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Overnight Failure....Need Advice

I attempted my first over night cook last nght, a pork butt. I filled the BGE with fresh lump most of the way to top of fire ring. Using a single fire starter piece I lit the fire and after about 10 minutes the starter was gone and I could see nice red embers and a small amount of visible flame, so I closed the lid and set lower vent to about 1/4 open and top vents with small holes open to allow temperature to stabilize. That configuration overshot my target temperature and got to a bit over 400 done, so I tinkered for almost two hours until I got dome to stabilize under 300, at which point I had the lower vent maybe 1" open and top vent with small holes 1/2 open. I added wood chips, place setter, drip pan, grate and butt with remote thermometer, and monitored the temperature for two hours: the dome stayed at about 275 and the probe temperature rose steadily. After two hours (at 10:30) I felt comfortable and went to bed, intending to let it go all night. I ended up waking up at 1 so I checked and dome was 275 and probe was 160...everything seemed right on schedule, so back to sleep. I woke up at 5, and dome had dropped to below 200 and probe had dropped from 160 down to 150. Definitely not part of the plan. I thought maybe I had run out of lump, so I took everything off, but there was still lump and a small red area of glowing ember. I did notice that the fire didn't seem to burn evenly: the center had burned leaving a ring of wood around the edges, and there was a single lit spot which was against the edge of the Egg ( at the 3 o'clock position if the lower vent is 6 o'clock). Is that normal? I stirred to lump and opened the vents wider, we'll see what happens. Where did I go wrong? What caused this?
LBGE & SBGE.  Central Texas.  

Comments

  • What you experienced is not uncommon. I almost always light 3 spots to avoid that problem. On cooks of 300 or less, one of those lit spots will normaly go out at some point.
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 13,590
    edited November 2012
    S@$t happens. Sounds like you needed to light in three places to start. Sometimes (mostly when one is trying to sleep) a fire will burn straight down. It has happened to all of us, but lighting in 3 places sure helps. Better than 50% of us just pour in lump to start, some will stack lump (I pour). One bigger thing. Are you saying you added the place sitter when you added the butt? If so, start stocking up on them. The place sitter (IMO) should be added when you light the fire so it can be brought up to temp slow.
    Salado TX Egg Family: 2 Large and a very well used Mini.... 5th Salado EggFest is March 14, 2015

  • MickeyMickey Posts: 13,590
    edited November 2012
    travisstrick you are up early on a Sat. I am getting ready to head to the Plano Fest with a ham under my arm.
    Salado TX Egg Family: 2 Large and a very well used Mini.... 5th Salado EggFest is March 14, 2015

  • Start slow to cook low.  Once you got to 400 it was over.  I start once small spot and let it creep to my temp.  It won't get away from you if you go slow.  Once the fire gets going it wants to eat all your fuel.

    Simple ingredients, amazing results!
  • I've been in the field all week. I should go home tomorrow. Maybe.
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • I've been in the field all week. I should go home tomorrow. Maybe.
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 4,551
    First off...this is not a failure, just a little bit of struggle :).  I'm sure the butts will turn out just fine, and they are perfectly safe at these temps.  

    It's all about air flow.  With the vent settings you describe ( 1" open and top vent with small holes 1/2 open), this would "normally" get you 275 dome easily.  Maybe you have some ash build up around the fire bowl?  You might try removing the fire ring/bowl and cleaning out the egg. Also, sometimes the ash just builds up in the grate and blocks the air flow from the bottom.  The best advice IMO is to get a High Que charcoal grate if you don't already have one.  Second best advice is to build a wiggle rod (bend an L shape on stainless steel tubing from hardware store).  Before you go to bed on a slow n low, use the wiggle rod by going in through the draft door and poking up through the holes in the fire grate.  Poke n wiggle all the holes to remove ash build up. 

    Someone posted the other day- they made one out of an L shaped allen wrench and duct taped it to a screwdriver :).  May be worth trying to wiggle rod now to make the rest of the cook go smoother. 


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 13,590
    I've been in the field all week. I should go home tomorrow. Maybe.

    When VI and I used to go to the field we couldn't take our computer, they were the size of a bedroom and a bear to move. All new Army.
    Salado TX Egg Family: 2 Large and a very well used Mini.... 5th Salado EggFest is March 14, 2015

  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,171
    The temperature will rise again w. the vents more open. Watch that the temp doesn't go too high again. Shut them back down when you are about 25 degrees under what you want. the temp rise should coast to a stop around where you want it.

    The initial time over 300 may have burnt quite a bit of lump. Depending on the initial amount, it might run low towards the end of the cook.

