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Old 08-01-2007, 01:40 PM   #1
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Wood chips and chunks

Recently I recieved a grill for my birthday. In the past we did not have room for a decent size grill and now we do. My grill has a side smoker and I have smoked pork butt using wood chips.

Should I purchase chunks? It seems like even soaked chips burn up in fairly short order.

Also, excuse my ifgnorance about my grill, but do you actually cook on the side smoker or just use it for the smoking woods? Normally I would have smoked something in the grill as I did not have a side smoker. There is a grate in it but it seems redundant with it being connected to the big grill.

I have friends coming over in a couple weeks and one is from Texas and I want to make sure I do it correctly to avoid an evening of hazing.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 08-01-2007, 02:01 PM   #2
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Bryan,

Well, first let's get the terminology right, because if you call that a grill in front of your buddy from Texas you will never hear the end of it.

From what you are describing it sounds like you have a side fire box and a main chamber. That would be called a "Pit" or a cooker, or a smoker.

Yes, you should buy chunks. Yes some people with a pit like yours do grill steaks and other food on the grate directly over the fire box.

What is the brand name of the pit/smoker/cooker that you have?
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Old 08-01-2007, 02:21 PM   #3
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Bruce,

Thanks for the lesson in teminology. You probably saved me a lot of grief. I will get in the habit of calling it a smoker.

It is a Chargriller and I must say I love it although I have seem many incedible grills in the last couple minutes inthe forum.

Although Texas BBQ is usually beef brisket we will be smoking a 5 lb. pork butt for them and making pulled pork sandwiched with home made cole slaw and sweet pickles. I may have to go buy a six pack or two of Shiner when I buy the wood chunks to make the evening complete.

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Old 08-01-2007, 03:04 PM   #4
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I am thinking of taking out the grates in the side smoker box and storing them. It seems, from the general consesus, that the SMB is for wood. I get tired of puytting them aside and having to keep my daughter from touching them. it seems she is attracted to all things sticky, dusty, dirty or shinny.
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Old 08-01-2007, 03:15 PM   #5
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If you don't plan on using all wood for your cooks. Use lump especially if it's going to be a long cook. Regular charcoal makes too much ash and will snuff out your fire. I use lump in my CG and a few chunks of wood.
Don't forget the pics
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Old 08-01-2007, 03:25 PM   #6
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I would do some of the easiy mods that have been discussed in the mod section if you haven't already. The ones I can think of that really help are :
Lower exhuast to grate level
Baffle
Put some foil wrapped bricks in the bottom of the main chamber.
Charcoal basket of some kind.
Black Out the stock temp gauge so you can't read it.

Are you using the minion method for heat control or some other fire management method ?
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Old 08-01-2007, 03:55 PM   #7
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This is probably the best start for information regarding using a small offset -- which is what your Char Griller is. http://www.homebbq.com/library/SmokerModifications.pdf
Except for what Dan says about thermometers, it's all pretty much gospel.

Just to keep terms straight, I think of the two boxes as the cook chamber and the firebox.

Of the two grates that go in the firebox, the lower one is a charcoal grate, and the other is a food grate -- in case you want to use the firebox as a small, direct grill. You NEED the lower one pretty much where it is, although it will work better if you get it to sit a little higher by making legs for it with bolts, nuts and fender washers. Airspace is a good thing. As to the upper grate, turn it and fit it in to protect the door vent, the way Dan has did it on page 4. That's the first and most important modification.

If you've got company coming this weekend, don't panic and run around like crazy to get the baffle in and the flue extended. Those changes are very helpful, and you'll be glad you did them, but ... no need to make yourself nuts. You can have a very successful cook before you make them. The same with the charcoal basket. You definitely want one. Your life will be simpler (and less expensive), but no hurry.

On your original question -- generally it's not a good idea for beginners to work a straight wood fire in a small offset. It takes a lot of tending, and lots can go wrong. I think most users would agree that your best heat source is a good, hardwood lump charcoal. Although -- if there's a Home Depot around you might want to pick up a few bags of Rancher briquette. Everyone seems to think it's as good as almost any lump, plus it's cheap as can be.

