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Very naive question (I think) from a new user

Hello everyone . . . I initially posted a question a month or so ago about maintaining low temperatures (in the 225 range).  As some of you suggested, I decided not to be fixated on that exact temperature and settled for anything between 225 - 275 for long, slow cooks of brisket and ribs to great effect.  I've done slow cooks now on 8 different occasions and on 6 of them I've been able to keep the temperature low.  Again, as a few noted, if I ever let them temperature get much above 325, I was not able to get that temperature back down without snuffing the fire and starting from scratch

Now, perhaps an easier question.  For "regular" bbqing in the 350 - 450 range.  I perhaps naively though that once I got the temperature in that range, I could set the Egg and forget it.  But, the last 2 efforts failed miserable.  I go the temp to about 400 playing with the bottom vent and daisywheel.  I made sure the temp stayed there for ~20 minutes and then put my chicken on (on a chicken stand with no placesetter installed).  I was planning to come back 50 minutes later to find a perfectly cooked chicken.  On both occasions, I came back to an egg that had reached temperatures too high to register on the dome thermometer and a nice pitch black and ashen chicken!!

 

So, here's the naïve question . . . with these failed chicken experiments . . . did I not wait long enough to ensure the temp was locked in at 400?  If not, how long should I give the fire to feel comfortable that the temp will stay as is?  And, perhaps an even more basic question . . . how can I be assured that the fire is actually set so that when I start closing the vents and daisy wheel I am not inadvertently smothering the fire (this is a much more relevant question for low temp cooking, I realize, but still trying to gain confidence with these basics)

 

thanks!

Comments

  • busmaniabusmania Posts: 236

    Im a noob too so take this with a grain of salt.  If cooking over 300-350, I leave the daisy wheel totally off.  It sounds like you did not let the temp settle.  On mine, it will get to 300-400 pretty quick but then stall for a good 10-15 minutes while the rest of the egg heats up before going higher.  Maybe you thought it was good because it was in this stall period but in reality, it was about to sky rocket to the higher temps.  For me, I think getting the 300-450 temps constant is the toughest.  If you don't use the daisy wheel an donly use the lower vent for temp, it seems pretty easy for me to keep it constant.  I hope at least some of this helps.

     

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,019
    Everyone does it differently, but it's a matter of airflow and the size of your fire.  You don't want to start with large fire for low and slows - it's hard to dial back. 

    Here's a guide, not necessarily how I do it, but it may be helpful. 

    http://eggheadforum.com/discussion/746823/vent-settings-a-visual-guide/p1

    If you're cooking at 400, be prepared to make small adjustments every now and then to compensate for the ceramic heating up (and other factors).  I would keep an eye on a hotter fire more often than on a low and slow, once you stabilize a temp. 
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • dlk7dlk7 Posts: 974
    I don't use the daisy wheel above 300 either.  On my XL, I open the bottom vent all the way for 7 or 8 minutes and then close the lower vent to 1/8th, 1/4th or 1/2 inches depending on the final temp I want.  Let it stabilize and then put on the meat.

    Two XL BGEs - So Happy!!!!

    Rudderville, TN

  • CharlesmaneriCharlesmaneri Posts: 1,284
    I use a DigiQDX2 made by BBQ Guru and what ever I set it to it stays dead on it will cost you $174.95 from Firecraft.com it is the best investment I made in my Egg 
    2 Large Eggs and a Mini 2 Pit Bulls and a Pork shoulder or butt nearby and 100% SICILIAN
    Long Island N.Y.
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,019
    I use a DigiQDX2 made by BBQ Guru and what ever I set it to it stays dead on it will cost you $174.95 from Firecraft.com it is the best investment I made in my Egg 
    Wow, that is cheap.  I paid $100 more.  Was it on sale?
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • I use a DigiQDX2 made by BBQ Guru and what ever I set it to it stays dead on it will cost you $174.95 from Firecraft.com it is the best investment I made in my Egg 

    Surely that wasnt the price for the complete kit?
  • six_eggsix_egg Posts: 593
    I use a DigiQDX2 made by BBQ Guru and what ever I set it to it stays dead on it will cost you $174.95 from Firecraft.com it is the best investment I made in my Egg 
    Wow, that is cheap.  I paid $100 more.  Was it on sale?
    No Nolaegghead, since all the WIFI ones are out the price has dropped. I paid $300.00 or so for mine too.

