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Temperature Control

I am a new owner of a medium Egg and have cooked only three times with mixed results. I have a smoked fish recipe that calls for a temperature of 200* for two hours, but I can't seem to maintain that temperature. I understand how the bottom door contols the amount of air that reaches the coals, but how does one use the top vent properly?[p]Two approaches occur to me: (1) Close or restrict the flow of air through the top vent to reduce the coal burn and therefore lower the dome temperature. (2) Open the top vent to allow heat to escape from the dome and therefore lower the dome temperature.[p]Which is correct? I am having a very hard time keeping the dome temperature below 240* for an extended period of time, even though the bottom vent is almost closed, i.e., open about 1/16 inch.[p]What am I doing wrong?


  • WessBWessB Posts: 6,937
    Not knowing all your ambient conditions..I would suggest soon as ( I mean like right when ) the fire starter stops flaming...adjust your vents down as you mentioned..I`m assuming your using a daisy wheel on top..close the daisy down to just a crack on the little holes, slide completely closed..while the starter is burning you want to have the bottom completely open and no top until the starter goes out then adjust as mentioned....that should get you cookin very close to 200°...PS light it from the top of the lump not the bottom..hope this helps..[p]Wess

  • sdbeltsdbelt Posts: 267
    Coxwain,[p]Think of the bottom vent as the main jets of the engine. It's not a fine adjusting tool, but rather the primary workhorse. The top vent is the fine adjusting tool. There are stories of very good Eggers who are capable of 1 degree adjustments with their seasoned use of the slide-daisy. I'm not one of those, but you get what I mean.[p]The bottom vent lets in fresh, cold oxygen. The top vent regulates how quickly the expelled gas can leave the Egg. The gas expands and speeds up significantly as it moves upward, so this restrictor plate (or sorts), makes those fine adjustment easier.[p]The low temp you want needs a bottom vent that is either 100% closed or very, very nearly so. The top vent, then acts as both fine adjusting and primary adjusting vent. Somehow magically, fresh air will come down from the top, burn, and expel back up the top. Not sure how/why, but I suppose there's a thermodynamic reason. For making jerky, I've used the bottom vent 100% closed, and the top vent only partly open, and maintained temps between 150 and 200.[p]Also, for really low temps, you want to get ahold of that temp well before it gets above your desired cooking temp. If you want a cook temp of 200, then make sure you start all of your stabilizing steps when the dome is at 180. For low temps like that, I start the fire with just one fire cube (those Weber fire starters), unlike a higher temp cook in which I'd either use 3 cubes or the electric. For low cooks, I find I really need to keep the fire under control right from the start, with minized vent openings almost immediately. It's a bit of a fine line between getting a fire started and getting a roaring fire started.[p]One last thing that will help keep a lower temp, is cooking indirect. This refers to placing some type of buffer between the fire and the cooking grid. I've used fire bricks or a plate setter with equal success to achieve indirect cooking. Since you have a medium, I don't think there's a plate setter, and you'll need to use fire bricks for indirect cooks. I think most do this by placing the firebricks in a U shape pattern on the main cooking grid (2 or 3 flat, and 2 flaking those on their sides). They then place a second grid on the 2 bricks that are on their sides, and now the food is buffered from the fire. [p]Indirect is great for long low and slows, and when cooking anything that will drip considerably. You can place a drip pan on the fire bricks and avoid grease fires.[p]Enjoy your Egg![p]--sdb
  • Coxwain,[p]Hi, Do you have the daisy slider top or just the ceramic snuffer top ?[p]If you have the daisy... put it on and close the daisy to just barely open.. in fact... I can hover at 200 deg. doing this with the bottom vent wide open only using the daisy to adjust the temp... just remember to burp it 'open the dome a small amount' a few times to let the smoke out and prevent a backdraft type flash up when you finaly go to pull or turn the food :) I value my arm hair BTW :) [p]If you only are using the bottom vent... open it just a hairs width and place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top exhaust tied on with a shoe string so it does not blow off and poke 1 pencil hole in the center of it. [p]This makes for a makeshift daisy and works just fine. You could make several with more and more pencil holes and keep them in a shoe box or ? so they dont get smashed or messed up.... save some money on the $25.00 daisy slider top. [p]Hope this helps. Happy Egging... BB[p]
  • sdbelt,[p]I took delivery of the BGE two weeks ago. Been outdoor grilling and cooking for more than 20 years and considered myself pretty darn good at it. However, the BGE has almost whipped me. I've done ribs, turkeys, ham, and steaks...the steaks were the best I've ever had! The other meats left a lot to be desired. Ribs cooked at 200 degrees for 4 hrs. were tough; turkey not as flavorful and moist as produced on the old drum-type charcoal smoker with water pan; ham was overcooked and dry. I realize this is a whole new way of cooking for me, but unless my success improves ... I'll return my old New Braunfel Texas Smoker to service.

