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Temp issues - Is it time for a controller?

robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,907
edited July 2012 in EggHead Forum
OK - First it was burning lump to fast.  I have not done a long cook on the egg since.

Now the last two cooks I have issues keeping the temps locked in.  Did a meatloaf and it turned out tasting like a firepit (Nasty smoke flavor)

Last night I was trying to cook a flank steak that I marinated in mexican beer, cilantro, peppers/onions.

I heated the Egg up to 400 (20 minutes to that temp) and let it stay there for ~20 more minutes - Temp did not change.

I put the flank steak on the Egg and was planning for 9 minutes a side.  Well after 9 minutes the temps were at 425.  I flipped the steak and walked away from the egg for 5 minutes.  Came back to 525 on the dome.  UGH.  I tested the meat with two POS thermometers (Big box store crap)  I have and it said 160 degrees.  Took it off and let it rest for 10 minutes - sliced it up and it was no where near done.  Medium raw side.  It was edible but I could and have done better on the gas grill.

I really doubt my abilities to cook and even more on this thing.  I know the Egg is supposed to be the best cooker but I am lost.  I am finding it hard to get the egg up to temp in a reasonable amount of time (Bad for weeknight cooks when I get home at 7:00 PM).  And once I get it to a temp I burn through lump fast or after a 1/2 hour the temp will jump ~100+ degrees.

I have tried these cooks:
BB Ribs - Came out good
Spatchcock chicken - came out OK but I think it might have been undercooked.
BB Ribs again - blah
Flank steak - ok
Turbo Pork shoulder - not worth repeating
Chicken wings - good
Meatloaf - Booo
Flank steak marinated - blah

Since getting the egg
Cooked Grass fed burgers on the gasser - Very Good
Chicken wings - good

I have the big adjustable rig (Stone), High-Que grate, plate setter, Map-Torch, - Allot of money invested and really don't want to waste anymore money on stuff that is not working for me.  What am I doing wrong?  Is there a better way to learn how to use the Egg? and cook?

_______________________________________________________________
LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


Garnerville, NY
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Comments

  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 16,244
    I recall your prior thread about lump consumption-did you go back to square-one and start out with fresh lump and everything checked out as mentioned with the prior thread...if so and the temp is still all over the place then it just does not add up.  As you well know-once the lump is lit the whole thing runs on air-flow through the BGE.  You certainly should be able to get a constant air-flow that will give you resonably stable temps from 200 up through 600-700*F.  And you are right about using accurate thermos to check for doneness-Wish I had more to offer-
    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer.  
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,907
    I have not done a long low and slow cook so I am not sure on the lump usage.  I have used a full firebox (Dumped the lump in) for two 2 hours cooks so far adn there is still some lump left.  Those cooks should have been at 350 and 400 but the temps fluctuate allot so I am not sure.

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 16,244
    You may want to change up dumping the lump straight from the bag.  You end up with lots of small pieces (shake) and dust that can clog the air holes-although with the High-Que I'm told that is not an issue.  Beyond the air-flow issue nothing jumps out at me as a cause.  I always stir the used lump, move it toward the back and then add the fresh lump and build around the bigger pieces on the bottom.  For low&slows-I clean out everything and start anew.  Got me-hopefully others will drop in and have some alternatives.
    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer.  
  • MrCookingNurseMrCookingNurse Posts: 4,628
    Hmm. Never had these problems you speak of. Make sure your fire is well established and temp is set hard.

    What kind of lump u using?

    Bad taste could come from your fire not being ready and putting meat on too soon. Temperature changes won't affect taste, just tenderness.


    _______________________________________________

    XLBGE 
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,907
    Hmm. Never had these problems you speak of. Make sure your fire is well established and temp is set hard.

    What kind of lump u using?

    Bad taste could come from your fire not being ready and putting meat on too soon. Temperature changes won't affect taste, just tenderness.
    I am guessing a lump of hickory did not get lit on during setup and caught fire during the cook for the bad taste.

    I am now using Royal Oak Red.

    I do not believe there is anything wrong with the Egg - I just dont have a clue.

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,535

    Show us some pictures of your set up, particularly the amount of lump
    you are starting with. Then maybe what is left after you are done. You
    might want to visit an eggfest or hook up with someone who lives close
    by to get some pointers first hand.

