How

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smokydale
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How

Post by smokydale » Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:30 pm

I am relatively new at smpking, but I have smoked a few butts for pulled pork. I use my Royal Oak charccoal grill for smoking. My "questions" are: How many charcoal briqettes should I use? I have 4 air intake vents (2 on the lid and 2 on the sides of the lower part of the grill), but I am not sure how far I should have which ones opened (or closed) for smoking? The grate the coals are is adjustable. How far should the coals be from the cooking grate?

I know I am asking a lot of questions, but I believe the only "stupid question" is the one you never ask Thank you in advance.

Dale

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Trev
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Re: How

Post by Trev » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:28 pm

You're right, there's no such thing as a stupid question, smokydale.
I'm not familiar with your grill so I did a search and there are at least 2 different models of Royal Oak charccoal grill. First, I would say that for smoking you want to keep your charcoal grate as low as possible to maximize the distance from the meat. If possible it's best to set up a minion method for a longer smoke without having to refuel often-- using fire-bricks can help a lot with this-- and keep your heat source at the opposite end of the grill from the food. Once you're set up I would imagine that a dozen, or even up to 20, lit briqs would get things rolling along nicely. Don't start with too much heat or you'll over-shoot your target temps. The vents on the bottom of your grill are intake vents, and the ones above are exhaust vents. I'd suggest closing the exhaust vent above the heat source and leaving the one opposite the heat wide open at all times. Adust your temp with the two bottom vents. You may find that shutting the far vent down (the one below the wide-open exhast vent) and using only the intake vent below the fire may be enough control that you can set it and walk away. Time and tinkering will tell. It's ideal to set up a convection current that initiates at one end and exits at the opposite end. I noticed the exhaust vents are low-- close to grate level-- and that's good positioning for trapping smoke and making it more effective as a smoker. keep the meat close to the exhaust vent (or, in other words, away from the heat source). If you check out the different ways that folks set up their kettle grills for smoking then that gives a good indication of what you're aiming for.
Image
In the above picture you can see how I've used a foil sheet bent in an 'L' to shield against the direct heat as well as helping to contain the heat source to a small area (the small space on the left holds the charcoal and a minion method will give me over 6 hours at 250*). When I put the lid on the kettle, the exhaust vent is always opposite the heat.
If you're able to somehow put together a similar method, you should also be able to get your grill working like a smoker. Regarding the fire-bricks, they are used by some in the same fashion that I'm using the foil 'shield'. They're serving the same purpose, except I've extended my shield to a level above the grill for added protection against direct heat.
I hope this kind of explains it. I'm sure others will chime in with advice as well. Good luck and remember to take pics. In my opinion it's always very interesting to see others put together a smoker using whatever gear they have handy. Some very unconventional systems can turn out some dynamite results. Let us know how it goes, Dale.
There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

smokydale
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Re: How

Post by smokydale » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:32 pm

Trev wrote:You're right, there's no such thing as a stupid question, smokydale.
I'm not familiar with your grill so I did a search and there are at least 2 different models of Royal Oak charccoal grill. First, I would say that for smoking you want to keep your charcoal grate as low as possible to maximize the distance from the meat. If possible it's best to set up a minion method for a longer smoke without having to refuel often-- using fire-bricks can help a lot with this-- and keep your heat source at the opposite end of the grill from the food. Once you're set up I would imagine that a dozen, or even up to 20, lit briqs would get things rolling along nicely. Don't start with too much heat or you'll over-shoot your target temps. The vents on the bottom of your grill are intake vents, and the ones above are exhaust vents. I'd suggest closing the exhaust vent above the heat source and leaving the one opposite the heat wide open at all times. Adust your temp with the two bottom vents. You may find that shutting the far vent down (the one below the wide-open exhast vent) and using only the intake vent below the fire may be enough control that you can set it and walk away. Time and tinkering will tell. It's ideal to set up a convection current that initiates at one end and exits at the opposite end. I noticed the exhaust vents are low-- close to grate level-- and that's good positioning for trapping smoke and making it more effective as a smoker. keep the meat close to the exhaust vent (or, in other words, away from the heat source). If you check out the different ways that folks set up their kettle grills for smoking then that gives a good indication of what you're aiming for.
Image
In the above picture you can see how I've used a foil sheet bent in an 'L' to shield against the direct heat as well as helping to contain the heat source to a small area (the small space on the left holds the charcoal and a minion method will give me over 6 hours at 250*). When I put the lid on the kettle, the exhaust vent is always opposite the heat.
If you're able to somehow put together a similar method, you should also be able to get your grill working like a smoker. Regarding the fire-bricks, they are used by some in the same fashion that I'm using the foil 'shield'. They're serving the same purpose, except I've extended my shield to a level above the grill for added protection against direct heat.
I hope this kind of explains it. I'm sure others will chime in with advice as well. Good luck and remember to take pics. In my opinion it's always very interesting to see others put together a smoker using whatever gear they have handy. Some very unconventional systems can turn out some dynamite results. Let us know how it goes, Dale.
Thank you for the speedy comeback. You have done a very fine job of answering my questions. I will feel more at ease the next time I smoke a pork butt.

I tried to send pictures of my grill, but I don't know how to do it. When I master it I will send pictures.

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Trev
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Re: How

Post by Trev » Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:53 pm

Glad I could help, smokydale.
b2
There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

smokydale
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Re: How

Post by smokydale » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:03 pm

Trev,

Thank you for the informative reply. I found your information it to be very "step by step", even for a novice like me. Most people that I have seen (on the net) pull the bone out with no problem. I have never been able to do this. I only cook the butt up to 180-185. I will try smoking it until I reach an internal temp of 195-200.

Thank you for your help. The next time I smoke a butt for pulled pork I will let you know how it goes.

Dale

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Trev
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Re: How

Post by Trev » Sat Sep 05, 2009 8:47 am

Dale, the bone is an excellent way to check a roast, although, like a temp probe, it's only an indication and not guaranteed. I usually go up to ~200 and check for tender, but I've found that going much above 200 and I run the risk of making the roast dry. Butts and picnics are pretty forgiving, but last time I dried one out a little bit when I took it to 205. Every roast is different, I guess, and I don't think that's a usual thing because I've heard of others who consistently go to 205 without any trouble.
Good luck.
There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

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