    Fires do sometimes just burn to one spot. Worse, even w. a blower system, they will burn to 1 spot right in the center, and burn all the way to the bottom. The fire goes out w. 90% of the lump unburnt. Its one of the primary reasons to check the fire about every 4 hours.

    You should be fine. If the lump does run short, just finish in your kitchen oven. By that time, the meat will be well smoked.
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 4,705
    +1 on the learning curve aspects, the butts will be fine.  To offer a slightly different approach, for low&slows I light in one place (around bottom center), then pile the lump until even with the rest of the load.  I let about a softball sized volume of lump get going before inserting the platesetter, shutting the dome and setting the lower vent and DFMT.  Catch the temp on the way up as mentioned above.  Haven't lost one yet but that will likely change now:)
    Louisville
  • The only times I have had the fire die down is when I overshoot on start up and have to chase it back down. I pour the lump (not stack) and only light one spot in the center. I don't have a blower, I can see how that would burn down and not outwards.

    Not a failure, just a struggle. Well said SmokeyPit.
    LBGE
  • It might feel like a failure, but it's not even close. Your temps seem to have stayed in the safe zone, so crank it up and finish it as a turbo butt.

     

    We want pictures.

  • henapplehenapple Posts: 10,371
    Sounds like the initial fire was too hot at the start. Start small and build up to the desired temp. I've had 2 "fails" on bb...both came out great.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • CPARKTXCPARKTX Posts: 711
    Prologue: after stirring up the lum, the temperature came back up and maintained just fine fr the rest of the cook. I was suprised how quickly the internal temperature rose fom 150 to 190, where I pulled it. We weren't going to eat immediately, so I wrapped in foil and thn towels and put in an empty ice chest as I've read others here doing. We didnt end up being ready to eat for six hours, and I was amazed to find the meat still plenty hot...and falling apart moist! Undoubtably the best and most tender pork I've done, even withbthe challenges. Very pleased (and probably lucky) with first effort. Thanks for the pointers and advice.
    image.jpg
    720 x 534 - 144K
    LBGE & SBGE.  Central Texas.  
  • CPARKTX said:
    Prologue: after stirring up the lum, the temperature came back up and maintained just fine fr the rest of the cook. I was suprised how quickly the internal temperature rose fom 150 to 190, where I pulled it. We weren't going to eat immediately, so I wrapped in foil and thn towels and put in an empty ice chest as I've read others here doing. We didnt end up being ready to eat for six hours, and I was amazed to find the meat still plenty hot...and falling apart moist! Undoubtably the best and most tender pork I've done, even withbthe challenges. Very pleased (and probably lucky) with first effort. Thanks for the pointers and advice.

    and there yo have it. Snatched victory from the jaws of defeat :) That's why butts are so great. They are very forgiving and an excellent way to learn how to do low and slow

  • I've always started my low and slow with a chimney, getting the lump really red hot, dumping it in, and then pushing it down with a piece of whatever I'm smoking with.  The first time I got it too hot, tried to get it low and regulate it, and lost the fire.  Since, I've crept up on it from below and haven't had a problem.  

    Great job saving the butt.  Looks FANTASTIC! 
  • Mickey said:
    I've been in the field all week. I should go home tomorrow. Maybe.

    When VI and I used to go to the field we couldn't take our computer, they were the size of a bedroom and a bear to move. All new Army.
    It was hard to drag the basement of the science building around, but the stack of punch cards were not that heavy  :-)
    Eggin in SW "Keep it Weird" TX
  • Austin  EggheadAustin Egghead Posts: 3,091
    edited November 2012
    CPARKTX said:
    Prologue: after stirring up the lum, the temperature came back up and maintained just fine fr the rest of the cook. I was suprised how quickly the internal temperature rose fom 150 to 190, where I pulled it. We weren't going to eat immediately, so I wrapped in foil and thn towels and put in an empty ice chest as I've read others here doing. We didnt end up being ready to eat for six hours, and I was amazed to find the meat still plenty hot...and falling apart moist! Undoubtably the best and most tender pork I've done, even withbthe challenges. Very pleased (and probably lucky) with first effort. Thanks for the pointers and advice.

    nice first butt cook... there will be many more.  Some will be easy cooks and some you will have you wondering what the heck happened..
    =D>
    Eggin in SW "Keep it Weird" TX
  • newegg13newegg13 Posts: 231
    Congrats on your success!  When I woke up the morning after putting on my first butt, my temps had dropped too.  I got on here asking questions and freaking out and it turned out awesome.  Enjoy the ride and learn as you go.

    Amateur Egger; professional rodeo clown.

    Birmingham, AL
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