    XLBGE, LBGE growing accessories.

    Want: Ceramicgrillworks 2 tier large, Dutch oven, Cyber Q Wifi

    Grenada, MS

  • jlsmjlsm Posts: 729
    I use the Maverick ET-732, about $70. I hover for a bit after I put the meat on, making adjustments, and then use the Maverick to keep track of the fire and food temps from anywhere in my home. 

    Also, as someone else implied: Was this direct or indirect? Indirect with a drip pan is more consistent because you don't get any grease in the fire. 
    *******
    Owner of a large and a beloved mini in Philadelphia
  • I just went to firecraft and looked. That 174.00 unit is without a fan.
  • BigSteveBigSteve Posts: 52
    That's why I asked about the drip pan. I do whole chickens all the time and learned quickly that no placesetter and no drip pan makes flare-ups that will heat up a fire quickly. I fell asleep for about 40 minutes once and it was solid black a quarter inch deep and the thermo was wrapped around.
  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,778
    I use a DigiQDX2 made by BBQ Guru and what ever I set it to it stays dead on it will cost you $174.95 from Firecraft.com it is the best investment I made in my Egg 
    I just checked them out.  That is the price for the control unit ONLY.  The fan, and the adapter are extra.  Total price is $269.85.
    The Naked Whiz
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,019

    BigSteve said:
    That's why I asked about the drip pan. I do whole chickens all the time and learned quickly that no placesetter and no drip pan makes flare-ups that will heat up a fire quickly. I fell asleep for about 40 minutes once and it was solid black a quarter inch deep and the thermo was wrapped around.
    If you have a good fire and you're regulating the amount of combustion with the vents, grease may burn, but it shouldn't make the temp rocket up.  The amount of air (more correctly, oxygen in the air) is the limiting and controlling factor in maintaining the BTU rate of combustion.  You can't burn any faster without more air, and that doesn't drip from a chicken. ;)
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • BigSteveBigSteve Posts: 52
    My settings had been set stable for over an hour when I put the chicken on and for at least the first 20 the chicken was cooking.  I have no idea what happened from that point.  I had a meteor for a chicken though.  Shortly after I noticed my fire ring and fire box both cracked all the way through.  They have since been replaced with no further incidents.  But neither air input or air output changed settings.
  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 448
    I'm also pretty new here and have been struggling with the same issue.  I've asked a lot about it here and have tried different approaches in accordance with suggestions I got from other forum members.  What I've found--and of course I'm still no master at this--is that the fire and the way I light it has a dramatic impact on my ability to stabilize temperature.  I use starter cubes from BGE.  Let's assume I load the lump up to the fire ring and place a starter cube or two atop the pile.  The top layer of lump, which is, of course, the most visible layer, will develop a nice glow and I'll figure I've got a good heat source to work with.  But the truth is that heat source isn't trustworthy, and the temps I get won't be stable.  I'd posit that this is because the heat is employing only the upper-crust of the lump, while the remainder is laying below either in the early stages of combustion or awaiting a spark.  What that means is only maybe 60% of the lump is really going, which places your fire at 40% below its heat capacity.  The flame will assuredly creep down to the unlit lump at the bottom, but it will take a little while for the heat to fully consume the pile.  This is problematic because it gives you a false sense of security.  Maybe you've had the temp at 350 for 10 minutes and you figure you've got it stabilized, so you put the food in.  Well, as the fire creeps its way down the lump and consumes the entire pile, the interior is going to get hotter.  You may have begun your cook with only 60% of the lump fully burning, but now you've got all of it burning.  Your fire is at 100% capacity, so those vent settings that had you at 350 are going to skyrocket you toward 450 or maybe 500.  The solution, at least for me, is to light from the bottom.  If I place a starter cube or two at the bottom of the lump and pile more on top of it, I seem to get much more stability.  Heat travels up through the lump much quicker than it does down, and the by the time I see that glow on the upper-crust of the pile, I know the flame has worked its way through the whole pile, which assures me that I'm working at 100% capacity.  The times I've lit the pile from the bottom, I've had very reliable, very stable temps.  The times I've lit from the top, I've had the same problem you're describing.  

