Continued from page 1
The firebox is usually located to one side of the smoker. This placement is important due to the heat not being situated directly beneath the meat. This type of cooking is termed the indirect cooking method and greatly assists in keeping the meat from being exposed to the direct searing heat from direct heat from directly below the meat. Indirect cooking requires less frequent turning and more cooking time because the meat is being barbecued at roughly 225 degrees instead of grilled at 500 to 700 degrees.
As a note: There are some fireboxes which are located beneath the meat. In these
situations, the indirect heating is achieved by increasing the distance between the fire and the meat, placing a solid deflector (i.e. a sheet of metal) horizontally between he fire and the meat and then deflecting the heat to the left and right sides of the pit before reaching the cooking chamber.
Back to the conventional method. The firebox actually has four separate components. First, there is an adjustable air intake found in the door, secondly a grate inside of it to allow air to flow under the wood/charcoal to keep the fire burning, third, an exit for the heat to enter the cooking chamber and fourth a lid on top with a grilling surface. All but the exit into the cooking chamber can be seen in this photo.
The wood/charcoal is placed on the grate inside the firebox. With the fire burning steady, the opening in the door which controls the air flow into the firebox can be adjusted to regulate the speed at which the fire burns and thus control the temperature inside the chamber. The opening in the firebox door should be located at a low spot in the door which will allow the air to flow under the fire for better ventilation and burn control.
If you choose to grill, then the firebox has a lid which can be opened for grilling directly over the heat. This grate should be cleaned thoroughly before grilling since it is subject to prolonged burning directly over the fire. This grilling is usually a little slower than grilling over a small grill, such as a kettle, since the distance from the fire to the meat is usually in excess of 12 inches. You will need a hotter fire as a result.
Between the Firebox and the Cooking Chamber: There is usually a baffle located between the firebox and the cooking area. This baffle, when installed, deflects the heat and smoke downward under the meat. The heat from the firebox rises and hits the lid of the firebox. With the fresh air coming in from one side, the heat and smoke are forced out the other - toward the cooking chamber. If the baffle is not used, then the heat simply goes up over the top of the food and out the chimney thereby bypassing the meat entirely. Sure, some will come in contact with the meat, but a majority will escape and become useless. The baffle is important.
Some pits even have an adjustable damper at this location to assist in the control of the air flow into the cooking chamber.
Continued on page 3