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View Full Version : Differences in smoked meats: Stick Burners vs Ceramic Cookers


cayenne
08-28-2015, 09:51 AM
Hi all,

Ok, I have my BGE on the way.

Of course I'm gonna wanna smoke a few things on it...seems a bit more convenient to do rather than have to stoke wood into the good old Bandera style smoker.

But I'm wondering...?

1. Difference in the final product? I mean with smoker, I am burning wood the whole time (except for charcoal to start it and during the end when everything is wrapped in foil)..so, I'm getting full blown wood smoke exposure to the meats there.
With the ceramic smoker, well, you're just using wood chips/chunks in with the lump. I'm guessing this burns off after a bit, and well, it is a PITA to get things open and drop more soaked wood into it? So, I'm thinking far less exposure to flavoring wood smoke? Is this something ya'll perceive? If so, how do ya'll get around this?

2. Do ya'll foil wrap the meat in the ceramic like you do for a stick burner?

3. Do ya'll put any pans of water in the ceramic? I know I did this back in the old days when I have my first smoker the weber direct heat one (WSM is the acronym?). I never really did this with my stick burner...filled it with sand for a bit as a heat sink...but what about the ceramic when using it as a smoker?

4. I'm guessing you mop your meat in the ceramic like you do with the stick burner smokers....but do you do it as often? It this about the same?

5. What do you use with your ceramic when using as a smoker? Wood chips? Wood chunks? Small logs? Do you soak them first?

6. For those of you with a BGE XL....if loaded up with lump and some smoking wood...at 220F or so, about how long can it go before fuel is expended? If you have to add more smoking wood, about how often would you guess you had to do that during a long smoke, say for a brisket?

7. Any other differences you all can think of with respect to product output or cooking methods?


Thanks in advance,

cayenne

LMAJ
08-28-2015, 10:27 AM
1. With the ceramic smoker, well, you're just using wood chips/chunks in with the lump. I'm guessing this burns off after a bit, and well, it is a PITA to get things open and drop more soaked wood into it? So, I'm thinking far less exposure to flavoring wood smoke? Is this something ya'll perceive? If so, how do ya'll get around this?
I don't soak my wood chunks. I do layer them in with the charcoal so they fire up all throughout the cook. I like a light smoke flavor so add more or less to your preference. I have never had to refill during a long cook - wood or charcoal - these cookers are efficient.

2. Do ya'll foil wrap the meat in the ceramic like you do for a stick burner?
Depends on what the bark looks like. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

3. Do ya'll put any pans of water in the ceramic? I know I did this back in the old days when I have my first smoker the weber direct heat one (WSM is the acronym?). I never really did this with my stick burner...filled it with sand for a bit as a heat sink...but what about the ceramic when using it as a smoker?
I don't normally put any water pan in, I either wrap my plate setter in foil to protect it from drippings, or put a foil pan under to catch.

4. I'm guessing you mop your meat in the ceramic like you do with the stick burner smokers....but do you do it as often? It this about the same?
I stopped mopping after my first brisket. If you like to mop - mop!

5. What do you use with your ceramic when using as a smoker? Wood chips? Wood chunks? Small logs? Do you soak them first?
Chunks, no soaking.

6. For those of you with a BGE XL....if loaded up with lump and some smoking wood...at 220F or so, about how long can it go before fuel is expended? If you have to add more smoking wood, about how often would you guess you had to do that during a long smoke, say for a brisket?
I have a Large BGE and have gone 23 hours on one load.

7. Any other differences you all can think of with respect to product output or cooking methods?
I am a lazy cook and got rid of my stickburner after getting an Egg... The Egg is also a very versatile cooker - congrats and have fun with it!

Fwismoker
08-28-2015, 10:32 AM
As far as differences the two are imo polar opposites. High airflow vs low airflow and all wood with wood chunks vs all wood.

Get both and enjoy both! You can't have too many types of cookers unless you run out of room. :shock:

caliking
08-28-2015, 10:45 AM
+1 to everything LMAJ said, except that I have cooked for 36ish hours on a load of lump in my LBGE - pork butt overnight, breakfast fatty next morning, then 2 sides for lunch.

One of the strengths of a BGE is the insulation form the ceramic, so opening it often mitigates this advantage. So mopping may not be the best POA. But if you like to, you should mop - its a cooker, not a spaceship :)

As far as flavor goes, I think there is a BIG difference between a stickburner and a ceramic cooker. All wood smoke flavor is tastier to me, but its not feasible to fire up a stick burner for everything. So each has its pros and cons.

