hello, first timer here

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hello, first timer here

Post  arthursmith on Sun Mar 29, 2009 6:27 pm

hi all

i've just taken delivery of an amigo smoker, and am trying to prepare for a first smoke next weekend, but i have a few questions, sorry.

i'm going to smoke a chicken as a starter, and my questions are ;

having bought briquettes to try and keep a steady and long lasting heat, how many do i need to put in ? i know that it'll vary from smoke to smoke depending on what's in the smoker, but so i can try for a successful first time, can anyone give me a clue to the amount needed ? having assembled the amigo, i think it would be very difficult to add more briquettes through the door as the water bowl is in the way.

stupidly, i forgot to order a charcoal starter ( and a thermometer ), so is it okay just to light the briquettes in the pan with a bit of paper until i get one sorted ?

next, how much water goes in the pan ? just a rough idea to get me started. i know that i can keep an eye on it and add if i need to, but what would anyone advise as a starting point ?

i bought the flavoured pellets as well, and i understand that they go in a foil wrap with hole is it, does this go in at the start on top of the briquettes ?

and lastly, thank you for getting this far,

would you advise putting the chicken on the bottom rack or the top one ?

enough questions from me, but a few pointers to get me going would be appreciated as i'm really looking forward to this.

thanks

arthur

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Re: hello, first timer here

Post  Mack on Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:29 pm

Hi Arthur and welcome to the forum. I'll try and answer your questions as best as I can...
arthursmith wrote:

having bought briquettes to try and keep a steady and long lasting heat, how many do i need to put in ? i know that it'll vary from smoke to smoke depending on what's in the smoker, but so i can try for a successful first time, can anyone give me a clue to the amount needed ? having assembled the amigo, i think it would be very difficult to add more briquettes through the door as the water bowl is in the way.
I would fill the charcoal pan with briquettes... I hate running low on charcoal halfway through a cook and it also depends on what brand of charcoal you are using. You're going to need it to run for about 3. 5 hours. Once you get used to the unit, you can try to get the charcoal amount just right.

stupidly, i forgot to order a charcoal starter ( and a thermometer ), so is it okay just to light the briquettes in the pan with a bit of paper until i get one sorted ?
Yes you can just start the charcoal directly in the pan. To check whether the chicken is done, insert a knife into the thickest part of the thigh and if the juices run clear (no blood) it should be ready.

next, how much water goes in the pan ? just a rough idea to get me started. i know that i can keep an eye on it and add if i need to, but what would anyone advise as a starting point ?
On a chicken, I usually fill it only a 3rd of the way, as I like to run the pan empty for the last hour of the cook, as this helps to get a crispy skin. Remember to use hot/ boiling water when you start.

i bought the flavoured pellets as well, and i understand that they go in a foil wrap with hole is it, does this go in at the start on top of the briquettes ?
Once you have the chicken in and the lid on, pop a sachet of the pellets directly onto the charcoal (through the door). I prefer to use chips or chunks of wood.

and lastly, thank you for getting this far,

would you advise putting the chicken on the bottom rack or the top one ?
Not much difference really, but I would usually put it on the top rack. Remember, smoke will make the flesh of the chicken go pink, don't mistake this as being underdone, the safest method is with a good quality, calibrated probe thermometer.

enough questions from me, but a few pointers to get me going would be appreciated as i'm really looking forward to this.

thanks

arthur

Hope this helps and you enjoy your 1st cook, post some pictures if you can.

Ian
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Re: hello, first timer here

Post  arthursmith on Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:57 pm

thanks for that.

the more i read on this forum, the more i learn, fantastic.

just one thing, with the amigo do i smoke with the lid vent closed ? i've read that the others with closed bottoms need it open, but nothing is mentioned about the amigo.

thanks

arthur

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Re: hello, first timer here

Post  steveheyes on Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:04 pm

Sound advice for you there from Mack as always. You always need to run with your top cent open, closing it will kill your fire.
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Re: hello, first timer here

Post  Mack on Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:59 pm

steveheyes wrote: You always need to run with your top cent open, closing it will kill your fire.

