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Ooops Bought A Pit Barrel Company Grill/Smoker


sotv
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Always fancied ago at this type of cooking and seemed a good deal for one at £259. Hopefully not to steeper learning curve and as accustomed and happy to letting things cook themselves now, thanks to using a pellet grill. From what i have read about these once you've got them going these are quite similar in terms of use and produce decent food.

 

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Edited by sotv
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13 hours ago, markie_q said:

Looking forward to hearing how you get on. Would love one of these. 

Coming tomorrow (48 hour delivery) although ordered from JTF for £259 being supplied direct from Gardengiftshop who sell it themselves for £319 so well pleased with the £60 saving. Weather not looking brilliant till after the weekend, so will leave it till early next week probably. Stick with a chicken for the first cook as they're pretty forgiving for practicing with.

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The UDS barrel smokers run very well on restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal. The size of the lumps are not too important and at the competitions you often see very large lumps of charcoal in the fire basket. How many cooking grates does your pit barrel smoker have and does it have a baffle plate that sits above the fire basket.  If not then you may find that the addition of a second cooking grate and a baffle are mods you may want to consider in the future.

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3 hours ago, JMoloney said:

Hi ya, 

I just got a pit barrel cooker, had a few cooks on it, which have been great overall.

Just wondering what coals do you use? 

Cheers

Hi & Welcome, nice to hear from a fellow owner. Might be picking your brains as not used mine yet, hoping to give it ago Tuesday or Wednesday. I will be using Restaurant Grade Lumpwood,  

Hoping it works out the box the same as the videos I have watched, not looking to mod except for perhaps a temp probe inlet and grommet and many say no real need to do any, but there are options if you like to tinker as Wade has pointed out. It doesn't seem right to just need to set the above sea height setting opening , light the charcoal and it settles around 280 +/ 20F after an initial spike for the duration of the cook without needing to do anything else. I've learnt to trust my grill, just need to believe in this and what it is advertised as able to do. 😄

Bought mine as although the food on my pellet grill is excellent it is so expensive to run for 6 hour+ cooks so hoping this will be a set and leave like the grill for those longer and messier cooks & cheaper than pellets that's for sure. Will likely use the pellet grill  for cooks less than 3 hours cooks and grilling and use this for lumps of meat, well that's the plan anyway.

 

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Hi Wade & SOTV,

thank you for the replies, I'll check out the restaurant grade lumpwood. It doesn't have a baffle plate. It has 1 grill but can get a half grate so you can still use a hang bar. SOTV I managed to use mine straight out of the box no bother. The only issues I've had is getting the charcoal going properly - I did the fill up the basket & then about a quarter in the chimney starter. I think I didn't give it long enough though. I ended up opening the bottom vent all the way to get more air in. Also think the charcoal I used yesterday wasn't good enough as there wasn't enough heat. I picked up a pit barrel cooker ash pan on ebay & going to get the hinge grate a company called garden gift shop sell them. I'm really pleased with it & looking forward to using it more.

 

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I have had one of these for the last couple of years and love it. I find it really is set and forget, with the following caveats in my case;

  • it runs hotter than expected and therefore food cooks quicker than expected but always comes out tasting good. However, this is based on timings from the company owners website recipes and I think they cook at a much higher altitude than I do based in London. Also, I only cook to a given internal temp and do not bother to monitor the grill temp as I found I was stressing over that rather than just waiting for the food to cook.
  • I find briquettes to be more controllable than lumpwood in this cooker and use either Webers own or Heat Beads
  • If you can, hang the food rather than use the grill grate as it seems to produce better tasting food
  • I did buy some additional 'turkey hangers' and love the way they cook any bird. we find the result to be as tasty as when we use our rotisserie on the kettle.
  • Of my 3 grills, AK egg, Weber Master Touch 57cm Kettle and this, this is the one I will use if I just want to put something on and do other things

I would not want to be without one of these now.

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Hi Russel,

thank you for the reply, its really helpful. That's good that you mention about briquettes rather than lumpwood as I've just ordered a load of weber briquettes. Do you put in any wood chips for added flavour? I haven't tried this yet & was going to get some hickory to see how that came out.

Also what do you do for putting out the coals when you've finished? I contacted PBC through their email & they said to let the coals die out, however I don't like the idea of leaving unattended hot coals outside. I've taken out the charcoal pan & emptied it into a load of soil & sand. I'm trying to find a cake tin style tin  that I can put over the charcoal basket to take out the oxygen & leave that out to cool down but haven't found anything that would work so far. 

