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freddyjbbq

Thin Blue (pellet) Smoke

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That looks like perfect smoke to me.

 

On the subject of quality smoke–.

A couple of years ago I walked around a BBQ competition.  It was my second and last exposure to competitive BBQing.  It probably wasn’t a world class event but it drew people from many states. 

 

The competitors had high investments in their equipment.  There were pull campers with the pit built in on the back porch, similar trailers that were mobile restaurants rather than living quarters and sophisticated pits on dedicated trailers.  I suspect that they all know a bit about smoking protein.

 

One competitor, drinking sweet tea in the shade of his awning, seemed willing and wanting to talk.  I commented on the barely visible smoke coming from his Shirley pit.  He said, “Yeah, that may be a bit too much.”  “Gee,” I said, “I thought that you’d want more.”  That started a long conversation about quality smoke.

 

Here’s somewhat of a recap of what he said—

   1.  If your only source of heat is burning wood, adjust your fire so you don’t see any smoke at all.

   2.  As close as I can come to his words—“Smoked meat may be the wrong name.  The flavor doesn’t come from smoke.  It comes from, I don’t know, maybe flavored gasses or something.  Watch a wood-fired pizza oven.  It’s not pumping out smoke but you can taste the difference.”

   3.   I told him that I exchange recipes and information on the Internet with a group of pellet pit owners and that many of them say that they miss the obvious smoke taste generated by their stick burners.  He said, “A lot of people put too much smoke on their meat.”

   4.  He told me that sometimes when he’s driving with his windows down he smells strong smoke.  He parks and tries to find the source.  If it’s a backyard pit he visits with the cooks, “But I never tell them that they should manage their fire better.”

   5.  He opened his fire box and showed me a piece of wood about like the fat end of a baseball bat burning on top of a bed of coals.  He said he controls the pit temperature by building the right sized fire and controls the smoke level by adjusting the air intake and the chimney cap.

   6.   I told him about the typical pellet pit temperature fluctuations.  He was okay with that.  I explained that smoke’s generated by smoldering pellets and that smoke density can also fluctuate.  He said he probably wouldn’t care for that.  “Smoldering wouldn’t be right.”

   7.  He’s not cooked on a pellet pit but he “Might like to try a few” if he could make the smoke “light and steady.”

   8.  He’s not interested in competing with one.  “A painter wouldn’t want to program a robot to paint a picture” he said.

 

He checked his smartphone a moment and texted me a link to this youtube video for a lesson on proper smoke— https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcFsiq_S3eM.  The lesson begins at the three-minute point.  I’ve looked at several other videos where the smoke output was similar.

 

Preferences for smoke taste varies widely in much the same way that salt preference does.  Those were his thoughts, I’m interested in readers' thoughts.

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56 minutes ago, pmillen said:

   2.  .........“Smoked meat may be the wrong name.  

 

 

   3.   I told him that I exchange recipes and information on the Internet with a group of pellet pit owners and that many of them say that they miss the obvious smoke taste generated by their stick burners.  He said, “A lot of people put too much smoke on their meat.”

 

Thank you for posting, i'm going to check out the youtube video; always interested in bbq info.

 

Point #2;   couldnt agree more,  i "smoked" a chicken one time in a WSM with some apple wood, and i found the after-taste of the end result to be offensive and somewhat putrid.  the smokey taste stayed etched into my mind for a long time.

 

 

Point #3, i've definately put too much smoke on my bbq cooks in the past (but, that is how we learn).  when i began to make adjustments (this was on my kamado's before pellets), i heard someone make a point that smoke is like any other "spice/seasoning," in that if your recipe called for a given amount of black pepper (for example) and you doubled/tripled/quadrupled the amount, it would produce and unfavorable result.

 

 

Fast-forward to pellet Grills......  before owning one, i had seen many folks opine that the smoke profile was lacking.  while my timberline grills have the super-smoke feature, this little Ranger doesnt but kicks out a pretty good smoke flavor.

 

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@pmillen

 

That guy knew what he was talking about. 

 

I got my first pellet grill about 5 or 6 years ago and I have spent a lot of time trying to mimic that flavor profile on my Kamados and I about have it mastered.

 

Quote

6.   I told him about the typical pellet pit temperature fluctuations.  He was okay with that.  I explained that smoke’s generated by smoldering pellets and that smoke density can also fluctuate.  He said he probably wouldn’t care for that.  “Smoldering wouldn’t be right.”

