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Trouble keeping dome temp at 250 for low and slow - more like hot and fast

Cooked my first butt last night and had trouble keeping the dome temp where I wanted it.  I thought I had the fire stabilized for about 15 minutes at about 250.  I had the plate setter legs up.  Don't remember if I put that in before or after getting to temp.  I put a foil drip pan under the butt - did not put anything in the pan - it was dry.  After cooking for about an hour I checked and the dome temp was up to about 375.  I poured a large glass of water into the drip pan.

I kept closing down the chimney and the vents on the bottom every hour.  Could never get the temp down to the 250 range I wanted.  It cooked most of the time at an average of 340 I'd guess.  Near the end I had it down to maybe 300.  The bottom vent had the screen closed and about a 1/3 opening for air.  The top chimney was almost completely closed.  I was afraid if I closed them anymore I'd shut it down.

Maybe it had something to do with the way I built the fire?  I read a few posts about how to layer up - big lumps on the bottom, medium lumps on top, the smaller ones up to the top.  In my half-used bag of Big Green Egg brand charcoal I'd say it was 95% medium and small lumps. 

I've got a Maverick ET732 but only the food probe works.  I fried the grill probe like an idiot, so I need a replacement.  Maybe I could have managed this better with closer supervision of the grill temp.

Anyway, any thoughts on how to get a true low and slow next time?

Thanks!

Comments

  • bud812bud812 Posts: 1,072
    On a low & slow cook my lower vent is only open about 1/4 inch & top vent about the same. YMMV as all cookers are diffrent. Also have you calibrated your dome thermo?

    Not to get technical, but according to chemistry alcohol is a solution...

    Large & Small BGE

    Stockton Ca.

  • To run at 250 I'm at about 1/2 inch open. Shut that sucker down if you want to stay low.
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 5,049
    edited August 2013

    First up, welcome aboard and you will enjoy the journey! 

    You will get several opinions on this and this is just one-Stable is a variable but I watch for at least an hour with no vent changes before declaring stable; reason being-the feedback loop for the BGE is temperature and it can take quite a while for an air-flow (more on that soon) change to influence the dome (calibrated) temp.  What you have with the low&slow cooks is a fire that is moderated by the amount of air-flow it gets (in the bottom and out the top) assuming you have an adequate supply of fuel/aka lump.  So to control the temperature you need to manage the air-flow.

    On start-up a key factor is not to let the size of the fire get too large before shutting the dome and throttling the air-lower vent and DFMT.  For me (and I am a contrarian-I light bottom sightly forward of dead-center)  I have the dome open along with bottom vent wide open til I get around a soft-ball sized fire going then shut the dome and set the vents for the desired low&slow temperature. Dome may be open for around 10 minutes or so (does depend on the lump to an extent).  Never have lost a fire and always am able to control temps.  Experiment and get comfortable wth whatever works for you.  FWIW-

    Louisville
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,231
    You had the vents open too wide for too long. The Egg ceramics absorb a lot of heat. Running at 375 for more than a few minutes means that it may be many hours before the temp drops down to the 250 range.

    The 'setter may be as hot as 650F when the dome is just 250. That is an indication of how much heat the ceramics hold.

    Always put the 'setter in as soon as the lump is reliably glowing. I use a torch, and that means the 'setter goes in about a minute after lighting.

    For an overnighter, let the temp sit still for about 45 minutes w. all the gear in. I always expect a small temp change over 4 hours. Usually, it goes up maybe 25F. Most times, no tweak is needed, but its good to check to make sure.

    FWIW, I was so bad at temperature control, I waited 6 mo.s to do an overnighter. Once I got the hang of it, pffft, no prob.
  • When I do low and slow at 225-250. the lower vent is open about 1/16 to 1/8 inch.  The daisy wheel is open just barely.  Your vents were WAY to open for low and slow.  And once the ceramic heated up while the cooker was at 375, it was going to be near impossible to cool it down.  You need to approach your target from below, shutting down vents little by little as you get closer until finally your vents are barely open.  Good luck on the next one!
    The Naked Whiz
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 11,097
    Agree with the vent open too much.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • I'm a newbie, but I've done 3 low and slow pork butt cooks now and I've found a couple consistent inconsistencies (or something like that!). My large Egg has showed a 30-105 degree difference between dome and grid probe, so I target now between 275-300 dome to get 225-250 grid. To get there, the bottom vent gets shut down after I have a nice little fire going, shut down to maybe 1/4 inch. I can leave this alone for the duration and only use the daisy wheel in slight adjustments and keep the temp pretty steady. I only mess with the lower vent again if I'm away and suddenly find a significant temp change, say 50 degrees or more either way. But when it's steady, the lower vent is 1/4 inch open or less and the top is just a sliver open. Even then, the only difference I've found so far on using 250 dome vs 325 dome is that 250 stalls for quite a while, while 325 dome gradually keeps increasing IT. It's been a couple weeks off the Egg for me-tweaked my lower back two weeks ago, but feeling better now and finally am pulling out the brisket in my freezer I've been holding on to. Tomorrow is an all day brisket, so we'll see how it goes!
    It's an obsession, but it's pleasin'
  • Here's my lower vent:
    image

