How to Offset Smoke Without the Side Fire Box
Char-Griller Ambassador James Llorens of @certified.creole.bbq knows a thing or two about BBQ and smoking, but did you know he didn't know how to use a Side Fire Box when he started out? James was all about smoking using the indirect method in his barrel grill. We asked him how he did it and here's what he said!
"When I first began smoking meat in my Char-Griller Smokin’ Champ 1624 using the side fire box it was a challenge for me to say the least.
I had no idea or clue what I was doing. I struggled with managing my temperatures, my fire would be to hot or too low and the meats would also be over smoked because I couldn’t reach the steady low n’ slow temperature I was going for and was using too much wood.
So then one day I decided to give the side fire box a break and smoked my meat in the main grilling area to bring the fire and food closer together and using less space to allow room for the fire.
It was one of the best things I decided to do because it really took my BBQ to the next level and helped me learn how to manage my temperature with the charcoal and also the amount smoke I was using with the wood. It also helped me learn how to use less charcoal, less wood chunks/mini logs. My meats were also no longer being over smoked but instead my meats started to be perfectly smoked.
I’ve used this method to make some of my best ribs, whole chicken and steaks. It’s a great and simple way to smoke meat. Once I learned how to manage my fire in the main grilling area I then learned how to smoke meats using the Side Fire Box.
You can use this method easily in any Char-Griller offset smoker in the main grilling area. When setting up the offset smoker.
First, place the hot charcoal on the right side of the fire grate in the main grilling area and place the grate on top. For a slow lingering smoke, place a mini wood log or wood chunk atop of the grill grate that is over the charcoal.
The best way to place and measure out the charcoal is by lining it up under one grill grate and not allowing the charcoal to pass the grill grate underneath in the fire grate area best as possible.
You can then place your food on the opposite side charcoal/wood and you also have easy access to the charcoal in the fire grate area.
When going low n’ slow with this method you will need start off with about a half-full chimney of charcoal to begin. I like to thoroughly warm up and season my smokers prior to smoking meats and is one of the reasons I suggest to use a full chimney.
During the cooking/smoking process add charcoal to the fire as needed by removing the grill grate with the grill grate lifter. The wood will lightly burn on top of the grill grate and will provide a low n’ slow lingering smoke. If you want more than a lingering smoke, just add the wood directly into the fire and if you don’t want the smoke from the wood just use charcoal.
As the wood burns on top the grill grate and gets smaller, place it directly in the charcoal to burn it off and add more depending on how much smoke you want to add to the meat.
What’s also good with this method is being able to easily sear meats.
Depending on the type of meat you can sear it then smoke it, smoke it then sear it or just smoke the meat. When it’s time to sear just bump up the heat.
This method also gives you the spacious room to do both especially if you’re not smoking a lot of meat. I have a small Family and don’t always cook a lot of meat and don’t always need all the extra space in the main grilling area inside the smoker,
This is another positive because you don’t always need to fuel. If you’re loading up the smoker with a lot of meat, I do suggest using the side fire box.
Offset smoking in the main grilling area without using the Side Fire Box is truly one of my favorite ways to smoke meats and a method I continue to use and will never stop using.
When I get into a struggle with my BBQ or feel as if my food didn’t come out that good, I reset myself and go back to basics by using this method in one of my Offset smokers."