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Old 06-08-2007, 10:26 AM   #1
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How often do you have to add fuel?

Hi there,

I am using a char-griller smokin' pro (seasoned the grill yesterday) and decided to cook up some chicken breasts for dinner. I was using cowboy lump charcoal and it seemed like I had to add fuel ever 20 - 30 minutes. Is this right? I wonder if I am not using the dampers correctly.

I left the one on the smoke stack wide open (I have read that closing it can create black soot on all your food) and tried to control the temperature with rotary style damper. First of all it seems like most of the time I had to leave it wide open to maintain the propper temperature (225ish) in the main grill chamber. Needless to say I _ATE_ through a ton of charcoal.

Also, I don't know if anyone has a suggestion... but the temperature guage that comes with the smokin' pro seems WAY off. The guage read 150 degrees... and being curious I stuff my digital meat thermometer in on the rotisserie holes opposite to the firebox. It read 220 degrees. That is a pretty huge difference, especially seeing that the guage on the grill is higher, and closer to the firebox. I can only assume that it is wrong. Maybe there is an after-market guage I can put in there?

Thanks,
Sam

P.S. the chicken was very tastey. It only took 6 lbs of charcoal and 2.5 hrs (time is not a problem) to cook it =P

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Old 06-08-2007, 11:25 AM   #2
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Hi Sam
I had the same experience with the Chargriller thermometer, read about my first smoking experience here: Great,1st smoking experience.

Yes, off set smokers require a lot of fuel, and for that reason I would not fire up the thing for a couple of chicken breasts.

I'm still experimenting with mine. On the last smoking session I started with about 12 lbs of charcoal which lasted about two hours. For the next two hours I used a couple Maple logs (one per hour). Just laid the log on the bed of coals.
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Old 06-08-2007, 11:32 AM   #3
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I use the same charchoal for quick grilling and starting the fire. When I smoke over long periods of time, I'll start the fire in the SFB with lump then use small 2x2x6" pieces from my firewood pile. Add fuel (no matter what type it is) when the temp goes under 190. Leave the SFB lid open for a minue or 2 so the fire catches. I leave the top damper 1/2 open and control the temp with the side damper. If you have both dampers wide open, and still cant reach temp, open the lid on the SFB. Sometimes I'll block the lid open a little with my tongs just to keep the fire going pretty good.

I smoked a rack one time with just the Cowboy lump and used the whole bag. That was 5 1/2 hrs at 225 in the dead of winter.

Pick up a small spray bottle for your mop instead of using a mop. (Target has them in the garden supplies area for $2) This way you wont wipe off any seasoning or rub, and the lid on the smoker is only open for 10 seconds while you spray the meat.

Your meat will hold temperature longer than the smoker. Just try and keep it around 200-225 and you'll be fine. Don't be afraid to use more fuel too.
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Old 06-08-2007, 11:35 AM   #4
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You want to start your "fuel" in a chimney and add as needed. I used some good hardwood charcoal the other day, and unfortunately, lost most of it through the bottom of the chimney because it is so irregularly shaped.
SO, for that you need perhaps to start it in your side box.
As to the soot. You do not want to use actively burning wood for cooking/smoking your food. It has an acrid smoke that isn't pleasant.
Youalso don't want to open your draft completely because you just burn fuel, and up the temperature.
Mine does not have a damper between the firebox and the chamber--wish it did. I control by the opening in the fire box and the chimney stack damper. I keep them both pretty much closed and maintain the chamber at around 225*, about right for slow smoking. I usually do two chimneys of charcoal (regular briquets) and that will take me through 4 hours.
Good hardwood charcoal may be a little bit of a waste for smoking since there isn't any direct contact with the meat being grilled over it. Just my opinion.
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Old 06-08-2007, 12:58 PM   #5
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Woa... hold on. You can put logs directly on the fire?

Do the logs have bark on them?


The reason I am asking is that I know of a hardwood furniture maker that sells the scraps and ends for next to nothing. If I could toss "raw" wood on the fire that would be wonderful! I know that bark on wood is a no-no, but with the furniture scraps I don't need to worry about that.

Ahh... so it is ok to close the chimney damper a little? I have a feeling I was losing a LOT of heat out the chimney. I was afraid to close it because I didn't want creosote on my food :) Maybe next time I will try closing it a bit.

Crash, I am thinking about modifying my grill with a permanent digital readout :) That cheapo gauge will drive me nuts! Sounds like your food came out nicely though :)


Thanks for the replies!

My current supplies are:
Chargriller smokin' Pro w/ cover.
Industrial sized spray bottle for wet mop.
Metal can with latching lid (for disposing of coals that may still be hot)
Meat thermometer
Various tongs, pot holders, etc.
Lots of beer :)

Sam
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Old 06-08-2007, 01:22 PM   #6
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By all means use the scraps. Solid hardwood ONLY. You can even use the Chiminea pieces from Lowes or Home Depot. Or find a firewood supplier and ask them for a few logs of cherry and/or oak. 6-8" pieces split to about 2" diameter works real good. When the temp cools off to about 190, just add 3-4 pieces and your done. I keep a paper bag filled with them next to the smoker....the bark has alot of nice woody smell, so that gets thrown in too.

Your temp guage is fine. It's not crucial to have a digital thermometer. I did buy one of those temperature beeper thingys. You stick the probe in the smoker or grill and set the temp. When it reaches the temp, it signals a little pager you keep on your belt. Now I can do my yard work without having to go check the smoker.

Also, for long cooking times, I'll baste (with the spray bottle) every half hour.
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Old 06-08-2007, 06:07 PM   #7
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As others have mentioned, it's probably just due to the design. I'm a noob BGE owner and have run 250o over night on probably 5 or 8 lbs of charcoal with plenty left over for the next cook. It would be very difficult however for me to try and add charcoal or wood coals due to the BGE's design.
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Old 06-09-2007, 08:34 AM   #8
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lump tends to burn really fast ..
when i am using the sfb .. i either go
briquettes or wood ...
lump is good for grilling ..
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Old 06-11-2007, 08:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeekinz
Your temp guage is fine. It's not crucial to have a digital thermometer.
I retract that statement.

Saturday I decided to see just how accurate the thermometer was on my smoker and I found it to be about 25 deg. too low.

I'm going to contact the company, then see what options are out there for a more accurate replacement.
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Old 06-11-2007, 10:30 AM   #10
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Don't those thermometers have a hex-nut on the back? If so, it's probably adjustable, just like probe thermometers are. Just use a pair of pliars to rotate the hex-nut to compensate for the 25 degrees.
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