Whatever you buy, for your intended cook, you're probably looking at about 20# of charcoal (without a basket), so make sure you have about twice that much on hand.

Prep your firebox the way Dan shows on page 4, then fill it a couple of inches below the top door with unlit charcoal. Mix in three or four hardwood chunks. Hickory, apple, maple, pecan, peach, oak are all good choices, but mesquite isn't particularly good with pork. Fill a chimney starter with charcoal, get it going well (about 15 minutes, usually), so flames are shooting out of the top, and dump the lit charcoal more or less evenly on the top of the unlit charcoal/chunk.

Open the chimney vent all the way. Open the door vent all the way. And walk away for fifteen minutes. Come back and check to make sure the fire is going well, and close the door vent to about 1/2 way. In another ten mnutes the fire and temperatures will more or less stabilize and it's time to make the last vent adjustment before putting the meat in. If you have an oven thermometer or digital probe or better yet a dual-probe, wireless, remote read like a Maverick ET-73, take the temperature and adjust the vent using 225 - 235 F as your ideal, target temperature, and 1/4 open as the ideal door vent setting (keeps the fire going).

As a general rule, unless the fire is running very hot, it's best to leave the flue flapper all the way open.

A fire built like this will probably last about two and a half hours before requiring a refuel. Open the top firebox door, refill with lump and chunk, give the fire a good stir. Open the side door and check under the fire to make sure the airspace is not clogged with ash. If it is, rake out the ash. Close the door, and open the door vent all the way again to get the fire started. After ten minutes or so, you can return the door vent to whatever setting was working before.

Rinse and repeat as necessary until the prodcut is done, but no more chunk. The reason you're not adding any more hardwood is because small offsets over smoke meat pretty easily. Over smoked meat tastes bitter. The more you cook, the more you'll have a handle on what any given wood/meat combination requires. My recommendation is very conservative.

You could use chips instead of chunk, but you'd have to make aluminum foil packets or use a smoker box to hold them; they require pre-soaking; and they're more expensive. On the other hand, they're often more easily available in urban settings; are available in bigger variety, and it's easier to control the amount of smoke that goes into the meat. You use chips by presoaking a cup in water for about an hour, then mixing the wet chips with a cup of dry, and wrapping them in a flat foil packet of two thicknesses. Pierce the packet with a meat fork making a total of no more than eight holes, and throw the packet on top of a lit fire. A packet prepared this way smokes for about an hour, and then needs to be replaced.

The most help I can give is to leave you with this thought: NO PEEKING.

Do not open the cook chamber door for any reason the first two hours. After two hours rotate the butt and get that door closed ASAP. Then NO PEEKING for another two hours. After that, if you want to mop or spritz or interfere with the cooking method of the gods in some other way, go ahead. But minimize it. The more you mess with it, the worse it's going to be. The more you open the chamber door, the less predictable and steady the fire will be -- and the drier your product.

Hope this helps,
Rich
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Old 08-01-2007, 04:28 PM   #8
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Well if this is whut I think it is..a kissing cuz to a Brinkmann Snnp..or a NB Diamond back or whutever they call em these days. In other words its a small sheet metal offset. Now is this hot or cold? If it hot..I would highly discourage you from trying to operate it exclusively on wood. Start with a base of about 3 lbs good lump charcoal and a few chunks or small logs. When it quits making heat throw on a double handful of charcoal..when it quits making smoke throw on some a chunk or two. Be sure to clean out the dead ashes under the fire grate periodically or the heat will drop. Cook with the firebox door standing ajar by about an inch so the fire gets plenty of air. If the heat gets away from ya prop open the cookchamber door a little. Be sure to swap ends with your stuff occasionally. Gets purty hot on that firebox side ya know. Now if this aint the same kinda contraption..I take all this back of course

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ps..do not try to grill in the cookchamber...big big mistake under most scenarios. Grilling in the firebox be just fine if that whut the rulebook says.
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:34 AM   #9
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Chargrillers run very hot very fast. Plug the holes that are close to the fire box with tinfoil plugs or something. You don't want it drawing air without you knowing where it is drawing from.
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:13 AM   #10
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I have noticed that the Chargriller does run hot and fast. When it levels off the temp will hang around 125. Is this why it was suggested to black out the built in thermometer? Is it not accurate? I am sure it has something to do with me being more familiar with it as well.

