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First Time Smoking
May 28, 2010
1:35 pm
VeroViper
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May 28, 2010
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I'm new to the forums & new to BBQ. I've done some grilling over the years, but never any smoking(just wood chips over the coals) I bought a Chargriller Pro Deluxe and the Side Fire Box. I'm planning on doing my first smoking this weekend(some baby back ribs) I've read lots of good tips on here, but I'm looking for basic info on the best way to get my fire going in the side fire box. I seem to read conflicting reports on whether to use wood logs or just wood chunks. Also, should I put just wood in the fire box or some charcoal too? What's the best way for me to light the fire and getting it going(I've only used charcoal with lighter fluid) If anyone can give me some answers or point me to a thread or link that would help I would much appreciate it. I don't expect perfection, but I don't want to totally botch my first attempt. Thanks.

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May 28, 2010
2:56 pm
homebbq
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June 24, 2008
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Hi

I would definately start with charcoal in that cooker first, until you get the hang of it, with a couple of wood chunks for flavor. Here is a great article on how to use a method we refer to as the Minion method, but it's a way to get a much longer burn..

/index.php/archives/82

Kevin
HomeBBQ.com 

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May 28, 2010
3:18 pm
VeroViper
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May 28, 2010
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Thanks for the advice Kevin. I’ll definitely go the safe route to start. We’re having company for the holiday weekend and I don’t want to ruin dinner. Any literature you can recommend I can study(books, articles, even videos) that deal a lot with temp control and maintaining wood fires? I’d like to study up and be able to use wood for the long haul. Thanks again.

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May 28, 2010
4:05 pm
homebbq
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To be perfectly honest with you, it has nothing to do with going the safe route and everything to do with producing a quality product.. With that cooker and all small offset pits for that matter, I would use charcoal, and wood chunks. And this is why, a log fire needs a large enough combustion area to produce a clean fire, and what I mean by a clean fire is essentially very little visable smoke, which is what you need to make quality BBQ using sticks (logs).

That firebox is just not large enough, to accomplish this. On that cooker and any that size, your best BBQ will be produced using charcoal, and wood chunks for flavor. The type of charcoal I would use is a good quality lump, or a hardwood briquet. I burned sticks for years, but in much larger pits. If you watched my video on the front page of this website, I show an offset pit, that's even larger than the one you have, and still would recommend using charcoal in it as well.

Kevin
HomeBBQ.com

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May 28, 2010
4:30 pm
VeroViper
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Thanks for the info. I’m glad I posted here. The instructions that came with my firebox and grill were kind of vague. It seemed to suggest I should be using wood, not coasl. I read that article. A few final questions for you. I'm leaning toward using lump.  Where is a good place to buy quality lump?  How much should I put in my firebox(a little confused the way the article worded it)? Also, if my temp drops even after I’ve adjusted my damper, etc, should I just throw more charcoal in the firebox to heat it back up? Thanks again for the help. I guess I’ve got a lot to learn.

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May 28, 2010
4:56 pm
homebbq
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You can certainly use Kingsford, it's just a lump charcoal will give you alot less ash, and a better flavor, because it's wood. The only downside to using lump is it tends to burn hotter, and won't last as long. The best to use that will give you a long burn, and is made of pure hardwood, is a hardwood briquet. It's tougher to find in many areas, but it is the best to use for low and slow BBQ.

You will likely need to add charcoal throughout the cook, but if you use the method in that article I pointed you too, it won't be nearly as often. You need to buy a charcoal chimney if you don't already have one, and if your just adding charcoal throughout a cook, get the chimney lit, and 5 minutes or so later add that charcoal to your firebox. If your real low, add some unlit, then pour the lit charcoal on top.

Kevin
HomeBBQ.com

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May 29, 2010
12:50 pm
VeroViper
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I've decided to use regular charcoal this time. I just installed the side fire box this morning. I'm going to run a fire this afternoon to break it in. It came with a grate for the drawer and a couple of cast iron cooking grates. Do I just put the regular grate in before I add the coals, or do I put coals in without a grate? Also, approximately how much charcoal should I fill the drawer with? Thanks.

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May 29, 2010
3:40 pm
homebbq
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You need to put the charcoal on a grate, preferrably with an air gap underneath, so the ash can drop, and air can flow through.

Kevin

HomeBBQ.com

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May 30, 2010
10:17 pm
VeroViper
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Thanks for the tips. The ribs came out pretty good for the first time. It was a tough ride though.  I put way too much coal in to start. The temp got up to 375 in a hurry and I ended up having to bail out coals to get it down. Once I finally got it to stay between 210-220 I was constantly having to put another chimney of coals in to maintain the temp. I think it was possibly b/c too much ash dropped in the beginning and blocked airflow. Either way it was a learning experience and I'm sure I'll get better.  In the end the meat was great and there were no leftovers. Thanks again for the tips.

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June 1, 2010
12:59 pm
CarbonThief
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May 25, 2010
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Congratulations on a successful first smoke! You'll learn something new each time you barbecue in my experience, new techniques with the fire control, positioning of the meats, recipes, sauces, etc. Just make sure you are having fun and don't put too much pressure on yourself!

Good luck.

Clay

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June 1, 2010
2:13 pm
homebbq
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glad you made it through it, I would look into buying or making a charcoal basket for that, and then use the minion method, make sure you slow down your airflow so you get a longer burn..

Kevin

HomeBBQ.com

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July 12, 2010
5:01 pm
VeroViper
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I've now done a few smokes and I'm definitely getting better. I smoked a boston butt and back ribs(used the 3,2,1 method) this weekend.   I'm getting the airflow/temp control down now.  But I'm second guessing the way I'm using my wood chunks. I do not soak them, as I've read so many places that this tends to produce soot over the grill area. But, my chunks are constantly catching fire quick and I'm not getting that much smoke out of them. Also, while the meat on the ribs was very tender the outside was a little too charred and blackened. Should I try soaking the chunks or wrapping in foil? Thanks.

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July 12, 2010
5:22 pm
homebbq
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I guess I am not understanding how a soaked wood chunk will produce soot, anymore so than non soaked wood chunks, and/or charcoal. You would definately use a lot less if you soak your wood chunks, than if you don't, so with that said, I find it hard to believe that it would cause you any difficulty. I have done it both ways, and the only issue is, it's easier to over smoke your meat, because it takes much less wood. Give it a try and see for yourself.

Kevin

HomeBBQ.com

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