in the sunroom, about 8' away from the smoker on the deck, so I don't have far to go.

I do have temp probe systems with high/low alarms, but use the alarm clock approach anyway because something is sure to need mopping or spritzing or wrapping or unwrapping every couple of hours.
 
Any overnight cooks I do now. I have two stand alone bluetooth and wifi monitoring meat temp and grate temp with high and low alerts. I also have the temp probes from my PB1150 but only use them as a visual because I don't trust the app anymore!
I also have a built in timer to check temps. I'll get to pee 3-4 a night! LoL
 
I do something similar, but since I'm using a WSM I set my alarm for 2 1/2 or 3 hours...I get through the night only having to wake up twice. And for overnight cooks, I sleep on the couch in the sunroom, about 8' away from the smoker on the deck, so I don't have far to go.

I do have temp probe systems with high/low alarms, but use the alarm clock approach anyway because something is sure to need mopping or spritzing or wrapping or unwrapping every couple of hours.
I usually sleep outside under the patio in the gravity lounger right beside the smoker. sometimes weather or bugs has forced me to the couch inside also.
 
If your unadulterated (not de-boned or injected) solid muscle (butt or brisket, etc.) has reached a surface temp of 140°F within 4 hours, continue on. The interior of the muscle is sterile; bacteria only live on the surface of the meat.

The IT rule of 40° to 140° in 4 hours only applies to de-boned or injected whole muscle.
 
So my hope is that all of the seasoned cooks and pit masters here will add to this thread with techniques and advice aimed at that weekend BBQ enthusiast and maybe some great information that can help everyone.
Great Idea 👍. Let's hear everyone's stories and tips.

Back in the days of dial up internet, Usenet groups and Prodigy... shared information was really delayed, like by days. That said, the posts I still hate to see, are the the "Help!... my fire went out" posts. They always showed up at weird hours of the day or night.

The early forums I visited were the Basso forum, the BGE member supported forum that Brenda and Bill Miller managed, and the Oval Office aka the Primo forum which was a cross section of ceramic cooks using Primo and BGE cookers. A of of very experienced cooks, always willing to share some tips and tricks. For me, overnight cooking was a ritual, handed down for two generations. There were certain bragging rights associated with cooking whole hogs in the ground, or starting briskets and pork shoulders in a smoker at midnight to serve the following afternoon.

Learning proper fire management techniques is a no brainer, I learned this as a boy in the 60's and 70's. And I'm still improving on my methods today. The best tip I have repeated a countless number of times is... "When your fire is in trouble, move everything into a 250° oven until you get everything sorted out, and restore a clean burning fire".

I was reluctant to buy a forced draft controller, but I eventually did. Mine is an early analog controller from The BBQ Guru. It has a couple of dials, pit and meat probes, a fan, and an alarm. It still works great. I've done 25 or 30 hour cooks in all kinds of weather without a hitch. And, I do have a RediCheck remote cable thermometer, which is a little 'nightstand insurance', but I mainly monitor pit temp. Nowadays... the choices for pit monitoring are mind boggling. Multi-channel units that are synced to your smart phone that produce graphs etc. and can control the fire itself while you are playing a round of golf. 🤣

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Not a "fire went out" story for me, but still a near fail. For the MB GS folks, I had a flare up once when I had 9 pork butt's on lol. Maybe a bit crowded but was cooking for a wedding. Luckily I caught it in time, and nothing was ruined. But boy was I nervous. Learned what to much was & how those extra drippings without a pan can get out of hand pretty quick. A box of baking soda stays near the smoker now, when I do those cooks. Easier Than running in the house at 2:00AM digging through the panty, trying to find it. Lol. But in closing, it seems like the high/low alarms are one of the better tools for overnight cooks these days.
 
I have had many different smokers over the years and what has worked best for me for overnight cooks is a vertical pellet smoker. It has a large bin to hold the pellets and can cook for days. I still use a steel bar to stur up the pellets from time to time but can leave it be overnight without any worry about it going out.

I do use multiple temperature sensors to keep an eye on things.

At some point I would like to have a huge wood burning smoker that uses splits like my pit does but that is something for the future.
 
I've probably done somewhere around a dozen briskets overnight. All but the first 2 were on my pellet cooker. The offset overnighters were a pain in the ass with my offset but this Yoder makes it easy.

I was up every couple of hours with the offset but I sleep all night with the Yoder.

Everyone is making good points and suggestions. I think that pic of thirdeye thirdeye cooking in a blizzard is more challenging. That's some real OG stuff!
 
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Another possible 'overnight fail' is partying a little too hard 🍺 on larger cooks. The oldest annual barbecue I help out with has been ongoing for about 20 years. The meats go on around 4pm on a Monday, are wrapped around 5am on Tuesday, and served around noon. My job was helping with prep on Monday, then showing up by 5am on Tuesday, and wrapping... then babysitting the fire, then working the meat cutting line. But often, there was a pre-party on Monday night, which meant.... the overnight cook(s) could easily get overserved. Usually the fires were checked around midnight and again around 3:30am. And normally, when I showed up at 5am things were sort on auto pilot, and the overnight cooks could snooze until 9am or so. Only once or twice was the meat ahead of schedule, usually any problem would be meat that was behind schedule. That said, we've never had to call Dominoes 🤣.
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Never had mine go out, but I can pretty much guarantee you it would as soon as I nodded off lol.
I’ve done many overnighters too but I know my pit and never run overnight lower that 250. I’m sure pits are all a bit different.
 
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