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Old 05-27-2014, 03:38 PM   #1
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Default offset smoker questions and help

Hey everyone, Still pretty new to smoking and I had a couple questions about the offset smoker i have been using. First off as i mentioned i have an offset reverse flow smoker. I built a charcoal basket within the fire box for the coals to go in. I tried the minion method this weekend of filling the basket with unlit coals than put the hot coals on top.

My questions is, what have you guys found the best way to add coals? Do you use chimney and add only lit coals? Or do you rake the hot coals in the box to one side than apply unlit coals to the now empty side?

Another question, i found that the unlit coals gave off quite a bit of smoke as they were lighting throughout the cook. Is this smoke something could have a negative affect on the flavor? I have been sure to use straight coals that do not have any fire starters added.
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Old 05-27-2014, 05:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

I don't have a SFB anymore, but generally speaking, I've never noticed anything detrimental from the small amount of smoke generated by having briquettes light off during a cook.

My determination of adding lit or unlit is by pit temp. If temps are low, usually because I let the coals burn too far down or for whatever reason not all lit off properly, I'll add lit coals. If it's running fine, I'll just add unlit right on top.

I try to minimize disturbances to the coal bed through actions like raking and such as it tends to kick up a lot of ash that can possibly end up on the food.
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Old 05-27-2014, 07:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

the initial smoke given off shouldn't be a concern, what you should watch out of in general is using too much chunks, wood or chips. The trick is to restrain the smoke; not give too much. I just add the charcoal on top of what is there. After like 4 hours, the meat does not really take on more smoke; the bark just gets thicker.
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:12 AM   #4
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

I've gave up on the basket thing years ago, for me i use a hole starter full of lit charcoal and 1-2 sticks or preheated wood per hour or so of cooking. I preheat my wood right on top the the firebox. By the time the charcoal is ready to be replenished the wood sticks are preheated enough that they ignite rather than smoldder. The key is to have a small hot fire rather than a larger smoldder fire.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

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I preheat my wood right on top the the firebox. By the time the charcoal is ready to be replenished the wood sticks are preheated enough that they ignite rather than smoldder. The key is to have a small hot fire rather than a larger smoldder fire.
That's a good idea for smokers that have that design. I used a lot more whole wood when I had a Smokin' Pro with a side smoker. The WSM, using whole wood is going make food taste like a camp fire.
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

I usually set a few sticks on top of my warming oven to "pre-heat" before putting them in the fire box, but that is with my big stick burner.

Personally I have never had much luck in my small NBS offset with a charcoal basket/minion method. After watching Brent with his Brandywine at one of the first EPICs at his place, I went home and built one out of expanded sheetmetal, but never could get it to work as well as his.

When I am doing a small cook just for our family, I usually will light a load of charcoal in a chimney lighter and dump it in on top of a load of unlit coal and let it catch, then watch and add a piece as necessary. Also keep in mind, I use lump charcoal, not brickets.
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

Thanks for the tips. I was reading on amazingribs about charcoal and that's what I have been trying. I on the hunt for some sticks to do the small fire idea.
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Old 05-29-2014, 07:03 AM   #8
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

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Thanks for the tips. I was reading on amazingribs about charcoal and that's what I have been trying. I on the hunt for some sticks to do the small fire idea.
I make sticks from firewood, just trim them down with an axe. I prefer to de-bark them. Or if you have a bow saw cut some 2 inch thick rounds from a log and split them into wedges. As others have said you only need a few chucks per hour during the first 2-3 hours of cooking. I learned that the hard way...

Good luck and have fun experimenting
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Old 05-29-2014, 07:11 AM   #9
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

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I make sticks from firewood, just trim them down with an axe. I prefer to de-bark them. Or if you have a bow saw cut some 2 inch thick rounds from a log and split them into wedges. As others have said you only need a few chucks per hour during the first 2-3 hours of cooking. I learned that the hard way...

Good luck and have fun experimenting
I agree with de-barking sticks. I think it causes a bitter "off" flavor. MY , YMMV
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Old 05-29-2014, 07:42 PM   #10
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

I guess what i was meaning is I'm looking for some apple or other woods to use. I live the i the city and haven't found a supply yet. What types do you guys generally go with?
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Old 05-30-2014, 06:55 AM   #11
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

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I guess what i was meaning is I'm looking for some apple or other woods to use. I live the i the city and haven't found a supply yet. What types do you guys generally go with?
My property is loaded with white oak and hickory so thats what i use. If you find hickory, go easy with it as you can easily over smoke with it.
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Old 05-30-2014, 10:08 AM   #12
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

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I live the i the city and haven't found a supply yet. What types do you guys generally go with?
Live in the city as well. Pecan shells is my usual, but apple branch is easy to find in New England. Grape Vines are great too.
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Old 05-31-2014, 08:59 AM   #13
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Default Re: offset smoker questions and help

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Live in the city as well. Pecan shells is my usual, but apple branch is easy to find in New England. Grape Vines are great too.
Not to hi jack this thread but where do you find pecan shells in boston. I'd like to try some.
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Old 05-31-2014, 04:43 PM   #14
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Not to hi jack this thread but where do you find pecan shells in boston. I'd like to try some.
I get them shipped from Texas. I bought a box full a few years ago and still going strong. If you live around Boston, I can give you some to try out some time.
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