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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:12 PM   #1
syndicate559
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Default WSM maiden voyage today. Tips?

OK guys, getting ready to head out and fire up the new 22.5 WSM this afternoon. Gonna do a 4 lb. tri-tip, 3 bone-in chicken breasts (halves) and will throw some corn on the cob on the top grate later. Pretty sure I can separate the beef and chicken on the bottom with no problem. So I'll do a minion method light, use mix of Kingsford blue, RO lump and a few hickory chunks. My question is: If I light about 12 briquettes in the chimney, dump them in and let it come up to temp, what's a good rule of thumb for how far open the bottom and top vents should be? Half open on all of them, only one open, just barely open? I have no idea and I know I'll get to know this cooker the more I use it, but just wondered if one starting point is better than another. I'll get some pics throughout the cook too, if I remember. Thanks for any and all help.
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:20 PM   #2
JMSetzler
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I'd open them all the way to start with and when the kettle temp gets within about 30 degrees of where you want to cook, close them down to about half way. When you get within about 10 degrees of your target, close them a little more and repeat until the pit temp settles in to where you want it...
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:20 PM   #3
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Leave them open until you start getting close to desired temp, then start shutting them down to stabilize.
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:20 PM   #4
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PS- the top vent should stay fully open all the time.
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:27 PM   #5
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Keep in mind that the pit temp changes are not immediate when you adjust the vents. Be patient. Give yourself 30 minutes before you make more vent adjustments.

Oh, and don't overcook that tri-tip!
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbormaster View Post

Oh, and don't overcook that tri-tip!
Not to worry! I hate overcooked tri-tip and believe me, here in CA, that's about all you get when you go to someone's house for a "BBQ." Makes me crazy.
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:30 PM   #7
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The others covered most of it, but since one of your questions was a ball park on vents vs temp range I'll tell you this:

My WSM22.5" likes the following configuration to lock in 250*F:

-Kingsford Blue
-Water in the water pan (haven't tried sand or empty yet)
-Top vent fully open (never close this while cooking)
-One bottom vent fully closed, one bottom vent halfway open, one bottom vent fully open (i make this one oppose the top vent in my head it creates a better airflow pattern).

If I need to adjust the temp up or down, I do so by adjusting that half-open vent more open or more closed. I only ever have all three vents open when I'm doing wings, and I only ever have all three closed when I'm killing the fire.

Keep in mind this is how MY WSM functions in MY area's climate. YMMV, but this should get you in the ballpark.
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syndicate559 View Post
OK guys, getting ready to head out and fire up the new 22.5 WSM this afternoon. Gonna do a 4 lb. tri-tip, 3 bone-in chicken breasts (halves) and will throw some corn on the cob on the top grate later. Pretty sure I can separate the beef and chicken on the bottom with no problem. So I'll do a minion method light, use mix of Kingsford blue, RO lump and a few hickory chunks. My question is: If I light about 12 briquettes in the chimney, dump them in and let it come up to temp, what's a good rule of thumb for how far open the bottom and top vents should be? Half open on all of them, only one open, just barely open? I have no idea and I know I'll get to know this cooker the more I use it, but just wondered if one starting point is better than another. I'll get some pics throughout the cook too, if I remember. Thanks for any and all help.

Only thing I can add....It's ALWAYS windy at my place! I face two of the vents into the wind and shut completely then play with the back vent till it dials in. Works for me....unless its STUPID windy. Then...well...fight it all day!!!!!
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:45 PM   #9
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My experience has always been to open them all up all the way for ~ 30 min. Then close them 2/3. Leave the top open all the way the entire time.

Just my $0.02.
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaskew82 View Post
My experience has always been to open them all up all the way for ~ 30 min. Then close them 2/3. Leave the top open all the way the entire time.

Just my $0.02.
I've wondered if I coudl get away with all three open halfway, rather than my 1 open 1 closed 1 halfway method. I don't see why not, it should be the same airflow. However, I've hesitated because it's more variables to control (three vs one).
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Unread 06-22-2011, 02:55 PM   #11
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If this is the first time you've fired it up, you might want to start shutting them down sooner than 30 degrees before your target temp because until you build up a little gunk on the walls they can get hot pretty fast.
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Unread 06-22-2011, 03:07 PM   #12
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prepare to run hot the first cook. my first cook I was pulling around 400 with only one vent 1/2 open. now its tough to get that hot. alot of the temp is based on how much lit charcoal is going before you close it up. if you close her up at 225, it might take 2 hours to need to further restrict airflow. Oddly the WSM is the only thing Ive used where 3 hours into the cook you have to dial it back. Im used to the smoker losing temp, not gaining temp
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Unread 06-22-2011, 05:26 PM   #13
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Started with the bottom vents fully open and like some of you said, it took off like a rocket. It was probably the combination of it being brand new and it being about 105 here today Anyway, choked it back down and got it to hold a dome temp of 275. Here's a pic of it fired up for the very first time.


first load of meat to go into the WSM...



The tri-tip was done really quickly, but I got it pulled at 140 and will have plenty of time for it to rest



I'll probably get some pron when the chicken is done and the tri-tip is sliced.
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Unread 06-22-2011, 05:28 PM   #14
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It's beautiful :)
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Unread 06-22-2011, 05:31 PM   #15
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Looking good.
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