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Question on Stabilizing Temps

Last Weekend I cooked a shoulder (See Attached Graph). I've been having trouble keeping consistent temps. My Lid is properly aligned with the base and gasket seals well. The trouble on previous cooks is that each time I open the lid to flip or foil...whatever the case, the egg temp rises and rises 20-30 degrees and will not come back down after 20 minutes or so...thus tend to adjust the bottom vent after those 20 minutes. On this cook, at 2:39pm (150F on meat) I opened it up to foil, temp went up and started to come back down as I should expect...but then it continued to drop. It was a windy day and the egg was set in the 275f-285f range and maintained that rather well as you can see. but toward the end of the cook it dropped down to 249F. I opened the bottom vent and lid and blew air onto the coals and it began to rise to 260F when the cook finished. Lump was full. Partially left over from a previous cook and partially fresh. BGE brand. Also it had been some time since I emptied ash. 4 cooks maybe. Any thoughts why the temp fluctuated so much?

 
Cook.pdf 195.8K
Pratt, KS

Comments

  • NPHuskerFLNPHuskerFL Posts: 17,629
    edited January 2017
    Protein is a cooling mass  so temp drop initially isn't unusual.
    As lump and wood burns and falls temps will fluctuate.
    It's a kamado cooker not an electric or gas oven that can be "set it and forget it".  That said my guess is you're overcompensating and by the time you see temperature increase or drop you're adjusting it again and round and round we go. Small adjustments after you set the initial temperature is what I would recommend over large adjustments. The only other suggestion would be to go to a controller if you want to set it and forget it. 
    LBGE 2013 & MM 2014
    Die Hard HUSKER & BRONCO FAN
    Flying Low & Slow in "Da Burg" FL
  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 942
    I think the most important part of temperature control is to have faith.  What I do is stabilize the temperature with an empty egg, then add the plate setter, grill and meat, I don't worry about the temperature and make no adjustments to the vents.  It might take an hour or more for the temperature to come back to the stabilized temperature but so far it always has.  Sometimes at the end of the cook I am still at the stabilized temperature and sometimes it is 10º or so higher which is ok with me too.  Micro managing seems to be what frustrates most people from holding a steady temperature.

    Gerhard
  • JustineCaseyFeldownJustineCaseyFeldown Posts: 867
    edited January 2017
    wind, type of lump... never had either of those affect temps short term.

    one thing to keep in mind, the fire doesn't change nearly as much as the thermometer might be leading you to think.

    usually a person new to the BGE will open the egg, sauce or flip something, and then shut the dome.  they then panic when they see the temp has dropped thirty or forty degrees, and they adjust vents more open.  then they come back to find the fire overshooting.

    when you are at higher temps, the fire is not much different after you shut the dome (for sake of argument). the fire doesn't get colder. only thing that cooled off when they opened the dome was the thermometer (and maybe a little of the dome heat)

    when they shut the dome, the temp will rise back up as the dome (and thermometer) pick up the heat that was there all along.

    in your case, when you go low and slow, take a look at the vent settings and the amount of draft coming through the egg.  minimal, right?

    now, imagine you opened your vents as wide as you open the dome.  you would let in a ton of air.

    you still see the initial brief cooling of the thermometer (but not the fire), but you ALSO have just let in a massive gulp of air (fuel).  so, your thermometer says "fire is going out" while the fire is actually growing from the fresh air.

    that will fuel the fire short term, and despite your keeping the vents the same, it will cause the fire to grow a little and temps to (momentarily) rise.  this will make you choke the vents down, because you think they are too open.  when in fact the air bypassed the vents, and got in there when you opened it.  in time it will use up that extra air and return down to your desired temp.

    many of us do not fuss and open the lid during the cook.  but you still can if that's part of the way you cook.  just ignore the initial spike (or cooling) in dome temps, and the temp will settle back where you had it

    this is the same for whenever you are roasting or grilling, and see the thermometer fall when you open the dome.  it will always come back to the original 'set-point' so to speak.

  • RedSkipRedSkip Posts: 1,400
    edited January 2017
    My low and slow procedure:

    1.  Fill fire ring, which sits on top of the fire bowl with lump.  This is about an 0.5" - 1" below the platesetter.

    2.  Light the lump in the middle of where the platesetter will be.  Just under the size of a baseball should be lit.  Smaller if I'm cooking around 225-250F.  I generally do my smoking around 250-275F.

