Did you know that you could use the charcoal box of your offset smoker for grilling? That’s a great thing because if you have an offset smoker, you don’t need to buy a separate grill to get started! But how do you do grilling on an offset smoker? Well, it doesn’t differ from grilling on regular grills that much. However, if you have no idea of how to grill, then our guide will certainly be useful for you.
Preparing the Offset Smoker
As you know, you will be grilling in the charcoal box of the offset smoker. There is a number of things you need to do to prepare the charcoal box for the grilling.
Empty Old Ash
Any leftover of the ash from your previous barbecuing or smoking should be removed completely. The ash may obstruct the vents and make temperature control much more difficult or even impossible.
Clean the Grilling Grate
You should also clean all the residue and rust from the grilling grate. You could use a stiff-bristle wire brush and a cleaning solution to clean the grease off of the grate.
Pre-heat the Grilling Grate
Once the charcoal or wood is lit, put the grate in its place and let it heat up for a few minutes. This will prevent the food from sticking to the grate.
Oil the Grill Grates
Oiling the grilling grate is another way of preventing the food from sticking onto it. This is a step overlooked by many people, but don’t you skip over it!
To oil the grates, you could, for example, dip a paper in some cooking oil. Make sure to use tongs to hold the paper towel. Then, thoroughly oil up the cooking grate using the tongs.
Get Temperature Probes
Grilling is usually done at high temperature in a short time, though there are some kinds of meat that are grilled on medium or slow fires.
To make sure that you’ve got the grilling temperature right, you should get yourself a couple of temperature probes: one to measure the chamber temperature and the other to measure the meat temperature. Don’t rely on the onboard thermometers since they don’t deliver precise readings.
So when it comes to the temps inside the firebox, the temperature is divided into three “levels”:
- High: 500 – 700 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures are more suitable for food like burgers and steaks.
- Medium: 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a good range for vegetables and chicken.
- Low: 225 – 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which will be suitable for slow cooking brisket, pulled pork, ribs, etc.
As for the meat temperature, it is used to determine how cooked it is. Overall, meat is rare when 130 – 135 degrees Fahrenheit hot, medium rare when 140 degrees, medium when 155, and well done when 165.
How much heat you need actually will depend on your preferences and on what you will be cooking. If you aren’t really sure, you should look for more specific directions for varying meat and food types.
Pick the Fuel for the Grilling
The fuel boxes of offset smokers mostly work with charcoal and wood. You probably won’t find an offset smoker which’s fuel box is fueled by gas or propane, so we won’t cover those fuels.
The flavor of smoke is mainly associated with BBQ and smoking, but did you know that your food takes in the flavor of the smoke even when grilling? Whether you want that smoky flavor or not and how much you want it will determine what kind of fuel you need to be using.
The main benefit of wood over charcoal is that it imparts an unmistakable smoke flavor to the meat. However, the smoke flavor is also the biggest problem of wood: if it takes in too much smoke, you may get undesirably much flavor.
it produces a strong, pungent smoke that attaches accentuated sweet and smoky flavors to the meat. Hickory is traditionally paired with ribs, hams, pork chops, or pork shoulder, but you could also use it with beef and chicken.
When grilling on hickory, you should be careful because overdoing the meat may attach an aggressive and bitter flavor to it.
The oily mesquite food burns hot and fast, which makes it an excellent choice for grilling. It has a strong flavor that suits dark meats well but is not so good for lighter meats or fish.
Like hickory, mesquite has a strong flavor that can get very bitter if you use it incorrectly. It’s quite a difficult wood to use right, so you may want to use a blend of mesquite with some other wood at first. And when you understand how it grills, you may use only mesquite.
The taste of fruitwood is lighter and a bit fruitier. Its flavor is much subtler than those of hickory and mesquite, so it may be a better choice if you don’t really want to deal with strong flavors. Besides, it is more suitable for delicate meats.
Popular fruitwood choices are apple and the wood of stone fruits like peach and cherry. Some people even use citrus woods, but it’s pretty much your taste that dictates what kind of fruitwood you will be using.
Oak is stronger than fruitwoods but weaker than hickory or mesquite. it burns very hot, which makes it a great choice for grilling. It attaches a moderate smoky flavor that suits any meat type well.
Charcoal gets much hotter when grilling and also lasts longer. Besides, it attaches a beautiful sear to the meat and also a bit of its own flavor depending on the type of charcoal, albeit it won’t be as strong as with regular wood.
On the other hand, charcoal is very messy since it creates lots of ashes and debris. Charcoal may also be dangerous since its embers stay hot for a longer time. While charcoal burns hot and long, it also takes quite some time to heat up.
Most frequently, people use charcoal as the main source of heat, while woods are used for adding flavor or increasing the heat in the fuel box of the offset smoker.
Preparing the Food
A thing that you should do is prepare your food for the grilling through brining or marinating. This is optional, but brined or marinated meat will have a whole another flavor. And besides, marinating or brining helps with disinfecting the meat.
