You’re probably thinking ‘ the cheek of him writing about too much smoke” after going into ultra detail about the best way to use a bbq smoker with wood chips :D. Well there is the wrong kind of smoke, and the type of smoke you’re having a problem with is not the kind of smoke that is going to enhance the flavour of meat! This is the nasty old fat residue kind of smell. In fact, this type of smoke is a problem for me too so this article is me bouncing some ideas off you whilst writing, a checklist if you like to make sure my bbq isn’t smoking so much in the wrong way too.
After all, it’s too late to reverse this once you have the charcoal bbq going, or you’ll have to turn off the gas bbq and let it all cool down. If you’re using a food smoker, or a portable gas bbq / throw away type it’s even more of a problem actually, but fortunately this isn’t some kind of voodoo magic stuff, it’s simple science, cover the bases and you’ll have a relatively ‘bad’ smoke free bbq in no time:
- Make sure you remove all the ash from a charcoal bbq or bbq smoker
- Make sure you clean the grease and run off fluids on your gas bbq perfectly
- My bbq charcoal keeps on going out and then smoking
- Use kindling wood to start your bbq smoker rather than wood chips
- Don’t close the lid too soon and starve the air
1. Make sure you remove all the ash from a charcoal bbq or bbq smoker
Goes without saying that if you do not clean out your charcoal bbq or food smoker well then you starve the oxygen circulation from underneath. This is one of the main culprits to an unwanted smokey bbq that doesn’t ever get up to the right temperature. Quite frankly, if you get your bbq going well there’s nothing stopping you put the lid down nearly smoke free at 500-600 degrees. Obviously this is miles too hot to cook but the point is smoke doesn’t have to be an issue here.
You don’t need to clean it right out but the more ash you get out the better. Basically the other thing is oil will have run into this ash. That means that any unburnt oil will now begin to smoke and smell a little off and bad. It really is unpleasant and not what you want to cook you’re lovely fresh and fragrant bbq on!
2. Make sure you clean the grease and run off fluids on your gas bbq perfectly
If it’s a gas bbq you may well be having the same problem. Basically excessive smoking will come from the drum heating up and beginning to burn and smoulder run off fat. If this fat is from last year then yikes it will smell terrible but even from a few days before isn’t a pungent aroma either! Make sure each time your gas bbq is used, once cooled down, you give it a real good clean up. Unfortunately this is just part of having a gas bbq. The good news is good cleaning and maintenance will make your bbq last all the longer – definitely consider a bbq cover too.
If you have cleaned it and getting the same problem then the drum is heating up and the new fat is running off, unfortunately there’s not much of a cure for this other than reducing the amount of fat on your cuts (not something I recommend as the fat is making it full flavour). Instead, pick your timing, put all the fatty meat on at once, at the end perhaps. The other way which is a good approach and far more manageable is little amounts of fatty meat and often. This stops big build ups and subsequently big smoke 🙂
3. My bbq charcoal keeps on going out and then smoking
What if you’re struggling because your fire doesn’t actually catch light well enough and smoulders rather than the coal turning into nice hot white embers? I had this problem once and it was a culmination of no ventilation under the fire as well as not putting the firelighters deep enough in my pile of charcoal. Also, I used a little less than the manufacturer recommend. Probably not a good idea as everything seems to just keep getting smaller everyday!
Make sure you use plenty of firelighters and don’t break them up too small. If you do, the charcoal may not get a chance to fully ignite. Once charcoal takes hold it’ll just keep on going if provided with enough oxygen to burn.
4. Use kindling wood to start your bbq smoker rather than wood chips
One of the best ways to get a charcoal bbq started rather than firelighters (especially the eco firelighters which smoke like crazy) its good old fashioned newspaper and some small kindling. This makes really quickly so there is far less smoke. Once really raging and I do mean rally raging, you can add larger wood and it’ll take hold of charcoal thereafter. To really clean down my bbq I use his method too as it helps burn off any fat and charred material. I then use a grill brush just to wipe off the ashes from the griddle.
Once raging you can introduce charcoal with almost no smoke at all if you add bit by bit. This isn’t necessarily the most economical way to go about lighting a fire but if you’re like me and you have logs or timber offcuts available then why not? Obviously make sure whatever timber you’re using isn’t carcinogenic 😀
5. Don’t close the lid too soon and starve the air
It doesn’t matter if you have a charcoal, gas, portable bbq, or even disposable. If you put the lid on too quickly then you will stop the fire breathing. This in turn cuts the burning and quickly results in smoke. This is slightly different with the gass bbq, the fat deposits build up and smoulder more with the lid down.
So don’t put the lid down too quickly. Granted many of us smoking food looking for the perfect flame grill steak want this!
So to round up, keep your bbq clean, don’t starve your fire of oxygen, remove ash and debris, and then keep the griddle clean. If you’re still experiencing problems then pop me an email because the above solutions will stop your bbq smoking so much and wouldn’t be an issue I’ve encountered before!