    3.  Set my vent settings, close the lid, and go inside to prep the meat.

    4.  Once stabilized at my desired temperature, I put the platesetter in.

    5.  Once temperatures have stabilized with the plate setter (generally 30 minutes after step #4, I start my cook.  Note:  This has allowed the VOC's from the lump/smoking wood to burn off and there should be good smelling blue/gray smoke - not white.

    6.  Relax, enjoy, and make minor adjustments as needed.  Remember, the bottom vent is for large adjustments and the top is for fine tuning.

    Last note, I only touched the vent settings once in my procedure.  I try and make as few changes as possible.  If you do change the vent settings, make sure to only do one at a time. This way you know which variable has effected your temps.


    Large BGE - McDonald, PA
  • smokeywsmokeyw Posts: 367
    RedSkip said:
    My low and slow procedure:

    1.  Fill fire ring, which sits on top of the fire bowl with lump.  This is about an 0.5" - 1" below the platesetter.

    2.  Light the lump in the middle of where the platesetter will be.  Just under the size of a baseball should be lit.  Smaller if I'm cooking around 225-250F.  I generally do my smoking around 250-275F.

    3.  Set my vent settings, close the lid, and go inside to prep the meat.

    4.  Once stabilized at my desired temperature, I put the platesetter in.

    5.  Once temperatures have stabilized with the plate setter (generally 30 minutes after step #4, I start my cook.  Note:  This has allowed the VOC's from the lump/smoking wood to burn off and there should be good smelling blue/gray smoke - not white.

    6.  Relax, enjoy, and make minor adjustments as needed.  Remember, the bottom vent is for large adjustments and the top is for fine tuning.

    Last note, I only touched the vent settings once in my procedure.  I try and make as few changes as possible.  If you do change the vent settings, make sure to only do one at a time. This way you know which variable has effected your temps.



    This is pretty much my procedure as well except I put the plate setter in immediately after lighting and let everything come up to temp together. It has worked well for me.
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 38,463
    The temps in your graph look perfectly fine. 
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  • jtcBoyntonjtcBoynton Posts: 2,778
    It looks like you added the shoulder before the egg temp had stabilized.  I find it easier to stabilize the egg temp before adding the item being cooked.
    Southeast Florida - LBGE
    In cooking, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’  Dare to think for yourself.
     
  • MattBTIMattBTI Posts: 417
    Very good, sounds like I just need to have a little more faith in the egg. Thanks
    Pratt, KS
  • SmokingPineySmokingPiney Posts: 2,282
    edited January 2017
    If you have the temp stabilized before you add the meat, you need to have faith. The temp will show low when you first close the Egg after adding the meat  because the thermometer was exposed to ambient air. It may then rise above the temp you set for a bit due to the influx of air when you opened it, but it will settle down.

    A lot of new Eggers get hung up on exact temp control and tend to chase it. All that does is make you crazy in an endless loop of up and down. If I'm within 20 degrees or so of target, I don't sweat it and let it ride........I'm cooking to a meat IT anyway.
    South Jersey Pine Barrens. XL BGE , Assassin 24, Weber Kettle, CharBroil gasser, AMNPS 
  • MattBTIMattBTI Posts: 417
    Ok, thanks again for the advice. While I've got your attention, I also tend to lose smoke an hour through the cook. I've been using hickory and apple chunks and bury some in the middle of the lump then place some on top. Is there a way to prolong the smoke throughout the cook?
    Pratt, KS
  • MattBTIMattBTI Posts: 417
    MattBTI said:
    Ok, thanks again for the advice. While I've got your attention, I also tend to lose smoke an hour through the cook. I've been using hickory and apple chunks and bury some in the middle of the lump then place some on top. Is there a way to prolong the smoke throughout the cook?