You will almost certainly enjoy your BGE though!

jimithing78
08-28-2015, 11:09 AM
Echo pretty much everything these guys have said.

I will say that I still like a water pan in my egg when doing a brisket. Maybe it's just mental, I dunno. But when you put a water pan in a normal XL BGE the stock grate ends up being a little close to the water for my liking. You end up steaming that meat right above it - it doesn't get the same bark like the rest of the meat. I just bought an adjustable rack (AR) from the ceramic grill store so we'll see how that goes next time. But it should allow plenty of room between the grate and the water pan now. Used it for pizza last week and it was awesome.

If you don't use a water pan I think you at least need to spritz the meat to keep it from completely drying out the bark.

Smokey Lonesome
08-28-2015, 11:11 AM
Definitely do not soak your wood chunks. The BGE does not require much air flow to maintain low temps which makes maintaining a clean burning fire and good wood smoke somewhat of a challenge. More smoke isn't better but thin blue to invisible produces the best smoke flavor in my experience.

You will love the Egg.

cheeaa
08-28-2015, 11:54 AM
Yeah dude, you really get a long way on a load of charcoal. For instance, I just smoked a pork butt for like 9 hours. And with the same load of charcoal, I'd honestly be able to get another couple of cooks in. Easily.

One of the biggest complaints you'll see about the egg is that it doesn't have a big smokey flavor. I've found this to be true when i would just put chunks randomly throughout, but for a while now I put a pile of maybe 5 or 6 fist size chunks in the middle of my charcoal load. What I mean by this is I basically make a tower of wood chunks from the bottom grate to the top of my charcoal. then I dump my starter charcoal directly over this, get my temps up, throw the meat on and let it ride. I've been getting real good smoke flavor doing this.

landarc
08-28-2015, 12:49 PM
I mix in wood chunks throughout the load, if I want more smoke flavor, I will mix in up to 40% wood chunks into the charcoal bed. I like wood chunks that are about fist sized to slightly smaller.

I use a drip pan, with about 1" of water in it. I believe strongly in a moist cooking environment and generally the smaller cookers just don't have enough meat in there to get it where I want.

cayenne
08-28-2015, 02:00 PM
Wow..thanks all for the great input.

Ok, I'll go with experimenting with mixing the wood in with the lump...chunks, no chips...no soaking.

I liked the one tip about one big bit of wood that spans layers of the lump...that sounds good to me....

I like a LOT of smoke in my foods, but I have at one time or another had a complaint that some things had a bit too much for their liking, so this will be great to experiment with.

Hmm..so, far, no delivery yet, but hoping it comes this afternoon and I can start assembly this evening!

C

landarc
08-28-2015, 02:16 PM
the waiting is terrible, especially on a Friday delivery

cayenne
08-28-2015, 02:23 PM
the waiting is terrible, especially on a Friday delivery


I hope to get it in..start assembly tonight and I have a friend coming over tomorrow to help me lift the thing into the nest I build.

I'm also in debate where to put it. I think I will have to move my stick burner from where it is to the grass part of the yard. and the BGE where the stick burner was. I'll have the weber and bandera in yard...

Thing is, the yard part just from under my patio cover...is closer to my back door, better lit, etc.

So, if I can get my friend to stick around and help me (he also has a truck whereas I only own a 2 seater sports car)...we might go to Lowe's and get some sort of concrete pavers and some sand...and try to "extend" from my covered patio concrete to just beyond the eve into the grassy area so that I can roll it out there and then lock the wheels.

It will be much easier to use and all if there and leave the stick burner where it is...on the other side of the drive way.


Anyway...very excited!!

I'm a bit of a photographer and videographer bug at this point, so once it is done, I'll shoot some pics and post them.

I have a YouTube cooking show call "CWI: Cooking While Intoxicated". Once I get the BGE down and a few fun dishes, I will do an full blown episode on it.....

Can't wait...!!


C

Bludawg
08-28-2015, 03:49 PM
Never owned a flower pot but I have cooked on a few the flavor IMO is muddy compared to burning twigs but I find that in all charcoal cookers still it is head & shoulders better Q than Flash & Flicker cookers.

chingador
08-28-2015, 05:12 PM
Hi all,

1. Difference in the final product? I mean with smoker, I am burning wood the whole time (except for charcoal to start it and during the end when everything is wrapped in foil)..so, I'm getting full blown wood smoke exposure to the meats there.
With the ceramic smoker, well, you're just using wood chips/chunks in with the lump. I'm guessing this burns off after a bit, and well, it is a PITA to get things open and drop more soaked wood into it? So, I'm thinking far less exposure to flavoring wood smoke? Is this something ya'll perceive? If so, how do ya'll get around this?

