Big Boy's Barbecue Journal: Quick Bites of Barbecue Tips

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Welcome to Big Boy's personal journal (we may or may not be using it without his permission), where he lives, breathes, and eats barbecue. Get these quick bites of barbecue tips, updated every week.

Entry 4: I Finally Made My Own Charcoal

Dear Diary,

Big Lump Charcoal by Big Boy

I did it. I finally did it. I finally made my own charcoal. After grilling for what feels like a lifetime of buying charcoal, a few years ago I decided to just make my own charcoal. Now that I’ve perfected the process, I should really write some notes about it. Lord knows my brain is filled with smoked meat recipes, so there’s not much room for this complicated stuff:

My butt-kickin Big Boy charcoal is mostly pure carbon made by super-heating wood in a low oxygen environment. This process takes a few days while it burns off the stuff I don’t want, like the water, tar, and other gasses in the wood. The process has to have almost no oxygen or else the wood will just burn up like a giant campfire. Never do that again - R.I.P. to my eyebrows… I really hope they grow back one day. 

Big Lump Charcoal by Canadian Brand, Big Boy

When I make my charcoal, I need to gather a ton of wood and I also have to plant a bunch of trees to replace it. The final net weight of usable charcoal comes out to 25% of what I put in the giant cooker! It’s a shame but they say greatness takes sacrifice - and let me tell ya Big Boy, I make some great charcoal. Thanks me. 

My charcoal is great because it burns steady, super hot, makes less smoke, and less dangerous vapours. Great for cooking all my deliciously smoked recipes. 

Entry 3: How Different Smokers Perform

Dear Diary,

Kamado Joe Classic Joe 3

I've been smoking meat for as long as I can remember. Back when I was just a wee bald boy 'til now. I may have not been blessed with hair myself but I've had more barbecues than hairs on most peoples heads. Anyway, over the years of barbecue experiments, I've learned how they perform in the Canadian cold and figured it's time I record my findings.

It's obvious that my thin metal-bodied Weber Kettles and Smokey Mountains have a hard time getting up to and maintaining temperature in the extreme cold. Kamado Joe's do much better, but needs more charcoal to get up to temperature since their ceramic bodies absorb a lot of heat. That being said, the ceramic kamado-style smokers are better at maintaining temperatures. So what does this mean?

Weber Kettle Master Touch Kettle

When I do hot and fast charcoal grilling in the winter, my Master-Touch Premium Kettle does wonders in the winter for searing a couple steaks over charcoal for a few minutes. If I want do a low and slow smoked brisket or pork belly burnt ends, my Big Joe is what I need. I also use my Thermoworks Billows, Signals, and Adapter Kit with it to make sure I can maintain the temperatures from indoors. 



Entry 2: Keep the Lid Shut

Dear Diary,

Digital Thermometer Checking Temperature of Brisket

I was cooking an overnight brisket while watching the game and went to check on my internal temperature of it with my Scroll Control Digital Thermometer. It was right on track to perfection... except the Leaf's scored and I got distracted, which made me forget to close my smoker lid! Leaving the lid open messed up all my temperatures. Even though I left it open for just a couple minutes, it took a while to get my temperatures back up since we're in the middle of a Canadian winter. I swear I'll never do this again.

Next time, I won't be lazy and I'll just stick my Barbecue Brain Jr. 3.0 probes in it before cooking. That way I can just monitor the temperatures from the app on my phone while I keep my butt on the couch. 

Entry 1: Stock Up on Fuel

Dear Diary, 

Canadian Charcoal Brand

Last week I burned through more fuel than I normally do because it was cold outside and almost ran out - rookie move. I never want to risk a drop in temperature the next time I cook a brisket. I'll have more than enough ready to go right through the night, with more to spare. I'll do this by getting more bags of my favourite charcoal from Barbecues Galore. Take advantage of their free Ember Members Loyalty Program where I can save $25 for every $250 I spend on charcoal or pellets. 

P.S. No more rookie moves. 

1 comment

I really enjoyed your article in winter smoking and roast Recipe also.

Robert Graham

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