    The chunks are good size. Most of them range from golf ball to baseball in size. 
    Pratt, KS
  • EggMcMicEggMcMic Posts: 340
    It is my understanding that the meat will only absorb smoke up to a certain point (could be a myth I read somewhere) so I am only concerned with smoke at the beginning of the cook. Like you I space some chunks out throughout my coal in hops that it will spread the smoke time longer.
    EggMcMcc
    Central Illinois
    First L BGE July 2016, RecTec, Traeger, Weber, Campchef
    Second BGE, a MMX, February 2017
    Third BGE, another large, May, 2017
    Added another griddle (BassPro) December 2017
  • MattBTIMattBTI Posts: 417
    I tend to see others on here with much more developed smoke rings than I get. I like smokey bbq
    Pratt, KS
  • dstearndstearn Posts: 1,594
    MattBTI said:
    Last Weekend I cooked a shoulder (See Attached Graph). I've been having trouble keeping consistent temps. My Lid is properly aligned with the base and gasket seals well. The trouble on previous cooks is that each time I open the lid to flip or foil...whatever the case, the egg temp rises and rises 20-30 degrees and will not come back down after 20 minutes or so...thus tend to adjust the bottom vent after those 20 minutes. On this cook, at 2:39pm (150F on meat) I opened it up to foil, temp went up and started to come back down as I should expect...but then it continued to drop. It was a windy day and the egg was set in the 275f-285f range and maintained that rather well as you can see. but toward the end of the cook it dropped down to 249F. I opened the bottom vent and lid and blew air onto the coals and it began to rise to 260F when the cook finished. Lump was full. Partially left over from a previous cook and partially fresh. BGE brand. Also it had been some time since I emptied ash. 4 cooks maybe. Any thoughts why the temp fluctuated so much?

     
    It could be that each time you open the lid you are allowing more airflow which can temporarily raise the temp. How long are you raising the lid each time?
  • MattBTIMattBTI Posts: 417
    dstearn said:
    MattBTI said:
    Last Weekend I cooked a shoulder (See Attached Graph). I've been having trouble keeping consistent temps. My Lid is properly aligned with the base and gasket seals well. The trouble on previous cooks is that each time I open the lid to flip or foil...whatever the case, the egg temp rises and rises 20-30 degrees and will not come back down after 20 minutes or so...thus tend to adjust the bottom vent after those 20 minutes. On this cook, at 2:39pm (150F on meat) I opened it up to foil, temp went up and started to come back down as I should expect...but then it continued to drop. It was a windy day and the egg was set in the 275f-285f range and maintained that rather well as you can see. but toward the end of the cook it dropped down to 249F. I opened the bottom vent and lid and blew air onto the coals and it began to rise to 260F when the cook finished. Lump was full. Partially left over from a previous cook and partially fresh. BGE brand. Also it had been some time since I emptied ash. 4 cooks maybe. Any thoughts why the temp fluctuated so much?

     
    It could be that each time you open the lid you are allowing more airflow which can temporarily raise the temp. How long are you raising the lid each time?
    I don't leave it open longer than a few seconds. I remove the meat then close it back up. Ill reopen to put meat back in. 
    Pratt, KS
  • EggMcMicEggMcMic Posts: 340
    Check out this posting here. It talks a little about rings and you might find some things to try. Another thought, since you like it smokey, would be to add and a-maze-ing smoke tube or tray. I smoke cheese (cold) that way. It would definitely add smoke throughout your cook.
    EggMcMcc
    Central Illinois
    First L BGE July 2016, RecTec, Traeger, Weber, Campchef
    Second BGE, a MMX, February 2017
    Third BGE, another large, May, 2017
    Added another griddle (BassPro) December 2017
  • EggMcMic said:
    It is my understanding that the meat will only absorb smoke up to a certain point (could be a myth I read somewhere) so I am only concerned with smoke at the beginning of the cook. Like you I space some chunks out throughout my coal in hops that it will spread the smoke time longer.
    Meat doesn't 'absorb' smoke really. And it will accept it throughout the cook

    Smoke permeats every nook and cranny, yes. But it isn't hetting into the meat. Some components of it are, sure. But the smokey flavor doesn't truly get into the meat

    and it will land on it whenever it is applied. Otherwise a twice smoked ham would be no more smoke flavored than a regular ham

    the smoke 'ring' is a chemical reaction which is said to stop around 140 or so. Not 140 dome but when the meat surface hits 140

    that probably occurs within the first hour or so, and is responsible for the myth that smoke is no longer "absorbed" after the first hour
  • MattBTI said:
    I tend to see others on here with much more developed smoke rings than I get. I like smokey bbq
    Mix wood (chips or chunks) into the lump down lower. If you only have wood on top, the fire will lose that extra smoke as the fire burns downward. 


