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Eggin in a winter wonderland

Need some help with temp control....[p]Cooked some chicken breasts tonight (3rd cook since getting Large). Cold blustery and snowing in the northeast.[p]Egg temp started dropping after settling at 350 for 20 minutes. Had to keep vigil and keep tweaking the gates. Too hot...close....too cold...open.[p]Anyone have any real good ideas on how to maintain temp.[p]My second cook last Saturday was ribs...held nicely at 275 for about an hour and then started to fall.[p]Thanks for any help[p]Dan

Comments

  • Backyard Dan,[p]Watch your adjustments - you may be over compensating/adjusting. Also - the weather is BLUSTERY up there! - the wind can be making your problems worse. Make sure you're not facing into the wind with your bottom grate. Wind will force more O2 into the firebox.
  • chucklschuckls Posts: 399
    Backyard Dan,[p]I do most of my temp adjusting at the top - with the daisy wheel. I just set the door at the bottom to say, 1/4 inch, and then adjust the top to get the temp I want. [p]I also find that the brand of lump makes a difference - Cowboy brand doesn't seem to generate as much heat so I have to have the top and bottom much more open than with say Wicked Good. I think the BGE brand is in between those two.[p]Enjoy your eggin' in the snow - do you think your neighbors think you're crazy?? PS here's a pic of our eggin' in the snow a couple of weeks ago...[p]Chuck
  • Backyard Dan,
    You gotta get a feel for it. Try to make your best guess at how much your daisy wheel should be open, get your fire stable at the right temp for 20 minutes or more before you add your meat, then resist the temptation to mess around with it. When you add wet wood chips, the fire is gonna settle down some, and when you add a big piece of cold meat, it'll bring down your dome temp a bit too, but if you maintain the same settings, it'll come back up fairly soon. Check your dome thermometer and make sure it's not too close to the meat, I have a spacer holding mine out about an inch and a half. If you do have to make adjustments, make them in the smallest increments possible, a 16th of an inch on your daisy wheel can mean up to a 20 degree difference. Make sure you have plenty of lump in the firebox too, it's almost impossible to hold temp without any fuel, and give your leftover lump a real good stir before your next cook to shake out any ash and small pieces that might be blocking airflow.[p]Most of the 8" of snow we got on the Cape yesterday morning has washed away, but the rain is starting to turn back over to snow again and the wind is howling. Put a 12# turkey on at 3:42 am for a nice 12 hour smoke after a 3 day brine, probably carve it around halftime as the Pats clinch over Miami in Snow Bowl '03. If anybody still has to call their bookie, put your money on Vinatieri.[p] Well it's gotta be noon somewhere, so I think I'll add a little Bailey's and Kahlua to my coffee.[p]Cheers,
    C~Q

  • BobinFlaBobinFla Posts: 361
    Citizen Q,[p]You said:
    "You gotta get a feel for it. Try to make your best guess at how much your daisy wheel should be open, get your fire stable at the right temp for 20 minutes or more before you add your meat, then resist the temptation to mess around with it. When you add wet wood chips, the fire is gonna settle down some, and when you add a big piece of cold meat, it'll bring down your dome temp a bit too, but if you maintain the same settings, it'll come back up fairly soon."[p]Adding to that, every time you open the lid to peek, to mop, or for whatever reason you open the lid, you lose heat (and moisture) and the fire gets more air, so it starts burning hotter. Then you close the lid. Temperature is down, fire is hotter but not the dome temperature, sa any messing with the settings really messes up the temperature control.[p]BOB

  • Backyard Dan,
    Stir any old lump you're using well as mentioned above; gotta keep the airflow going.
    Fill to the top of the top of the firebox and light in at least two places.
    Stat the fire with the vents open and watch closely until the temperature gets to about 50° short of the tarket at which point you adjust them down to the working level.
    On my large BGE, using BGE brand charcoal, 350° corresponds to bottom slide open about 1" and, on the top vent, the slider is fully closed with the "flower petal" apertures on the wheel fully revealed. Early on in the cook you made need to open things up initially from these settings until the burn is 100% established.[p]Good luck and hang in there. You will get used to all this.

