Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

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Professor Bunky
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Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby Professor Bunky » Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:22 pm

I had just finished adding a new mod to my ECB (an adjustable damper for the bottom air inlet hole) and found that my local supermarket had Picnic on sale (for $0.99/lb). It sounded like a good way to test the ECB and see if the mod gave me better temperature control.

This is the installed damper, at a half-closed position (it was just a strip of thick aluminum sheet metal, with a simple wooden handle at the end and a single screw pivot point):
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My previous mod was adding a coal grate to the coal pan:
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To keep track of temperature during long smoking times, I have a temperature sensor connected to an old netbook PC that I can view wirelessly from inside the house (it's a good use of an "obsolete" PC):
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Here's the Picnic (all 8-1/2 lbs of it) at start of the cook (we just gave it a dry rub):
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I have a question about Picnics: do most folks remove the skin & part of the fat cap before cooking it? I left if on, but wondered if it was just "dead weight", lengthening the cook time?

Anyway, I used a Minion approach to the coals:
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The bottom damper worked fairly well. The temp at the top, food grate didn't spike much above 300 deg with hot coals and I was able to keep the temp in the range of 250 - 275 deg much of the time. I did find my markings on the outside of ECB for damper open & closed were a bit hard to see and too coarse: I need to add markings at incremental settings (1/4 open, 1/2 open, etc).

After 6 hours, the picnic looked pretty good, but was far from done:
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After 10 hours, some of the meat on one end was pullable (the internal meat temp was around 180 deg), so we "stole" a little to chop up for sandwiches (we were pretty hungry by then):
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The meat was finally done after 12 hrs, and it was already dark. After an hour's rest, some meat was pullable and the rest had to be cut up. Also, some it was a bit dry and needed some Q sauce. The picture I took, late at night, was badly out of focus so I won't subject you to it).

The ECB mods seemed fairly successful, but a 12 hour cook was longer than I'd prefer. I only had to add fresh coat 3 times (the original Minion lasted just over 4 hours). Next time I may go for a small Butt or a couple of racks of ribs.

Has anyone tried brining a Picnic first or using any other tricks?
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby Okie Sawbones » Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:45 pm

I inject the heck out of a picnic, since it is less fatty than the butt. They are much less forgiving, so I monitor with a Maverick temp meat probe. When the temp hits 195, I start checking for probe tenderness every 30 minutes. The picnic can dry out very quickly from my experience.
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby Sailor Kenshin » Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:06 pm

Thanks, Okie, I suspected as much! Maybe we will get another and try injecting it.

PS: it was still reeeeel guuuud. :cheers:
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby OldUsedParts » Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:34 pm

Mods or no mods it looks larapin delicious :cheers: - - - hey Professor, :idea: my new ECB's charcoal pan didn't have a hole it in like the ones I've own in the past so I used it that way the other day and it cooked in the "ideal" rage the whole time. Hmmmmm, any ideas :?: I can sure put a hole in it if needed. :?: seems like I had to do that once before - -I'm afraid "oldtimes" is setting in :whiteflag:
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby Okie Sawbones » Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:37 pm

Yep, even dry you can sauce the heck out of it and have a lot of good sandwiches. :chef:
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby Professor Bunky » Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:45 pm

Thanks for the advice, Okie. I'll try that next time.

Hi, Old. If you post a picture of your charcoal pan we can discuss adding a hole if necessary. Mine has an extra hole because I tried to make my ECB electric with a heating element, but that didn't work out very well (never got hot enough).
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby OldUsedParts » Sun Sep 27, 2015 7:11 pm

I'll try and post it up tomorrow :salut:

OK, Prof, it's tomorrow :laughing7: so here are two pics of the charcoal pan. One at the bottom of the ECB where it usually goes on top of the legs and the other on the top rack just for a better look at it.
thanks,
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby Professor Bunky » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:21 pm

Thanks for the pics. Here's my take on what I see:
Is this ECB relatively new? If you compare it to my ECB (which is over 10 years old), it looks like they cheapened it up more. They seem to be reusing the old water pan as a charcoal pan & the bottom pan is gone, leaving it wide open - so it would be very difficult to control inlet air flow.

If you try drilling a hole in the bottom center of the charcoal pan, you'd probably want to put a grate in it as well, to keep it from easily clogging with ash. And you'll also need a pan under it as an ash collector.

My guess is, doing this will make it run much hotter & require more coal refills during a cook. It's probably only worth while if you can close up the base & limit or control inlet air flow. Otherwise it's probably best to leave it alone. You might try just adding a grate to the charcoal pan to keep the coals from smothering in ash (it may run a bit hotter just from this).

Unless I'm completely misunderstanding how your ECB works?
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby OldUsedParts » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:59 pm

The quality seemed to be about the same as the others that I have owned and it came with a 13" porcelain coated water pan and this 15" charcoal pan and two chromed grill racks. There are 3 locations for the pans, top, center and bottom just like the others and I'm happy so far.

Now, tell me did the air damper seem to help enuff to tell :?:

Thanks for the reply :salut:
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby Professor Bunky » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:32 pm

OldUsedParts wrote:Now, tell me did the air damper seem to help enuff to tell :?:


This was my first use of the ECB with the damper. On my previous cook (with a small 4 lb pork butt), whenever I added hot coals the temp spiked up to 400 and then slowly dropped to below 225 before I added more coals (typically about 1/2 chimney).

With the baffle, The temp spike from the hot coals was only around 300 and I was able to keep adjusting the baffle so the temp stayed in the range of 225-275 most of the time (and close to 250 half of the time). Also, I needed to add less hot coal during a long cook. So I'm happy with this simple baffle. :D
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby OldUsedParts » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:32 pm

Thanks, I"m gonna cut a hole in my charcoal pan and then put a baffle in it. It looks like yours is just a swing paddle from side to side that covers or uncovers the hole. Am I correct :?:
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby Professor Bunky » Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:13 pm

OldUsedParts wrote:Thanks, I"m gonna cut a hole in my charcoal pan and then put a baffle in it. It looks like yours is just a swing paddle from side to side that covers or uncovers the hole. Am I correct :?:


That's correct. If you look at my first pic in the original post, you'll see the head of a stainless steel screw I used as a pivot point for the metal paddle.

Good Luck eith your mods.
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby OldUsedParts » Mon Sep 28, 2015 5:16 pm

I'll post a pic here when I get mine done - - - - you've stirred up the Hot Rodder in me - - - I love to fabricate things - - :tup:
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby Okie Sawbones » Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:56 pm

You don't need a damper, OUP -- different design unless I'm missing something.
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Re: Pork Picnic on a Modified ECB

Postby OldUsedParts » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:48 am

Well you're too late, however, I'm sure the designs are the same and the ones I have had previously did have the center hole in the charcoal pan. I do like the idea of a damper so I was in the shop at daylight building a prototype. Can't get to the hardware store today and I was anxious to do some f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fabricating. If I may use part of a Matthew Quigley quote "I said I liked to fabricate, I didn't say I was good at it" :laughing7: Anyhow this will give me a materials list since I had to flatted out a piece of thin aluminum angle and use some baling woore in this first build. I placed a "closed stop" and a "fully open stop" to make it easier to know exactly how much air is allowed. I am also going to replace the baling woore with a light metal strap to keep the damper held up slosely to the bottom of the pan. When all is done I also plan on using some kind of small grate or screen below the charcoal to keep the damper from getting obstructed during the cook. LI have an old pan'pot warming stand that may just be the ticket.

Sorry for the rambling Y'all but I do enjoy this and my life in general is pretty dang boring. :whiteflag:

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