Summit Kamado E6/S6: charcoal loading for long burn?


 

Grant Cunningham

TVWBB Super Fan
This week I plan to do my first low 'n slow cook on my month-old E6. I expect to need 8-10 hours of cook time, using Cowboy briquettes.

What's the best way to load and ignite the charcoal? My thought was to load the charcoal rack leaving a hole in the middle, and pour a small chimney of lit coals into the hole. How much charcoal in total should I load onto the rack? Should I put the lit coals on the side instead of the center ? Is a small chimney too much/too little lit charcoal?

(Keep in mind I'm coming at this from the standpoint of a kettle user, and the E6 is proving to be a very different beast!)
 

GrantT

TVWBB Super Fan
When I do my low/slows, I just load up the bottom with a huge pile of lump of choice, and then light a SMALL area - usually just using a MAPP torch in one area. IMO...the smaller the better....you just need to get it started, and that is all.

Then, and I give myself an hour or so to get it all stabilized, I put on all my deflector plates, pans, upper grate etc, and open up the vents to a MODERATE opening to let the heat rise slowly as possible.

When about 25 degrees below my set temp, I close the vents to my "smoke" setting...bottom on the smoke setting (or even a tiny nudge more closed) and upper vent to about 1/3 open...and see where it all stabilizes...then make minor adjustments from there...perhaps top vent down to 1/4. Depends a bit on outside temp, humidity, the type of lump being used etc.
 

Mark Foreman

TVWBB Pro
Some load their charcoal and add lit ones to the side. Me, for 10ish hours, put about 2-3 chimneys of unlit charcoal along with wood chunks (like WSM). I light mine by adding a couple of fire starters (Weber & buried) to the center And light it off. Leave all vents open till you get close to your desired temperature. Set the bottom vent to the smoke position. Close and adjust the TOP vent to control the temperature.
 

Brett-EDH

TVWBB All-Star
I start with unlit coals in the CBs and then add hot ones atop them that I light in a chimney. Around 50% full of a chimney and also place unlit coals between the two CBs (see pic below).

I like to use CBs as it makes cleanup and moving leftover coals much easier post-cook. I fully wrap the deflector plate in heavy aluminum foil and use my finger to complete the holes along the outside edge which makes deflector cleanup simple and easy.

Light the chimney, dump across the fresh unlit coals, get to below temp and then settle down the Smoke slider so temps don’t run away. DO NOT CHOKE OUT YOUR COALS THOUGH. Be aware of your temp and check to ensure you don’t snuff out your fire.

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Dustin Flavell

TVWBB Pro
I load the entire bottom with charcoal and a few wood chunks and use the snap jet igniter for about 5 minutes just to get things started. Vents wide open to get up to the desired temperature. If you don’t have the igniter I would go the route you described of loading and pulling the center charcoal out and adding back as lit.
 

Scott Saw

TVWBB Member
I use the charcoal ring from a 18" WSM, fits like it was made for it.
I load it up with charcoal and some smokewood, hit the propane igniter for 4-5 minutes, and adjust the vents to allow it to come up to target temp slowly
 

Darryl - swazies

TVWBB All-Star
When I do my low/slows, I just load up the bottom with a huge pile of lump of choice, and then light a SMALL area - usually just using a MAPP torch in one area. IMO...the smaller the better....you just need to get it started, and that is all.

Then, and I give myself an hour or so to get it all stabilized, I put on all my deflector plates, pans, upper grate etc, and open up the vents to a MODERATE opening to let the heat rise slowly as possible.

When about 25 degrees below my set temp, I close the vents to my "smoke" setting...bottom on the smoke setting (or even a tiny nudge more closed) and upper vent to about 1/3 open...and see where it all stabilizes...then make minor adjustments from there...perhaps top vent down to 1/4. Depends a bit on outside temp, humidity, the type of lump being used etc.
This.....the minor details are important, it took me a bit to get onto this technique as I was very use to the performer.
Saturday I lit 1/4 chimney or so and only had a couple of them glowing and a bunch of them were fairly hot.....good description I Know.
I was able to heat it up and get everything going, it takes a lot of time with the lid open.....just being smart about it makes this time of the cook either really good or really bad. Basically setting up all the racks, deflectors, thermometers....ect.
By the time everything was settled and done and the temp was stable I was cooking about 250.....later on after wrap I had to increase the temps a bit and held a 300 for the balance of the cook.
I really love the stability of this cooker, I didn't stare at the thermometer readings but I checked often.....It doesn't move more than 2 degrees outside in the cold and a bit of wind.
 

TimA

TVWBB Fan
I fill the bottom and use the propane assist. It will rock and roll for well north of 12 hours. I leave my vents nearly closed or it shoots up in temp and it’s an absolute battle to get them down again. We’re talking like 1/8 open on top and bottom.
 

Dustin Flavell

TVWBB Pro
I fill the bottom and use the propane assist. It will rock and roll for well north of 12 hours. I leave my vents nearly closed or it shoots up in temp and it’s an absolute battle to get them down again. We’re talking like 1/8 open on top and bottom.
Totally concur with that. Once the temp runs away it is a chore to get it back down to where you want to be. Bring it up slow!
 

