ECB--good burn off, then first smoke disaster.

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by engineman, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. did a pre smoke burn off sunday night, and was very surprised by the results, using lidl briquettes.

    used 2/3rds weber chimney, and monitered temps for almost 5 hours, actually struggled to get the temp down to 225f, without killing all the draught.

    so monday night was to be the first smoke. using exactly the same charcoal etc. taking the easy option, i had 1/2 a medium chicken,

    which i rubbed with a recipe off the net, (never again, think i will take Dannies advice and keep the rub simple), chicken was on the grill and all was well for an hour or so, then it seemed to stall at 249f, and stayed there for the next hour+. then the cooking temp started to drop, this was not what i had expected, after the success of the burn off.

    checked the charcoal, and it had almost gone, so topped it up, but still couldnt get the temp back up. after 3 hours it was dark, i still had nothing to eat. eventually, after over 4 hours, pulled the ckicken off at 264f, and devoured it, but not happy with the fancy rub.

    checked for a problem this morning, and the ash pan was solid with, guess what, ASH. the vents were completely clogged, there seemed to be more ash than the charcoal i had used. so a huge lesson learnt.


    `1. why didnt the water pan boil when the cooking temp was well above boiling point

     2. been looking at ausi heat beeds, are these the rolls royce of charcoal?

     3. how many to use, by weight or number

     4. what is a good all round smoking chip flavour, was thinking of misquite or sugar maple?

     5. how many chips for an average smoke; is there a table available anywhere, and how long to use them?
  2. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Unless the heat is directly under the water pan it will usually get close to boiling however as the water evapourates it absorbs heat and helps to stabilise the temperature around the water and in the smoker. If you take the smoker temperature much higher then you will probably see it start to simmer or boil.

    Look at the ash you got. Using Aussie Heat Beads you will get a tiny amount of ash. Yes they are the Rolls Royce. They will cost you more but you will use a lot less of them. For instance, this amount (40 briquettes) lasted a 6 hour smoke and I still had about 1/4 of them unburned.

    I will only use Heat Beads (or Weber Premium briquettes in an emergency). Osprey2 posted a great link a few days ago

    Regarding pellets - For a good all-rounder I would go for a bag of hickory and a bag of oak. For a mild smoke use mostly oak and for a heavier smoke use hickory. You can then blend them at different proportions to get a balance that you find ideal.

    When you feel a little more comfortable you can also get a bag of mesquite (or a mesquite blend) which will add a real punch when you feel it is needed.

    I also keep a stock of fruit wood pellets, which are nice, however they are usually quite mild and are for the more subtle of smokes.

    There is no table that I know of. The photo above had sufficient pellets for the whole smoke though so you do not need a great quantity.

    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
  3. Hello.  Wade has given great advice.  Those heat beads are the mutt's nuts!  Have a look through the threads in the Group.  Look for the "Discount" thread.  We do get a discount there.  You might find them cheaper but is a place to start.

    This is where Wade and I may butt heads.  We don't mind.  We both know there is more than one way to produce good Q.  That's the fun of it, find the way you like and stick with it.  Besides, he knows I am right so that's all that matters.  [​IMG]   WAY back when I had a bullet smoker I finally decided the water pan wasn't needed.  Just my experience.  Also, MOST TIMES; I do chicken hot and fast.  There are times when I do chicken low and slow and then reverse sear for crispy skin.  To be perfectly honest I really don't see a difference, just my opinion.  Just until you learn your smoker, find your feet and are ready to experiment I would suggest just salt and pepper rub.

    NOW!  The wood.  IF you have never had mesquite, wait a while.  I would eat cardboard smoked with mesquite but I was raised in Texas.  Mesquite is FULL IN YOUR FACE sharp smoke flavour.  Some folks don't care for it.

    As for how much to use, how smokey do you like your meat?  This is one of those things you will have to play with.  Again, find what you like and stick with it.

    Wood flavours used is also a personal thing.  If not using mesquite my mix of choice would be pecan, cherry and oak.  If I had to guess the mix I would say 60% pecan, 25% cherry and 15%oak.

    There is no "guide" for how many briquettes to use or how many chips/pellets to use.  It will vary depending on your particular smoker.  Each and every smoker will behave differently.

    Sorry for the novel.  My advice is to use the high end briquettes.  They cost more but you will use less.  Hope this helps.  Keep Smokin!

  4. thanks Wade and Danny

    would i be correct in assuming that if i used the snake method, this would minimize the chance of choking the vents with ash in future.

    does this method supply enough heat for an ECB, as it must be at least twice the internal volume as the weber in dannys photo above.

    ordered some beeds today from WOW, and 4 bags of chips, 

    despite the clogged air vents, my wife was very impressed with the chicken leg that she had for next days lunch, said it was the nicest ever.
  5. Hello.  Those photos were from from Mister Wade Nash!  If you need any help just let us know.  Keep Smokin!

  6. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Engineman

    The snake method is very versatile and is scaleable. In the 22" Weber I use a briquette depth of 2 pellets piled 3 high. - with my 26" Weber I use 3 pellets wide by 3 high. I also use this method on my offset where I started using 2 wide but now use 3 wide to help it get up to temperature quicker.

    Was trying to upload a photo but the forum appears to be having a problem with them at the moment
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  7. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Photos are back

    Here is the 2 briquette snake 2 high in the firebox of my offset. It does take quite a while to get up to temperature though. I mostly use a 3 briquette snake 3 high. With that you only get a single "U" shape snake. This will heat up a big volume over a long time.

    The ECB firebox is a different shape though and you have a couple of options (though I have not tried them in an ECB). The first would be a circular snake around the fire box. The more common though would be the standard minion method.

    The Heat Beads should provide more than enough heat with very little ash whichever method you try.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  8. hi Wade

    the ash is my nightmare, after the disaster the other night.

    so i think the snake would give me peace of mind, and not vhoke the vents.

    thinking of 3 wide by 2 high, 1/2 way round, using the heat beads which arrived today.

    what chips do you use, they look a lot smaller than the ones i have bought

  9. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    They are pellets. Chips work just as well though. I usually use hickory but to show Danny that I am not a Wuss they were a mesquite blend.

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