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Help: Starting a Fire

Egg-on-MedfordEgg-on-Medford Posts: 160
edited 3:13AM in EggHead Forum
OK, I'll admit I haven't watched the DVD that accompanied my BGE, so I don't know if this is covered in sufficient detail.

I have a medium BGE and the fire went out twice on my overnight pulled pork; so far none of us are showing signs of Trichinosis. No cysticersosis, either. I've seen several cases of neurocysticercosis where it invades the brain. But I digress.

How about some advice from the experts on lighting the lump--construction, where to put larger or smaller pieces (I've picked up not to block holes), how high (I've seen some mention of cone shaped mounds), where to put starter wafers, other material to get it lit or the electric lighter. Pictures would help. Also, we newbies would need to know differences for short "grilling" direct , relatively short indirect cooks and the low/slow cook (especially that last one, I guess given what happened to me).

So, I read the danger zone for meat, especiall pork, is 40-140*F. I didn't even put in the probe until 12 hours into the cook. How long does a slow cooking pork butt take to pass thru the DZ? What is too long? Or does the fact that you're taking it to around 200* ultimately make it irrelevant, assuming it doesn't fall back into the DZ during cooking?

Appreciate the help.


  • I have a medium also and experienced the fire going out overnight. That is when I finally accepted Murphy's Law as always holding true.

    Stack your lump pieces largest on the bottom and smaller as you go up the pile. Put some wood chunks interlaced with the lump as you go up. I bring the lump up to near the top of the fire box. I also now light at the 9, 12, and 3 o'clock positions as the fire will burn towards the front and down towards the incoming air flow. I will also use a wiggle rod up through the bottom of the great to help collapse any burnt lump voids in the pile while well into the cook. Lump can burn vertical without igniting nearby pieces. I always check on the fire every 3 hours or so when doing an all night-er. Of course, Murphy's Law, holds and there usually is not an issue.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    you'll get a bunch of info on your many questions...

    but as far as the safety zone.... the bacteria you are concerned about are on the exterior of the meat (as long as the meat is a whole chunk, not sliced or deboned). if it's in an environment above 140 (or below 40), it is safe. so, putting it in the smoker (low/no oxygen, smoke, salt, heat are all anti-bacterial too) at 250 or so is what keeps it safe as it cooks. cold smoked meats (like ham) are usually cured because the environment isn't abouve 140, so they need protection chemically for the extened period where they are above 40 and under 140.

    as far as trich is concerned, it is a parasite, not bacteria, and it is killed instantly at about 140 also. it doesn't multiply and produce toxin in a "danger zone" like bacteria does. once the internal temp hits 140, trich is killed. don't forget though, there hasn't been a commercial case of trich on years. US pork is virtually trich free.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Can you explain the wiggle rod a little more?

    When you re-lit did you have to take off the butt, grid and placesetter? I did; twice. Shouldn't we be able to do an overnight cook without the fire going out?

    I have the Maverick 73, but didn't use the chamber sensor. I realize now, that I could have let it wake me up only if necessary for too high/low.

    I just went to put in some charcoal for tonight and got a TON of ash out--after only one cook. I mixed the remaining pieces around in the fire pit and removed the really small pieces, several of which fit snuggly in the holes. I then used the ash tool to scrape out as much as I could get. This was Royal Oak--that's what my dealer gave me, although it was supposed to be BGE.
  • Cory430Cory430 Posts: 1,072
    I have a medium as well and had the same issues when I was first beginning to do overnighters. Here is what I do now and I can easily hold a 18hr cook, maybe longer, but I haven't had to yet.

    1. Before any super long cook, I clean all of the previous ash out with a shop vac.

    2. Load the lump all the way to the top of the Fire Ring. I use RO, Charwood, and Cowboy as this is what I have available to me. The RO and the Charwood seems to last the longest for me, but Cowboy works ok as well.

    2a. I use a chimney starter to light my coals. This way I am able to completely spread out the lit coals and thus hopefully minimalize the chances of getting strait down burn.

    3. I stabilize my temp for about an hour at 250 before putting the meat on.

    4. Once the temp is stable, I do not for any reason touch my vents until very deep into cook. If you do so, you will end up chasing the temps all night.

    5. I check my temps about every 4hrs or so. I do not have any of the electronic devices yet.

    6. Well into the cook I have to clear my charcoal grate every once in a while with a bent coat hanger.

    This system works very well for me and I assure you that you can do very long cooks on a medium with little or no issues. If you have any more questions please feel free to ask either here or send me an email at, I am more than happy to help
  • thanks. that was really useful. I copied your info into by BGE folder for future reference.

    Do you spread out the charcoal from the chimney starter over the top of the rest of the coals?

    I guess these fires burn top-bottom, right? a little counterintuitive to me.
  • Cory430Cory430 Posts: 1,072
    Yes, the coals are spread out completely over the top of the rest of the coals.
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