  • MrCookingNurseMrCookingNurse Posts: 4,628
    Well all your lump isn't going to be "lit"

    Watch your smoke coming out of the egg. What I do, and doesn't mean it's right, is let my fire get good and established up into 400 500 degrees. After about 300 the smoke changes from white/grey to clear and that is when it's good to go. It also smells like somethig you'd wanna eat. I messed up a lot of stuff before I figured out it takes a good 30 min or so to have your lump egg temp set and ready. Or longer.

    I've only used royal oak red and I love it. It's only thing I can buy besides cowboy and I've seen scary things with cowboy odd stuff found in it. I think naked whiz had it on a avoid rating once.


    Someone with more eggsperience will prolly chime in soon but I would not get a temp controller for this problem. How long have you had your egg? They take some getting used to. I'm on about 4 months now.


    _______________________________________________

    XLBGE 
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,837
    I have to say your reports are some of the most perplexing I've read.

    Let me ask a few questions based on:

    "I put the flank steak on the Egg and was planning for 9 minutes a side. 
    Well after 9 minutes the temps were at 425.  I flipped the steak and
    walked away from the egg for 5 minutes.  Came back to 525 on the dome. 
    UGH.  I tested the meat with two POS thermometers (Big box store crap)  I
    have and it said 160 degrees.  Took it off and let it rest for 10
    minutes - sliced it up and it was no where near done.  Medium raw side. 
    It was edible but I could and have done better on the gas grill."

    Basic question, were you cooking direct or indirect? If direct, 9 minutes w. dome at 400 seems reasonable to me, if just a little long. And, without an indirect device to even things out, there will be hot and "cool" spots. Assume if you are grilling direct, the food will need to be flipped and/or moved around every 5 minutes or so. Its easy to have a hot spot in one place, but nowhere else. The dome therm gives an average reading, but one side of the grill might be a couple of hundred degrees different than the other.

    The temp rises I suppose are dome therm readings. I would expect temp jumps every time the dome is opened. Its one of those things that can be misleading. Whenever the dome is opened, the rush of air will boost the fire, and some time later, the dome therm will show that. The overall temperature has not change. Its just a transient effect, and will disappear about as fast as it appeared.

    Going up to 525 is outside of my experience. Are you using the Hi-Q grate all the time? Several people have commented that the Hi-Q will make a hotter fire than what comes from the same vent settings w. the stock grate. My understanding was that the Hi-Q is aimed at producing searing temps. If so, normal dome openings will produce greater temperature variations.

    Nevertheless, even though the temperature was pretty hot, your report the meat was medium raw. And on top of that, the cheapo thermometers read 160, which is well done.

    Can I assume you have just used gassers before? If so, I'd suppose your cooking habits are not relevant to using the Egg. Even after 20 years of cooking w. just  charcoal, it took me 6 months to forget methods I had developed that just did not work on the Egg.

    Drop back to basics. Just slice away a small wedge, and see how pink the inside of the meat was. After a little practice, you will get an intuition about how well done (or not) a piece of meat is.

    And, get a decent thermometer. Sailing a ship dead reckoning worked, kind of. Cooking by chamber temperature and time is about as reliable. You've already spent a good bit of money, but do look into a better thermometer.

    Practice makes perfect.
  • Rich_ieRich_ie Posts: 268
    Sounds like your bottom vent is way to far open. Did you leave the dome up when you walked away? How are you starting your lump? If you are just starting it in one place as it starts moving it will get hotter. I use a chimney to start the lump and dump it over the top. Dome temps and grill temps are almost never the same and the lump will not burn at 250
    ° if you think it will turn your over on and put a piece of lump in at 250 and wait. it might smolder but it wont burn. You have to make sure your fire is burning and you are controlling it with the vents. A 1 inch fire will put out some heat when it gets bigger it is hotter cut the air down and thats when you are in control.  :-B
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,907
    Dome closed when I walked away - just opened to flip the steak then closed.

    Bottom vent opened ~1.5 inches - DW vents open 1/2 way.

    When I have done low and slow (250-275) bottom vent needed to be ~1/2 inch open or more and the DW vents open.

    The meatloaf was the first meal that tasted really bad due to bad smoke.  The flank steak was cooked direct. 

    Last nights cook I lit the lump in 4 spots to get it going faster.    For the next low and slow (If it happens) I was gong to light only one spot.

