First smoke - questions

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First smoke - questions

Post  BossHogg on Sun Aug 31, 2008 5:31 pm

Hi everyone -

I just got my Excel 20 yesterday and I'm doing my first smoke today - a 7 lb pork butt. I'm about 3 hours in so far, but I have a few questions:

First - I'm using a maverick thermometer and the temp shows about a 20 degree difference (the excel is holding steady at about 210 and the maverick is showing about 190). I'm assuming this is just a calibration issue?

Second - I'm 3 hours in to the smoke and the maverick is showing my butt at 140 degrees. Is this too high? if so, what am i doing wrong? If the maverick is correct, I'm only smoking at about 190 degrees.

Third - about how often should I add more charcoal? I added some at about 2.5 hours, when the temp on the maverick started dipping down to the 170's.

Sorry for all the questions, I'm just hoping I'm not going to ruin my first attempt.
Eric

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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  Dr_KY on Sun Aug 31, 2008 5:49 pm

BossHogg wrote:Hi everyone -

I just got my Excel 20 yesterday and I'm doing my first smoke today - a 7 lb pork butt. I'm about 3 hours in so far, but I have a few questions:

First - I'm using a maverick thermometer and the temp shows about a 20 degree difference (the excel is holding steady at about 210 and the maverick is showing about 190). I'm assuming this is just a calibration issue?

Second - I'm 3 hours in to the smoke and the maverick is showing my butt at 140 degrees. Is this too high? if so, what am i doing wrong? If the maverick is correct, I'm only smoking at about 190 degrees.

Third - about how often should I add more charcoal? I added some at about 2.5 hours, when the temp on the maverick started dipping down to the 170's.

Sorry for all the questions, I'm just hoping I'm not going to ruin my first attempt.
Eric

What Mavrick are you using the ET-73? Are your batterys new?

The temp at the grate will always be closer to the truth for you the dome temp is a simi accurate guess.

I would only add fuel as needed and try to add fair sized chunks as not to smother the burning stuff. Are you using lump or briqs?

As for the internal temp check and see that you are not in a fat pocket as it's usuall hotter than the actual meat.
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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  BossHogg on Sun Aug 31, 2008 6:06 pm

Thanks - yes, I'm using the ET-73 and the batteries are new.

I think I figured out the temp difference in the meat thermometer. I really didnt want to open the unit, but after your suggestion about the fat pocket, I decided to open it and reposition the thermometer and the butt. I noticed that the thermometer was touching the cooking grate. I'm assuming that is what was causing the temp to read so high.

I'm also wondering if I added too much charcoal. I'm using lump and I put quite a bit on when I added more at 2.5 hrs.

Thanks again!
Eric

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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  Dr_KY on Sun Aug 31, 2008 6:48 pm

Nahh don't worry about too much fuel just remember to always keep the top vent all the way open and make your adjustments from the bottom three. You will find that too much 'shake' ( small crumbles of lump) may choke your fire down so try and keep with nice splits of it..
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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  BossHogg on Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:22 pm

Thanks again - I think I may finally have it all worked out. only 6 more hours to go!

Eric

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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  ThomEmery on Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:49 pm

Should be able to run the whole cook on one load of charcoal
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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  Shrike on Mon Sep 01, 2008 4:40 am

ThomEmery wrote:Should be able to run the whole cook on one load of charcoal

true - but I do not think he said what method he is using -

That is, did he dump one or two lit chimnies into the basket and leave it as that - or did he fill the basket full of raw briq/ lump and use say 10 lit coals in the true minion method - Any verification Hogg? Think we might be able to help there!

(ps - one time in a wsm made me a true beliver in the strict minion method. someone on another forum had 16 hours in an excell 20 with a full basket using minion, and after the second hour, he did not touch it.
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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  BossHogg on Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:36 pm

Hi guys - the cook turned out OK, but not perfect. The pork butt smoked for almost 14 hours, which is longer than I anticipated. I took it off at 10:30PM and wrapped it in foil overnight. While the meat was cooked nicely and kind of tender, it wasn't falling off the bone. The taste was good though and everyone that ate it enjoyed it.
The 2 chickens came out beautifully, and even better, the rack of ribs I put on after the chickens came off came out the best of the 3 items. (the chickens and ribs were for the family on the day of cooking, the pulled pork was for a tailgate the next day)

I think my problem was definitely in the charcoal method. I put one lit chimney in the basket. After about 2 hours I added another, but I didnt think there was enough on there, so I kept adding to it. It sounds like you guys are recommending filling the basket about 2/3 with unlit charcoal and then adding a lit chimney on top of it?
The other problem I had, was that I had a hard time keeping the temp above 200 degrees. I think the bulk of my cook was done at about 190-195. I'm guessing my constant fussing had something to do with it, but do you have any other advice on better controlling temperature?

Thanks!
Eric

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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  Dr_KY on Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:12 am

I'm starting to wonder if lifting the basket away from the bottom will help you any.
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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  coonjack on Fri Sep 05, 2008 2:35 pm

I would try the minion, I just recieved my excel so no exp. there but with my wsm I add 20 to 25 lit coals to a basket, temps come up fine. I'm thinking it may take alittle more as the excel is large. I'll know more after this weekend, I hope.

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Re: First smoke - questions

Post  BossHogg on Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:23 pm

what about the water pan? I had it a little over half full at the beginning and added more (hot water) to it about halfway through. Would more or less water help?

Eric

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