  • Backyard Dan,[p]Here's what Spin sent me when I first got my Egg. I have some additional comments which I'll place at the end.[p]The learning curve for temperature control with your Egg is quick. Here are some ideas that may help you on your way:[p]Your Egg regulates heat by limiting the amount of oxygen available for the fire to use, thus controlling the fires growth and size. Airflow through the Egg is where this oxygen supply is obtained. The vents control the amount of this airflow. [p]The bottom vent has much more control over the ultimate cooking temp of the Egg, the top vent being used for finer adjustments. A closed top vent (alone) will not kill the fire, while a closed the bottom vent (alone) will slowly kill the fire. [p]The dome temperature gauge always reads internal dome temperature. It fails to indicate whether this temperature is from the fire or radiated from the stored heat in the Egg. Your Egg heats up much quicker than it cools down, thus it is easy to kill the fire attempting to cool the Egg down on a temperature overshoot. [p]Good fire control practice is to start your Egg with both vents wide open (I even remove the top vent for maximum airflow). Light your lump charcoal from the top in the center of the top of the pile. Close the dome and watch the dome temp gauge. It will first not move as the lump slowly catches on. As the dome temp rises, it will tend to rise faster (more lump lit = more lump growing = faster rising temps). At about 200°F, the Egg will really start to run up on the temp. [p]As the gauge approaches 50°F lower than your intended cooking temp, close the bottom vent to an appropriate opening and adjust the top vent to about a half open setting. This adjustment is made to limit the airflow to "catch" the rising temp and allow the Egg to stabilize at a regulated dome temp below the cooking temp. Once the temp has settled to a reading, tap the bottom vent open (or closed) just a tad to make final adjustments. [p]Approximate bottom vent settings and resulting dome temps are; 1/16"= 180-210°, 1/8"= 220-250°,
    1/4"= 250-280°, 1/2"= 275-325°, 1"= 325-350°, 2"= 350-400°. Top vent settings affect regulated temp more as the cooking temp rises as more airflow is required to maintain a hotter fire. [p]That's what Spin sent, and for the most part it's very good advice. I have a couple of additional observations: [p]First, I use starter blocks and not an electric starter. I've noticed that after I light the starter blocks the dome thermometer gets to around 200-250° pretty quickly. Then, as the starter block burns out, the dome temp drops to around 100°. After a few minutes, the temp starts to rise again to the 200° range. So when Spin advises you make vent adjustments when the thermometer gets within 50° of the desired cooking temp, make sure it's the REAL range and not just the starter block burning out. If you use an electric starter than I guess that doesn't directly apply but I think there's something to it still. With an electric starter, the dome temp is going to reflect heat from both the lump as it starts to catch AND the electric starter. What I'd try is pulling the starter before making ANY adjustments to the vents and see if the temperature drops. If it does, then leave the vents alone until you get the lump up to the temperature you really want.[p]Second, I don't worry too much if I overshoot my target temperature as long as it's not WAY over. If you watch, the dome temp can drop as much as 50-100° when you raise the dome to put the food on (more if you're as clumsy as I am - grin!). Just don't over do it. A little experience, coupled with your observations, will tell you what you can get away with.[p]Third, STIR THE LUMP! Especially true if it's used. I don't think I was getting all the old ash out as well as I could have. I stir till I see NO ash, period. Yeah, it's a pain and yeah, it takes time. Do it anyway. (I've even gotten to the point that I stir the lump when adding new to get the dust out of the way.)[p]Fourth, despite all the claims I've heard, my Egg takes more than 10 minutes to get started (heresy, I know). I routinely allow 30-45 minutes to get the darn thing stabilized. Sometimes more. Give yourself enough time to feel confident that the temp is where you want it and stabilized. Again, a little experience, coupled with your observations, will tell you what you can get away with.[p]The biggest complaint I've seen in the time I've been on the forum have involved problems with low/slow cooks. Couple of thoughts on this:[p]Make sure you have plenty of lump loaded. I've yet to hear anyone caution about having too much lump loaded. Completely fill the fire ring, stopping just short of the top of the ring the grid sets on.[p]Can't hold temps below 300°? First, make sure you're following Spin's advice. If it's still not working, check and make sure the dome is installed right in the hinges. To check this all you'll need is a business card. Raise the dome and put the card half way out the back near the hinge, then close the dome. Now pull the card out. If it comes out easily then you need to adjust the dome. There should be a slightly perceptable "tug". Finally, carefully check your felt, top and bottom. There should be NO visible gaps in it. If there is, go to your dealer and see if he has any scraps of felt. He should be able to give you some for free. There should be no need to do a complete replacement if it's a new(er) Egg.[p]Fire keep going out? Spin's advice should help you out with that. Make sure you STIR THE LUMP! Lot of times smaller pieces will clog the air holes. Also make sure there's not a boatload of ash in the bottom. I don't like starting a low/slow cook with a bag of lump that's half empty. After the first half of the bag is used the pieces get progressively smaller and you'll get dust which will impede airflow and clog the air holes. Save that for a high temp cook! Use the biggest pieces you can for an unattended low/slow cook. If it means getting a fresher bag then, in my book, the cost is worth not having to lose sleep.[p]The wind can also be a problem. Check which way the wind is blowing in relation to which way the bottom vent is. If it's blowing straight in you're going to have problems. If the Egg is in a nest or on the little feeties, try turning the Egg to a bit to a right angle to the wind. Similarly, if you're having trouble getting it up to temperature, try turning humpty INTO the wind. (Be careful, it'll be hot and awkward, right? And PUSH, don't pull to avoid upsidaisying humpty. Push from the back!) If you have a table then do the best you can, possibly blocking the airflow with something.[p]If you're STILL having problems with a low/slow cooks, give yourself some time and experience. Instead of doing a 10 pound butt for 20+ hours, do a 5 pounder for 10. You can fire up the Egg early in the morning and still have enough cooking time to have it ready for supper. If you do this on a weekend, you'll be awake for the whole cook and can keep an eye on the temps. A little confidence can go a long way![p]Hope this is of use to you. I believe that the hardest part of cooking on the Egg is just getting the confidence level up there. After that the fun starts![p]Cheers![p]Kelly Keefe
    Jefferson City, MO

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