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View Full Version : what is best 1,2, 3, or 4 pits at a Cookoff?


habaneromike
06-18-2011, 11:38 AM
I am not new to Cookoffs but timing and temp control is my biggest problem. One of the main factors is... different temps for different meats as well as capasity.
Example If I had my way... I would cook:
- Brisket at 350
- Butts at 250
- Ribs at 275
- Chicken at 300
Due to holding time and space on my two 18” WSM's this becomes challenging.
I would like to buy a nice smoker that will provide a better crust in a more humid environment.

So here is my question: If I buy one nice cooker will this be enough to cook everything at different temps and improve on holding times?

OR would I have to learn how to cook everything at one temp in order to make this work?

AND lastly do you need to have several cookers based on cooking at different temps for each category?

Many Thanks

Jorge
06-18-2011, 12:00 PM
If you time it right, I don't see why you can't do what you are talking about with your existing equipment. Butts and brisket each in a cooker. Pull and cooler/Cambro, then cook chicken and ribs after reloading fuel as needed.

Am I not understanding your question?

glenntm
06-18-2011, 12:10 PM
We have 4 cookers, but that works for us. There is no right or wrong answer. It depends on timing, and your cooking methods.

huminie
06-18-2011, 12:30 PM
These are decisions only you can decide on. I cook all 4 on one cooker (my BWS Fatboy), and have a WSM with me in case it is needed, but haven't used it yet. It is all about your own cooking style and timing schedule. Do whatever gives you the best shot at winning.

Sawdustguy
06-18-2011, 12:30 PM
As Tom above pointed out. It depends largely on your cooking methods.

habaneromike
06-18-2011, 12:32 PM
Well yes, I could cook chicken and ribs in the same WSM but they would need to be cooked at the same temp and I would need to open the hood several times and testing for doneness on meat cooked on lower rack would be tough. Lastly opening the hood several times will raise the temp and if you are using a stoker… it will be really tough, as you will never have a chance to stabilize the cooker temp.

habaneromike
06-18-2011, 12:36 PM
If you time it right, I don't see why you can't do what you are talking about with your existing equipment. Butts and brisket each in a cooker. Pull and cooler/Cambro, then cook chicken and ribs after reloading fuel as needed.

Am I not understanding your question?

These are decisions only you can decide on. I cook all 4 on one cooker (my BWS Fatboy), and have a WSM with me in case it is needed, but haven't used it yet. It is all about your own cooking style and timing schedule. Do whatever gives you the best shot at winning.

So how do you cook on one cooker? This is what I am trying to find out, I am open to any method at this point. I am just weighing my options.

Lake Dogs
06-18-2011, 12:53 PM
We cook everything on one smoker, except for whole hog which goes on another...

We do cook everything from 245-265.

Bigmista
06-18-2011, 01:59 PM
I am not new to Cookoffs but timing and temp control is my biggest problem. One of the main factors is... different temps for different meats as well as capasity.
Example If I had my way... I would cook:
- Brisket at 350
- Butts at 250
- Ribs at 275
- Chicken at 300
Due to holding time and space on my two 18” WSM's this becomes challenging.
I would like to buy a nice smoker that will provide a better crust in a more humid environment.

So here is my question: If I buy one nice cooker will this be enough to cook everything at different temps and improve on holding times?

OR would I have to learn how to cook everything at one temp in order to make this work?

AND lastly do you need to have several cookers based on cooking at different temps for each category?

Many Thanks
Cook your briskets in one cooker and your butts in another. Finish them early and put them in coolers or cambros. Change your temps and cook your ribs in one cooker and your chicken in the other.

Simple.

huminie
06-18-2011, 02:38 PM
I cook butts and brisket at the same temps...low overnight and then foiled and cranked up in the morning. I get additional temp variations by careful placement inside the cooker. They are usually done before ribs go on, although sometimes the brisket needs a few more minutes, but that isn't an issue. I start my ribs and position them in the middle of the cooker. Chicken goes on at the top shelf giving it a higher cook temp.

One lesson learned is that with my stoker I have to shut the blower off when I open the door for more than a few seconds. Since my cooker is insulated it holds temps and the blower will cause a raging fire if I don't do this. That day sucked.

big matt
06-18-2011, 02:49 PM
We use two but could do them all on one if we had to.Like everyone else has stated it's really what works for you..and more importantly what affords you the most sleep!

habaneromike
06-18-2011, 03:58 PM
Cook your briskets in one cooker and your butts in another. Finish them early and put them in coolers or cambros. Change your temps and cook your ribs in one cooker and your chicken in the other.

Simple.

Well not so simple, as I am working on holding my brisket for hours, not sure if you saw my post from two weeks ago but... holding a brisket for4 hrs can be tough, at least for me.

This started a huge conversation based on “you should not hold a brisket for 4 hrs and Cambro’s are made for catering not competition”. Ribs take 3+ hrs and I like to have an hour leeway to be safe.

How long do you hold your brisket and do you pull it early so it goes in hot
or do you vent and reheat etc,?

