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Burning food with sloroller?


Dave W
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The majority of my cooks are low and slow on my BJ3. I go back and forth with cooking with the sloroller in. I've found that unless I set up a water pan or the heat deflectors just above the top of the sloroller the food will burn. 

 

I recently tried again doing some St Louis ribs with only the sloroller in. This time I cooked for about 2 hours at 250 dome temp then crutched meat side down with some butter, brown sugar and honey for an hour. After I unwrapped for the final part of the cook, I noticed the meat side had been completely burnt. Presumably the sugars all burnt. 

 

My question is, was the sloroller designed to be used in conjunction with the heat deflectors? I can't convince myself it is worth it to use it for anything other than longer cooks like pork butt or brisket that I'll typically put a water pan in. It seems like it's just another thing to clean since I have to use the heat deflectors anyway to prevent burning the food. 

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I have never run into this problem.  Is this with a Classic II or a Classic III.  Sure seems like something is getting too hot, but you mention 250 degrees (Farenheit and not Celsius, right?)  Even 250F without the Slo-Roller is pretty low for most meats.  This last weekend I cooked some prime steaks for about 20 min or so (12 and 8 per side), at around 400F with the Slo-Roller in place.  No problems.

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It's a Big Joe 3. Yea I'm not sure what the issue is. I'll typically use my Fireboard to control Temps on longer cooks. Not sure what the issue could be. I was convinced this time it had to do with the honey/sugar in the wrap because it developed that hard sticky burnt layer but thr meat was otherwise fine. I usually don't crutch my ribs and just spritz a few times till done at a steady 250 dome temp. 

 

But putting food on the low grate, which is only enough to just slide the accessory rack and the deflectors in, with just the sloroller has given me issues. Maybe I just use too much lump. I typically err on the side of a more full basket even for shorter cooks. 

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I use a full basket every time I cook. You're measuring the temp, so the amount of lump in the basket shouldn't be the issue.  I mostly cook on the highest level grill.

 

250 Celsius is 482 Farenheit.  Your Fireboard couldn't have a configuration issue could it?

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No the fireboard is not the issue. I always eyeball the dome Temps out of habit when I use the fireboard anyway. It's usually only about 10 - 25 degrees higher at the grate depending what I have in there and the position of the grate probe. 

 

I'll have to just start doing more cooks with the sloroller on its own to see if it's a consistent issue. All of my initial smokes were with the sloroller only and I didn't have the problem. I got fed up cleaning it when I was cooking a lot in the summer and started doing most of my low and slow cooks with only the heat deflectors. And the last few times I've gone back to use the solorller I usually set the heat deflectors on the lowest rack above the sloroller then food just above that. I started to do that because I burned some ribs a while ago without the heat deflectors, and it happened again last week so I was just curious if anyone else had that issue. 

 

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10 hours ago, Dave W said:

It's a Big Joe 3. Yea I'm not sure what the issue is. I'll typically use my Fireboard to control Temps on longer cooks. Not sure what the issue could be. I was convinced this time it had to do with the honey/sugar in the wrap because it developed that hard sticky burnt layer but thr meat was otherwise fine. I usually don't crutch my ribs and just spritz a few times till done at a steady 250 dome temp. 

 

But putting food on the low grate, which is only enough to just slide the accessory rack and the deflectors in, with just the sloroller has given me issues. Maybe I just use too much lump. I typically err on the side of a more full basket even for shorter cooks. 

You should not be using the heat deflectors at the same time as the sloroller. That is your problem.

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Can you post a photo of your setup that is burning the food?  If you are putting the heat deflectors in on top of the sloroller and then putting your food on a grate that is too close to the heat deflectors, that would burn your food most likely.  I apparently glazed over this idea when I read your original post.  

 

When you cook using the sloroller, put your food on the TOP level rack whenever possible.  That will give you the most space between the food and the sloroller.  But I have never burned any food with the rack in the middle position over the sloroller either.  

 

If your concern is cleaning up the sloroller, just don't use it.  The sloroller is gonna get dirty.  There is no way to stop that.  I use a wire wheel on my 3/8" drill occasionally to clean mine up.  

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John, I never had the burning issue when putting the deflectors between the sloroller and the food. Issue has only come up on times I didn't use the deflectors. Also I was always hesitant to cleansing the sloroller with more abrasive methods out of fear of damaging the Teflon coating. I'd been just wiping off the grease then using dish soap and a non-scratch sponge in my slop sink. Which is why I find it a pita to clean. 

 

@smokingdad. Yes, good call on recalibrating my dome thermometer. I'll definitely do that once it's no longer buried under the snow. I haven't done it since it was new. Also, yes maybe went a little overboard with the sugar and honey in the wrap. As I said, I usually don't wrap the ribs and maybe just need to play around with what I'm putting in the wrap. There will be plenty more cooks to make adjustments.

 

Also, thanks for all the feedback guys. I've always come to this forum for questions, and usually I find what I'm looking for simply by reading through a few posts. I think this is the first time I've posted and everyone has been very helpful. Great community! 

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Dave, this is definitely unusual.  I've done a bunch of cooks with the Slo-Roller and have just never had this issue.  It makes me wonder if all the pieces are installed correctly or if something is broken.  Just to confirm, if you take a quick look at the video below, it shows the build steps for a KJ Classic III, starting at about 5:00 minutes in and running through to 9:30.  In particular, at 8:30 they remove the Divide and Conquer rack entirely (which they initially installed without the Slo-Roller to show you don't have to use the S-R).  Then they install the 3 piece Slo-Roller directly on top of the firebox metal ring.  Next they re-install the D&C on the mounts designed for it on the S-R, which are expressly to hold the entire D&C assembly.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o3CuaPUuTk

 

As I mentioned in a previous post, with the Slo-Roller in place, and the Divide and Conquer mounted on top of the S-R, I then typically cook whatever meat I'm using on the top rack of the D&C.

 

Otherwise, I'm with John.  Post some photos of both the inside and outside of your grill before and during a cook to help us see if we can spot anything else.

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Once the snow clears I'll definitely send some pics of my setup. Although I don't think it will add anything, as I'm absolutely assembling it correctly and there are no gaps or anything between the dome and lid. I watched the video and that's exactly how I place thr sloroller and racks. 

 

I want to reiterate, I have had many successful cooks, especially early on, with the standard setup using the sloroller. The more I think about it I think it comes down to probably using too much sugar when wrapping ribs. I haven't had any issue with other cuts. And when I first started cooking in the KJ I exclusively cooked ribs all thr way through without wrapping and had no issue. And I still often prepare them that way. Some of my friends and family prefer the really tender, completely fall off the bone ribs (I prefer mine with a little more bite) so I tend to crutch when cooking for them. And the more I think back I've only really had the issue during those cooks, and it's been intermittent. So I tried to address it by putting the deflectors between the sloroller, rather than looking at another probable cause of the problem, which is I probably am using too much sugar and maybe need to adjust my times when crutching a bit. 

 

I have some extended time off starting in a few days, so will try to dig out my grill and do a few cooks. ill post some pics when I do. Hoping I can adjust what I'm doing. It's clear to me now that it's unlikely to be an issue with the KJ and more likely with recipe/technique. Thanks again for all the feedback. 

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Yea.. it's probably something strange and minor about your setup.  If your thermometer isn't way off for some reason then I just can't imagine what might be causing it.  It won't be the amount of sugar you use.  sugar begins to caramelize at or around 315°F.  Sugar also picks up smoke like a magnet so sugar that is not burnt may still be black because of that.  

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