2 questions for 1st smoke

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by cincycuse, May 25, 2008.

  1. cincycuse

    cincycuse Newbie

    Tomorrow I'm going to attempt my first smoke with a whole chicken.

    I have an ECB and have made the mods but I still have three questions:

    1- Where does the charcoal sit? Does it sit on a grate now so the ashes can fall into the charcoal pan or does it sit in the charcoal pan?
    2- Do I need to put foil over the top of the water pan so drippings dont get in the pan?
    3- I have both lump and briquettes. Everything I've read says go lump but all the directions always mention briquettes. Question is, what should I use and with lump how many times will I need to refuel?

    Thanks in advance, I've been here for a week non-stop reading everything I can.
  2. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The charcoal goes in the bottom pan. Don't cover the water pan. It will catch the drippings so your charcoal doesn't flare up. Someone else will have to tell you the difference between lump and briquettes. Good luck with the chicken.
  3. sumosmoke

    sumosmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi there, Cincycuse. I've also got an ecb that I've been smoking with since January 2008, and can answer some of those questions.

    1. The charcoal sits in the grate so the ashes can fall through, reducing the chance of smothering the coals.

    2. You don't have to put foil over the top of the water pan if you don't want to. Some people say it helps with the clean up of the pan. I've tried it a few times and have still had a mess when I pulled back the layers of foil, and have found that after drying the pan, spray with pam and let it sit for about 3 minutes. Fill with water and if/when there are drippings on the rim, they come right off with soap/water/sponge.

    3. The lump/briquette debate is truely a personal preference. A majority of us use lump, however those that use briquettes swear by them. If you're looking for some lump hardwood, check out this post that has SMF member reviews of lump, and where to get what in certain areas - SMF lump charcoal reviews Depending on how ashy the stuff you're using is, will determine how often you need to refuel.

    Hope that helps. Holler if you need some more help.
  4. cincycuse

    cincycuse Newbie

    OK, it seems I've got two different answers. One says 'one the grate' the other says 'in the pan'. Apparently everyone does it differently. When you say 'on the grate', am I correct in thinking the ashes fall into the charcoal pan?

    Sorry for the unfamiliarity, but I've read so much the last few days my head is starting to spin.[​IMG]
  5. I'm new to the forum, but i've been using my ECB for a few years and have smoked several chickens. I typically fill 1 large chimney starter with coals and pour them cold into the bottom. Then I start anothing chimney starter with coals light them and pour them on top when ready. Then I push them to the side making a nice little cove for the drip pan that has hot salt water about 3/4 full.

    The best chicken whole chicken is done with a beer can stand and dark beer mixed with a little worchester and selected herbs. I usually let it cook for about an hour with the drip pan full then take the pan out and throw in some fruit wood chips. Then smoke it for another 2 hours over 200 degree heat. The hardest part of the chicken is getting it off the can as the meat falls off the bone. I've acutally served it with the can on a few times and just let the guys go at it.
  6. island boy

    island boy Fire Starter

    The “Drip Pan†that you refer to, is this a pan that is different from the water pan that came with the unit?
    Are you saying that you lay the water pan directly on top of the coals?
    Why do you put “salt†in the water pan?

    Thanks, I’m looking forward to your reply.
  7. indymatt

    indymatt Newbie

    Okay I am not sure what grate you are talking about so I will attempt but I am still new at this. The charcoal pan is the very bottom pan in the ECB, some people (such as myself) have put a grate within the charcoal pan itself. So I place my lump charcoal on the grate in the pan, this allows the ash to fall through the grate in to the charcoal pan. The water pan is the closest to the top of the smoker, I used tinfoil to line it. I probably won't use it anymore since it really didn't allow for easier clean-up.

    I hope this helps?
  8. sumosmoke

    sumosmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    you nailed the approach, run and smoke my man!
  9. You may want to first familiarize yourself with the components of your smoker and the referred to terms here within. Basically your water pan / drip pan can be used in several ways depending on what your trying to do. You place the pan in different areas if you planning on smoking, searing, or grilling.

    I sometimes put the pan directly on the coals if I want a lot of "steam" or need to soften up tougher meats prior to the dry smoke. You can place it on the 2nd rack for standard smoking or not use it at all.

    See diagram below:


    Have you ever brined before? If not you should try it. Soaking of meat in salt water adds some saltiness and allows the meat to soak up some of the water that has been lost in processing. Although I don't do a direct brining on the meats I smoke I noticed that adding course sea salt to the pre-smoke solution allows salt and water to be forced into the tissue through osmosis. Osmosis is when a solvent (usually water or other liquid that can hold another substance, called the solute, in solution - like salt) moves from a low solute concentration (like the tissue of the meat) to a high solute concentration (like the salt water) through a semi permeable membrane (a surface that allows small particles to pass but not larger ones - like the cell membranes of our chicken or pork) to form an equilibrium.

    So basically when I have a large piece of meat I would like to smoke for several hours I found that using a steam brine for the first hour allows the meat to plump up and take in the moister before several hours of dry smoking. You can also add other items to the brine steam solution to help further the taste of the meat your about to smoke.
  10. supervman

    supervman Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the "Water Seasoning" idea!
    That is totally cool and does make sense.
    I'll try it.

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