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Tatoosh 04-30-2012 09:43 PM

Multi-Tasking the Weber
I have a Weber 22.5 OTG grill that I am using for grilling and smoking, shortly I will be getting a Kettle Pizza insert to use it for a semi-wood fired pizza. My problem right now is the smoking side. I have a Smokenator 1000 insert which I like because it keeps direct heat off the meat. But I am in the Philippines and all the local charcoal, either lump or briquette does not produce temperatures like the charcoal in the U.S. In fact, my last smoke I resorted to a small second fire across from the Smokenator to get my grill temperature at food grate up to 200F to 250F while doing ribs.

On a separate thread, I saw that brother jsperk removed his water pan on the Smokenator and sat a larger one above the unit, using the resulting space for more charcoal. I will try that along with starting with more lit charcoal, which I've been doing in Minion style.

But I'm thinking about using two Smokenators which should fix the problem if the solution above doesn't. And with an add on grill grate, like a "hover grill", I'd have room to do more ribs and chicken.

A secondary challenge is finding suitable quality wood for smoking. Much harder to find good stuff that you know wasn't saturated with pesticides and so forth here in the Philippines. I've been looking at the A-Maze-N smoke box as a solution, getting that and maybe 40 or 60 pounds of hickory and cherry "dust" shipped over.

The maker said he didn't think the A-Maze-N smoke box worked well with charcoal kettles, the charcoal robbing the box of oxygen necessary. I really appreciated his candor. But since the smoker box would sit down on the charcoal grill grate, beside the Smokenator (or between them if I get two) access to oxygen shouldn't be a problem. I leave my bottom vent control completely open and control temp, when necessary, with my dome's exhaust vent. I'm hoping that with the smoke box below or at worst, even with the charcoal and directly above an open vent, it would keep smoldering.

Anyone playing with dual Smokenators or the A-Maze-N smoke box in a Weber Grill or similar setup? I really want to get to where I can do 4 or 5 racks of ribs at a time. I'm hoping this would get me there.

kevine 04-30-2012 10:06 PM

I've used my OTG but I use a piece of expanded metal (shaped like a half moon) to keep the coals to one side. I usually use a foil loaf pan with water on grate between the coals and food. Keeps it from scorching the food. Works great.

You could try some tin snips and remove some of the metal on your smokenators to allow more heat production

Tatoosh 04-30-2012 10:47 PM

I like the idea of your expanded metal. That is a nice way to hold your charcoal. I am a bit too shy to chop and channel my Smokenator after shipping the puppy half way around the world, though it might well work. I like how it protects the meat from direct heat and with two, I might even be able to put food in the cavity between the two if I didn't have a smoker box or drip pan set there.

The charcoal seems to burn okay, not like it is getting oxygen starved. Taking the water pan out would improve the air flow, I will try that next, without putting anything over the larger rectangle opening of the pan and see what that does to my temperatures. Not quite like snipping it with the metal shears but some of the same effect.

Thanks for the input!

KnucklHed BBQ 04-30-2012 11:08 PM

Brother, I think you're over thinking it... First off, try the smokinator without the water - the water pan acts as a heat sink, absorbing the energy that the fire produces (or at least make sure you're putting boiling hot water in the pan) water is only going to boil at 210+ deg F, that puts a serious cap on heat production...

Or, try it like this - take Mr. Smokinator out completely and just shove all the briqs up against 1 side, light a few of them like you have been for the minion method, and just crack the lower vents barely open, top vent fully open *opposite of the fire* and watch er' come up to temp. Control temp with the lower vent, a little goes a long way!

put a drip pan or sheet of foil under the cooler meat side if you like water in it or not (honestly seams to make little cooking difference IMO - except on poultry - water will not give you the crisp skin you probably want).

Not exaggerating in the least - this method gives me very consistent temps from the VERY edge of the fire (doesn't seem possible, but true) to the very edge of the grate opposite the fire... add a chunk of hardwood every once in a while and you're smokin!

as for several racks of ribs at a time, look for a rib rack to stand them up on edge.

Edit: also, make sure you're measuring the temp at grate level, very different from dome temp or below grate.

Also as far as wood goes - I personally prefer either large chunks (baseball size) - or large chips not the finer stuff - the finer stuff makes allot of (white) smoke and gives off a bitter flavor, try looking around for what is native that people cook over, it might not have a name you're familiar with, but as long as it's from a fruit or nut tree, you're prolly ok, and if it smells mild and pleasant when it's burning then you're good to go! :thumb:

mbshop 04-30-2012 11:25 PM

wow, hard to explain. but i have no problems after i figured it out. the first thing is not to use water. not good. next is that i use some expanded metal to hold the charcoal on one side. the coals need to be above one of the lower vents. the coals and vent must be up wind. from where the coals are, the rest of the coal grate must be covered with foil. this prevents fresh air from the other vents mixing with the heated air and messing up the flow and temps around the cooking area. i also hang a piece of foil from the top grate to the lower grate right where the coals end. this prevents the direct heat problem. some have made a piece of metal that covers the lower grate and then comes up to the cooking grate thus doing the same thing. then i just put another bunch of foil under the meat to catch the grease. the top vent must be above the meat and downwind. also the top vent should remain completely open, you control the temp with the lower vents. let me tell you that the lower vents will only need to be open very little to maintaine a nice high temp. if you have them, get a couple of fire bricks and put them next to the coals. this helps even out the fluctuations of the temps.