Cheers,

James

 

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Have either of you done Baby back Ribs? planning to pick up some from Costco for the weekend and wondered if they're strong enough to hang from the hooks or likely to fall apart once cooked or is it  best to tie them off and hang from the string?

Thinking of getting an Ash bucket for mine to extinguish the fire but want a few goes with lifting and lowering the basket with the garden rake first, if comfortable with it, the ash bucket will cost me the same as buying the Weber compact chimney anyway.

 

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Hi ya,

I did some baby back ribs the other week. I tried to do it how the PBC guy didn't on YouTube. It went really well, but 1 of the racks, half of them fell into the coals, I managed to sort them out but the string idea could be worth a go. 

I'll check out an ash bucket. I managed to lift the coal bucket by hand. I've got the Weber BBQ leather gloves & that was fine. 

Cheers,

James

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Hi James,

Yes I do put wood in to add smoke flavour. To date I have used Oak with beef and lamb and Cherry, Apple and Pear with pork and chicken. I tend to put at least two chunks of wood (I don't use chips) on the side of the basket nearest the air inlet at the bottom of the barrel as I find the fire tends to burn from that point to the other side of the barrel consistently.

To put the coals out I take the basket out of the barrel and put it on top of my Weber kettle and close the lid with all vents closed. This does kill the fire and saves coals for the next cook as I very rarely end up using the entire basket full. I guess you could do the same by covering all the inlets top and bottom on the barrel but personally I have never found anything big enough to close over the bottom inlet and I suspect it would still take longer to kill the fire in the PCB than it does on my Weber. By the way I did invest in a number of magnet hooks from Amazon which are big enough to cover the hanging bar holes at the top of the OCB when I want to lower the temp but yiu could do the same with balls of foils place in the holes.

Hi Sotv,

Yes I have hung baby back ribs and have not had any issue with meat falling off the hooks as yet. In addition I hung short ribs, pork belly, pork butt, leg of lamb, shoulder of lamb, brisket and never had an issue. Now that I've jinxed myself the next cook will probably end up in the coals. Having said that I am very careful with the hook placement and if am in any doubt will use two hooks, either daisy chained (ie. so one hook is over the bar and the second hook is hanging from the first) or separately hooked over both rods. It is inevitable that something will fall off the hook at some point I guess.

In learning to use the PCB I watched a lot of videos from the PCB company and others to see how they did things. I also use the PCB for cold smoking with my ProQ maze when I have larger pieces of meat or fish I want to smoke.

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If you are going to cold smoke your salmon fillets from the hanging bars then it is wise to give the fillets some additional support to stop the hooks from tearing the fillet due to its weight. The photos below are for a split salmon with the gill collar still in place however the technique can be adapted for a shop bought salmon fillet.

Simply run a skewer through the  width of the thickest end of the fillet to spread the load. Pushing it through the skin at either side will give it even more support. You can then either loop some butchers string either side of the fillet or sew it through as a loop underneath the skewer. If you don't want to use the string then just use the hanging hooks in the smoker to support each end of the skewer.

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For a first go impressed with the way the temp held , used lump, settled at 255F within 15 minutes and stayed there for the whole 2 and half hour cook of a whole chicken cooked in two halves  (and the charcoal left had as much time still to burn at least  I reckon)  No need to tamper with anything or lid lifting . Tasted good and came out really juicy. Onto the Ribs Saturday.

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Any owners able to help? Second go had a few problems maintaining temp compared to the first. Only difference was I used Weber briquettes for some baby back ribs this time rather than lumpwood, but the temp kept dipping below 200F after the first hour and continued to do so for over 4 hours. Finished them off in the oven in the end as after 4 hours they were still only 150F IT when they should have been cooked by then easily. 

Assume it's user error, but didn't do anything different than the first go, I kept the valve in the position with just the small gap at the bottom of it as the temp drops even more if I move it away from that position . Level basket of briquettes and half a chimney of lit ones poured over them, first time the lump settled at 250F and held that for the 3 hours I required it for the cook and would have gone on longer. The Briquettes were all over the place though. I know most people recommend them wondering if theirs a trick to it, I'm missing?

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Hi ya, 

I had a similar issue with some random coals that I used where the temperature wasn't high enough. I've just got a load of Weber briquettes but haven't used them yet. When I do I'll let you how I get on. What lumpwood did use first time round?

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10 hours ago, sotv said:

Level basket of briquettes and half a chimney of lit ones poured over them, first time the lump settled at 250F and held that for the 3 hours I required it for the cook and would have gone on longer. The Briquettes were all over the place though. I know most people recommend them wondering if theirs a trick to it, I'm missing?