100% Correct Steve!

Closing the top vent (sometimes even slightly) affects the airflow/ draw through the unit and may cause your fire to go out.

Another point to remember, is that you only need a wisp of smoke comming out of the vent, rather than billowing smoke, to flavour your food.
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Re: hello, first timer here

Post  arthursmith on Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:44 pm

the sitting waiting is killing me Very Happy

i've got 3kg of briquettes going slowly white in the smoker, the chicken and the pork are ready to go, the kettle's boiling for the water tray...

just need the bl**dy charcoal to go white, then it's load up and wait some more.

must just be first smoke nerves i suppose Very Happy Very Happy

arthur

update. well after 1.75 hours the chicken has been put into the oven. total disaster.

where did i go wrong ?

i put 3 kg of weber premium briquettes in to the pan, lit them and waited for the to go white.

then i filled the water bowl up to about a third with boiling water and put the chicken and a piece of pork onto the top shelf of the amigo.

the temperature never got above 150f for any of the hour and three quarters, so seeing as how i want something to eat tonight, it was into the oven with the chicken.

do i need more than 3kg of briquettes to get the temp up ?

also, how do you add more coals to the amigo ? the gap between the charcoal bowl and the bottom of the water bowl is at best 5cms wide. as far as i can see i have to dismantle the unit and lift out the water bowl to add more coals, this surely isn't right, is it ?

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Re: hello, first timer here

Post  Adam on Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:24 am

I'm going to weigh in here as I use an Amigo and have done a fair few chickens. Keep at it, it is possible. It took me about 3 tries before I started to figure it out.

I think you are using too much charcoal. 2kg should be more than enough. I have found that putting too much charcoal in the Amigo and spreading it evenly can cause it to choke and not burn properly. Rather than that you should make sure there is a gap in the coals leaving a section of the coal grate exposed which seems to help air to get in under there and maintain a better burn. I always make sure the gap is next to the door so it is easier to manage. My best performance so far was a solid 5 hours at around 210f.

I also think you could use a lot less water but be prepared to top the bowl up with more hot water every hour or so.

By the way I am using Weber heat beads which are presumably very similar to what you are using.

Yes refueling is an utter pig, you get used to it though.

A

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Re: hello, first timer here

Post  steveheyes on Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:09 am

Hey Arthur,

I don't know the Amigo as I don't have one, but my understandign from other Amigo posts around here is that it should burn happily at around 220F-250F.

If I were you I'd take Adam's advice because he knows the cooker but also on your next attempt, take pictures at every stage and post them up here if you have problems, that way we can see your set up and probably diagnose the problem.

On an E20 I use about 5KG of briquettes/lump mixed for an eight hour burn, however, I always light it minion method and my initial burning mass is less than a kilo. My E20 with 3 stackers (probably twice the colume of an Amigo) will get up to 230F easily and maintain it. So I'd guess you're using enough charcoal.

How are you lighting? Are you going with a minion method or are you lighting up a whole 3KG of briquettes in one go?

Also you commented about waiting for coals to go white as if it was an incredibly long time. I'm just wondering if you are lighting 3KG at once and waiting for every coal to be white, i.e. are you actually burning the coal out before you start cooking? I very much doubt it but without pictures I don't know what's wrong so will explore every avenue.

Take a look at http://gallery.me.com/steveheyes#100030&bgcolor=black&view=grid and you'll see how I set up. Different cooker but similar principle. I assume Minion works on an Amigo.

Good luck and keep at it. We'll all help you out on here and you'll end up with the best meat you've ever had!

One further note - where are you gettign the 150F temperature from? IF it is the lid thermometer, have you calibrated it? Even after calibrating I find mine is a bit out but if yours is not calibrated it could be well off, mine was.

Steve


Last edited by steveheyes on Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:12 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added another question)
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