landarc 04-30-2012 11:33 PM

Caveat- I have never used a Smokenator. But, I always leave my top exhaust fully open and control temperature with the bottom vent. I also rarely leave the area of the grate where there is no charcoal open. I want the draft to pull air up through the fire. This gives me the best control of temps in my experience.

Beef 04-30-2012 11:41 PM

What landmark said! Mbshop; with all due respect it sounds like you are over engineering. Sounds like you described a maradi gras float. (just joshing')

Amusingly, I built a UDS first, and just now am trying to learn to use a weber kettle.

I am all ears

(self imposed time out)

Tatoosh 05-01-2012 12:09 AM

KnucklHed BBQ, you describe me to a tee! If I can't overthink the project, I'm either sleeping or in the ICU! I will try the Smokenator without water next time and keep a close eye on my temps.

I did originally start by controlling temps by the lower vent, but the maker of the Smokenator recommended controlling by the top dome vent, so I made the switch. As long as I don't get an A-Maze-N smoke box and need the oxygen to keep it going, I'm flexible on which vent to use to control. I am sure that doing the charcoal open, either on a single side or like JMSeltzer's video showed, a fire on two sides with a drip pan in the middle would work fine. But I like the protection from heat the Smokenator gives which should theoretically give me more food grate space. But if all else fails, I pull the puppy out. I had no problem getting to 250F once I added just the small fire to the other side of the charcoal grate opposite of the Smokenator.

I hear you about the smoke thing. When I did the coconut shell smoke, I got a whole lot of white smoke and I was very worried the ribs would be ruined. They weren't, so I was pleased about that. On the flip side, the smoke ring on the ribs was very thin. I plan to try coconut shells with chicken next and see what happens there, doing it very similar to what you recommend, then adding more charcoal and finishing at 350F to crisp the skin. Thanks for the advice on the water pan, I be sure to pull it completely for the chicken.

mbshop, Thanks for the ideas. The foil approaches you describe sound very much like they are emulating the Smokenator, or vice versa maybe. I see that most Weber users are using the lower vents to control temps. And I will drop the water for the time being. When I do ribs, I use a Texas Crutch, wrapping for an hour or so after brushing the ribs with freshly made apple juice. I will keep my eyes open for fire bricks, I made a "pizza stone" for my oven here out of half-height pavers that has worked very well. I may try a couple of those as a test and see how they hold up.

landarc, I will try this, both with and without the Smokenator.

Ultimately, I know that with a one or two sided fire, I can smoke ribs, I just want to maximize my cooking area so I can cook more. I will look for a rib rack or see if I can get one cobbled up locally. Compared to U.S. ribs, the racks are not so big and fairly shorter so a rack would work very well.

Thanks to everyone for the ideas and input. I am sure it will help me improve my smoking abilities and that is what I am after.

Tatoosh 05-01-2012 12:18 AM

Beef, I'd love to hear about your UDS and where you found plans for it. That may end up being something I do here. JMSetzler did an excellent video on doing a rack of ribs on the Weber, which for me as a noob, was very worthwhile. But even he says he prefers his UDS for smoking over the Weber. Since I'm a bit more challenged for space, my Weber is called on to do many tasks, some which it is not ideal for, but which it is at least adequate to.

mbshop 05-01-2012 12:43 AM

i came up with the foil thing after some cooks and thinking how things worked in the kettle. also watched my remote temp senders jump around. just made no sense to me to have hot and cooler air mixing. bricks was someone elses idea. just gotta go out there and practice till whatever you are doing works for you. my setup works great for me. i also never foil the meat.

Tatoosh 05-01-2012 01:09 AM

mbshop, Very good idea, your a think-outside-the-box guy for sure! I see lots of guys that don't wrap the ribs, but I like to juice the apples, so I guess I'm stuck.

Just noticed your signature line, George, and spam (meat) is very popular here. In fact I'm working on a spam pizza for the local neighbors because I know they love the stuff. Just trying to decide if it should be Neapolitan style or the surprise filling in a Chicago style Deep Dish pizza. :decision:

jmellor 05-01-2012 06:00 AM

Also if you are going down the pizza route in the future you will need hardwood chunks for that a well. So may make more sense to find a wood source than buying another tool just for smoke. Wood can provide a lot of heat which you need for the pizza...

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