Smoking over an Open Pit

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by openpit, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. Does anyone have experience w/ or suggestions for smoking over an open pit?  I had fallen in love w/ the pit they have at the Salt Lick back in 1998 when I went to Driftwood for the first time.  I am having a similar (much smaller) pit built in my backyard and would love to get suggestions, comments, complaints, etc...

    I know there is no lid/top on the pit at the Salt Lick, what is the best way to smoke over an open fire?

    Also, does the size of the opening matter to heat loss?

    Here is the link to the plans I used.

    Here is my pit being constructed

    I am having the grate built now and look forward to firing it up for the first time by the end of the month.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2014
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Group Lead OTBS Member

    I think the most important thing is indirect heat.  Wish I could help more but I've never cooked like that.  I do whole pigs one in a great while over an open fire but the pig is on a spit in front of the fire.  We use plywood to block the wind and channel or radiate the heat toward the pig
  3. daveomak

    daveomak OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My open pit had the meat rack 32-34" above the fire.... In a pit that has an open front, like the one you are building and mine, you will need an "air block" for the opening.. I used a piece of steel sheet, about 20 gauge, to block the inflow of air... the fire will create a draft, sucking the fire to the back side of the pit and increasing heat because of the draft...
    You will have to experiment with your pit to figure out the "idios".. they all burn different and regulating the wind and fire and heat will take time.... they produce a very high quality BBQ, once you get stuff figured out.......
    If you look at pits at commercial BBQ joints, the pit is 4 sided with small air inlets placed around the bottom of the walls that can be adjusted or blocked off..... a meat rack below the top of the exterior walls, and a cover to keep in the smoke and heat......

  4. Thanks for the advice Dave! I was thinking of adding doors to the front for the air flow, that will allow me to let more or less air in as well. Do you have a cover for yours or do you ever cover anything you're cooking?  If so what do you cover it with?  Is covering the meat something that I should even be concerned w/?
  5. daveomak

    daveomak OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I covered the meat with aluminum foil.... sometimes made a tent, of foil, to add heat to the top side of things like salmon..... hard to flip a fileted salmon...
  6. I want the top of mine opened will I need to flip meat during the cook?
  7. daveomak

    daveomak OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For salmon,  I do not recommend flipping...     Use a tent similar to this drawing.... on pic to enlarge.......


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