    In the past I have only used gas grills (I got a Weber Genesis) besides the occasional charcoal briquets at a tailgate to cook burgers.  Comparing the two rib cooks I did on the egg vs the rib cooks I did on the gasser with a small smoke box and mopping the gasser ribs were better which should not be the case.

    Want to try another spatchcock chicken this week if I can find a way to get the grill up to cooking temp and steady fast.  Dont want to eat dinner at 10:00 at night.

    BTW - the wife is hounding me for a brisket but I am no where close to trying that and wasting the money on a good piece of meat.



    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • MrCookingNurseMrCookingNurse Posts: 4,628
    edited July 2012
    Half inch and daisy wheel open is REALLY OPEN! My low and slow is barely cracked for about 250.

    I think what is happening is your fire is my established and you are putting meat on before the smoke is ready. Only thing I can think of. Other than that I am stumped. And always make sure your air vents are open and not a lot of ash hanging out

    What are you lighting your lump with??


    _______________________________________________

    XLBGE 
  • I got my BGE for Father's day.  I have cooked on it at least twice a week since including ribs for 5 hours and a pork butt for 13 hours.  I honestly chased the temp on the ribs.  Opened the vent temp soared, closed the vent the temp slowly went down until it was too low and I would start the cycle over again.  Ribs came out great but I did have to watch the Egg constantly.

    I have done more reading and more trial and error and realized that I had the bottom vent opened too much and was trying to control too much with the DW.  I have found that with the fire established and stable...about 30 minutes to 45 minutes for low and slow...the bottom vent is opened 3/8 to half an inch, maybe a smidge more or less and the DW vents opened about an 1/8 of an inch.  That gets my temp to about 250.

    I also learned that obviously the fire needs air.  I felt like when I started with the small openings that my fire would slowly die and if I opened up just a bit my temp would go above 250.  I live in a hot humid area that sometimes has no breeze.  I found that if I could control the breeze to a constant level I would have better control of the temp.  I have been putting a fan about 4 feet from the Egg and letting it run on low.  I have now controlled the breeze.

    I cooked the pork butt this past weekend at an average around 250.  I had my maverick type of temp monitor setup to warn me if temp went above 265 or below 220.  It woke me up up once when temp got above 265.  I went outside and turned my breeze off for a little while until the temp began going down...I assume one of the hickory chunks ignited and caused the temp to spike.  The butt was wonderful.

    Sorry so long winded but I am trying to demonstrate that you need to control as much as you can and airflow is the key.  This Egg is trial and error without doubt...best of luck to you.

  • Rich_ieRich_ie Posts: 268
    1.5 open bottom vent my Xl would be at 500-600. way to hot for grillin. "The meatloaf was the first meal that tasted really bad due to bad smoke.  The flank steak was cooked direct." I'm thinking you need to let the fire burn and wait till the smoke smells good before you start your cook. When I light my egg I leave the bottom vent 1/2 open with the dome open for 8-10 minutes. Then I close it down to the temp I need. It looks like its to hot at 1st but if you wait (5-8minutes)  it will come down. I hope this helps.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,837
    "Bottom vent opened ~1.5 inches - DW vents open 1/2 way."

    Seems reasonable for maybe 400 dome. But again, I'm puzzled, because a direct cook is mostly heating the meat thru IR, not air temp. And the IR is much more intense. Think of moving your arm into the sun in a hot car. As hot as the car is, once in the sun, skin gets burned. I'm perplexed as to why the meat was not charred some, but the inside still raw.

    Not in my experience to get over 500 w. that setting. Again, Hi-Q grate?

    Maybe forget the steady temperature. I obsessed about steady temps for 6 months, and it got me nowhere. Finally learned that if the temp was not steady, I needed to change the cooking time, and watch how the food looked. And take its temperature.

    Do a sacrificial cook. Light the fire. Leave the bottom vent open about 1", and the daisy petals half. I'd expect a final temperature of maybe 350. It will probably take longer to burn clear, because of the constricted air flow. Then take a single chicken leg quarter, room temperature, and put it on, direct, raised. Note the dome therm temp, but don't make any adjustments because of it. Just turn the chicken every 10 to 15 minutes. If some portion looks burnt at any turn, move the leg to another place. If it is getting charred no matter where it is, start flipping more often, every 5 minutes. The point is not to have something good, but to just observe how the meat is cooking.

    Whatever the curious nature of your Egg is, you should be able to figure out how to estimate what you will get on the average.