Thanks,
Mike

habaneromike
06-18-2011, 04:07 PM
I cook butts and brisket at the same temps...low overnight and then foiled and cranked up in the morning. I get additional temp variations by careful placement inside the cooker. They are usually done before ribs go on, although sometimes the brisket needs a few more minutes, but that isn't an issue. I start my ribs and position them in the middle of the cooker. Chicken goes on at the top shelf giving it a higher cook temp.

One lesson learned is that with my stoker I have to shut the blower off when I open the door for more than a few seconds. Since my cooker is insulated it holds temps and the blower will cause a raging fire if I don't do this. That day sucked.

Thanks for the good insight to your method!

I have been using the stoker for 4 years now and I have had the same challenge with the blower and constant hood opening. I assume you know about the Blower “off for 5 minutes” feature?

habaneromike
06-18-2011, 04:13 PM
We use two but could do them all on one if we had to.Like everyone else has stated it's really what works for you..and more importantly what affords you the most sleep!


I know you guys took Myron's class, uses his pie and power cook at least your brisket so if I could ask...what is your cooking method/schedule? I am trying to come up with a new one as mine is not working for me!

Thanks,
Mike

big matt
06-18-2011, 04:42 PM
I know you guys took Myron's class, uses his pie and power cook at least your brisket so if I could ask...what is your cooking method/schedule? I am trying to come up with a new one as mine is not working for me!

Thanks,
Mike

No problem Mike!..our butts and brisket go on at 5 am,pit temp is 350 to start,we cook until our bark is set and our color is where I like(about 3 to 4 hours)then we pan and cover with foil,let them go another hour and start checking for probe feel.at this time our temp is 275 and our ribs are on,our cook runs 7 hrs max sometimes less..hope this helps.

TN_BBQ
06-18-2011, 06:20 PM
I discovered that there is a temperature difference between the top rack and the bottom rack in my smoker. I wonder if yours is the same? If so, put your meat on the appropriate rack.

I guess in a perfect world, I'd have 4 cookers at 4 temps (along with a financial angel, a larger trailer, and a couple of helpers). Since owning and hauling 4 smokers ain't in the cards, I'd opt for a fairly large smoker (filling a smoker to capacity has a way of extending cook time) and a smaller smoker that I could adjust temps a little easier.

Podge
06-18-2011, 07:15 PM
If you can afford 4 different cookers, have at it.. You can cook 4 different catagories from 3 different animals, with 2 different temp settings on 1 cooker.

huminie
06-18-2011, 07:25 PM
Thanks for the good insight to your method!

I have been using the stoker for 4 years now and I have had the same challenge with the blower and constant hood opening. I assume you know about the Blower “off for 5 minutes” feature?


My pleasure! I like to travel light, so I did a lot of practice to get a method that worked for me with one cooker.

I learned about the "off for 5 minutes" feature after my disaster. It has made a huge difference!

Alexa RnQ
06-18-2011, 08:54 PM
+1 for the 4 18" WSMs!

Bigmista
06-18-2011, 09:22 PM
I do everything in one cooker now. When I pull my briskets and butts, I vent them until they get to 170 then they go in the cambro.

Funtimebbq
06-18-2011, 10:29 PM
My Practice sessions at home involve only one 22 1/2" WSM. Brisket and Butts are foiled and on the top rack before the ribs go on the bottom rack. When the big meats are ready they are placed in a Cambro. Ribs are usually in foil and moved to the top rack before the chicken goes on underneath.
I will probably use an additional small WSM at competitions just to make it easier.
Good luck in whatever you choose.
Benny

AZScott
06-19-2011, 12:34 AM
I used to use 3 but found one cooker fit my desires more. All recipes can be tweaked and you can find what you are looking for with practice. I went 3 bge's at different temps to one FEC at one temp for all meats. I don't know what your budget is but for me that was my answer to the same question when I had it.

Rich Parker
06-19-2011, 06:43 AM
I plan my temps and times based on which method gives me the most sleep. :cool:

habaneromike
06-19-2011, 11:32 AM
No problem Mike!..our butts and brisket go on at 5 am,pit temp is 350 to start,we cook until our bark is set and our color is where I like(about 3 to 4 hours)then we pan and cover with foil,let them go another hour and start checking for probe feel.at this time our temp is 275 and our ribs are on,our cook runs 7 hrs max sometimes less..hope this helps.

I like what you are doing here! At home, I would lower the temp to 290 or so after foiling as 300 is too hot and evaporates all the juices and can burn sugar but at a competition… since there may be overlap with ribs you are at the right temp by lowering to 275. Good I information, thanks.

I assume you cook chicken at 275 for any overlap with the ribs?

Thanks again,
Mike

habaneromike
06-19-2011, 12:16 PM
My pleasure! I like to travel light, so I did a lot of practice to get a method that worked for me with one cooker.

I learned about the "off for 5 minutes" feature after my disaster. It has made a huge difference!

