New to Forum, from Milwaukee

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by mcspazatron, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. mcspazatron

    mcspazatron Newbie

    Hello all,

    Just wanted to introduce myself to the forum.  My cooking started out with the traditional 22 inch Weber kettle for mostly grilling.  Over the years I became interested in BBQ, after I got good at making BBQ /smoked chicken thighs indirectly on the Weber.  My family loved the chicken thighs, so I had that nice built in reinforcement from loved ones.   That led to me to moving on to a Chargriller offset smoker that I've used over the past 10 years or so.  I dubbed it "The Radiator" because that seems to be its main radiate as much heat as possible from the firebox before it reaches the food.   My friends dubbed me the "fireman" because I looked like the guy on the steam train shoveling coal into the firebox (ok fine, I exaggerate [​IMG] but it was frustrating how much fuel that thing went through).  I did a lot of cooks on that Chargriller with butts and briskets, but it was stressful because of the kind of tending it needed, especially since a buddy of mine that I cook with has an older New Braunsfeld (one of the good ones) that is sweet and needs next to no fuel in comparison.   Needless to say, the Chargriller is a rusted heap right now, but it served it's purpose and I got a few big cooks out if it for extended family and friends. 

    Last year, I was really thinking of getting a decent smoker, but in the end decided on getting a bigger 26 inch Weber Kettle, since I had at least mastered BBQ chicken thighs on kettles, and the budget couldn't reach any higher.   Glad I bought it.  I can easily smoke 18 thighs at a time on that thing, which is good because with three kids and my wife, we still end up with some leftovers for the week.  My purchase of that 26 inch kettle effectively put me out of the market for anything else. 

    However, circumstances recently changed and that led me to start looking around for a “proper” smoker.  After looking around at various threads on this site, I decided on that the Peoria Custom Cooker-Backyard model was the one for me.  Yesterday, I ended up placing the order!  I went with the insulated firebox, a fourth leg, and an extra thermometer.  Excited is a mild term for how I’m feeling right now. 

    Now its time to wait patiently, and hoping for good weather to make the four hour drive to PCC in order to pick it up in a month or two.  I’m planning on renting a uhaul pickup and trailer to go and get it.  I don’t have any experience with towing, but I’m taking a friend with some experience to help me keep out of trouble.  If anyone has advice on strapping down and towing a chunk of metal like the PCC, feel free to share. 

    Thanks for reading...
  2. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Welcome!  Glad you're here.  One question....with all of your success with the Weber kettles, why not a Weber smoker?

  3. mcspazatron

    mcspazatron Newbie

    Thanks for the welcome Mike. 

    I really am happy with how chicken comes out on the Weber, and the similar WSM dome design I think would do them as well or better I would imagine.    If I can get my chicken to come out the same on the Peoria, I'll be happy.   However, there are a few things that led me to look at larger stick burner.

    1)  I like the idea of a stick burner.  Tried pure wood on the Weber, it was not a successful experience.  The Chargriller served it's purpose, but the challenges with that one have led to its effective retirement.  

    2)  I'm looking for capacity.  I've got a big family beyond immediate that enjoys BBQ.   I would love to be able to make enough of something to share around when I decide to sit down for a day to cook.   The design of the Peoria seems like it would allow for a good variety of things to be going at once.  For example, thighs on the top rack, briskets/butts on the bottom.  The two stack design makes changing to two heat zones  (high/low) on the fly a possibility.   Also, I like pigs, whole cooked ones :)
  4. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome from SC. It's really good to have you on this great site. Lots of really good folks here.

    1. Don't put chicken above any other meat without a drip pan. It will take away from the flavor of the bottom meat.

    2. I'm a stick burner and while it's a little work, who doesn't like playing with fire.

    3. I don't know how you fired the "radiator", but I have really good success with using lump charcoal for the initial bed of coals and then adding splits for the rest of the cook. The charcoal just seems to get everything going good while the wood takes over.

    Good luck and good smokin', remember to send some pics of that new toy and of your cooks. Joe
  5. [​IMG]   Good evening and welcome to the forum, from a really nice, sunny day here in East Texas. Lots of great people with tons of information on just about  everything. 

  6. mcspazatron

    mcspazatron Newbie

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the welcome.  I appreciate the tip about the drip pan for food on the top rack.  I didn't even think about that.  (Hmmm, my mind is already imagining making some sort of aqueduct system to route grease drippings straight to the bottom of the cold side of the chamber, lol).

    Regarding the chargriller:   I definitely got my money's worth out of it.  She was a good ship, and I was able to turn out a lot of good food with it, mostly butts, briskets, and (and burgers before the charcoal grate in the main chamber fell apart).  Chicken thighs never turned out as nice compared to the Webers though (I think the amount of airflow dried them out more).   I ended up modding it over the years to get a better seal on the door, and by bringing down the smoke stack outlet to near grate level, which helped a lot.  I haven't used it in the last couple of summers because of the corrosion has made it more difficult to clean out well and open up the firebox tray.  

    How did I fire it?  Poorly I would say :).  I stunk at it.   I tried stick burning with it,  but never really got proficient maintaining the fire with straight wood after my lump bed burned down.  It was probably harder for me to learn because the crazy weather here seemed to really change the amount of tending it needed, and I often felt like I was chasing my tail.  However, browsing around this site has already revealed some flaws to how I was cooking with straight wood, so hopefully I'll be able to eventually learn it.  Honestly, after learning a bit on here, I think I was trying too hard and overshooting, then choking down to much, rinsing and repeating.    I was exaggerating a bit with the nickname :) , but it didn't help seeing my buddy next to me cooking with with less than half of the fuel I was using for hours on end.   Most of the time I used lump along with either chunks or chips in a box because I was able to stay more consistent with temperatures.   Even though she's all used up now, the Chargriller was money well spent.  

    I'm hoping I can do the backyard cooker justice when I get it. 
  7. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I understand.  Thanks for the excellent explanation.

  8. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It's not just any drippings that are bad. The problem is with fowl. You don't really want fowl juices dripping on anything. Also, with a stick burner, don't try for an exact temp, try for a range of +/- 25* or less if you can, but don't worry. My smoker likes to run about 260-275* but my fires will work out to around 250-300*. I really don't worry about the spread because my recovery time is excellent.

    Good luck with the new smoker. Let us know how it goes. Joe
  9. mcspazatron

    mcspazatron Newbie

    Ewww, now that I think about it more, yeah, no chicken on top at the same time.   Especially if chicken would go on near the end of the cooking time of a brisket, now your talking the possibility of fresh fowl juice on a brisket if you're not careful.  Actually, since brisket needs to rest, their would be no reason it wouldn't be as easy to put them on when the brisket comes off.  It would be ready by the time the brisket's rested. 

    When you said that your fires work out to 250-300, do you mean that you're measuring the firebox temp?  Not sure if I understood correctly.   If so, then that's much more of a gentle fire than I thought you would need. 

    Thanks for the warm welcome guys. 
  10. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    No, those are cook chamber temps. I use a Maverick on the grate and 4 River Country therms on the doors. When you work it out, there are a therm on the left and right doors, just above the top grate and just above the lower grate, there is 1 at the FB and 1 at the stack. If you will blow up my avatar, you can see the therm locations. Let me know if you need any more information. If you need any real specifics, feel free to PM me.
  11. halfsmoked

    halfsmoked Master of the Pit Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to SMF sorry I'm no help to you about your new smoker. But as you can see the fine group here will step up and help as you can see all you have to do is ask. Enjoy

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