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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:02 PM   #1
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Default Weber kettle grill -- fire advice for ribs

New to this kind of cooking --- hoping for some advice. Planning to grill ribs on a 22.5" Weber kettle. Rib rack, indirect method, with Kingsford blue charcoal & a chunk of green apple wood on each side for quality smoke. Question: what is best way to keep fire(s) burning for the 4-5 hrs needed? My thoughts were to add a few un-lit briquettes to each side hourly, when I open lid to spray cooking ribs with apple juice/vinegar mix. Sound ok?
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:11 PM   #2
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That could work. Not how I do it though.

I like to bank or basket a load of unlit briquettes or lump on one side of the kettle. I mix the wood into the top layer, I prefer dry apple for pork. I then put 8 to 10 fully lit briquettes onto the top of the pile. I set the lower vents (one touch vents) about 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch wide. Let the kettle come up to 225F or so, put on ribs and I can usually get a cook up to 5 hours this way. I use 40 or so unlit briquettes to start.

There are methods to increase that cook time even longer, such as ring of fire methods etc...but that is for another thread
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:20 PM   #3
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magnus - not sure if you already know, but landarc is definitely someone you wanna listen to about kettle cooks (and tons of other stuff as well).
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:36 PM   #4
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i'm listening.... But just want to confirm --- i should keep my bottom vents only 1/16 - 1/8" open? What about the top vent??
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:38 PM   #5
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My rule of thumb is whatever cooker you're using, leave exhaust vents all the way open all the time - but that's just me - others probably do it differently.
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:42 PM   #6
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Top vent is always wide open for me. Yes, I have found that with the top vent wide open and the bottom vent nearly closed, I get the best temperature and control for ribs. I use wire gauges, essentially, a wire coat hanger, wire rod and a threaded rod (my old a.c. paving probe) to set my vents. Takes the guess work out. Wire coat hanger reliably gives 225F to 230F, heavy wire probe gets me to 250F, threaded rod gets me to 275F rather dependably. I just stick the proper wire gauge into the top end of the vent and close the vent until it hits the wire.

Thanks for the kudos GTR.
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:44 PM   #7
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Research "minion method" to get 4-5 hours out of a pile of coal. Just add a few lit coals to a pile of unlit and use your vents to regulate the temp.

Also be sure to check out Weber Nation (http://www.webernation.com) for a lot of great videos on how to make all kinds of great stuff on your kettle. Good luck!
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:45 PM   #8
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Oh look, I found a picture of one version of my setup for cooking ribs...


Oh look, I found a picture of the ribs I cooked that day...
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landarc View Post
Top vent is always wide open for me. Yes, I have found that with the top vent wide open and the bottom vent nearly closed, I get the best temperature and control for ribs. I use wire gauges, essentially, a wire coat hanger, wire rod and a threaded rod (my old a.c. paving probe) to set my vents. Takes the guess work out. Wire coat hanger reliably gives 225F to 230F, heavy wire probe gets me to 250F, threaded rod gets me to 275F rather dependably. I just stick the proper wire gauge into the top end of the vent and close the vent until it hits the wire.

Thanks for the kudos GTR.
Well deserved - precisely because of posts like that^^^!
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:56 PM   #10
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Oh, by the way, about the cast iron skillet, Weber kettles are great, but they have a significant drawback, and that is a lack of thermal mass. Real good temperature control is all about thermal mass. The cast iron pan increases thermal mass and smooths the temperatures out, which, in turn increases the length of burn time as you can run a lower fire. If your kettle has no thermal mass you end up with having to burn a hotter fire. Oh, something that may also not be apparent, I believe in a kettle, you need to add moisture to properly mimic the environment of a larger cooker. This means there is water in the cast iron skillet. Sometimes I also add cans of water.
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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:57 PM   #11
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As an alternative I will just explain my method/madness. Wheeless leg into the wind. Bank 2/3 of a weber chimney of lit K on the wind side. Put wet apple wood on coals. Place ribs and drip pan opposite coals. Put lid on with vent opposite coals. Bottom vents fully open. Top vent open 1/2. After 1 hour open top vent another 1/4. May want to add more wood at some time at this stage. After 2 hours open top vent fully. At 2 1/2 hours foil ribs with a few ounces of apple juice. Put another 10-15 unlit coals on the existing coals after shaking off the old ash. Leave the lid off or very open until new coals are lit. Place lid back on at with vent at 3/4. Cook foiled ribs for another 45. Knock the ash off coals, unfoil ribs and cook for 30-45 more minutes, sauce and finish for about 15-20 minutes top vent totally open. Before saucing do the bend test or tear off a chunk of meat to see if it is done to your liking.

This is not a knock on previous posts at all. There are many ways to "skin a cat." This is just mine which has worked for me.

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Unread 05-27-2011, 01:58 PM   #12
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Nice. Great info.
Landarc -- what device is that you have your coals piled in?
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Unread 05-27-2011, 02:04 PM   #13
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In that photo, it is the remains of a Weber charcoal basket without the bottom or flat side. I have used all manner of things to hold the charcoal in a pile, all worked fine. The other thing you could do, if you use a cast iron skillet, is to place the skillet in the center of the fire grate, then pile the charcoal around the edge, creating a ring of charcoal, then place the lit charcoal at one side and let the ring burn around. You can get 6 to 8 hours of burn in this manner.

Grain Belt, I would never take your post as a knock on my method, there are many ways to achieve the same or similar ends.
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Unread 05-28-2011, 01:34 PM   #14
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Thank you, landarc.I have saved this to print out for my BBQ notebook.
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Unread 05-28-2011, 03:07 PM   #15
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Any reason I couldn't use that heat method for doing a pork butt on my kettle? I think it sure would work.
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