    Daisy wheel:
    image

    Final result:
    image

    I rubbed it with Dizzy Pig and let it sit for an hour.  I cooked a 6.5lb butt in about 5 hours.  After the first three hours I figured I'd better adapt to the turbo mode and wrapped it in foil.  Took it out when it reached 212F.  Wrapped in a towel and put in a cooler for another 5 hours.  I was surprised that it turned out pretty good!  The bone just slid out.

    I think I'll look into calibrating my dome thermometer.  Had my egg for just over a year, so maybe it's time.  I've got a ThermoPen so I should be able to get a good calibration.  Are there some good instructions that someone has a handy link for?

    Also, the consensus seems to say that I shouldn't let it get too hot because you can't cool down well once you've gone over.

    I see that Amazon sells some replacement probes for my Maverick.  I may have lost my clip for it.  Is Amazon a good place to get one or somewhere else?

    Finally, what's a good dome / surface temp for low and slow?

    P.S. - what a cool community!  Thanks for all the responses!!! Half the fun of cooking on this beast is being able to share the experiences with everyone. 

  • Mattman3969Mattman3969 Posts: 2,803
    The pork looks good!! Did you shred/ pull or is it larger chunks that I see in the pics? Not criticizing at all just curious. Unless I need a butt done by mid morning or lunch I go " hot and fast" with no foil whatsoever I think foil makes the bark to soft for my liking. Just like I hate to FTC a butt for the same reasons. I generally will cook at 300-350* all the way from beginning to end & let sit rest for 30mins before pulling.
    If I am goin for "low & slow" I will let the stabilize for 1-1 1/2 hrs before the meat hits the grid. May be a little over cautious but it works for me.

    -----------------------------------------


    Large BGE. Small BGE Henderson, Ky. Waitin to find a Sasquatch to Egg.
  • FoghornFoghorn Posts: 1,645

    @infotime,

    Your results look great so congratulations!

    With the pics you showed, you should be able to stay pretty low as long as you catch it on the way up.  You may need to close the lower vent a little.  Once you overshoot the temp it takes a long time to get it back down.  As for a target temp, you'll get variable responses around here ranging from 220 to 350 at the grid.  Some folks measure the grid to be precise.  Some assume that they can go by the dome temp and that the grid temp will be 20 - 50 degrees lower (the difference decreases over the course of the cook as the meat warms up).  Since the ultimate determination of doneness is meat temperature (and tenderness), not time, it really doesn't matter if you are off by 25-50 degrees on the cooking temp. 

    With a few more cooks, you'll get your own method that works best for you.  Welcome aboard.

    XL BGE, Klose BYC, ProQ Excel, Weber Kettle, Firepit, Grand Turbo gasser, and a portable Outdoor Gourmet gasser for tailgating

    San Antonio, TX

  • It's not just a consensus, it's the law!   :)

    In the following chart, the pink line shows how the temperature in the cooker dropped when I took the cooker to 700 degrees and then immediately closed the vents.   The blue line shows what happened to the temperature in the cooker when I took the cooker to 700 degrees for several minutes, and THEN closed the vents.  The ceramic gets hot and it takes a lot longer for the ceramic to cool down, and thus the air inside.

    image

    More here on Temperature Control
    The Naked Whiz
  • The pork looks good!! Did you shred/ pull or is it larger chunks that I see in the pics? Not criticizing at all just curious. Unless I need a butt done by mid morning or lunch I go " hot and fast" with no foil whatsoever I think foil makes the bark to soft for my liking. Just like I hate to FTC a butt for the same reasons. I generally will cook at 300-350* all the way from beginning to end & let sit rest for 30mins before pulling. If I am goin for "low & slow" I will let the stabilize for 1-1 1/2 hrs before the meat hits the grid. May be a little over cautious but it works for me.
    Didn't shred, didn't really know how to do that yet.  I just pulled it apart and tore into smaller chunks.  The finished pieces are in the tupperware.  The middle is the butt in process of being stripped.  The bone is on the right.
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