2. Do ya'll foil wrap the meat in the ceramic like you do for a stick burner?

3. Do ya'll put any pans of water in the ceramic? I know I did this back in the old days when I have my first smoker the weber direct heat one (WSM is the acronym?). I never really did this with my stick burner...filled it with sand for a bit as a heat sink...but what about the ceramic when using it as a smoker?

4. I'm guessing you mop your meat in the ceramic like you do with the stick burner smokers....but do you do it as often? It this about the same?

5. What do you use with your ceramic when using as a smoker? Wood chips? Wood chunks? Small logs? Do you soak them first?

6. For those of you with a BGE XL....if loaded up with lump and some smoking wood...at 220F or so, about how long can it go before fuel is expended? If you have to add more smoking wood, about how often would you guess you had to do that during a long smoke, say for a brisket?

7. Any other differences you all can think of with respect to product output or cooking methods?


Thanks in advance,

cayenne

1. You cannot expect same results out of a ceramic pit vs. a stick burner. But you can still make quality smoked meat with it. What I have seen is that I just don't get the smoke ring that I got with my old Bandera. Other than that, plenty of smoke flavor. My biggest issue is getting a clean fire. Since you have very low draft with a ceramic, you do run the risk of dirty combustion from time to time. More wood is not always better. I usually only put about 4 chunks in and that is plenty.

2. Foil or not is a personal choice regardless of what kind of cooker you use. There is no reason to wrap or not wrap ribs just because you are using a ceramic.

3. I don't use any water in my ceramic. They are supposed to retain more moisture than other style of cookers. The food that comes off of my Primo always has good moisture. I happen to live in a very humid area so it isn't really needed here. Probably not needed there either. Water pan is just 1 more thing to mess with.

4. Mopping is another personal preference deal, but I would err on the side of opening the lid as few times as possible. If you open the lid too often, you risk running your temps higher than planned.

5. I use chunks, and never soaked.

6. With a full load of charcoal, you can get over 24 hours of cook out of a single load easy.

7. Nothing else, other than you really should check out the site, Naked Whiz. Tons of really helpful things on that site. Mainly geared towards the BGE. When I first got my Primo, I used this site as a reference point and it has been really helpful.

check this link out:

http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm

Rusty Kettle
08-28-2015, 06:24 PM
Well I have a Vision Grills kamado. I never have had a dirty fire. It's easy to operate.

I bet my ceramic could go toe to toe with a good stickburner. Just my humble opinion.

More wood for more smoke and less wood for less smoke.

If you have a dirty fire let the fire go and it will turn clean on it's own at some point. Get your temp and give about an hour for the fire to turn clean.

Remember catch the temp on the way up. When I get within 50 degrees I set my vents and slowly coast into it. You will understand what I mean when you use yours. It's like a freight train it stops slowly so give it room. You can always increase temp. It takes hours and hours to cool it down.

cayenne
08-28-2015, 07:29 PM
I think I'll burn it in about 350F or so tonight for about 30min-1hour...and cut the air off.

I pulled out a pork shoulder (I've been stocking up on them every time they go $0.99/lb)....to thaw tonight.

I think tomorrow I will do maybe some sort of MX or Caribbean influenced marinade/paste and let that sit overnight till Sunday.

Thinking tomorrow I'll grill stuff...maybe a lot of veggies for the coming week, and maybe wings, or shish-k-bob....somethings.....

And Sunday do a low and slow on the pork shoulder.....I'm trying to eschew wheat and corn products...so maybe do the paleo style thing and eat it wrapped in boston bibb lettuce leaves taco style...

I was sort of getting the idea that on the ceramic...you are never gonna get what I consider to be 'real' BBQ levels of smoke, so thinking doing heavy flavor type things on the pork....and low and slow that way....so will have moderate smoke but other flavors (MX, Caribbean, Cuban, etc) will really shine through but have that fall apart texture...etc.

Anyway...that's my thoughts for experimenting this weekend. I hope to mostly just get used to how to set and control the heat this weekend, and prep for doing some major stuff and maybe have friends over for the Labor Day long weekend....

I very much appreciate the help and advice here!!

cayenne