So I have been having issues with a low smoke level on my Akorn since I got it a couple months ago. I tried using a pizza stone on top of a Weber charcoal grate placed at diffuser level but I am thinking this forces the smoke to the outside and the little room to the cooking grate is not enough for the smoke to get at the food before getting to the vent. I am keeping the vent "just" open. So I have been tinkering. This is the setup I tried today.
Got a whole side rack of rib, (they were sold out of trimmed sides and backs), they cut it in half and scored the chunk with the big bone in it. Not sure what it is called but the meat was tasty. Meat was rubbed, left an hour or so in the fridge then put on the grill when the 15 or so coals came to about 240f and the chunk of hickory I put on top smoked clean. I cut the non-rack piece in 2 so I had a chunk with the huge bone and a normal looking smallish rack. The smaller 2 pieces were smoked about 2.5 hrs and the larger piece about an hour longer. The pieces were then foiled till almost done then put back on with sauce. This is almost done:
Notice the firebrick dead centre on the grate - I put it there when I had clean smoke. This way the smoke and heat were directed toward the ribs which were cooking around it. I could have put in the upper rack and swung it to the side to get more rack space but as it was I didn't need it. These are the smaller 3 pieces minus a little:
The piece of side rib that contained the large bone and multiple small cartilege pieces was a little frustrating till I got smart and used my hands to pull it. Mighty tasty it was:
This cook ran at 255-270f for the majority of the cook and the temp never got above 285f. I burned 3 slightly smaller than fist sized chunks - I had smoke rolling the whole time before foiling and most during the sauce stage at the end. To have put more wood on the coal would have resulted in dirty smoke as there was just enough coals to make what was there burn clean. There were a few times were the smoke got dirty and I had to remove the firebrick and either get the heat up or remove the remnants of a piece almost all the way burnt through and replace it. I added about 15 pices of charcoal during the 5 hour cook. Was the smoke level better than most efforts so far on the Akorn - yes. Was the smoke level what I was looking for or better than my Kettle, cheap offset or Cinder Block Pit - no. Was the smoke flavour better than my Bradley digital - heck yah.
I have done cooks with heat deflectors - pizza stone about an inch and 3/4's from the edge of the inner edger, firebricks with and without spaces and a large round cake pan that was about an inch away from the inner edge. I have also used large and small water/drip pans and no drip pans at all in conjuction with the heat deflector combos. As far as wood goes I have used fist sized to half that size....as per amounts I have added 6 to 10 pieces scattered thourgh various size amounts of charcoal. I have used all lump with some briquetts tossed in on some cooks. I have also experiments with small, medium and large loads of fuel. I can get more smoke going in this thing but it turns out dark and dirty. I am looking for clean smoke out of the vent and deep smoke flavour in the food.
All of it adds up to low smoke taste and smoke ring. Does anybody have any tips for me? Does anyone who owns an Akorn get large amounts of good tasting smoke in their food?