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start up question

When starting up the grill, should we leave everything wide open until all the coals are lit, then tamp it down to the cooking temperature we wish -- or, can one start with coals partially lit, and work the temperature up to stabilize where one wants it? I was concerned that unlit coals may cause a bad taste to the food, and also that as more coals light the temperature may not stabilize. Thanks -- km


  • Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
    Ken Masner,[p]Leave all vents open wide until the firestarter is out and the temps are going up, then close the vent to 1-2" and close the daisy about 1/2. Adjust as you watch the dome gage - open the daisy to make it hotter. The trick is to start shutting down before the dome temp reaches the cooking temp you want. The ceramic does not give up it stored heat easily so its better to not let it go to 350 if you want to cook at 250. You need to not confuse the possible 350 temp that the dome thermometer might read as the fire starter is burning. After 3-4 cooks you really understand the relationship between the chimney tops and the bottom vent.[p]Tim
  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    Ken Masner,[p]You should be using lump charcoal in your Egg, not briquets. Lump charcoal is almost pure carbon and needs no pyrotechnic coating to aide ignition, causing the taste common to briquets. The only taste added from lump charcoal is the slight charcoal flavor of the wood it is made from, and this is only added as the lump is burned.[p]Temperature control of your Egg is achieved by controlling the amount of oxygen available to support a fire. Using the top and bottom vent controls, the airflow through your Egg is controlled and thus the size (heat) of the fire.[p]As TimM stated, your Egg cools much slower than it heats. You only actually have control of the temp (the fire) when you are limiting it from rising. Proper temperature control technique is to allow the temp to rise (both vents wide open) to about 50°F (the higher the rising temp, the faster it rises) below your intended cooking temperature. At this point, both vents need to be closed down to catch and then hold the temperature (regulating). Then open a vent(s) a tad to allow the temp to rise to cooking temperature. You will quickly learn the openings needed to achieve a good regulated cooking temperature.[p]Spin[p]

  • Thanks Tim and Spin for your clear instructions. I'd been concerned that with many of the lumps still black I might have a problem of unexpected rising tempurature later when more of them had caught (despite the damped down openings), but it sounds as if that's not a problem. And no, I am using good quality lump charcoal, so I guess there won't be a problem with off tastes. -- km
  • Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
    Ken Masner,[p]Let me say a couple things about smoke tastes that might help you or others out there. If you get a bag of lump with excessive charcoal dust (a sign of rough shipping and handling) there can be a heavier than normal amount of smoke produced as the fresh lump (and the dust on it) starts to burn as the fuel is consumed. Normal amounts of dust are usually burnt off early while stabilizing the Egg temps, but large piles can ignite later in the cook and produce more smoke than normal. You will always find some dust at the end of every bag so avoid dumping it in.[p]Also the use of mesquite wood can add a bitter taste especially if mixed with hickory, in some people. Since some hardwood lump may contain hickory as well as oak, adding mesquite alone can cause the bitter tatse in those sensitive to it. I am one who is and I just avoid mesquite altogether.[p]Tim
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