Will plugging the extra holes allow it to even out a bit?

I am excited to use wood and wood chunks. I lived in Chicago for 7 or so years until recently and now reside just outside of the city in Cicero. I am not really familiar with local resources but I am sure there is something near by that will have the supplies I need.
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:21 AM   #11
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boar_d_laze,

Thanks for taking time to write out this process. I really appreciate it. I am going to print it out.

Thanks again,
Bryan
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:22 AM   #12
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You will have much better results with a more accurate temp gauge. Wireless or otherwise. Just do not depend on the one that came with the CG.
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:29 AM   #13
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Cliff,

I was reading that it is suggested to lower the built in thermometer to the level just above the grate. This sounds like a good idea but I still think I will purchase or borrow an external thermometer to make sure it is fairly accurate.
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:44 AM   #14
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One of these will make your life much easier. Especially with a CG.

http://wolfes5.tripod.com/wolferub/id14.html

Tell your wife that you won't be having to go in and out of the house ever 5 min to check the temps.
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Old 08-02-2007, 11:19 AM   #15
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Excellent, thanks.

She would probably rather me just stay out with the grill. And as long as there is cold beer outside, so would I.
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:40 PM   #16
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The reason to black out the thermometer is because it's more of a cruel hoax than an accurate measurement of temperature.

There are some very well made mounted thermometers made by Tel-Tru, Taylor, Old Smokey, etc., but no matter how well spotted they are, they are never exactly where you want them. Right next to, but not quite touching the food. You also want them wherever you are, so you don't have to constantly run back to the pit to read them.

The solution: two places at once, accuracy, location, location, location, etc., is a dual probe, wireless, remote read, digital thermometer. There are several made. Most of us use the Maverick ET-73, which is available all over the net for $40. You'll be tempted by low prices on the Weber and Oregon Scientific single probe models, but they are unreliable and short lived.

If you want to really get into the subject of thermometers -- it's worth its own thread. You'll get lots of information as well as lots of informed opinions.

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Old 08-02-2007, 08:59 PM   #17
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I ordered a Maverick Model #ET-73 Remote Smoker Thermometer this afternoon from the Wolf Rub site that Cliff suggested. It is like Christmas in August! Thanks for everyone helping me get on the guided path. Maybe after I get my thermometer my chicken will not be 200 degrees and dry.

Thanks again,
Bryan
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Old 08-02-2007, 09:12 PM   #18
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Congrats on the new toy dude!
Keep us posted
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:50 PM   #19
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[quote=Bryan S]
Quote:
Originally Posted by "boar_d_laze":18xwi3e2

but no matter how well spotted they are, they are never exactly where you want them.
I dissagree. If you know what your doing, and know where to drill the hole and get the right length stem on the Theremoeter you can get that sucker right where it needs to be. [/quote:18xwi3e2]

Right thru the center of the CG Thermometer.
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Old 08-03-2007, 01:40 PM   #20
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[quote=Cliff H.][quote="Bryan S":b85jtxq4]
Quote:
Originally Posted by "boar_d_laze":b85jtxq4

but no matter how well spotted they are, they are never exactly where you want them.
I dissagree. If you know what your doing, and know where to drill the hole and get the right length stem on the Theremoeter you can get that sucker right where it needs to be. [/quote:b85jtxq4]

Right thru the center of the CG Thermometer. [/quote:b85jtxq4]
[smilie=a_goodjob.gif]
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