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I recently added a BBQ Guru PartyQ fan to my Akorn to get my temperature issues under control. I've made bone-in, skin-on Chicken Thighs twice now but they taste way too smoky and bitter. I'm using lump charcoal, put a weber fire starter near the top of the heap and let it flame for a bit, then shut the lid, crack the top vent and set the PartyQ for 350. Once at temp, the thighs go on for about an hour.

 

Am I lighting it correctly, should I use a different temp?. I'm all for a bit of smoke taste but these have way too much

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I agree with Antinoz.  Remember, just because you hit the temp, it doesn't mean the nasty starting smoke isn't gone yet.  I usually don't put any food on until mine has been running at the desired temp for at least 20-30 minutes.  I always budget 30-45 minutes starting time for the charcoal to get going.  Additionally, chicken absorbs smoke more than beef and pork, so a little smoke on chicken goes a long ways.

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I'm just using the lump Mesquite charcoal (Lazzari), no additional wood. I think you guys are onto something though, I let the fan get it to temp and put the chicken on soon after that. I'll try letting it sit for a half hour or so first

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4 minutes ago, TKOBBQ said:

And mesquite is probably to strong of a taste for chicken.

I've seen these kinds of claims before, but from what I've read, good charcoal should be nearly pure carbon. Complete combustion of carbon will produce heat and carbon dioxide (flavorless, odorless). Incomplete combustion will produce ash and soot.

So what flavors could you be getting from mesquite charcoal that you wouldn't get from any other charcoal?

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8 minutes ago, TKOBBQ said:

Bitter mesquite taste, it's quite strong.  If charcoal imparts no flavor into/on the meat then why not just cook with gas?

Combustion of propane results in CO2 + H2O. Charcoal provides a dry cooking environment.

https://amazingribs.com/more-technique-and-science/grill-and-smoker-setup-and-firing/science-charcoal-how-charcoal-made-and

 

You also have more control over temperature with charcoal, and gas grills cannot safely be sealed up and insulated like a kamado

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We can agree to disagree, it's OK.  Charcoal does give flavor to foods cooked over it.  Different charcoals flavor food differently because they are made out of different varieties of wood.  All poultry is like a sponge and absorbs a lot of smoke flavor.  There is a reason many, many people recommend going light on wood when smoking/cooking poultry.  In fact a lot prefer using fruit woods.

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This seems like a classic YMMV cooking discussion.  As Sir Robin says, lump charcoal should be carbonized until you can't discern a difference in the types of wood.  But this doesn't always happen with the larger pieces.  It could be that people with more sensitive palates can taste mesquite, especially in something like poultry.

 

I would follow the advice to let your fire burn clean before adding food. If it's still too smoky you may want to try a different charcoal for the yardbird.

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Serious question.  If all types of lump indeed had no discernible taste, why would companies even bother marketing to label what kind of lump was in the bag?  

Edit... NVM.  Read the entire link.  Its a really long YMMV due to lots of factors involved.

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On 6/19/2018 at 7:45 PM, Tony Chick said:

I recently added a BBQ Guru PartyQ fan to my Akorn to get my temperature issues under control. I've made bone-in, skin-on Chicken Thighs twice now but they taste way too smoky and bitter.

 

Are you using a deflector or catch pan of some type?  Aside from any charcoal issues, skin-on thighs can drop so much fat on a fire that they'll taste like they were cooked over a tire fire.

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