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What brand / type of charcoal in a bullet smoker please?


Cpt Carnivor
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Hi everyone,

Not really done any long cooks on a proper charcoal smoker before. Recently got a 22" Razzo .

Have always used Grillove 'Restaurant grade' lumpwood for normal grilling on my old Webber kettle. I figured that for my first cook (after I gave it a first really hot blast the day before to clear out any oils or residue from manufacturing), I would need briquettes to burn longer. I could only find the 'Big K' brand at the Supermarket - it was that or the no name brand junk.

So I fired up a half chimney of lumpwood and then put about 4kg worth on top of the lit lumpwood, which was in the centre of the firebasket. Had all the bottom vents open along with the top vent. Got up to 120c very quickly. I should add that I didn't have any water in the pan. I then dialled back the bottom vents to a 3rd open. I had an inkbird probe at the top rack and temp came down to 95c. It sat there for about an hour and a half and then it started dying down. Opened the vents to full - waited about 15 minutes - temp dropped even further.

Opened up the fire basket door and saw that only 20% of the briquettes were partially combusted & the rest untouched. Stoked them a bit - left the door open for 20 mins - briquettes caught a bit, temp got up, turned vents down just a touch. Temp held at about 95c for another hour or so....then the same story ....rinse & repeat a couple more times. Eventually - I lifted the top sections off and dumped in a chimney of lit lumpwood and it limped along like this, with a bit more faffing about, putting in a couple of wood chunks, trying to complete my cook ( a briskett - yes I know - far too ambitious for a first real cook!). Briskett turned out ok in the end. Just ok. Smoke ring, nice flavour and all but not the most tender.

I did see mention by Wade saying that a single fire basket can / should last up to 8 hours? How does one achieve this?

I have ordered some Heatbeads, which is what the Aussie manufacturers recommend for the Razzo, but was wondering what the best briquettes are and best methods for getting it all started and maintained ?

 

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Heat Beads are definitely the best and about all I use in WSM.

If I can’t get any for some reason I’ll use green olive wood company briquettes... although the last batch seems a bit smokier than previously. Failing that Weber briquettes are pretty good but always seem overpriced to me.

As for method.. depends on what I’m smoking. 
Joints of meat at around 2 kilo or less I’ll use the “snake” method and build it as long as I think I’ll need it.

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Light one end, I use a paint stripper heat gun or light half a chimney of charcoal and tip it in at one end. All vents fully open, mine tend to stay that way throughout the cook unless it’s windy which can have an effect to burn times.

The above was about 3/4 bag and lasted an easy 9 hours. 
 

Alternatively.. if I’m doing huge lumps over 2kg I’ll use the “Minion” method, unfortunately I don’t have a picture of that.. but basically I dump a whole bag of beads in the basket and level them out, add wood chunks and light a patch dead centre of the basket .. again half a chimneys worth. 
 

This method tends to burn quite hot once it gets going so the vents will definitely need tweaking to keep temps down.

I’ve had cooks go about 15 hours doing it this way.

 I never use a water pan, I prefer a thick steel heat sink but that’s another issue entirely 😁

Hope my waffle helps a little at least, good luck. 

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Sluggy!

Excellent, detailed advice. Thank you very much mate. I especially like the contraption you have used to stop the snake from touching itself as it were. I saw an old cooling rack in the back of the cupboard that I will sneak out, that will be sacrificed for the greater good (as long as the Mrs doesn't see...).

Have never been successful with the snake method in the past in my webber kettle, substandard charcoal & improper airflow, I think was the likely culprit.

I think I know what you mean when describing the Minion method, so will keep that in mind for the longer cooks but will get the smaller more manageable ones under my belt first. Wow - 15 hours is incredible....not to mention the 9 hours with the snake on 3/4 of a bag. Very impressive & I am really hoping I can achieve that too as I don't fancy having to faff around too much with having to take the thing apart a third of the way through just to re light it...etc, but I know you have to be patient & dedicate the time to get it right....which is part of the fun.

Interesting point about the heatsink idea. I am looking into investing in a decent circular stainless steel disk - say 20mm thick....I may think again when I see the price....but think it could be worth it....or some thick quarry tiles in the water pan covered by foil. Any sub threads you can point to or your own ideas on that would be welcome, as well as any sheet metal suppliers you know of that could custom cut it...etc.

Got some heatbeads on order, thanks for the alternatives. Will try get some ribs on tomorrow afternoon depending on my jay job work load ( I work from home with my garden office right next to my BBQ area!). Off to Cornwall for hols on Saturday PM for a week but have a few days at home on hols when I come back so will have chance to have a decent play..

 

Will eventually get some pics of my endeavours to share.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience with me.

 

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57 minutes ago, Cpt Carnivor said:

 

Interesting point about the heatsink idea. I am looking into investing in a decent circular stainless steel disk - say 20mm thick....I may think again when I see the price....but think it could be worth it....or some thick quarry tiles in the water pan covered by foil. Any sub threads you can point to or your own ideas on that would be welcome, as well as any sheet metal suppliers you know of that could custom cut it...

20mm would be a bit overkill, mine are 3mm thick and for a smaller smoker 2mm would be enough I reckon.

Just had a new one for my WSM slightly larger than my old one 390mm wide 3mm thick stainless cost me £35 delivered from these guys

http://mainroadsheetmetal.com

They are on eBay but it’s better to go direct for custom sizes.

 

 

Edited by Sluggy
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1 hour ago, Sluggy said:

20mm would be a bit overkill, mine are 3mm thick and for a smaller smoker 2mm would be enough I reckon.

Just had a new one for my WSM slightly larger than my old one 390mm wide 3mm thick stainless cost me £35 delivered from these guys

http://mainroadsheetmetal.com

They are on eBay but it’s better to go direct for custom sizes.

 

 

Cheers Sluggy - I will check that out

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1 hour ago, U can do that again said:

Welcome, not used heat beads or  charcoal briquettes in Napoleon Bullet smoker, very similar to the ProQ, only lumpwood, happy with results and coconut briquettes only downside to them is lots of ash.

See earlier post for more details on how work out what works me 

Thanks mate - I have the heatbeads due to be delivered today/tomorrow so will start from scratch again 🙂

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