Harry Soo Charcoal Method

KenB

TVWBB Fan
I have a question on how Harry adds his wood chunks to his charcoal. He states he adds his wood chunks at the bottom of his grate on the outside near the charcoal ring. I would think that the the meat being cooked has already cooked for awhile before the wood ignites. Isn't it best for the meat to take on the smoke at the beginning of the cook? I wrap my meat and would think that the by the time the wood ignites it would be impossible for the meat to take on any smoke since the meat is already wrapped. Am I missing something?

As an aside, I feel like my meat is to smokey when I add the wood to the lit at the beginning of the minion method. Should I let my wood burn for awhile before adding my meat? I like Harry's method for the minion and I am able to control my temps easily but would like to limit the smokiness on my meat
 

Enrico Brandizzi

TVWBB Honor Circle
Ken
My 22 WSM setup is similar to Harry's except for the splits are in the centre of the charcoal grate buried under the charcoal
This way they ignite from the beginning.
BUT I usually wait 1 hour before adding meat in order to avoid the white billowing smoke.
Probably with the 18 could be better to move chunks towards the ring to retard the ignition during the heating period.

Here my set up https://www.flickr.com/photos/bbqnessdotcom/albums/72157664055549204
 
Last edited:

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Well, I think Harry gets a nice amount of smoke flavor on the meat, so I guess his method works. Maybe Donna can comment?

If you find wood chunks on top of hot coals too much, you might try burying them in the unlit charcoal with just the top surface exposed, then place lit coals on top. That should give you less smoke initially.
 

Tommy B

TVWBB Pro
I am a bury wood chunk guy. I start the fire with a modified tin can or soo doughnut method. I bury 2-3 chucks. I think when unlit charcoal and wood chucks are next to lit charcoal in middle and heat up they give off less bad smoke then cold charcoal/wood.... I have absolute zero science to back up these claims but thats what I have noticed!
 

timothy

TVWBB Olympian
You could also try the Kevin Kruger method which is to split your chunks into thirds or fourths ( or smaller ) and place that on top of your unlit, than scatter your lit over the top.
I've been doing that from the beginning and have noticed that you get out of the heavy white smoke a lot faster and into the TBS that we all look for. And as a bonus the smoke has to pass thru the lit charcoal, and it basically gives it a wash, as in no waiting for a clean burning fire.
Try it, I did :wsm:

Tim
 

Donna Fong

TVWBB Fan
What Tim says is very interesting! I am unsure if it really works but it sounds very intriguing. I use charcoal for my turtle tank and I don't see why it wouldn't work. How different is water from smoke when it comes to being filtered through charcoal.

Ken asks a great question and I've been wondering the same thing. I've been reading Franklin's book and enjoying the wood and fire control chapter. Ultimately, I want to get the initial smoke out of the wood chunk I use and throw that in. Enrico's idea is smart but I hate the idea of wasting an hour to do it but it makes sense.

How about this? I start my fires using a chimney. Put some cold briquettes on the bottom and then some wood chunks on top. Add more cold briquettes than usual. Let it go for 20min or longer. That might get the wood going enough to get that extra smoke Ken was asking about. Does that sound like an idea?
 

Donna Fong

TVWBB Fan
I should also mention, I use a modified Harry Soo method sometimes. I add a chunk of wood to the bottom of the hole he creates. So when the hot briquettes hit the wood chunk, it immediately starts burning at the beginning.
 

JRAiona

TVWBB Gold Member
Well, I think Harry gets a nice amount of smoke flavor on the meat, so I guess his method works. Maybe Donna can comment?

If you find wood chunks on top of hot coals too much, you might try burying them in the unlit charcoal with just the top surface exposed, then place lit coals on top. That should give you less smoke initially.

I've started doing this and it seems to work very well.
 

Mac LA

TVWBB Super Fan
I've noticed that if I toss chucks on top of lit coals, they do not burn well (do not completely burn off after cook in certain instances). Not sure if I tossed them in too late in the cook or what but I've since stopped doing that.

Mainly I do the minion (or Soo donut) but do add about 3 chuck in the middle, similar to what Donna mentioned.

I want to start moving my chucks that are under the unlit coals a bit closer to the mid section to get them going faster (I too have to wait 45min to 1 hr).

If limiting the "smokiness" isn't less wood the remedy?
 

Enrico Brandizzi

TVWBB Honor Circle
I've noticed that if I toss chucks on top of lit coals, they do not burn well (do not completely burn off after cook in certain instances). Not sure if I tossed them in too late in the cook or what but I've since stopped doing that.

Mainly I do the minion (or Soo donut) but do add about 3 chuck in the middle, similar to what Donna mentioned.