You mention that you used a level basket of briquettes and then poured half a chimney of lit ones over the top. This can lead to uneven burning which then requires constant monitoring. You should try using the Minion method as this will provide a more even heat source throughout the cook.

By having the lit coals in the centre it produces a hotter, but smaller, heat source that is more easily controlled through the bottom vents. Leave the top vents open at all times and do not be tempted to close them or the results can be unpredictable. Under normal circumstances the top vents should only be closed once the cook has finished and you want to extinguish the remaining coals.

With this method, as the cook progresses the burn will move slowly outwards. The heat will remain more focused and easier to control. You will see from the photo below that the smoking wood is placed on top of the unlit coals and this gives more constant smoke over the duration of the cook. If you were to start by having lit coals over the entire fire basket all of the smoking wood will burn at the start of the cook and be consumed in the early stages. 

The information below is taken from a previous post - https://www.woodsmokeforum.uk/topic/2684-hallo/?tab=comments#comment-19387

A couple of tips to try to get the temperature up and stable.

  • Use the Minion method for your charcoal. Below is a photo of it in a ProQ. As you are having a little difficulty getting the temperature up make the centre well of lit briquettes larger - but beware that the temperature may quickly overshoot. The mix of wood chunk and pellets is just to show that you can use either - just choose one type.
  • Place the smoker in a sheltered place. A cool breeze will quickly cool the smoker.
  • Open both the bottom AND THE TOP vents fully. The temperature is reliant on the flow of air through the smoker. With the top vents even partially closed the air flow will be restricted and the temperature will not rise - or may even drop. Some people think that by closing down the top vent it will keep more heat in - but it actually has the opposite effect. Once you have got the temperature control mastered then you can then start to use the top vents to fine tune.
  • As has been said above, Do not use water in the bowl. Water is fine but it also absorbs energy as the water evaporates and turns to steam. If you want to use water in the bowl, limit it to low-and-slow cooks where you are trying to maintain a temperature of ~110-120 C.
    Sand is best as it absorbs the heat spikes and smooths the heat troughs. If you cannot find play pit sand then you can use well washed sharp sand. Alternatively you can use the empty bowl - lining it with foil is usually a good idea to help with cleaning afterwards.
  • Monitor the temperature regularly and when it gets to about 3/4 of target temperature begin to close down the bottom vents in stages until the desired temerature is reached and has stabilised.

860619888_ProQMinion.thumb.jpg.a1bdabdec18ff0a989635d87c1b0c1f8.jpg

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8 hours ago, JMoloney said:

Hi ya, 

I had a similar issue with some random coals that I used where the temperature wasn't high enough. I've just got a load of Weber briquettes but haven't used them yet. When I do I'll let you how I get on. What lumpwood did use first time round?

I used the Weber lumpwood and it behaved as I expected the Weber Briquettes not so much, they were both new bags this week so weren't stored by me outdoors in a shed over winter.

@Wade I will probably try that next time, I followed their own recommended method and it worked fine with the lumpwood, just not the briquettes, but me & briquettes have never really got on, used to have the same sort of problems with my ProQ but will persevere, whatever method I tried. But as I say more likely me than the product 😄

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  • 1 month later...

Hello

Had the PBC for over 4 years now. Have always used Aussie Heat Beads with great results. Have done spare ribs, baby back ribs, whole chickens and a couple of full packer briskets. Always been pleased with results, especially the brisket,

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  • 3 months later...

Hi ya,

I've just put down a patio in my garden and wondering what people could suggest to put under their pit barrel cooker to protect the slabs. I've looked at fire mats but seen mixed reviews. I've used my PBC on an old slab which then cracked due to the heat. Not wanting to damage a newly laid patio. 

Any help much appreciated.

Cheers,

James

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On 8/21/2021 at 11:38 AM, JMoloney said:

Hi ya,

I've just put down a patio in my garden and wondering what people could suggest to put under their pit barrel cooker to protect the slabs. I've looked at fire mats but seen mixed reviews. I've used my PBC on an old slab which then cracked due to the heat. Not wanting to damage a newly laid patio. 

Any help much appreciated.

Cheers,

James

Did you not get the stand it sits on with yours to raise it off the ground? I have one (sitting on equivalent of coloured concrete slabs) and has shown no sign of damage from heat from it, sitting on that?

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Hi ya,

Thank you for the reply, I did get the stand which raises it off the floor. I had used it before on the grass with a concrete slab under, to protect the grass, & it cracked the slab. Maybe it cracked as I was moving it about in-between using the PBC. 

Cheers,

James

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