    And no, don't try a brisket. Conceivably, you might have a stroke of great luck, but briskets are never easy. Do something simple, like a fattie.

    FWIW, I didn't try an over nighter for nearly 9 months, that's how bad i was at keeping any temperature steady.
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,907
    Fattie?

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • tgklemantgkleman Posts: 216
    On the other side of the question, "is it time for a controller?"... It is my experience that they work very well, especially for low and slows.  So if your wife wants a brisket, and you want some success on your egg, it might not be a bad idea.  You can always come back and play around with the vent openings to figure out temperature.

    I completely accept the notion that you don't need a controller, and the egg is capable of holding rock steady temps.  But... with a controller, you don't have to check the temp, because they will typically hold to +/- 1 degree.  For me, I wanted to start making some good food, without watching the egg constantly making sure the temp wasn't moving.

    I use my controller for  low and slows as well as for anything up to about 350F that takes more than an hour or so to cook.  For pizza and stir fry and paella, I just use the DW and vent door.  That being said, most of the cooks dont call for the controller, only the long ones at a specif temp.

    Good luck with figuring this out,  I am sure you will.
  • tazcrashtazcrash Posts: 1,852
    Fwiw, if I'm cooking over 350, i don't use the daisy wheel up top.
    When I cook low and slow (with a hi-que) the bottom is open so narrow it looks like a quarter slot on an old payphone (dating myself), maybe less.
    Something I learned in the past and just keep using is to try not to restrict airflow from the top. It can lead to some "bad" smoke. Does it apply to the egg? Not sure, but it works for me.
    Bx - > NJ ->TX!!! 
    All to get cheaper brisket! 
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,907
    If I have the bottom vent open that small the temp will be below 200.

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • AleBrewerAleBrewer Posts: 555
    I don't know if this will help or not, but it's how I get my large going for a low n slow cook. I clean it out completely. I make sure all the air holes in the firebox are clear, and then I put the lower grate in. I fill it with lump, I just kinda pour it in, I use Royal Oak(red bag) I don't spend a whole lotta time sorting the coal.....I know many people do....I just haven't really had to yet.

    I then use a small propane torch and light the lump in 2-3 places. I leave the lid up for a bit to make sure the lump is lit. Once I see that things are taking off, I'll lower the lid, but I leave the daisy wheel off, and the lower vent wide open. I'll let it burn for a bit, and keep an eye on the temp. Just cause the thermo is reading 300, that doesn't mean the whole egg is up to 300. Once I see most of the heavy smoke burning off, I'll start closing vents to where I think they should be. For 250, my lower vent is about 1/4"-5/16" and the daisy wheel is cracked to about 1/4 of the way closed. I then let my egg stabilize temps before putting meat on. When you put the meat on, the temp will drop a bit....give it some time to recover before making any adjustments.

    I would try and get this figured out before you worry about a PID controller. If the controller craps out in the middle of a long cook....you'll be the one controlling the fire.

    Have some patience, and make small adjustments to your vents. You will get this figured out.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,837
    Fattie?
    A basic fattie is a whole pork sausage roll that has been coated with rub, and smoked. Then, at the end, brushed w. sauce. They are almost always a little fancier than that, and sometimes a lot fancier.

    Mostly an easy cook. Hard to burn more than just a bit of the outrside. They baste themselves when rolled around while cooking.

    Where I live, the best sausage for a fattie, in my opinion, is the Jimmy Dean regular. Simple method. Slice open the packaging. Completely cover the sausage roll in rub. (Note: both the sausage and the rub have salt, so the results may end up a little to salty, depending) Cook direct, or indirect, w. the dome around 250. If direct, turn frequently. Indirect is most often used. Just a foil pan, or pie plate. Cook till 165F. I expect 1.5 hours. Coo a bitl, slice, enjoy.

    Or, slice down the middle, and put a little cheese into it. Close the ground meat back up, being careful to pack the end. The cheese will expand some, and burst thru where it can.

    Or get fancy. Place the sausage roll on a piece of plastic wrap. Smoosh out, and roll till its a flat rectangle. Place shredded cheese, chopped peppers, sun dried tomatoes, herbs, pesto, etc on the slab and re-roll. Weave bacon all around. Cook, and finish w. sauce or maple syrup.


