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View Full Version : Need some input - just toasted 3 chickens



flying illini
05-10-2008, 10:45 AM
I started 3 birds at 6.30am (took the back and breast bones out). 2 on the lower rack and 1 on the upper. (I use an ECB electric)

My neighbor had some of the smoked chicken I did last weekend and found out I was going to smoke today so she brought the 3rd one over last night.

Things were going fine but since the top rack runs ~30 deg warmer, I decided to switch the birds' locations after 2 hrs with the birds at 145 ad 150. (I did this last weekend near the end with no issue)

As soon as I moved the two chickens to the top rack, I had such a flare-up with grease in the bottom heating element area that it scorched everything. (peeled paint off the exterior of the ECB 1/3rd the way up)

I have sand in the pan and put foil over it for easier clean-up. This caught most everything. Maybe when I moved the two birds up, so much go past the foil that is caused the flare-up.

Any thoughts on what went wrong would be appreciated. (I took some pics)

Here is the REAL warning: (NEAR MISS is what I used to call these when I managed Health and Safety in a plant)

I do this on my wood deck behind the house. (should have it on concrete or something I know) I heard the ET go off (@ 285) so I looked and saw the flare-up going on (not too bad I thought). I had an old piece of carpet over the top to help push the temps up (it was 40-45 outside). I take the carpet off and open the lid slightly to vent like I always do during a temp change. Then I take my son down the street to baseball practice planning to be back in about 15 minutes.

My wife was about to step out with a neighbor for a walk. She hears the ET-73 go off again, looks outside and sees the flames are REALLY flared up and even a 2nd piece of carpet I had near the ECB is smoldering. (it was not touching just near it to hold heat) While she is looking, it gets worse so she unplugs the ECB and gets the carpet away. (scorched now)

If the wife does not see this, who knows what might have happened in the +15 min till I got home!

I added this for folks in case it reminds you to be careful going forward.

I have left this electric smoker with foiled ribs in it for maybe 1-2 hrs before. I have run it over night doing a pork butt (ET-73 monitored) before too.

Going forward I will do the following:
(1) get the smoker further from the house -- it was 5-6 feet today.
(2) put it on something non-flammable (it would still be on a wood deck)

Short One
05-10-2008, 11:05 AM
Glad to here nothing but the chicken and some carpet pieces got toasted. Not second guessing anyone, as I run a stickburner, but am familiar with an ECB. Had you remove the rock from around the burner and cleaned it lately. While cooking some grease will find its way to the bottom of the unit. After several uses you could have gotten a build up under the lava rock and not been aware of it, and when you move the birds enough more got down there and set things in motion. Hope you don't think I'm saying your smoker is dirty, just something that could be easily over looked.

flying illini
05-10-2008, 11:27 AM
No worries. I posted to get folks' input. I actually removed the lava rock cleaning it once so there was not any in it. I also had just cleaned and re-seasoned it maybe 4 smokes ago as the cold of the winter was making some of the creosote peel off. (I took it to a car wash - then re-seasoned.)

I will check again when I get it apart for what could be done there.

Here is a pic toasted ECB:
http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff192/nabordawg1/IMG_0004-3.jpg


Glad to here nothing but the chicken and some carpet pieces got toasted. Not second guessing anyone, as I run a stickburner, but am familiar with an ECB. Had you remove the rock from around the burner and cleaned it lately. While cooking some grease will find its way to the bottom of the unit. After several uses you could have gotten a build up under the lava rock and not been aware of it, and when you move the birds enough more got down there and set things in motion. Hope you don't think I'm saying your smoker is dirty, just something that could be easily over looked.