Backwoods is one the cookers I am looking at so how do you like it?
Do you get better bark than with your WSM, and if so how does the steam effect your crust, i.e., does it take longer or prevent the crust from being caked on to where you cannot wipe it away?

big matt
06-19-2011, 01:32 PM
I like what you are doing here! At home, I would lower the temp to 290 or so after foiling as 300 is too hot and evaporates all the juices and can burn sugar but at a competition… since there may be overlap with ribs you are at the right temp by lowering to 275. Good I information, thanks.

I assume you cook chicken at 275 for any overlap with the ribs?

Thanks again,
Mike
Yes mike chicken @ 275..but we always cook it on the MAK now

TN_BBQ
06-19-2011, 01:35 PM
Backwoods is one the cookers I am looking at so how do you like it?
Do you get better bark than with your WSM, and if so how does the steam effect your crust, i.e., does it take longer or prevent the crust from being caked on to where you cannot wipe it away?


I can't speak to the WSM, but regarding the BWS...they hold their own and have an excellent track record.

Not quite sure what you mean by wiping the crust away????

I do like that I can put my butts right over the water pan or farther away from the water pan depending on what i'm going for when i cook (the top rack is a dryer cooking zone)

huminie
06-19-2011, 01:44 PM
Backwoods is one the cookers I am looking at so how do you like it?
Do you get better bark than with your WSM, and if so how does the steam effect your crust, i.e., does it take longer or prevent the crust from being caked on to where you cannot wipe it away?


Bark in a water cooker can be a challenge. I have no problems with pork...always looks really good. Bark on brisket can be a bit "mushy", but once you slice it, it becomes a non-factor, so I don't worry about it.

Overall I love the way my Backwoods cooks. The only issue with it is the weight, but it is a great cooker! I do all 4 meats, firing up the cooker about 7pm Friday and it runs strong past 1pm Saturday on 3/4s of an 18lb bag of Kingsford Competition charcoal.

habaneromike
06-19-2011, 03:57 PM
Bark in a water cooker can be a challenge. I have no problems with pork...always looks really good. Bark on brisket can be a bit "mushy", but once you slice it, it becomes a non-factor, so I don't worry about it.

Overall I love the way my Backwoods cooks. The only issue with it is the weight, but it is a great cooker! I do all 4 meats, firing up the cooker about 7pm Friday and it runs strong past 1pm Saturday on 3/4s of an 18lb bag of Kingsford Competition charcoal.

Thanks I know they are a good cooker! Other then capacity and efficiently… do you feel it cooks a better product than the WSM?

I know you can get good results with a WSM just look at SYD but ...any noticeable cooking differences like smoke ring, nicer color, more even meat temps, consistent and even smoke, etc.
Last question thanks :roll:

thillin
06-19-2011, 04:19 PM
I cook with a Med Spicewine and a large BGE. The BGE is for chicken, but I could easily cook everything in the Spicewine. I light the fire and get the SW up to temp on Friday night and let it run all night so it's ready for my to put the larger cuts on at 5AM. The top racks are hotter than the lower racks, so ribs go on the lower rack.

huminie
06-19-2011, 04:53 PM
Thanks I know they are a good cooker! Other then capacity and efficiently… do you feel it cooks a better product than the WSM?

I know you can get good results with a WSM just look at SYD but ...any noticeable cooking differences like smoke ring, nicer color, more even meat temps, consistent and even smoke, etc.
Last question thanks :roll:

I have both and think they are both quality cookers, but I definitely like my backwoods more. Obviously there is a huge capacity advantage. I also like how there are no hotspots in the BWS. With the WSM I would have to be careful with things around the edges...trim ribs shorter than I liked to avoid burning on the ends etc. I also like that I don't need to use a rib rack in the BWS. Laying out racks of ribs flat helps them cook very uniform.

Water cookers in general will give you less of a smoke ring, but there are ways around it and I haven't found it to be a huge issue for me.

The insulation on my Fatboy means that it cooks consistent every time and it is not affected by wind, rain, cold, heat etc. It also gets back to temp in a hurry after opening the door.

My WSM has it's time and place, but my BWS Fatboy has been a competition machine for me this year and it is a pleasure to cook on.

habaneromike
06-19-2011, 10:35 PM
Cool thanks for the info....
Mike

ParkAvenue_2
06-20-2011, 10:16 AM
We cook everything on one smoker, except for whole hog which goes on another...



ditto. This describes our situation as well.

Ryan Chester
06-20-2011, 06:23 PM
Cool thanks for the info....
Mike

We cook on 4 WSM's, 1 for each meat and temps range from 375-275. If I had a JOS like Matt, I'd be in heaven. Yes, it is heavier than 4 WSM's but it sure would be nice to only deal with one pit. Plus I have pleanty of help to roll it in the trailer.

Smokenstein & monster crew
06-20-2011, 06:50 PM
One drum smoker for pork/brisk/rib....... all same temp, timing is everything
chicken gets its own place to dwell

redneck cooker
06-21-2011, 07:25 AM
Brisket , ribs, Pork butts go on gator offset at 300, chicken goes on traeger at 400....:becky: