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Grilling on a BBQ / Smoker with a Firebox ???

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Grilling on a BBQ / Smoker with a Firebox ???

Old 05-21-2010, 03:40 PM
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Default Grilling on a BBQ / Smoker with a Firebox ???

My Charbroil gas grill is on its last leg and I was thinking of going back to charcoal / wood. I'm looking at some BBQ's with a firebox but I have never used one before. I will use it for steaks and fish mostly but would like the capability to do some real BBQ. Can you grill on the grill section (steaks) with the fire in the firebox? The one I'm looking at has a grill in the firebox section that could be used to do a couple of steaks and the mfg'r said that you can just put the coals under the grill section and cook that way which would be good if I needed the additional room. The one I'm looking at has a smoking section too, not sure if I'll need that or not. What would you cook in the grill section and what would go in the smoking section.

From the threads I've seen, I know we have some experience here so your help would be appreciated. Thanks.

This is what I'm looking at.

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Old 05-21-2010, 04:21 PM
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Can't see what you're looking at unfortunately, but I've had my New Braunfels Bandera for over 10 years. I use it pretty much just for smoking, but it can be used to grill. The smoker racks fit as a grill plate in the firebox. This is my toy, the wife likes to grill, but prefers our gas Charbroil Cooking Zone. We've had that for 12 years. I've reconditioned it a few times and have considered a new grill, but haven't really seen anything I like better.

As far as what I cook on the Bandera - pretty much anything. Turkeys on the holidays (brined first and smoked in apple wood), ribs, ribs and more ribs, chickens, fish, teriyaki pork strips, pork roasts, sausage and ham. Did I miss any kind of meat? If so, I've probably tried it.

Some tips on using a firebox smoker for newbies:

1) Use a water pan in it. This helps control temp in the smoker box and adds mositure as you smoke.

2) Watch what woods you use. This is a big mistake for most beginners. I love mesquite. But meat smoked in mesquite can be awful (very sharp flavor). Mesquite is better for short, quick-burn stuff like steaks and hamburgers. My personal wood of choice is pecan. Oak is good and so is hickory. I love apple, but here in AZ it's hard to come by and I pay dearly for it.

3) Remember "time over temp" as your motto. You are cooking at lower temperatures, but for longer periods of time. Racks of ribs take 4 hours to do. An 18-20 lb. turkey takes 10 hours or so. Plan your cooking and start times in advance. This definitely takes practice; you can't hurry perfection on a smoker.

4) Don't oversmoke your meats. It's easy to do. Smoky flavor tastes great, but when the smoke is all you taste, it's terrible. I use hardwood lump charcoal for most of my cooking and occasionally add soaked actual hardwood chunks or pieces throughout the cooking cycle. You don't need to have smoke constantly pouring out of the stack to get really good flavor. Likewise, the motto "when the smoke is white, the fire is right" should be remembered. You want nice white smoke coming out of the stack.

5) This is related to 4 - Get some 1/2 tray aluminum pans; they'll become your best friends when smoking. For example, when doing ribs, I cook them on the racks for about 3 hours. The last hour, I put them in the pans, add BBQ or other sauce, cover them, then raise the temp and cook for another hour. This keeps them from oversmoking and makes them nice and moist and completes the cooking cycle so that the meat nearly falls off the bone. Added plus - you don't have to wash them; just toss 'em when you're done with the meal.

6) Get a *real* BBQ Pit Thermometer. I use Bubba Q's on my Bandera and Charbroil and they are probably the best ones you can buy (google 'em on the Internet to order). You may have to drill a hole to mount it, but it's worth it. The flunky stock ones that come with most smokers ain't worth a crap. In addition to your smoker, this will be the 2nd best investment you can make! Without knowing the temp in your smoker box, you'll be clueless as to when to add more charcoal or wood or if your smoking, BBQing, or simply burning the hell out of your meat.

Phew... that's a start, anyway. The best thing you can do is practice. You now have the advantage of some of the stuff I learned the hard way!
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Last edited by Dulcecita Lures; 05-21-2010 at 04:24 PM. Reason: Added Pic
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Dulcecita Lures View Post
Can't see what you're looking at unfortunately, but I've had my New Braunfels Bandera for over 10 years. I use it pretty much just for smoking, but it can be used to grill. The smoker racks fit as a grill plate in the firebox. This is my toy, the wife likes to grill, but prefers our gas Charbroil Cooking Zone. We've had that for 12 years. I've reconditioned it a few times and have considered a new grill, but haven't really seen anything I like better.

As far as what I cook on the Bandera - pretty much anything. Turkeys on the holidays (brined first and smoked in apple wood), ribs, ribs and more ribs, chickens, fish, teriyaki pork strips, pork roasts, sausage and ham. Did I miss any kind of meat? If so, I've probably tried it.

Some tips on using a firebox smoker for newbies:

1) Use a water pan in it. This helps control temp in the smoker box and adds mositure as you smoke.

2) Watch what woods you use. This is a big mistake for most beginners. I love mesquite. But meat smoked in mesquite can be awful (very sharp flavor). Mesquite is better for short, quick-burn stuff like steaks and hamburgers. My personal wood of choice is pecan. Oak is good and so is hickory. I love apple, but here in AZ it's hard to come by and I pay dearly for it.

3) Remember "time over temp" as your motto. You are cooking at lower temperatures, but for longer periods of time. Racks of ribs take 4 hours to do. An 18-20 lb. turkey takes 10 hours or so. Plan your cooking and start times in advance. This definitely takes practice; you can't hurry perfection on a smoker.

4) Don't oversmoke your meats. It's easy to do. Smoky flavor tastes great, but when the smoke is all you taste, it's terrible. I use hardwood lump charcoal for most of my cooking and occasionally add soaked actual hardwood chunks or pieces throughout the cooking cycle. You don't need to have smoke constantly pouring out of the stack to get really good flavor. Likewise, the motto "when the smoke is white, the fire is right" should be remembered. You want nice white smoke coming out of the stack.

5) This is related to 4 - Get some 1/2 tray aluminum pans; they'll become your best friends when smoking. For example, when doing ribs, I cook them on the racks for about 3 hours. The last hour, I put them in the pans, add BBQ or other sauce, cover them, then raise the temp and cook for another hour. This keeps them from oversmoking and makes them nice and moist and completes the cooking cycle so that the meat nearly falls off the bone. Added plus - you don't have to wash them; just toss 'em when you're done with the meal.

6) Get a *real* BBQ Pit Thermometer. I use Bubba Q's on my Bandera and Charbroil and they are probably the best ones you can buy (google 'em on the Internet to order). You may have to drill a hole to mount it, but it's worth it. The flunky stock ones that come with most smokers ain't worth a crap. In addition to your smoker, this will be the 2nd best investment you can make! Without knowing the temp in your smoker box, you'll be clueless as to when to add more charcoal or wood or if your smoking, BBQing, or simply burning the hell out of your meat.

Phew... that's a start, anyway. The best thing you can do is practice. You now have the advantage of some of the stuff I learned the hard way!
Thanks for the tips! Made me hungry just reading them.

Here is a link to the site I was looking at. 20" Old Country BBQ Smoker.

http://www.bbquepits.com/backyard_bbq_pits.htm
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:35 PM
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Won't even try to compete. Use your "grilling" area for the steaks and the smoking area for the BBQ. The fire box can be used to "indirectly" cook (roast) but you would want good coals if you were not looking to smoke at the same time. I use all 4 methods independantly (park style charcoal pit, wood fire pit, propane/chip smoker and least... propane weber grill. Have Fun
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:08 PM
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I got a smoker and it grills just fine. Should have a grate for the coals in that center section. I would be nice if its got baffles between the upright smoker section and the firebox so you can get some good heat in the center section.
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Old 05-22-2010, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by 11andy11 View Post
I got a smoker and it grills just fine. Should have a grate for the coals in that center section. I would be nice if its got baffles between the upright smoker section and the firebox so you can get some good heat in the center section.
I might be able to have them add a grate and baffle if they aren't standard. I'll check it out. Thanks.
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Old 05-22-2010, 06:19 AM
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We purchased this chargriller at lowes a few years ago and use it on a regular basis and have been happy with it. Best thing is the cast iron grates. It was fairly inexpensive and we both grill and smoke on it. We smoke a picnic or boston butt along with chicken and short ribs on it nearly every weekend.

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Old 05-22-2010, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Marlin009 View Post
I might be able to have them add a grate and baffle if they aren't standard. I'll check it out. Thanks.
even if its just an insert they can cut for you. That upright you have pictured should really do a number on smoked meats. Don't know if you hunt but if you do, that thing could sling out some outstanding deer sausage.
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Old 05-22-2010, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Dulcecita Lures View Post
Some tips on using a firebox smoker for newbies:

1) Use a water pan in it. This helps control temp in the smoker box and adds mositure as you smoke.
This is true for a vertical smoke box but is really not necessary for the horizontal smoke boxes. In a horizontal box, for ribs, chops, steaks and other thin cuts of meat just smoke them straight on the grates. If you are smoking something big like a turkey set it on a roasting pan to catch the drippings for basting.

One of the best tip I have is never use a fork unless it is absolutely necessary(hands and tongs).The holes you poke with a fork drain the juices and dry out the meat.
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