Gary London

TVWBB Super Fan
Haven't tried low and low on my new E6 yet.

Does the burn on the lower grate go in a particular direction? I saw a video where they started at the 10 o'clock edge position.
I assumed it would burn evenly unless you are using an ATC with a fan.

Does minion method work with a few lit coals dumped in the middle, or start anywhere on the edge?
 

Darryl - swazies

TVWBB All-Star
Haven't tried low and low on my new E6 yet.

Does the burn on the lower grate go in a particular direction? I saw a video where they started at the 10 o'clock edge position.
I assumed it would burn evenly unless you are using an ATC with a fan.

Does minion method work with a few lit coals dumped in the middle, or start anywhere on the edge?
I have personally only started mine at the 10 o'clock position. Before I did any cook I watched a few things online.
I just randomly came a cross a video when I was trying to learn how to use it when I first got it and the guy stated something about a burn pattern and suggested to start at the 10 o'clock position.
I used this method first try and it does seem to burn across, without doing anything weird to the charcoal and burning all the charcoal if needed. I have had it going for about 14 hours before, cooking 2 items in a row and the final 2 hour setting was full bore with the deflector in place running about 375 degrees. I still had available charcoal the net day but most of it burnt.
I would approve of this method but not sure if anyone else has tried anything different with better results.
I wish someone had more info for me before I started mine up but if you want low, a small fire is the key...!!!
I have had it in the 230 range for a couple hours before at the start but for me once it hits a piece of smoking wood the temps rise mildly.
This is with the bottom vent closed and the top about 7/8ths open.
The temps moved from 230 to about 245 or so.....I feel like they all burn differently as possibly the construction of each one will determine air leaks or air flow differences. Mine really really likes to run at 245 to 255 with most of the openings and vents choked off pretty good.
This is using 3 pieces of smoking wood, I always use 3 and always get a good amount of smoke flavor.
I also bury them sporadically, similar to what I seen in a Harry Soo video.
 

Gary London

TVWBB Super Fan
Thanks Darryl. We must have watched the same video :D

The official owners guide is not a lot of use. I think it is misleading.

As you say, the key is to start with a small fire. I must try a cheap hunk of meat to experiment. Pork shoulder or a chuck roast.
 

GrantT

TVWBB Super Fan
I think there are some people that have noted the left to right burn pattern, but if I recall, that is on the ORIGINAL Summit Charcoal models which had the gas ignitor, and it also occurs on the current model S6 (with gas ignitor). I think there is some air flow/leak which makes the fire burn in that direction - towards the ignitor port. It can't be overly significant though as the grill still shuts down easily with vents closed.
 

Grant Cunningham

TVWBB Super Fan
Well, it seems that I won't need as long a burn time as I thought! I'm doing some individual short ribs that were supposed to be plate ribs. Expectng 3-4 hours, given the meat thickness, but I'm set if I need to run longer.

I just put them on, and the temp has settled down to 225 deg. Using 2 chimneys of Cowboy charcoal, along with some maple chunks for smoke. I used a propane torch to light a couple of briquettes in the center, and it took off nicely. Much better control than with the Kettle; in fact I'm surprised how quickly it came up to temp and how steady it is.

This is a bunch of firsts: my first low & slow on the E6, my first beef ribs, and the first use of my new Smoke temperature monitor!
 

Brett-EDH

TVWBB All-Star
Well, it seems that I won't need as long a burn time as I thought! I'm doing some individual short ribs that were supposed to be plate ribs. Expectng 3-4 hours, given the meat thickness, but I'm set if I need to run longer.

I just put them on, and the temp has settled down to 225 deg. Using 2 chimneys of Cowboy charcoal, along with some maple chunks for smoke. I used a propane torch to light a couple of briquettes in the center, and it took off nicely. Much better control than with the Kettle; in fact I'm surprised how quickly it came up to temp and how steady it is.

This is a bunch of firsts: my first low & slow on the E6, my first beef ribs, and the first use of my new Smoke temperature monitor!
pics!!! please. what'd you settle on for seasoning?
 

Grant Cunningham

TVWBB Super Fan
pics!!! please. what'd you settle on for seasoning?
I'll try to remember to take some!

SPOG, moderately applied. It's wife-friendly. I debated on the wood (on our property we have maple, oak, cherry, apple, pear, madrone, and a little bit of alder), and settled on maple for its mild, sweet aroma. My wife is not a huge fan of smoked meat, so I'm being easy on her!
 

Grant Cunningham

TVWBB Super Fan
I started with 2 chimneys of Cowboy charcoal (which continues to impress me), and lit in the very center with a propane torch. I let it burn for about an hour to come up to temp and stabilize, then I put the meat on for about 4 hours. Total burn time was a bit over 5 hours, and I was left with a heaping chimney of unburned briquettes (and a few more that are suitable for relighting.)

Does that sound about right?

Here's a shot of the burn pattern; the angle is a little deceiving, as the center of the burn pattern is actually closer to 3:30 (I took out a couple pieces of unburnt maple chunks for clarity.) Next time I'll take the suggestion to light it at the 10:00 position and see where that goes.
 

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