  • blind99blind99 Posts: 4,934
    If you want more smoke you'll need to strategically load chunks where the fire will travel to. Careful though you can really get carried away - at least I did - and while your taste gets used to all that smoke others may find it too much. 

    Wrt temps I agree w above and would add- maintaining low temps like 225 can be a lot trickier than higher temps like 300. People get really set on locking in on a precise temp and it drives them bonkers. 

    If you watch the temp at the dome and at the grate on an indirect cook you'll see it may take 30-45 minutes to equalize. They can be 50 degrees different. Neither is wrong but you'll drive yourself nuts wondering which right!

    smoke rings are nice to look at but not a big deal. I find I get a really pronounced smoke ring when I use a controller. Maybe because the egg runs starved a lot and it's making more CO or something? It's not a goal for me so I haven't really looked into it. 


    Chicago, IL - Large and Small BGE - Weber Gasser and Kettle
  • herbuherbu Posts: 125
    I read a lot here before getting my BGE.  Over and over I saw people say to let the egg temp "stabilize" before adding the meat.  Then after a number of cooks, I realized it can take up to an hour for that to happen.  Fresh coals or used coals, platesetter or not, torch or starter cube, lighting one or multiple spots, etc.

    At first I was a bit concerned.  Then I learned a BGE full of coal can burn for 20+ hours.  So you're not losing  anything by giving it the hour to stabilize.  My (short) experience is to allow plenty of time for this stabilization.  Don't be in a hurry.  After all, you're starting a low & SLOW cook.  It's gonna take a while.
    Of all the lies I tell, "Just kidding" is my favorite.

    XLBGE, Jordan Lake, NC
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 24,622
    @herbu -  great point and worth mentioning on a frequent basis for NEO's (New Egg Owners).  If I have an overnighter on the schedule I will light it up around 8 PM, get stable for a couple of hours and toss the protein on around midnight+/-.  No worries about the cook thru the night and then see where I am in the AM.  FWIW-
    Louisville; "indeterminate Jim" here.  Rolling smoke in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer!
  • jtcBoyntonjtcBoynton Posts: 2,778
    EggMcMic said:
    It is my understanding that the meat will only absorb smoke up to a certain point (could be a myth I read somewhere) so I am only concerned with smoke at the beginning of the cook. Like you I space some chunks out throughout my coal in hops that it will spread the smoke time longer.
    Smoke is not absorbed into the meat - it adheres to the surface of the meat.  Smoke will continue to adhere to the meat throughout the cook.  However, the rate will vary.  Smoke sticks better to damp surfaces. After cooking for a while, the surface of the meat will dry and the rate of smoke attachment will fall.  Most cooks will add enough wood at the beginning to generate smoke so that enough will adhere to the meat while it is still damp.  The "smoke only absorbs for 2-3 hours" is an over generalization that reflects that most of the smoke will attach in the beginning and the rate falls as the meat surface dries (and that the smoke wood is often exhausted). 
    Southeast Florida - LBGE
    In cooking, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’  Dare to think for yourself.
     
  • SciAggieSciAggie Posts: 6,476
    @herbu @lousubcap That's one of the reasons I'm fascinated by how many people fret over how fast their egg heats up. I usually light my egg early, then change out of work clothes, have a drink, prepare the meal, talk to my wife, etc..., When I get ready to cook I have a hot egg waiting on me. I'm not wasting much lump doing this. Sure some folks may have reasons to need heat quickly, but for most of us we just need to light the egg early.

    Coleman, Texas
    Large BGE & Mini Max for the wok. A few old camp Dutch ovens and a wood fired oven. LSG 24” cabinet offset smoker. There are a few paella pans and a Patagonia cross in the barn. A curing chamber for bacterial transformation of meats...
    "Bourbon slushies. Sure you can cook on the BGE without them, but why would you?"
                                                                                                                          YukonRon
  • KjunbobKjunbob Posts: 118
    RedSkip said:
    My low and slow procedure:

    1.  Fill fire ring, which sits on top of the fire bowl with lump.  This is about an 0.5" - 1" below the platesetter.

    2.  Light the lump in the middle of where the platesetter will be.  Just under the size of a baseball should be lit.  Smaller if I'm cooking around 225-250F.  I generally do my smoking around 250-275F.

