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

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Old 04-12-2006, 09:55 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, 10:18 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, 10:20 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, 10:31 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, 10:32 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, 10:43 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, 01:33 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, 01:41 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, 01:43 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, 01:47 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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Old 04-12-2006, 01:56 PM   #11
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Yes, I had been given a suggestion to bring them to a boil for a few minutes and then turn the heat off. Let them soak overnight. Change out the water before cooking.

I could easily do this the day before we left to go camping and then not have to mess with having the burner on for an hour. However, if we run out of time or something, it might take us around an hour to get everything set up at the campsite and I could simmer them for an hour. (I guess it might also depend on how much that will heat up the travel trailer - I've never cooked anything for very long inside.
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:58 PM   #12
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Beans

First I always soak my beans at least for 4 hrs or overnight if I think that far ahead. Then rise in a Colander and add to a pot of fresh water covering the beans with about 4 inchs water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hrs until they are tender.When tender drain and reserve about 2 cups of bean liquid. Mix the beans with whatever you are seasoning them with and pour into Dutch Oven/Pan. Cover with a couple of pieces of bacon then add the liquid until the beans are covered by an inch and place in grill over indirect heat. Cook for about an hour. Uncover. If they are drying out add more liquid if not leave uncovered adding wood chips/ logs to your fire and continue to cook the beans uncovered for another 30 min to an hour until the juice is thick and the beans are very tender. They should be moist but not soupy. Give it a whirl you might have to play with the cooking times some. Any leftover BBQ meat is a great addition to beans. I Boil them with ham hock or smoked turkey neck or even jerky if I have some laying around.
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:11 PM   #13
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Do you put your ham hock in with it during the first simmer or when you move it to the grill?
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:16 PM   #14
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I put the ham hock in when I first simmer. I think it helps to flavor the beans.
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:19 PM   #15
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But I'm not making beans like your husband wants. Mine are more of a New England Style. Ketchup, little ballpark Mustard, Molasses, Brown Sugar, Onions ect.....
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:20 PM   #16
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Also, based on what you said, it seems almost like you could pretty much bring them to a boil inside and then move them to the smoker but keep them covered (to avoid too much smoke) and simmer for around 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Then add your bacon and seasoning and remove and reserve any excess water except for an inch or so above the bacon. Cover and cook for another hour. Check water. Uncover and cook until tender.

I wonder how long these would be able to stay in a smoker, covered, without turning to mush. The idea is that people can have hot beans and brisket whenever they want them. We will cook everything at around 250 degrees and then probably let the temp drop down to around 180 degrees for keeping stuff warm.
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wittdog
But I'm not making beans like your husband wants. Mine are more of a New England Style. Ketchup, little ballpark Mustard, Molasses, Brown Sugar, Onions ect.....

Yes, my dear husband has problems and doesn't know what he is missing...
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:38 PM   #18
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beans

Once you got them seasoned you could leave them covered on the smoker for a pretty long amount of time my family leaves them in a Crock pot at party's for most of the day. The only thing you have to watch is that they don't get to dry after an extended amount of time. As far as your husbands issues do like I do with my kids age3 & 4 make them try it. If he's unwilling to try them don't let him eat dessert.
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:52 PM   #19
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LOL... yes, he is a hard one to please. Personally, I like the baked beans and pork and beans, but my husband doesn't like sweets that much. Believe me, we definately have to mark the bbq sauces. I like mine sweet and he can't stand them that way.

He also is one of those evil people in the world that doesn't care one way or the other about desert.... I wish I was so lucky!
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Old 04-12-2006, 03:17 PM   #20
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Well you could always threaten him with cooking him ribs New York Syle (Par Boiled I get shivers just thinking about how my mom abused be as a child by boiling the ribs.) Although that might be grounds for Divorce. Try using the Robust Molases it's not as sweet as the Original. Let me know how you decide to cook your beans and how they come out.
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