 

Pellet grills aren't generally smoldering wood pellets though.  They are actually at ignition point and burning with a visible flame in most cases.  This is why you don't see as much smoke coming from pellet grills after they have started up.  The smoke density in a pellet grill does fluctuate some, but it does in other types of smokers as well.  The Pellet smokers work by the exact same principle as an offset smoker in terms of making the fire and the smoke.  You are burning pure wood instead of smoldering charcoal and smoking wood.  There is a distinct difference in the smoke profiles from the two processes.  The smoldering process makes a MUCH STRONGER smoke profile than the burning/ignition process.  

 

Pellet grills and offset cookers are high airflow / small, hot fire cookers while verticals, kamados, and others are low airflow / larger smoldering fire processes.  

 

There are two ways to mimic the profile on a kamado, neither of which are particularly easy.  You can have a small hot fire going in a kamado but it's nearly impossible to maintain extremely low temps.  You need your vents both wide open and maybe have the dome lid propped open just a little as well.  You have a super small fire going that requires regular maintenance just like it would in an offset.  It's no longer a set and forget process.  I have found through a lot of trial and error that you can still mimic the flavor by simply using a VERY SMALL AMOUNT of smoking wood.  And use a lighter profile wood like cherry, apple, pecan or oak.

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4 minutes ago, John Setzler said:

. .....You need your vents both wide open and maybe have the dome lid propped open just a little as well.  You have a super small fire going that requires regular maintenance just like it would in an offset.  It's no longer a set and forget process. 

 

in this case, wondering how you went about fire maintenance, meaning:  did you remove food, grates, deflectors each time you had to make an addition?

 

i haven't tried a stick burner yet, but its on my bucket list if i can come across a small one for a reasonable price.  

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31 minutes ago, John Setzler said:

@pmillen

Pellet grills aren't generally smoldering wood pellets though.

 

We may have observed things differently.  Or, there may be a difference in pits.  In my pit the controller calls for pellets and they're dropped into the fire pot.  They land on burning or glowing pellets.  They smolder for a bit before they burn.  It's during the smolder that they make the most smoke.  

 

It's most evident when the pit is starting up and the red hot-ignitor causes the pellets to smolder before they burn.  

 

BTW, in my pit the pellet drops are controlled by timing—slow timing when the pit is at or above the set temperature (pilot light).  The timing is different when the pit is below the set temperature.  Then, the pellets are dropping at a different rate.  Both settings are user adjustable.

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44 minutes ago, freddyjbbq said:

i haven't tried a stick burner yet, but its on my bucket list if i can come across a small one for a reasonable price.  

 

Moderators, delete this post if it's too far afield from Kamado Guru's mission.

 

Me, too.  I'm kind' jonesin' for one of the Good-One smokers.  Quality offsets are a bit pricy for me and the cheap big box offsets don't appeal to me but the Good-Ones look like a possibility.  I attended a Chris Marks BBQ class where he cooked turkey, brisket, butt, beef tenderloin and lamb chops,  on one.   They seem to operate much like an offset.

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5 hours ago, pmillen said:

 

Moderators, delete this post if it's too far afield from Kamado Guru's mission.

 

Me, too.  I'm kind' jonesin' for one of the Good-One smokers.  Quality offsets are a bit pricy for me and the cheap big box offsets don't appeal to me but the Good-Ones look like a possibility.  I attended a Chris Marks BBQ class where he cooked turkey, brisket, butt, beef tenderloin and lamb chops,  on one.   They seem to operate much like an offset.

 

you mean these? http://thegood-one.com/  i like the size & design.

 

i'm thinking same thing, don't need or want anything to big or pricey but dont want a wobbly tin can from big box either

 

 

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59 minutes ago, freddyjbbq said:

 

you mean these? http://thegood-one.com/  i like the size & design.

 

i'm thinking same thing, don't need or want anything to big or pricey but dont want a wobbly tin can from big box either

 

 

 

Yep.  That's the one.

 

I also have a bit of a hankering for an Assassin 48 grill.  They do rather well as a grill/smoker combination.  But I don't see what they offer over my Big Joe, except capacity and possibly longer smoking times.

 

Hi, my names pmillen and I'm a smokerholic.

Edited by pmillen

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