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Why No Smoke Ring?

GeorgiaBornGeorgiaBorn Posts: 178
edited 2:53AM in EggHead Forum
I've had other smokers before my BGE and always had a nice smoke ring with all my cooks. However since owning the BGE, I can never get a smoke ring anymore. My pork butts and briskets all come out delicious and juicy but I just never get a smoke ring.

Is this a common theme with the BGE? Anybody else have this problem? Any suggestions?

Thanks!

Comments

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    cold meat and lots of smoke... that's pretty much all you need
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • I do put my meat on the BGE right out of the fridge, so it is cold but the other thing I noticed is that the smoke kinda stops after a couple of hours and adding wood chunks is impossible with the plate setter in the way.

    I use wood chips and chunks. Probably 3 cups of chips and 7-8 chunks slightly smaller than my fist. Should I be using more chunks and less chips?

    I have talked to a buddy of mine that competes in BBQ cookoffs and he won't use the BGE because he said he can't ever get a smoke ring either.
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 19,917
    thats plenty of smoke, are you using a salt free rub. you should be getting a ring. i use dizzy dust, mustard, and more dizzy dust and get a good ring. with the brisket and some onion salt it gets a good ring even if cooked hot and fast.
  • DondgcDondgc Posts: 334
    I use a fraction of the wood you are using and get a great smoke ring. I'll leave it to more experienced eggers to give you advice, but I can tell you there is no issue with BGEs not creating a smoke a ring. I am a total novice and get a great ring, so I know it can be done :)
    New Orleans LA
  • BigABigA Posts: 1,157
    The BGE i think is probably the best smoker to get a smoke ring, there are people here that probably never got a smoke ring before until the started with the BGE. Like the other said, cold meat and lots of smoke, they are right. and the chips and chunks you are using should be enough. are you letting your egg burn to long before putting your meat on? Like more than a 1hr or so?? I don't usually add wood after i start the smoke and i get a good ring everytime. maybe tell us the process you are doing, from start to finish, make sure you tell us times.. :)
  • NC-CDNNC-CDN Posts: 703
    I use less wood than that and I never have a problem getting a smoke ring. Spread the wood throughout your lump. As for adding more later. I have added lump before through the gap in the platesetter so I really can't see why adding a few pieces of wood would be any different. Lift it up slightly if you must.

    As others have said, the BGE does a great job at this. What wood are you using? Perhaps this makes a difference.
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Yes, that's a real common question in barbecue circles.... Folks that came from stick burners, and many that used smokers like WSM's before moving into ceramic cookers ask it all the time, as their smoke rings are not quite what they were used to. Mostly it's the lump.

    To answer your question specifically, several things that will help get a better one in your Egg are using colder meat, starting with lower pit temps for a couple of hours, adding a couple of briquettes atop your lump when starting the fire (they contain more nitrates than lump), and having good air flow (a smoldering fire and flavor wood is not good for ring formation). I'm not suggesting you can't cook at barbecue temps, just that you need good air flow which means keeping an eye on vent settings to get it. There are a number of other factors than influence ring formation and I have a write-up that covers a lot of the variables. ..Smoke Rings..
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • jeffinsgfjeffinsgf Posts: 1,259
    What about a small pinch of pink salt in the rub? If I was going to "cheat", I think I'd rather add a little pink salt than burn briquettes. :sick:
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    DSC08334a.jpg

    Well, it only takes a couple of briquettes... and they are lit at the beginning of the cook to take advantage of the sodium nitrate they have on board.

    But yes, doctoring a brisket works. You just sprinkle Tenderquick on the inside face (the side opposite the outer fat cap) for about 10 or 15 minutes, rinse it off and rest in the fridge for an hour (this lets the TQ go to work). Than season and barbecue as usual.
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • Great information on your web page thirdeye! Thanks.

    The thing I can't figure out is that with my propane smoker I used to use, I always got a smoke ring and my meat went on at the same temp as it does now. My friend that competes uses a larger smoker for competition and gets a ring but when he's home and cooking for family and friends, he uses his BGE and never gets a ring. He also prepares his meat the same way.

    I rub my briskets and pork shoulders with either mustard or worcestire sauce and then a rub that I get from Texas BBQ Rub, Inc. It's a sugar based rub. I let the rub marinate on the meat usually overnight. I start my BGE and get it to temp. I then add wood chips/chunks, the platesetter, grate and the meat and close the lid. I don't let the BGE sit for any length of time without my meat on board after adding wood to the coals. The smoke is heavy for about 45 minutes. None of my cooks come out too smokey but none of them have ever had a smoke ring when cooked on the BGE.
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    I have no experience with propane smokers, but a guess is that nitrogen dioxide (or one of it's cousins) is a byproduct of burning gas.

    As far as timing putting meat on the cooker, I wait at least 45 minutes to an hour from the time I start the fire to the time I add my meat.
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • But you don't wait 45 minutes to an hour after adding your wood chunks, do you? I assume you meant you wait 45 minutes to an hour after first lighting the Egg, right? How long after putting your wood on the coals do you add the meat?
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Well, I layer some splits into my lump and then add a few more on top once I light the fire... but yes, I wait that long for the smoke to settle down. I don't think wood should smolder or smoke heavily, rather it should burn clean... In my experience you don't even need to see smoke to taste it on your food, and when you do notice it coming from your vent is sould be faint. That's just the way I was taught.

    Chris Capell (Dizzy Pig Rubs, and a longtime Egger) puts it another way...