  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,535
    Please do yourself a favor and post some pictures of what you are doing because you keep saying the right things but for some reason you are getting results that just don't make sense, not only to yourself but the others here that are trying to help. Pictures sometimes tell a more complete story.
  • JWBurnsJWBurns Posts: 341
    Fwiw, if I'm cooking over 350, i don't use the daisy wheel up top.
    When I cook low and slow (with a hi-que) the bottom is open so narrow it looks like a quarter slot on an old payphone (dating myself), maybe less.
    Something I learned in the past and just keep using is to try not to restrict airflow from the top. It can lead to some "bad" smoke. Does it apply to the egg? Not sure, but it works for me.
    When you say you don't use the daisy wheel, do you mean it's completely off?

  • MrCookingNurseMrCookingNurse Posts: 4,628
    Please do yourself a favor and post some pictures of what you are doing because you keep saying the right things but for some reason you are getting results that just don't make sense, not only to yourself but the others here that are trying to help. Pictures sometimes tell a more complete story.
    X2

    The more I read the more confused I am.


    _______________________________________________

    XLBGE 
  • Wish I had something to add to help out. I'm at a loss. 

    One thing I can think of: Are you sure your daisy is not getting readjusted when you open the dome and check on your food? Look on Naked Whiz and there is a good article with photos on how to make sure you hold temps even when opening and closing the egg. Sounds to me like that might have happened to you on your steak cook when the temp spiked.It can also shut down and choke temps if you don't have it lined up right as well.

    Just a thought................

    We'll keep thinking about it and see if we can come up with something. hopefully somebody smarter than me will give this some thought :))




    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • SamFerriseSamFerrise Posts: 547
    Don't buy an EGG unless you know what you are doing.  It is an expensive item and you should get your stuff together before you step into it.

    Simple ingredients, amazing results!
  • tazcrashtazcrash Posts: 1,852
    Fwiw, if I'm cooking over 350, i don't use the daisy wheel up top.
    When I cook low and slow (with a hi-que) the bottom is open so narrow it looks like a quarter slot on an old payphone (dating myself), maybe less.
    Something I learned in the past and just keep using is to try not to restrict airflow from the top. It can lead to some "bad" smoke. Does it apply to the egg? Not sure, but it works for me.
    When you say you don't use the daisy wheel, do you mean it's completely off?

    Yep. Didn't think it could or should be done, but it can.

    Bx - > NJ ->TX!!! 
    All to get cheaper brisket! 
  • MrCookingNurseMrCookingNurse Posts: 4,628
    Fwiw, if I'm cooking over 350, i don't use the daisy wheel up top.
    When I cook low and slow (with a hi-que) the bottom is open so narrow it looks like a quarter slot on an old payphone (dating myself), maybe less.
    Something I learned in the past and just keep using is to try not to restrict airflow from the top. It can lead to some "bad" smoke. Does it apply to the egg? Not sure, but it works for me.
    When you say you don't use the daisy wheel, do you mean it's completely off?

    Yep. Didn't think it could or should be done, but it can.


    I never use mine unless I'm under 350. Same as you taz


    _______________________________________________

    XLBGE 
  • Don't buy an EGG unless you know what you are doing.  It is an expensive item and you should get your stuff together before you step into it.
    Disagree. I didn't know anything about charcoal cooking when I bought mine.
    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • BrownieBrownie Posts: 1,023
    Hang in there robnybbq It sounds like along with temp control you may be struggling with other variables as well.
     If temp control is troublesome (it takes practice) try doing cooks that use the same temperature range. It seems that many here use different techniques, but end up with results that satisfy. Trying the same temps will give you a baseline to build your technique from.

     Try recipes that you are confident with. If you are unsatisfied with the final result of a dish you know you can perfect and are unsatisfied with the taste, try a different lump. I use different lumps for different foods, because they have different flavors as well as different burn characteristics.

    I personally felt like you a little in the beginning, but after seeing a lot of very experienced eggheads on this forum that don't use temp controllers, I figured II just needed more practice. I'm glad I did cause now I have good results with temp control and I was able to use the money on more important stuff like meat.

    Good luck, Try to figure out what you like so far, and build on that.
    Sorry if someone else asked but have you calibrated your dome thermometer?
  • BrownieBrownie Posts: 1,023
    Don't buy an EGG unless you know what you are doing.  It is an expensive item and you should get your stuff together before you step into it.
    If I knew what I was doing half the time I probably would have never made it this far in life.
    :))
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