Brining especially suits pork, turkey, or chicken. A basic brining technique involves using about 1/8 cup of table salt to 1 quart of water. In the end, you need to get the meat completely covered in the water-salt mix. You could also add pretty much any kind of seasoning to get more flavor. A bit of sugar may also benefit the brining.
Marinating is generally done in the same way, but sugar should be avoided as it may burn the grill.
Lighting the Fire
If you know the basics of starting a fire, then you won’t struggle with it that much. Still, lighting coals or wood requires some skill and knowledge.
There are many ways of lighting fire. We won’t be going through them all and will present you with a couple of easy and efficient ways of lighting a fire in the firebox of your offset smoker.
A chimney starter is a simple cylindrical device that uses paper to light the coals up. The coals sit above the paper so they get ignited from the flames quickly.
People most commonly use chimney starters to fire up coal, but you could also use it to light up wood.
Here is how you light a fire with a chimney starter:
- Fill the chimney with the amount of charcoal that you need.
- Add one-two newspaper sheets to the bottom compartment of the chimney beneath the charcoal.
- Light the newspaper in several spots.
- Peek through the vents to see whether or not the coals have started to turn gray. If not, add another piece of newspaper.
- After about 10 minutes, you should see the charcoal glowing in the chimney and flames flickering over the top of the coals. When this happens, pour the coals out into the firebox of the offset smoker.
- Wait until the charcoal is mostly covered in ash and is gray in color.
- Spread the coals out.
Because chimney starters come in different shapes and sizes, make sure to consult its manual to safely light up the newspaper and charcoal.
Another tried method of getting a fire started is using lighter fluid. To fire up the charcoal, do the following steps:
- Arrange the coals into a neat mound in the middle of the firebox of your offset smoker. This will keep the coals close, helping the fire spread better and quicker.
- Carefully add lighter fluid onto the top and the sides of the charcoal mound. Make sure to follow the usage directions of the fluid.
- Light the charcoal with a long match or lighter immediately after adding the fluid. Never add lighter fluid onto hot or flaming hot coals. The coals won’t heat up faster, but you may burn your hands.
- Wait until the lighter fluid burns off. If you don’t, the food may get a slight petroleum flavor, which you probably don’t want.
- Like it was with a chimney starter, the coals are ready when they are covered with gray ash. When this happens, spread out the coals.
Make sure to keep the vents of the firebox open so the charcoal lights up easier.
In the end, whether you are firing the fuel with a chimney starter or lighter fluid, place the cleaned and oiled cooking grate in its place to start the grilling.
- Add the food onto the grill. If you won’t be grilling too much food, you don’t need to think about positioning it efficiently. But if you are cooking a lot of meat, you would want to maximize the amount of the grilling space.
Put the food close together but don’t crowd it so you can easily flip it.
Keep in mind the hot spots in your firebox you might be having. If you or someone else has a special preference on the readiness of the food, take that into account when grilling.
- Watch out for flare-ups. Flare-ups are caused by the fat dripping down onto the fire from the meat. Don’t just put out the flare-ups with water since it will cause ash to fly up onto the meat.
Instead, a good way to deal with flare-ups is lifting the meat off of the grill and shaking the grease off.
- Flip the meat when it’s halfway cooked. Generally, it is recommended to flip the food as rarely as possible to prevent uneven cooking, losing a piece of wood to the charcoal, or getting ugly food.
- Maintain the grilling temperature. While you can’t control the grilling temperature as precisely as in an oven, you could and should maintain its steadiness. That’s when a temperature probe comes in handy.
Generally, closing the vents decreases the grilling temperatures and slows the cooking. However, you should keep the vents slightly open to ensure oxygen flow into the firebox.
And if you need more heat, just add some unlit coal into the charcoal box. Because it may take 10 – 15 minutes for the new coals to light up, make sure to plan ahead and be prepared.
- Remove the meat when it reaches the desired temperature. When the meat reaches the desired condition, remove it from the grill.
- Place the food on a plate and cover it with aluminum foil for about 5 minutes. This will let the juices redistribute within the food. Also, keep in mind that the meat may continue cooking after you take it off of the grill, so it generally is a good idea to remove the meat when it is 5 degrees less than the target temperature.
- Serve your food after the rest period is over.
Disposing of the Coals
After you are done with the grilling, you should put out the charcoal so it doesn’t produce flare-ups or even a fire.
You could do this by, first of all, closing all the vents of the firebox to suffocate the fire. To speed up the process, you could also water the charcoal before closing the vents.
After making sure that the coal is put out, dispose of it. It is generally recommended to wrap the coal in aluminum foil before disposal. Besides, ensure that the trash receptacle is made from fireproof materials.
In the very end, don’t forget to clean the firebox so it is ready for your next grilling session!
Did you enjoy grilling on an offset smoker post? Need more recipes idea? stay with us and tell us which recipe you like most. Happy Grilling cheers 🙂