WSK charcoal grate height


 

Mack Manning

TVWBB Fan
I realized while cooking this weekend that my charcoal grate was still in the lower position after smoking pork butts over a month ago. Since then, I've done wings, steaks, and chicken legs with Vortex or baskets in the center and indirect heat on the outside, never remembering to raise the grate.

How do y'all position the charcoal grate?
 

Brett-EDH

TVWBB Diamond Member
Depends what I’m cooking and desired results. I use three versions, lower with deflector for low and slows only, lower with and without CBs if I’m using swords or cooking tri tips, basically more distance for direct cooks, and I’ll use the upper position and use the CBs in the center ring area with my CI grate for hard sears like burgers, steaks, pollo asada and carne asada and after searing will go to outer ring for indirect finishing the cook through.

I’ll also do half chickens in a runway with CBs to the sides and chickens down the middle for a hot chicken cook to ensure crispy skin.

The WSK is incredibly versatile. There really isn’t a wrong way or bad way to use it.

I also own two coal grates so the lower one is always in position and the upper one comes out when needed. Most importantly, I am a huge fan of using CBs on just about every cook. Makes for easy coal cleanup, coal movement and coal relights.
 
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DanHoo

TVWBB Honor Circle
Most often I've got coal on the lower rack, usually in CBs

Sometimes I use a kettle height vortex on the lower rack with the CI sear grate above it. The vortex I have is too tall to sit on the upper rack.

Sometimes I'll use CBs on the upper rack, and then I tend to have the CBs towards the back by the hinge.
 

JohnTak

TVWBB Super Fan
I did a cook with the grate in the upper position and it got away from me and I had some burnt food. I'm going back to the lower position as I feel I can get plenty of heat but more forgiving fire if I get distracted.
 

GrantT

TVWBB Super Fan
I do MOST cooks (forward sear) like steaks, chops, burgers etc....with grates in upper position, but all coals pushed to one side in a "SnS" type setup. I direct sear over the hot side to get nice sear etc, then move to the cool side to finish up to temp.

A bit surprisingly, this also works amazing for small roasts, chickens as well. Indirect, but radiant heat creates an amazing 400 degree convection heat environment.

Coals on lower grate position for longer smokes etc.
 

DanHoo

TVWBB Honor Circle
My last 3 have been using the vortex on the lower level.

20220927_194908.jpg 20220925_185047.jpg

It might have been I was just a little lazy and I didn't feel like moving things.

Edit: and this is still coal leftover from Saturday's Pizza cook
 

RLittle

TVWBB Fan
I think Brett probably nailed it in that there's really no wrong way to do it. The flexibility of this cooker gives options to what you're comfortable with. I do agree that lower grate level on direct/indirect cooks can be a little more forgiving and I tend to use this method most of the time. I like to do wings with the CBs in the center on the upper grate with the wings along the perimeter.
 

John K BBQ

TVWBB All-Star
I'll have to try the vortex with the grate in the bottom position.... interested to see how that works on steaks with direct/indirect zones.
 

GrantT

TVWBB Super Fan
This is our main way of cooking...just because we do a lot of direct grilling, and it offers the option to easily move the food off the coals to finish up...

1) Coals all banked up on one side....direct grilling (in this case over a Kamado Big Joe cast iron 1/2 moon....
 

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Brett-EDH

TVWBB Diamond Member
This is our main way of cooking...just because we do a lot of direct grilling, and it offers the option to easily move the food off the coals to finish up...

1) Coals all banked up on one side....direct grilling (in this case over a Kamado Big Joe cast iron 1/2 moon....
pizza pan grease tray? do you foil line it for easy cleanups? nice approach here. well done.
 

GrantT

TVWBB Super Fan
So, the Big Joe half moon sits on the charcoal grate brackets?

And you cut the Weber food grate in half?

No, the Big Joe accessories are 24" and fit perfectly on the food grate level/ledge. The top charcoal grate is still there underneath.

Yeah, I cut my food grate in half and also welded up the two hinged sides so they are solid as well. It still works perfectly with the two halves and the center piece as well. Still all very solid. I also have the cast iron griddle accessory too, so now have a total mix/match. If the half-moon cooking grate (stainless steel) ever goes on sale, I will probably pick up one of those...the cast iron pieces were on clearance so I got them very cheap from Lowes.
 

GrantT

TVWBB Super Fan
pizza pan grease tray? do you foil line it for easy cleanups? nice approach here. well done.

Yeah, it is an 18" pizza tray that I chopped one edge off it and folded it up at 90 degrees to act as a heat block. It looks pretty gnarly in the photo, but yes, I often put foil down too. Or a drip tray. It scrapes off pretty easy though with a metal paint scraper.

Basically just recreated the SnS design + the divide and conquer from KJ....
 

Gary London

TVWBB Super Fan
I spatchcock chicken and cook it direct over the charcoal with grate in the lower position.
The juices drip onto the hot coals and add to the flavour. It's now my go to method for chicken.

I have found the temp falls off as coals get the drippings so I need to increase the amount of fuel.
 

RLittle

TVWBB Fan
I spatchcock chicken and cook it direct over the charcoal with grate in the lower position.
The juices drip onto the hot coals and add to the flavour. It's now my go to method for chicken.

I have found the temp falls off as coals get the drippings so I need to increase the amount of fuel.
Gary,
This sounds similar to Hot and Fast setup in WSM. Curious about your method. Skin side up to start and then skin side down briefly? What temp do you try and stay at? How long is a typical cook time?
 

Gary London

TVWBB Super Fan
Gary,
This sounds similar to Hot and Fast setup in WSM. Curious about your method. Skin side up to start and then skin side down briefly? What temp do you try and stay at? How long is a typical cook time?

Skin side up to start. The breast is protected by the breast bone and cartilage.

I don't get precious about time and temp. Could be 400f to start then drops to maybe 250f after 45 mins.
I try to get the temp up again for final 15 mins skin side down.

Never seem to get really crispy skin but the meat is very moist and flavoursome.



 

 

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