    3.  Set my vent settings, close the lid, and go inside to prep the meat.

    4.  Once stabilized at my desired temperature, I put the platesetter in.

    5.  Once temperatures have stabilized with the plate setter (generally 30 minutes after step #4, I start my cook.  Note:  This has allowed the VOC's from the lump/smoking wood to burn off and there should be good smelling blue/gray smoke - not white.

    6.  Relax, enjoy, and make minor adjustments as needed.  Remember, the bottom vent is for large adjustments and the top is for fine tuning.

    Last note, I only touched the vent settings once in my procedure.  I try and make as few changes as possible.  If you do change the vent settings, make sure to only do one at a time. This way you know which variable has effected your temps.


    Wow.. I didn't realize that the you should fill to about 1" below plate setter.  Is this what most people do?  This could be the cause of my problems with temp.. not enough fuel.

    Large Egg.  New Orleans Area
  • yljktyljkt Posts: 799
    Kjunbob said:
    RedSkip said:
    My low and slow procedure:

    1.  Fill fire ring, which sits on top of the fire bowl with lump.  This is about an 0.5" - 1" below the platesetter.

    2.  Light the lump in the middle of where the platesetter will be.  Just under the size of a baseball should be lit.  Smaller if I'm cooking around 225-250F.  I generally do my smoking around 250-275F.

    3.  Set my vent settings, close the lid, and go inside to prep the meat.

    4.  Once stabilized at my desired temperature, I put the platesetter in.

    5.  Once temperatures have stabilized with the plate setter (generally 30 minutes after step #4, I start my cook.  Note:  This has allowed the VOC's from the lump/smoking wood to burn off and there should be good smelling blue/gray smoke - not white.

    6.  Relax, enjoy, and make minor adjustments as needed.  Remember, the bottom vent is for large adjustments and the top is for fine tuning.

    Last note, I only touched the vent settings once in my procedure.  I try and make as few changes as possible.  If you do change the vent settings, make sure to only do one at a time. This way you know which variable has effected your temps.


    Wow.. I didn't realize that the you should fill to about 1" below plate setter.  Is this what most people do?  This could be the cause of my problems with temp.. not enough fuel.

    That amount of lump is for a longer duration cook, really has nothing to do with temp. 
  • RedSkipRedSkip Posts: 1,400
    edited January 2017
    Kjunbob said:
    RedSkip said:
    My low and slow procedure:

    1.  Fill fire ring, which sits on top of the fire bowl with lump.  This is about an 0.5" - 1" below the platesetter.

    2.  Light the lump in the middle of where the platesetter will be.  Just under the size of a baseball should be lit.  Smaller if I'm cooking around 225-250F.  I generally do my smoking around 250-275F.

    3.  Set my vent settings, close the lid, and go inside to prep the meat.

    4.  Once stabilized at my desired temperature, I put the platesetter in.

    5.  Once temperatures have stabilized with the plate setter (generally 30 minutes after step #4, I start my cook.  Note:  This has allowed the VOC's from the lump/smoking wood to burn off and there should be good smelling blue/gray smoke - not white.

    6.  Relax, enjoy, and make minor adjustments as needed.  Remember, the bottom vent is for large adjustments and the top is for fine tuning.

    Last note, I only touched the vent settings once in my procedure.  I try and make as few changes as possible.  If you do change the vent settings, make sure to only do one at a time. This way you know which variable has effected your temps.


    Wow.. I didn't realize that the you should fill to about 1" below plate setter.  Is this what most people do?  This could be the cause of my problems with temp.. not enough fuel.

    @Kjunbob Temperature comes from fuel and oxygen.  You have the fuel (lump), and need air (vents).  Sometimes people struggle cause the small lump pieces can clog the vent holes in the fire bowl and fire grate.  

