Does anyone ever cook on top of their fire box? - BBQ Central

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Old 04-12-2006, 08:55 AM   #1
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Does anyone ever cook on top of their fire box?

We have a large firebox with a flat top. During the smoking process, the top of the firebox gets quite hot. Has anyone ever used this as a cooking or a warming device?

We want to make some pinto beans while we are smoking. We will be in the travel trailer, so technically I will have access to a stove and oven, but we thought about making them in the smoker. We haven't decided on what recipe to use yet, but a lot we have seen involve a high heat (which we could do inside on the stove), a long time at a low simmer (which we think we could do covered inside the smoker), and then a portion of time at a very low temperature (which we were thinking would be good sitting on the fire box).

Anyone ever done anything like this and have any suggestions to share. Actually, I will take any suggestions on the beans as well. I woul love to have baked beans with molasses, etc., but my husband gave it the thumbs down. He wants just a good pot of pinto beans (which I think of as some beans, water, bacon or pork hock, and a few spices.)

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-12-2006, 09:18 AM   #2
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My fire box is under my cooker so I can't try it. Give it a whir. can't hurt anything, just hard to control the heat I guess. I cook my beans in the smoker. I was going to try and make a block pit and it would have a plate on top of the fire box for just that kind of cooking, kinda like this.
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Old 04-12-2006, 09:20 AM   #3
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Have not had any success with making beans from scratch. Perhaps is the altitude (8,500') that foils my attempts. Last batch went into a crock pot for 3 days and they were still tough & chewy. My solution: I took a page out of my former sisNlaw: From the can to the pan. Works for me.

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Old 04-12-2006, 09:31 AM   #4
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I have heard that beans can be ruined by the type of water you have (hard or soft) and that if you do not know what kind you have to use bottled water.

I have also been told to never salt them until they get to the desired tenderness.

That block pit is similar to what the top of our firebox looks like.

By the way, when cooking them inside the smoker, what kind of pan do you use? I have heard that you have to be careful sometimes with beans because of their acidity. I don't know if that is talking about all beans or is referring more to the ones that have tomatoes or bbq sauce in them.
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Old 04-12-2006, 09:32 AM   #5
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I guess we would just have to watch the heat. It normally does not get hot enough to boil water.
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Old 04-12-2006, 09:43 AM   #6
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I don't cook on the hot plate but it's good for a warm pot of water for hand cleaning, preheating wood if you go in for such things.
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:33 PM   #7
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I don't know if the top of the firebox would get hot enough to boil/simmer beans but it does a good job for keeping a mop warm. My pit has a rack for a 2nd grate inside the fire boxabout 12 inches above the charcoal grate and I plan I seeing how that works in regards to beans or something else.
I don't think that the beans themselves are very acidic. I think if they had a high concentration of tomato based stuff in them you would want to stay away from cast iron, which can react to high acid type foods like chilli. But if you were cooking a normal type of bean recipe that a cast iron Dutch Oven would be the prefered method. Thats what most people use for Bean Hole Beans. Molasses goes great in beans throw in some left over Brisket as well. When we make beans we typically boil them inside, season them and then toss em in a disposable pan and toss them on the smoker grate to finish them off.
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:41 PM   #8
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If I may ask, how long do you boil them inside and then how long do you smoke them outside? When you put them in the disposable pan, do you cover it with foil at all?

Thank you.
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:43 PM   #9
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you can also soak the beans overnight to help soften them up, then let the lower heat slow cook them. its the only way I know how
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:47 PM   #10
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Dang, I just bring to a boil my navy/northern/pinto's, then simmer for an hour. Replaces the overnight soaking. Discard that water...you'll have less gas later. Then cook as normal. Works for me. When the poker boys are requesting beans and ham and cornbread once a month, it's coming out pretty good.
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