    Of all the egged food I have eaten over the years...by friends and at the fests....the most common
    (and noticeable ) mistake that people make is putting their food on before the smoke is right. Tan,
    white or thick smoke, gotta wait. Thin or blue smoke is good. No visible smoke is just fine too.
    Also, folks should put their nose into the smoke.
    --Nature Boy
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • Splits? Not sure what they are. :)
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    DSC00084a.jpg

    Oh sorry. Splits are just chunks that have been sized down, like with a hatchet. There are not a lot of square inches inside an Egg, not the cooking grate... I mean volume wise for the smoke. I've just always found that fist sized chunks are too large for the ignition and the kind of flavor I like. Just because they come that way in a bag doesent mean they need to stay that size. Heheheee.

    The example I use more frequently is going to a bar for several hours.... you don't see that much cigarette smoke, but when you get home your clothes sure smell like it.

    Anyway I arrange splits in a wagon wheel pattern, add a layer of lump, then more splits, and repeat until the fire box is to the level I want. I also mix a few chips into the lump as well.

    DSC07692a.jpg
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • NC-CDNNC-CDN Posts: 703
    I always see people talk about letting the wood burn until it burns clean and all that, but in the pics above won't there be a hot spot (center of lump) and areas that won't burn till later in the cook? So the wood that is in the non-burning areas won't burn right away, therefore won't they produce the not so desirable smoke later on? Am I missing something about this whole process?

    If I'm putting carcinogens into my food I'd like that to stop. Thanks.
  • jeffinsgfjeffinsgf Posts: 1,259
    thirdeye wrote:...
    Chris Capell (Dizzy Pig Rubs, and a longtime Egger) puts it another way...

    ...
    Also, folks should put their nose into the smoke.
    --Nature Boy
    [/quote]

    This is, in my mind, the single best piece of advice. Some folks have trouble judging white smoke from blue and judging the volume of smoke. But, if you stick your nose right next to the vent cap and it smells like a slice of heaven, put your meat in. If it makes you gag, you're still burning off something undesirable. I think that the "undesirables" are normally in the charcoal rather than the wood, but in the end, it really doesn't matter. Give it a few more minutes and it will be gone. I agree that the best smoke flavor comes from the smoke that you can't or can just barely see.
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    For a long burning lower temperature barbecuing fire with charcoal you just start a small spot, and let the fire grow on it's own. the smoke will be stronger at the initial light-up and will need to settle down. During the cook the fire moves so slowly outward that any harsh smoke is not noticeable. Because of the positioning of the wood, the fire finds it as it grows.

    (With briquettes a variation of fire starting for a long burning fire is called the Minion method, and sometimes involves a charcoal basket with a baffle. Below my views on food safety are some good tips from Jim Minion on grilling)


    Research indicates that potential carcinogens (substances that can cause cancer) are present in grilled foods. Fat that drips onto the flames creates smoke that contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's)that are potential carcinogens.

    The crust that forms on meats cooked at high temperatures (such as from grilling, or even frying and broiling meat) includes compounds that researchers say are "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." The compounds are known as HCAs, or heterocyclic amines. Some research has shown that eating more HCAs increases your risk for several cancers, including colorectal, stomach, lung, pancreas, breast, and prostate cancers.

    If you start doing research on this be advised that in many circles "grilling and "barbecuing" are considered one in the same, so the terms may be used interchangeably in articles etc. There is some support that foods we know as barbecue, which are cooked at lower temperatures may be healthier than grilled foods.


    I saved a great forum post from Jim Minion (the same guy that the miniion method above was named after) that I will share here. I generally like to read his opinion on things and have learned quite a bit from doing so.

    We have all heard grilling can be harmful but here are some ways to cut the effects and allows us to eat grilled foods we love.

    Marinate before grilling. It can reduce HCA formation in meat and fish by up to 99 percent. Herbs are helpful, too. Rosemary, garlic and sage may block the formation of both HCAs and PAHs in and on the food. Add the seasonings to light marinades or as ingredients to other dishes you serve with your grilled foods. A citrus or olive oil marinade can also counteract HCA buildup.

    Think small. Smaller cuts spend less time over the flame than big slabs of meat. Flip them frequently, too. Turning meat over every minute greatly reduces HCAs. Use tongs to turn foods. “Puncturing meats with a fork may cause juices to flow and drip on to the coals”.

    Avoid overcooking foods. The longer you grill your meat, the more the carcinogens develop.

    Partner grilled items with cancer fighters. Antioxidants and other phytonutrients in fruits (apples, grapes and berries), vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, onions) and even tea can stall or stop the chemicals' effects in the body.

    There is no need to stop eating grilled food just modify our process.

    Jim
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • AzScottAzScott Posts: 309
    One thing that can influence the smoke ring is the type of salt used in the rub. Sea salt works great for smoke rings.
  • FrobozzFrobozz Posts: 98
    Remember that a smoke ring is a chemical reaction and it isn't necessarily caused by smoke per se -- it's caused by nitrogen dioxide in the smoke, and some things that burn (i.e. briquettes) put off more of that. Using "lots of smoke," which several people wrote here, is a nice way to get a bitter and oversmoked-tasting piece of meat.

    Although it looks nice, a smoke ring is no way to judge the quality of BBQ.
  • FrobozzFrobozz Posts: 98
    Remember that a smoke ring is a chemical reaction and it isn't necessarily caused by smoke per se -- it's caused by nitrogen dioxide in the smoke, and some things that burn (i.e. briquettes) put off more of that. Using "lots of smoke," which several people wrote here, is a nice way to get a bitter and oversmoked-tasting piece of meat.

    Although it looks nice, a smoke ring is no way to judge the quality of BBQ.
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