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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 02-04-2013, 08:26 AM   #1
John Bowen
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I have mentioned before that after years of cooking on offset smokers I bought a Backwoods Smoker Party model. I have cooked on it about 7 times learning more each time. In fact – from the suggestions on this forum – I added the 2 inches of expanded steel to the charcoal tray and picked up an extra cooking time – it worked like a dream.
However I still have a serious issue. Although the cooker is putting out good meat I am still having issues with “SOFT BARK”. Yesterday while cooking ribs I threw on some chicken breasts. I followed my normal – brine and rub procedures and after about 2 hours I went to sauce and the bark was so soft that it moved under the brush. I started the cook with 1.5 gallons of water and added roughly every 2.5 hours.
When cooking on my offset I always put a pan of water in front of the firebox but I have never had to deal with this much moisture before. I have cooked on a WMS before and never had this much moisture – but currently I can’t seem to set the bark on this Party model.
Any suggestions?
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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:32 AM   #2
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Where are you cooking at in your BWS? Your best chance for bark is at the very top where its the hottest. If you are looking for a very firm and thick park you will have a hard time if you are using water in the pan. You can try sand, lava rock, or foil balls to create a drier environment.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:47 AM   #3
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You are cooking on a water smoker. They tend to be very humid environments. When I owned my BWS, I was particularly amazed by the amount of steam in the cook chamber. It produced very tender/moist meat but the bark was never very firm. To me, that was an acceptable trade off.

That being said, you could try running the unit dry (without water) and see how you like it. Fill the water pan with play sand to act as a heat sink or maybe just foil it over but it will run much hotter.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:47 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fireburd View Post
Where are you cooking at in your BWS? Your best chance for bark is at the very top where its the hottest. If you are looking for a very firm and thick park you will have a hard time if you are using water in the pan. You can try sand, lava rock, or foil balls to create a drier environment.
I second Fireburd I have been cooking on BWS 2 Fatboys 1 Chubby never use water I layered crumpled foil sheets in bottom 6 sheets per cooker works like a charm
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Unread 02-04-2013, 09:38 AM   #5
John Bowen
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I cooked the chicken on the middle rack in front of the door thermometer.

I don’t mind soft bark and I enjoy the moist meat – there is a difference but I did not expect the bark to move after 2 hours of cooking. It did not set at all.

I cooked the ribs on the top rack and though the bark was soft to the touch it did not move when I sauced them.
Is that normal for a BWS?????
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Unread 02-04-2013, 05:09 PM   #6
jesseQ
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I have been sizing up a Backwoods Smoker and barkless bbq is a concern I also have. Probably not enough to put me off buying one but enough that I've google'd for images and such.

I'm pretty sure it's a technique issue. With the amount of competitions won by BWS I just can't believe there isn't a way to get some great bark. Sand (and trial and error, of course) seems to be the ticket.

Have a look here:

The gent in the video uses sand exclusively on his Backwoods. He talks about it in the comments. Hope posting the link in a forum is ok.

I like to think about bark the way I think about beer; if my pint doesn't have a head on it I'll still drink it, it's not 100% right (for me) but I'll still get it down my neck. Same with bark and bbq.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 05:47 PM   #7
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What exactly were you trying to get bark on? Ribs and chicken? What temps are you cooking at? Are you using lump or briquettes?
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Unread 02-04-2013, 06:02 PM   #8
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Thanks for posting the video.

I have emailed BWS and found out that I can purchase a heat diverter that will ease the moisture build up. How much I could not find out but right now the fire is hitting the water pan directly. I am not sure it will solve all the issue but it seems it will help at least in theory. I am a low and slow guy and I cook around 230 and I do want some moisture in the pit but as I stated earlier – I put the chicken in and after two hours the rub was not set – it wasn’t even thinking about setting. I had ribs on the top rack and the bark was soft but it did not come off when I brushed on sauce.

This weekend I plan to do a run with sand in the water pan and see what it looks like but to be honest I hate to have a water smoker and not use it for that purpose.

I also plan to order the heat diverter and get it installed as well. I know a good welder and he will work for beer and BBQ!
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Unread 02-04-2013, 07:31 PM   #9
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Won't need a welder. Isn't there a channel in your firebox that looks like a sheet of metal will fit on it? Heat diverter is just a sheet of metal that is removable
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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:20 PM   #10
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I finish my meats on the top shelf, if I want more crust and/or bark.
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Unread 02-05-2013, 08:15 AM   #11
John Bowen
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Quote:
Won't need a welder. Isn't there a channel in your firebox that looks like a sheet of metal will fit on it? Heat diverter is just a sheet of metal that is removable
There is not a shelf in my unit. BWS told me that the diverter comes with brackets and they would need to be welded in under the water pan. I looked at my Party last night and there was no shelf.
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Unread 02-06-2013, 10:32 AM   #12
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Hi John...get the diverter, it will keep temps more even in cooking chamber, crank it up on the chicken. 275--325--and add white sugar to the rub...
start your ribs a littel hotter then slow it down, but I cook w/water and the bark, on butt is good same on brisket, sure better than takin g a chance on drying the rest out, also try papper if you foil in the end..I dont foil...that really softens the bark..
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Unread 02-06-2013, 10:50 AM   #13
John Bowen
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Thanks for the tip Big – I ordered the diverter yesterday. I have to give props to BWS – they were helpful and answered all my questions.

It is just a new way of cooking for me but I can tell I am going to love it.
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Unread 02-06-2013, 11:46 AM   #14
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Bark is overrated.
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Unread 02-06-2013, 12:02 PM   #15
John Bowen
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Not in my house

I live in a house with 3 skinney women who eat salad Mon through Friday - when the weekend comes and they naw on BBQ they want the bark.
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