    Anyway, I know a lot of people will disagree with this.  I know there are several far more seasoned members than me, who swear lighting from the top down is the best way to go, and maybe you ought to listen to them.  Or maybe you've already tried lighting from the bottom first, so this is all moot.  But for whatever it's worth, this has worked for me.  The above is just my theory on why it works.  Would love to hear anyone's thoughts, positive or negative.
    Southern California
  • bbqlearnerbbqlearner Posts: 596

    I think it all depends on a couple of factors: size of the egg, how long before it really stabilized, placing of the lumps, how you light the lump, type of lump, wind/humidity factors in your area and where you placed the chicken. I've always lighted it from the top and mine (Large BGE) usually takes around 30 min - 1 hour to really stabilize.

    There were times I noted that even though the temp stays at a particular temp for 20 min or more, it didn't mean that the temp is stabile. It's probably because as others have noted - the time it takes for all the lumps to light up. Also, drippings from chicken does cause flare ups and if the chicken is too close to the fire (on the fire ring level not raised direct), it can burn it easily.

    Just speaking from experience.  

    Houston, TX - Buddy LBGE, Don SBGE, Tiny Mini & Shiny Momma Pitts n Spitts

  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,778
    edited July 2013
    bicktrav, that's certainly part of it.  There are a number of things that have to happen before you have a stable environment.  One is that the fire has to stop growing.  That will happen once it grows to the size where the amount of charcoal that is burning is equal to the amount that CAN burn given the amount of air the vents are letting in.  Another factor is the ceramic heating up.  Until it reaches an equilibrium temperature, some of the heat produced by the fire is going into heating the ceramic.  Once the ceramic has reached a stable temperature, that heat is now available to raise the temperature of the air further.  Same thing with the cold meat you put in the cooker if it is a lot of meat. 

    However, I'm a bit puzzled how one could turn a chicken into a meteorite unless the vent openings were crazy.  On my large Egg, if I have the bottom vent all the way open, the slider on the DFMT closed and just the petals open, it will settle in around 400-450.  No way in 40-50 minutes would it destroy a chicken.
    The Naked Whiz
  • BigSteveBigSteve Posts: 52
    I don't claim to have an answer to what happened to me. It was over a year ago. But here was the setup. There are so many factors that I couldn't figure it out. Clean XL, Full firebox of Royal Oak, direct at regular grid level, chicken on stand wth no drip pan. No gasket at the time. I have since bought a woo2 and put on a rutland gasket, as well as replacing all broken internals. Never had it happen again but it CAN happen. My best guess was no gasket along with the moderate underbite of my XL and grease flare-ups made the temp skyrocket. If I hadore time to post on the forum I might have asked when it happened but since installing the rutland (@Thenakedwhiz got that advice from your website) no issues.
  • ParcivalParcival Posts: 7

    Hello everyone . . . thank you for the comments.  This gives me enough to experiment with over the next few weeks, and I'll follow up to let you know what worked.  I have a good 6+ chickens I plan to invest to the cause of figuring this out!

     

    One thing is for sure . . . based on almost everyone's comments, I did develop a false sense of security at what appeared to be a stable temperature of ~375-400 after about 30 minutes.  I'm guessing I hit the "stall" point . . . the proverbial calm before the storm.  And, because it appeared that the temp was stable, I left the lower vent where it was (75% open) and the daisy wheel essentially off (the unit was on but I had the actual opening entirely open with the daisy ring slid off to the side.  This seemed odd to have everything so open and have such a low temp, and now I know why!

     

    thanks again all.  I'm hoping once I nail down some tricks and tips of my own I can eventually contribute some learnings of my own

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