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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 12-16-2012, 02:46 PM   #1
Wesman61
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Default Stickburner Learning Curve.

I just wanted to share my thoughts about going from pellet smoking to stick burning. I used a Traeger for 6 years and once I figured out that internal temp was the key (thanks to The Brethren) I had little trouble turning out very good 'Q. Chuck roasts just wanted to fall apart, chicken was just right and pork butts and ribs were a cinch. The problem is that I like stick burning flavor better. Since I started learning to use an offset things are different. Beef just doesn't come out as tender. The one butt I smoked was okay and ribs were a bit tricky.

The obvious difference is the fact that I'm still trying to get a consistent temp. I'm gaining on it as I try different methods. Yesterday I added too much charcoal and the temps soared up to 400 degrees for awhile before settling in at around 225. I think I know when and how much fuel to add now.

I have what I need to make a UDS but am really wanting to learn the offset first. I'm not complaining, I love every minute of this journey.
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Old 12-16-2012, 02:56 PM   #2
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I am in the exact same boat. Went from Treager for ten years to a stick burner. Still learning the temp control game. Hums fine for a few hours at 250, then fire starts to go out, then up to 350 and chasing temps for the rest of the cook. Frustrating, but I am determined. I will win!
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Old 12-16-2012, 03:08 PM   #3
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Cooking on a stick burner you cook in a ZONE I shoot for +/- 25 deg you'll drive yourself Farking Nuts trying to maintain one temp learn to cook where the pit wants to run, Most are like a Woman( they all have a Sweet spot and they're all different )once you learn to tickle it just right they roll over and give up the goods. If you want the full experience stop putting Regular in your Corvette! No charcoal.... they are called stick burners for a reason, your food will taste better and don't be afraid to cook a little hotter like 275 My zone is 275-325. The key is fire managenet. Always start out with a bigger fire to preheat the pit and establish a good coal bed. Let it burn down and settle in. Preheat your splits on top of the fire box. Watch the thermo when it drops to the bottom of your Zone add a split open the intake until it catches good and the temp is in the upper side of middle of your Zone. Then set the intake back to where it will maintain it. The temp will drop back since you have cut some air and cruise for 45- 1 hr. Now go Smoke Something!
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Last edited by Bludawg; 12-16-2012 at 03:23 PM.. Reason: Fat fingers tiny keys
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:05 PM   #4
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Figured out part of my problem. Took me long enough. I have had problems getting it to burn hot enough. Yesterday it was wanting to burn too hot. Well yesterday i was using R/O Chef's but today and two weeks ago I am/was using some La Flama brand lump mesquite that I stocked up on a few months ago. Apparently it must have taken on moisture because it doesn't want to burn. I have to throw other wood in with it. For now I'm going to throw the ribs in the oven so my Family doesn't starve to death. Fortunately I used the last of that crappy lump.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:09 PM   #5
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The best things is to get a big bed of coal sometime when I first build a fire it goes pass 400 then when it start dropping add the meat anyway it works for me
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jestridge View Post
The best things is to get a big bed of coal sometime when I first build a fire it goes pass 400 then when it start dropping add the meat anyway it works for me
That's what i do. However when I throw on more coal it doesn't want to start. I put lump and chunks in the chimney starter then a log split. But then I throw lump on the coal bed when I restock and it just sets there and won't engage. I bought some Royal Oak lump for my next cook. The ribs are in the oven.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:32 PM   #7
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I used to start with charcoal but it gave me a tough time. Now I use only wood and start it like a small campfire. I like to let it get roaring with the cooker door, chimney, and the firebox door wide open. Once the pit temp starts climbing to 150 or 175 I close the cooker door and let the temp climb to about 300. Then I cclose the firebox door and start to use the dampers to bring it to 270 or so. By then I've got a pretty good coal bed going and add a couple of small splits to that every 1/2 hour or 45 minutes to maintain the temp. Once the pit is dialed in I don't really fool with the dampers at all. I've never preheated the wood but it is stored inside and its dry. When I toss wood in I leave the firebox door open long enough for it to ignite.
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Old 12-16-2012, 08:57 PM   #8
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I also prehet my wood and sometime I will have an open fire pit burning but of course this takes lot more wood ,
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Old 12-16-2012, 09:21 PM   #9
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Lots of good advice, here. I was a 6 year Traeger user converted to sticks 2 years ago. Still transitioning - and mostly appreciate the offset on big meats (briskets, butts).

Personally, I've been having good results starting with charcoal. It generally takes me 45 minutes to get the fire burning without thick smoke. I also find 275-300 to be a nice sweet spot, but I generally do better checking every 30 minutes, so there's definitely a little more involved.

One last suggestion: keep some sticks in different sizes. Sometimes you're ready for a big log, other times a little dab will do you.
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:15 PM   #10
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I have a Gator Party that I use, and I do not seem to have much of a problem maintaining the temps. I start my fire with a full chimney of KB. Once that is burning nice, I add 3 or 4 pieces of wood about 7 inches long, 2 to 3 inches diameter.
From that point on I do not use any thing but wood. I guess I don't understand the concept of a stick burner, and then using more charcoal to keep the heat and smoke going.
While I am letting the pit come up to temp, I keep the fire door open until the fire is going good. I shut the door when I put the meat on. The coolness of the meat, the bulk of meat and the fact that the top doors were opened, seem to settle the pit into its sweet spot.
I find a very seldom need to adjust my intake dampers. When my temp gets to the bottom range of where I want to cook, I add a couple more sticks to the fire box. This system has served me well for the last five years. I do have some days when the weather is bad that I will adjust the air dampers, but I have remembered how many turns of the dial dampers that I have used in the past.
Hope this helps. This system works for oak, maple, beach and apple wood. I have used all four of these woods with equal results.

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Old 12-17-2012, 05:30 AM   #11
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Auber, Guru,Stoker, Pitmaster can help.
Simply close flue. Let the smoke goes out through gaps of cover.
Kill natural draft. Leave temperature control to science equipment.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:53 AM   #12
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Ok I am lost you said stickburning and charcole???? I am a stickburner only and have a lang which produces very good Q. would never use charcole.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:56 AM   #13
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stack wood in firebox 2 going side to side 2 going frt to back 2 side to side 2 frt to back using weed burner light and in 15 min you are at temp to cook.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
Cooking on a stick burner you cook in a ZONE I shoot for +/- 25 deg you'll drive yourself Farking Nuts trying to maintain one temp learn to cook where the pit wants to run, Most are like a Woman( they all have a Sweet spot and they're all different )once you learn to tickle it just right they roll over and give up the goods. If you want the full experience stop putting Regular in your Corvette! No charcoal.... they are called stick burners for a reason, your food will taste better and don't be afraid to cook a little hotter like 275 My zone is 275-325. The key is fire managenet. Always start out with a bigger fire to preheat the pit and establish a good coal bed. Let it burn down and settle in. Preheat your splits on top of the fire box. Watch the thermo when it drops to the bottom of your Zone add a split open the intake until it catches good and the temp is in the upper side of middle of your Zone. Then set the intake back to where it will maintain it. The temp will drop back since you have cut some air and cruise for 45- 1 hr. Now go Smoke Something!

^^^ What he said.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:47 PM   #15
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The COOLEST thing is after you go through that learning curve and get to really know your pit and then you can just "set it" for whatever temp you want and it just cooks.

Just like with anything else that takes some time to figure out, once you're there it sure is gratifying.
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