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Fueling the fire

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Post Sat Jul 03, 2004 12:11 pm
Q-Bert raw
raw

Posts: 2
I've been barbecuing for a little while on an offset box rig (Brinkmann) and have had pretty good luck. However I've been reading around and see that there are varying opinions on how to add fuel to the fire. I've been starting with lump charcoal and adding soaked hickory chunks or sticks. Periodically I refresh with more (cold) lump charcoal and/or wet sticks. I've heard some say that you should never feed your fire with anything but already glowing coals, as cold charcoal or wood will give off creosote, etc at the beginning of their combustion leading to bitter BBQ.

Any thoughts on this matter? Have as anyone found it conclusively worthwhile to have a separate "feeder" fire when BBQ'ing over a long period (i.e. that 16 hour brisket, etc).

Thanks -

Q-Bert

Post Sat Jul 03, 2004 2:11 pm
ThrRoff well done
well done

Posts: 999
Location: Washington, DC

Q-bert,

Welcome to the Board. I am sure you will get lots of advice on this one. I too have a Brinkman offset. I start my fire with a chimney using briquettes. When those are covered with ashes I add chunks of wood. When the fire needs a boost, I have simply added a few more briquettes or at times lump, and have not bothered to get them burning in the chimney. I have never had say my Q tastes like chemicals. I am going to guess many others here have the opposite opinion. Some good experiments are probably in order.
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Post Sat Jul 03, 2004 8:23 pm
urslow raw
raw

Posts: 3
Location: Tacoma, Washington
I to have an offset Brinkman, but I have NEVER used it. So I have a few stupid questions about doing ribs. I assume that the fuel coal and chips should be placed in the smaller chamber, correct? How long should I cook the ribs, and are there any special suggestion you can offer to make this easier.

Thanks for your patience,
Al

Post Sun Jul 04, 2004 3:20 pm
Guest

Al,

That's right, the fire goes in the lower box. Food goes in the upper box for indirect cookin' (aka barbecue). For direct grilling, you can cook in either section directly over the fire.

Your instructions will have some info on 'curing' the pit before you cook in it. I'd highly recommend doing so or else your first attempt will no doubt taste like paint fumes and other junk that should have been burned off.

For ribs - Steven's books have many recipies which I'd recommend. If you don't have his books they're worth the $$ to get started. (And I'm not just saying that b/c we're on his website.) The one thing I'd say about ribs or any pig product (I assume you didn't mean beef ribs) I'd recommend a brine as it buys you a lot of insurance on drying out. I'd also recommend a bi-metal digital meat thermometer - Polder and Taylor are common brands available in supermarkets for cheap. 195 is the magic temperature for fall off the bone tender.

Best of luck to you -

Post Sun Jul 04, 2004 3:34 pm
urslow raw
raw

Posts: 3
Location: Tacoma, Washington
Thanks, for the advice, I do have 2 of Steve's books, and they are great.

Post Sun Jul 04, 2004 9:24 pm
Vinsect well done
well done

Posts: 576
Location: Middle Tennessee
I have a Char-Broil Siver Smoker which is pretty much the same thing. I've done several combinations of fire arangements and I love that these smokers offer so much versatility.
I primarily cook over oak wood and keep at least one feeder fire going.
Some times I will throw oak directky in my smoker, especially if I want to make a sharp increase in my heat.
I always start charcoal briquettes off in my chimney starter and if a piece of wood has any fungus on it I start it off in my chimney starter or a feeder fire.
I have a hibachi grill that makes a great outdoor fireplace with the grates off.
There are afew advantages to using a feeder fire.
No bitter flavors from charcoal or fungus.
Even temperature repleneshment. Fresh chunks of wood have more of a tendancy to heat spike.
Also, if my smoker is getting too hot I can move coals from the smoker back to the feeder fire.
If it aint broke, Break it!
Then rebuild it better.

Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 3:15 am
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5900
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
I find that if I'm using briquettes instead of lump charcoal I really need to start them in the chimney starter first. Otherwise the meat can get a bit sooty. Briquettes throw off a lot of black smoke and dust when they are first lit, and I find that this can give the crust of the meat a bit of an off flavor.

With an offset firebox this should be less of a problem, but with a vertical water smoker you really need to prestart the fuel.

Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:53 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
I agree with the point of there being a difference in offset versus vertical. Having used both I can see where flare ups and prelighting are very important in a vertical but less so in an offset.
For short smokes I use lump to start and unstarted wood to continue.
For long smokes I use charcoal to start and a handful of charcoal and unlit wood to continue.

But I'm coming to realize that like rubs and sauces there is no wrong way for the fire. I've seen wood, lump, charcoal, bark, no bark, green wood, dry wood, pre lit and unlit. And all claim great success.
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Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 4:29 pm
Guest

Thanks all, this has been very helpful. One of these times I'll try a supplemental fire for a long Q and see if it makes much difference. I'm guessing that since I use lump almost exclusively and damp down the airflow a lot, there's not going to be a ton of flare and thereby not a lot of bad stuff being given off. But it'll be worth a try the other way to see if the additional work is worth it.

Thanks -

Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 11:26 pm
Vinsect well done
well done

Posts: 576
Location: Middle Tennessee
See I knew Grand Scale wasn't a real fire-newbie.
GS, you may score with the charcoal girl after all.
:wink:

Image
If it aint broke, Break it!
Then rebuild it better.

Post Wed Jul 07, 2004 8:18 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
:D
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