  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,439
    Just here to say NICE POST!
    And, beers.
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
    Facebook: Dizzy Pig Seasonings
  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,439
    Mitchell Peace,
    Hang around for a while and read what folks are doing. Gfw's and TimMs sites are also helpul for general directions.[p]Not sure what the problem with your turkey and ham was without more info, but I can see what happened with your rib cook. 200 for 4 hours is not nearly enough energy to complete that cook. At 250-275 (indirect), they usually take 5-7 hours for me. [p]Yell if you have any particular questions. You can do this!
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
    Facebook: Dizzy Pig Seasonings
  • Mitchell Peace,[p]Oh, dont even give up yet :) [p]Just follow some of the advice and tips on this site... you will have few problems. [p]You know I think sometimes it is easier to learn something new 'like a completely different BBQ ' if you have never used one before.

    Probably because you dont have 'preset information' from past experience with the other products. [p]Believe me.... Just duplicate some of the cooks mentioned here on this site. The BGE is like a musical instrument ... takes a little practice... is not like any other musical instrument... but is beautiful to behold once learned... try another cook immediatly and get the times, temps. etc. from here. Throw out the manual NOW ! [p]P.S. Did you calibrate the dome thermometer in boiling water because mine was way off until I did that ? [p]Hope this helps.. Happy Egging... BB

  • sdbeltsdbelt Posts: 267
    Mitchell Peace,[p]I'm not quite sure I know all of the answers to your problems. I will admit I've yet to make awesome ribs, because I keep over cooking them, but they were still pretty good. The turkey I made this last Thanksgiving was the best I, or any of my guests, had ever had...ever. And that's saying a lot.[p]Haven't tried ham (if you don't count pulled pork). But I have made chicken, steak, and burgers - all of which turn out wonderful (dang I'm getting hungry). Pizza too is delicious. Or should I say spectacular.[p]So again, aside from my poor rib results I've had quite a bit of success with my BGE. I watch and listen here on the forum, and then I try to replicate. When I doubt, I post a question to make sure I'm on the right track. For example, with my first brisket I asked fat side up or down? I suspected up, and was rewarded with several posts confirming this. I also posted this same question about vent settings within 2 days of ownership. And again I was rewarded with a good answer.[p]So that would be my suggestion. Plan a cook for something you've had limited success with. Share your plan with the list, soliciting any advice for the cook. Take the advice to heart and then go have success. I'm sure you'll do fine.[p]--sdb
  • sdbeltsdbelt Posts: 267
    Nature Boy,[p]Thank you. I posted this very same question when I first got my BGE, and I received great responses back then. So I'm just doing my bit to return the favor. [p]--sdb
  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    Coxwain,[p]sdbelt is corect. The only thing I can add is the dome temperature guage only measures the air temp inside your Egg. As your Egg also needs to heat to 200°F before you are actually regulating the cooking temperature using the vent controls, set the vents as sdbelt says (I close the top completely - it leaks enough air to keep the fire viable) and wait for your Egg to heat up. The lower the cooking temp, the more important it is to have patience with heating the Egg.[p]Cooking with the top vent removed does not work using the temperature range you seek.[p]You can close the bottom vent even more - but not fully closed. If the fire is started slow with time to allow the Egg to come to cooking temperature, just a slight crack open of the bottom vent will regulate a viable fire.[p]Spin
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