Short One
05-10-2008, 11:42 AM
She definately got warm!!! Sorry for you and your freinds birds, just glad it wasn't worse. Had to be the grease off the birds. Did you have your foil stretch flat across the drip pan or have a sump to catch the dripping? If it was flat it could have funneled the grease off and let it run into the bottom, causing the fire. I'm out of thoughts. SORRY.

nmayeux
05-10-2008, 04:53 PM
Damn! Fire in the hole... Well, now you have an excuse to get a WSM, or a stick burner! Sorry about the chickies, but no matter what you do, some cooks just go bad, and this seems the case for you. I have been doing my chickens in a spatch ****ed style on my Weber kettle. Actually, I thing these are some of the best chickens I have ever done. Maybe a tutorial is due...

peculiarmike
05-10-2008, 09:19 PM
Well, you have got the ol' ECB starting to look about right, getting broken in.. Few more years and it will look great!

flying illini
05-10-2008, 10:26 PM
Fire in the hole is right. I had never seen such flare-ups with a smoker in my short experience. Will be more careful and make a few changes.

Yea, this smoker will at least look used now as Mike said. (probably 20th cook on it going back 6 months) I have thought about a drum smoker so who knows. (that's another learning curve with fire management for me though)

I saw this chicken style done at the practice cook with Capt Dan and Rich. I found a video via google to help me figure it out the first time I did it. I will find those and add them to your tutorial thread. I have not done a beer can style yet.


Damn! Fire in the hole... Well, now you have an excuse to get a WSM, or a stick burner! Sorry about the chickies, but no matter what you do, some cooks just go bad, and this seems the case for you. I have been doing my chickens in a spatch ****ed style on my Weber kettle. Actually, I thing these are some of the best chickens I have ever done. Maybe a tutorial is due...

SmokyOkie
05-11-2008, 02:43 PM
No worries. I posted to get folks' input. I actually removed the lava rock cleaning it once so there was not any in it. I also had just cleaned and re-seasoned it maybe 4 smokes ago as the cold of the winter was making some of the creosote peel off. (I took it to a car wash - then re-seasoned.)

I will check again when I get it apart for what could be done there.

Here is a pic toasted ECB:
http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff192/nabordawg1/IMG_0004-3.jpg


MMMMMMMMMMM.........Look at that bark!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Damn! Fire in the hole... Well, now you have an excuse to get a WSM, or a stick burner! Sorry about the chickies, but no matter what you do, some cooks just go bad, and this seems the case for you. I have been doing my chickens in a spatch ****ed style on my Weber kettle. Actually, I thing these are some of the best chickens I have ever done. Maybe a tutorial is due...

Sometime a while back somebody posted pix of full bird deboning. Why don't you look and see if you can find them, pick out the ones that go along w/ spatchkokking, paste them up and we'll see if we can get the thread stuck.

BTW, for all to know, the auto censor is not there to prevent us from using whatever vernacular we choose, its there to keep the pron dogs from spotting and targeting us.

TX Sandman
05-12-2008, 12:10 AM
First thoughts after reading the whole story:

1. Dang, you were lucky! Thanks goodness y'all caught it in time.
2. Too bad the birds were ruined, but at least that's *all* that was ruined.
3. First electric smoker I've ever seen with smoke damage. :msn-wink:

I'd say somehow the heat from those birds got funneled to the right place in there. There's a lot of energy in the fat, so once it got started, that was it.


BTW, for all to know, the auto censor is not there to prevent us from using whatever vernacular we choose, its there to keep the pron dogs from spotting and targeting us.

At a previous forum home, folks would refer to the food pics as "p-rn". They fought spam constantly as the searchers honed in on that word.

flying illini
05-12-2008, 10:04 PM
Thinking more about it, I rotated both birds when I brought them up to top rack so their 'bottoms' were on the outside. (legs on outside were getting more done so I felt I should do this)

As you mention (someone else did as well), that part of the chicken has extra skin/fat in the bottom area (I did not trim it when taking backbone out) so after I rotated, it was able to drip directly down to the element missing the pan to ignite things. I really think this was root cause.

Then I only vented the lid when the alarm went off as I thought it was a chunk igniting not looking close enough to see it was not in the chip pan.

Instead it was getting well fed by more melting fat going directly to the element.


I'd say somehow the heat from those birds got funneled to the right place in there. There's a lot of energy in the fat, so once it got started, that was it.