    Some of the folks have invested in the kick ash basket or Hi-Que grate to allow for more airflow into the egg.  These accessories help get the fire stable at lower temps (225F).  I find my egg likes ~265F and so I do my low and slows at this temp.  High temp cooks are a lot easier to maintain because the vents are opened more allowing airflow in to help stabilize the temps.

    Lower Vent Settings:
    1/8" is about 225-250. (Hardest to maintain)
    1/4 " is about 275-300F
    1/2" is about 300-350F
    1" is about 400F

    Top vent is generally half the lower vent opening width.    If the lower vent is 1" then I start around 1/2" on the top and open/close depending on the temperature I'm targeting. (Open for higher temps and close for lower temps.)

    Each egg is different and you just need to find your egg's sweet spot.
    Large BGE - McDonald, PA
  • herbuherbu Posts: 125
    RedSkip said:
    Some of the folks have invested in the kick ash basket.
    A word about the kick ash basket.  I got one after reading here and watching their video.  It really does help clean up, making it easier to discard the ash and keep the unburned coals.  And I suppose it helps air flow, though I never had any trouble with that before.

    But I have learned the egg holds less coal with the KAB than w/o it.
    Filling coal to the top of the KAB means less coal than filling to the same level w/o it.  My XL holds so much coal it isn't a problem, but worth noting.

    If you're used to filling/refilling w/o the KAB, you should pay attention after you get a KAB, as you may need to refill sooner or more often.  If you top off the coals for every cook, it doesn't matter.  But if you're used to just kinda stirring the coals to knock off the ash, and relighting, you'll notice you run out sooner.

    I haven't done a cook longer than 5-6 hours w/ the KAB, and so far I've only filled coals to the top of the basket.  It's plenty for that kind of cook, and it means you can easily lift the basket for dumping ash between cooks.  For a butt or brisket, I'd still fill coals right up to the platesetter.  Just be aware it'll mean you can't lift the basket until you burn off some coal.
    Of all the lies I tell, "Just kidding" is my favorite.

    XLBGE, Jordan Lake, NC
  • dgaddis1dgaddis1 Posts: 140
    herbu said:

    I haven't done a cook longer than 5-6 hours w/ the KAB, and so far I've only filled coals to the top of the basket.  It's plenty for that kind of cook, and it means you can easily lift the basket for dumping ash between cooks.  For a butt or brisket, I'd still fill coals right up to the platesetter.  Just be aware it'll mean you can't lift the basket until you burn off some coal.
    I've got a Large with a KAB and have done a 14hr cook and still had PLENTY of lump left, could likely have gone over 24hrs.  Now it was FULL, right up to the plate setter, but having the basket isn't going to limit your cook time for long cooks.
    Dustin - Macon, GA
    Southern Wheelworks 
  • Ladeback69Ladeback69 Posts: 4,481
    EggMcMic said:
    It is my understanding that the meat will only absorb smoke up to a certain point (could be a myth I read somewhere) so I am only concerned with smoke at the beginning of the cook. Like you I space some chunks out throughout my coal in hops that it will spread the smoke time longer.
    Smoke is not absorbed into the meat - it adheres to the surface of the meat.  Smoke will continue to adhere to the meat throughout the cook.  However, the rate will vary.  Smoke sticks better to damp surfaces. 
    This is why I put what ever I am smoking back into the fridge to build up moister.  It seem to help with getting a better bark on pork butts and briskets.

    @MattBTI, it sounds about normal to me what you see.  It can take 30 minutes or more for the egg to stabilize after putting the meat on cold.  Also I have been told a good smoke range is from 225 to 275, but you can still get some good smoke going 300 or over.  I have found going closer to 225 I get a little more smoke flavor and mix in my golf ball size wood chunks through out my lump.  I like to use 6 to 8 pieces at least.  Try adding a few more pieces of wood mixed in with lump and go a little lower in temp, that is what works for me.  That's the fun in this on the the different ways and temps to cook at on the Egg.
    XL, WSM, Coleman Road Trip Gas Grill

    Kansas City, Mo.
  • GrateEggspectationsGrateEggspectations Posts: 6,220
    edited January 2017
    Many people use water pans to help stabilize temps. I use them whenever I do low and slows - I tend to experience a true "set it and forget it" cook. 

    http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/what_goes_in_the_water_pan.html
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