I want to start moving my chucks that are under the unlit coals a bit closer to the mid section to get them going faster (I too have to wait 45min to 1 hr).

If limiting the "smokiness" isn't less wood the remedy?

Me too have experienced that the TOP chunks (splits) don't burnt totally as the buried do.
The buried (the central ones) always burnt 100%. The top, probably due to the lower temp, aren't totally burnt.
This is my experience.
 

Harry Soo

TVWBB Fan
Hey Ken, I add my tennis sized chunks evenly spaced out at the bottom of my WSM before adding briquettes Minion style with the middle crater reserved for the lit briquettes.

For long cooks, I use 4 + 4 (usually apple and hickory) and 3 + 3 for short cooks like ribs. There is always a chunk in the middle which gets lit and smolders when I start the cook. The rest of the chunks will start smoldering as the briquettes burn outwards from the center to the edge of the WSM fire ring.

I add my meat right after I dump the lit briquettes into the center of the Minion pile. I don't wait. I've never had a problem with smokiness. For more tips, see http://www.slapyodaddybbq.com/tag/wsm/

Good luck and warm regards.
Harry
 

Len Dennis

TVWBB Diamond Member
Hey Ken, I add my tennis sized chunks evenly spaced out at the bottom of my WSM before adding briquettes Minion style with the middle crater reserved for the lit briquettes.

For long cooks, I use 4 + 4 (usually apple and hickory) and 3 + 3 for short cooks like ribs. There is always a chunk in the middle which gets lit and smolders when I start the cook. The rest of the chunks will start smoldering as the briquettes burn outwards from the center to the edge of the WSM fire ring.

I add my meat right after I dump the lit briquettes into the center of the Minion pile. I don't wait. I've never had a problem with smokiness. For more tips, see http://www.slapyodaddybbq.com/tag/wsm/

Good luck and warm regards.
Harry

Hey Harry, nice to see you and for adding info. Don't be a stranger eh ;)
 

KenB

TVWBB Fan
Thanks everyone for the advice. I will try some of the recommended methods of adding wood. I wonder if the wood chunks I am using are part of the problem. I use either Weber or Western wood chunks. For what it's worth, I feel like my food always tastes worse when I use KBB rather than Stubbs or Royal Oak. I wish I could taste Harry's food cooked with KBB and compare to mine.

Harry, I would like to take one of your classes. Do you ever come to the east coast to teach your class?
 

Harry Soo

TVWBB Fan
Hey Ken:
Use whatever charcoal or briquettes brand you like as there is no right or wrong way. Just the way you like is good.
Sorry I don't have any plans to teach on the East Coast this year but I'm just a plane hop from NY.
I do have students from all over the US including some who come as far as Australia, Ethiopia, and Korea.
Best,
Harry
 

Harry Soo

TVWBB Fan
Len, do me a favor and email me at harsoo@yahoo.com when you see a question on Chris' TVWB directed at me.
I'm no stranger. I just have too many sites and social media channels that I can't keep track when folks ask questions.
That is, I won't know to reply unless some kind soul notifies me when there's a question.
 

Mac LA

TVWBB Super Fan
Got a chance to yell a "hello!!!" to you at Santa Anita, Harry. You probably don't remember as it was about 3:30pm sat and you appeared to be beat (after turn ins).

Have a question about your start method with regard to throwing meat on right after throwing lit coals but I will submit via email.

Just wanted to give a hello. Will you be at Long beach event?

Alumni 1/16/16

Johnny
 

Harry Soo

TVWBB Fan
Got a chance to yell a "hello!!!" to you at Santa Anita, Harry. You probably don't remember as it was about 3:30pm sat and you appeared to be beat (after turn ins).

Have a question about your start method with regard to throwing meat on right after throwing lit coals but I will submit via email.

Just wanted to give a hello. Will you be at Long beach event?

Alumni 1/16/16

Johnny

Hey Johnny, I'll be in Long Beach on May 14 and will be doing the KTLA5 morning show on May 12 to showcase some crazy *** bush grilling.
 

TonyUK

TVWBB Wizard
………..The rest of the chunks will start smoldering as the briquettes burn outwards from the center to the edge of the WSM fire ring.

I add my meat right after I dump the lit briquettes into the center of the Minion pile. I don't wait. I've never had a problem with smokiness……...Harry

Hallelujah! This is exactly what I do.
I just started a smoke this morning. Minion method, with wood chunks buried & one chunk on the charcoal grate. Dump the lit in and then put a chunk on top of the lit coals. Yes, I get billowy smoke until I throttle the three lower vents close to cook temp, the billowy smoke stops immediately as the chimney effect is reduced.
 

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