Join Date: 04-05-13
Location: Buffalo Grove, IL
Modified ECB maiden voyage w/pics
First, thanks in advance to those who provided suggestions that I used in modding out my ECB over the last few weeks leading up to my Memorial Day maiden voyage. Hopefully, a recap of what I did and some pics can help similar beginners (or just make folks hungry).
The summary is as follows (pics below):
1. Began by modifying the bottom. Had drilled holes in the original ECB charcoal pan and installed some bolts as others had done, then realized I liked the lava pan idea better, so I mounted the legs of the ECB on the lava pan, added two 3/4" in holes for additional air intake vents, and found some 43 cent pieces of metal at HD to use as vent covers. New base complete.
2. Once I had the new base, I realized I really needed a charcoal ring, though I had never made one before so I was a bit apprehensive. No big deal it turns out. Got the 24" by 24" by 3/4" expanded metal from HD, cut two 5" x 24" pieces with my jigsaw, did some basic math, then connected them using some SS hardware to make a roughly 13" by 5" ring.
I then secured the ring on two charcoal grates (Weber 7440) mounted with one turned 90 degrees relative to the other to reduce the likelihood of charcoal falling through the grate. The grates were tied together with some SS wire from Harbor Freight (Item #8895) and the ring was attached to the grates with the same wire. I then put four 3.5" bolts on the grates to lift the whole thing (grates plus charcoal ring) off the bottom of the lava pan.
3. Next, I went to work on the ECB lid. Installed a lid thermometer plus 2 Weber dampers with 3/4" holes (eReplacementparts.com, #63015). I gave the fiberglass rope a try as a lid gasket but installed it too low on the lid lip the first time and the RTV silicone was a mess to work with. Hated it and it looked like garbage and I didn't want fiberglass near food. Found a better alternative from good old McMaster Carr (part #8853K1).
This was a silica flange mount seal with a 1/2" bulb diameter and 1" width and the flange made it so much easier to install with some basic SS machine screws. No obnoxious fiberglass and silicone.
4. Also bought a Maverick ET-732. Made a grommet mod for it by using some hardware used for lamps, as others have suggested. I soaked the rod in some vinegar to remove the zinc, painted it with some high temp black Rustoleum grill paint, then installed it.
5. And for fuel, I rolled with Ozark Oak lump charcoal, as I had done some research, it had positive reviews and bbqguys.com stocks it with cheap flat rate shipping.I also picked up some T. Joe's all natural briquettes as a Plan B.
Now on to the food...
First up was an 8 lb bone-in pork butt. After a dry run (w/o food) to season the smoker and a second lesson in fire management where I had it running way too hot, I learned from my mistakes and used the minion method, but succeeded by only adding 2 or 3 hot pieces of lump and patiently waiting for the ECB to climb to between 225 and 250. Once there, she held beautifully. Butt had a thin coating of yellow mustard, a rub, then in the fridge overnight.
The butt went in around 12:30 on Saturday, fat cap face up. Used a combo of apple and pecan chunks. It cooked. And cooked. And kept cooking. Hit the classic stall around 160 F then another little stubborn stall at 180 F. Finally finished around 3 AM Sunday. Definitely closer to 2 hrs per pound, as opposed to 1.5 but I stuck with it and got the internal temp up to 196, then cooled, got about 2 hrs of shut eye, and pulled it around 150. I didn't bother with foil and it was awesome. I was spent. I spritzed the pork with some apple juice and hit it with some rub and mixed prior to reheating and serving.
For my non-pork eating guests, chicken was also on the menu. So I picked up two roughly 3.5 lb birds. Butterflied them, brined them for 5 hrs, washed them both well, let them dry, uncovered, in the garage fridge overnight, then applied a rub, and smoked with the same apple/pecan combo for roughly 3 hrs. Spritzed with apple juice roughly every 30 mns. Let 'em rest, then pulled them and put the drippings from the rest/carving back over the meat. Even the normally dry white meat was tasty. Same as with the pork prior to serving, with the douse of apple juice and some rub.
Also made 2 BBQ sauces to go with; one traditional with a ketchup/tomato sauce base and one with vinegar and mustard, southern style for the pork.
I think my ECB is about done. I might add some more gasket material on the door and perhaps the base, but I'm done tinkering with it and it held temps quite well.
So for my next conquest...either brisket in the ECB, which will be tricky given the size of the ECB grates relative to the brisket, or maybe a mini WSM using a WSJ Gold I bought that was originally going to be the base of the ECB. Or since I've got a rib rack, maybe some baby backs? Touch choices.
Anyone tried an ECB brisket? I've seen them draped over rib racks, cans, etc. Thanks again for everyone's help.
Last edited by bbq1980; 05-29-2013 at 12:23 AM..