You Pit Barrel Cooker Guys?

MelroseHawkins

Well-Known Member
I can't remember if it was a thread of its own, noted in a thread about cookers, but some discussed the Pit Barrel Cooker. I can't seem to find the thread. Well, I turned the BIG 5-0 and want to get myself a special gift for the big occasion. I believe Fryowa has one and OK4Pres just got one and were bantering back an forth about them and recipes.

For those who have them, do you still like the PBC or is it a grill cooker you regret buying? We've all done that in the past with a grill/cooker. Wished we would have got something else. For anybody who has the PBC Jr. Do you think it has enough room, like it, or think it cooks as nice as the original PBC 18.5"? I have a family of 4 and don't typically cook for more than us. The smaller size intrigues me for storing, managing, and the option of taking it somewhere.

Anyway, any thoughts or advice is appreciated!
 

Fryowa

Administrator
I can't remember if it was a thread of its own, noted in a thread about cookers, but some discussed the Pit Barrel Cooker. I can't seem to find the thread. Well, I turned the BIG 5-0 and want to get myself a special gift for the big occasion. I believe Fryowa has one and OK4Pres just got one and were bantering back an forth about them and recipes.

For those who have them, do you still like the PBC or is it a grill cooker you regret buying? We've all done that in the past with a grill/cooker. Wished we would have got something else. For anybody who has the PBC Jr. Do you think it has enough room, like it, or think it cooks as nice as the original PBC 18.5"? I have a family of 4 and don't typically cook for more than us. The smaller size intrigues me for storing, managing, and the option of taking it somewhere.

Anyway, any thoughts or advice is appreciated!
Use mine at least once a week, friggin love it. I have a weber kettle that I grill on, but if I didn't, the PBC would be more than sufficient to grill with as well. It's idiot proof, especially when it comes to ribs and chicken. I've probably put 20-30 pork butts through it for pulled pork and I get some pretty high praise form guests and coworkers. Done several tri tips and that's also fool proof. Put a cheap temp probe in it, pull it at 125*, let it rest 20 minutes and start cutting. I haven't done a brisket in mine because I'm not a huge fan, but I've heard it's lights out from people who have.

My neighbor and colleague in the office next to me both have juniors and both wish they had gotten the regular sized one. In no way is it a bad cooker, but trust me the extra room is nice. After buying a new toy no one has ever regretted having too much room, but people always regret not having enough. As far as storage/transport, it's really not any big difference. The junior is about the same height and just a couple inches less in diameter. When you see the regular one you won't think it's big, it's less floor space than a Weber Kettle. I haul my PBC all the time in the back of a Sorento with zero trouble. I fit the cooker, a bag of charcoal, wood chunks, a cooler, and a tote with utensils, tools, etc. no problem. Get the regular size one, you won't regret it.

Like anything else there are some accessories that will make it a better experience. Of the ones I have I'll break it into must haves, nice to haves, and wish I didn't buy it.

Must haves:

1) Hinge down grate.
Lets you hang food on one side and still use the grate on the other side. Flip it over and you have a full grate. Trust me, even if you think you won't cook that much, you'll have so much fun that you'll end up cooking all the frickin time in it and you'll buy the grate.

2) Ash pan. I did exactly one cook before I ordered one. The charcoal basket has an open bottom (just steel bars) and when you lift it out most of the ashes will fall through so you end up scooping it out (not fun) or taking it somewhere to dump upside down (also not fun). The ash pan lifts all the ashes out with the basket, super convenient. Honestly it should just come standard with the cooker.

3) Hawkeye bottle opener. Duh.

As confirmation, @okeefe4prez told me #1 and 2 were must-haves and he was correct.

Nice to haves:

1) Turkey hanger.
I've done 2 T-giving turkeys at our family shindig since I got it, and it's expected of me now (family loves the smoked bird). @okeefe4prez has done some as well I believe. The hanger helps.

2) Pit barrel chimney starter. It's a sawed-off version of a normal chimney starter. I went about 6 months without one because I already had a regular chimney and I'm a cheap bastard, but in reality it makes things easier. Dumping a full size chimney in the barrel sucks and you end up spilling some down the sides of the basket. If you get a Junior, it's not really an option. I don't think a regular chimney would even fit in it.

Wish I didn't buy it:

1) Corn hanger.
I grill sweet corn a LOT in the summer so I bought it on a whim. Not necessary because the grate works fine and the ear on the bottom got a little over done. If you want to try it gimme a shout and I'll gladly send it to you free of charge. It's not a POS, just not up my alley and maybe you can get it to work better than me. I only tried it once.

You're an adult American winning machine who works hard to make a living, get one on order. Life is too short not to treat yourself. Trust me, you'll have an absolute blast cooking on this thing, and the fucking smell is enough to buy one. The most fun part is experimenting with different rubs, sauces, recipes, wood chunk species...you'll never wreck any meat and it's cool finding out what you and your family like. Get your boys out there helping you too. Good father son time.

Oh, and remember, get the medium sized one. You won't regret it. Also, buy stuff from the PBC website at the same time to get free shipping. Shipping is kinda spendy but their minimum is only $25.
 

MelroseHawkins

Well-Known Member
Excellent info. Thank you!

I've also heard and can understand that the orginal normal size cooks a bit better than the smaller Jr.. This makes sense to me because there has to be that perfect storm for this kind of cooking. It very well may be the extra width or 3" height that the air moves around the best or keep temps at a certain point the best. Makes sense to me.

The Jr. I could see cooking at a little higher temp which may be just enough to throw it off a bit. Again, the perfect storm.
 

Fryowa

Administrator
Excellent info. Thank you!

I've also heard and can understand that the orginal normal size cooks a bit better than the smaller Jr.. This makes sense to me because there has to be that perfect storm for this kind of cooking. It very well may be the extra width or 3" height that the air moves around the best or keep temps at a certain point the best. Makes sense to me.

The Jr. I could see cooking at a little higher temp which may be just enough to throw it off a bit. Again, the perfect storm.
You can also get the PBC pretty damn hot too for grilling if you want. Open the bottom vent all the way and take the rebars out, and even with the lid on she gets rippin hot.
 

okeefe4prez

Well-Known Member
I used mine a ton when I first got it, now I just use it maybe once a month at most for chicken or turkey. I prefer a Weber Smokey Mountain for ribs or shoulder. The Pit Barrel makes the best chicken and turkey hands down. It is worth the price just for what it can do with chicken if that is your jam. You can get chickens for $4 or $5 and throw two on there with the hangers and have plenty of relatively healthy meals.
 

Fryowa

Administrator
The Pit Barrel makes the best chicken and turkey hands down. It is worth the price just for what it can do with chicken if that is your jam. You can get chickens for $4 or $5 and throw two on there with the hangers and have plenty of relatively healthy meals.
I get boneless skinless thighs in bulk a lot of times and completely fill the grate with them. Shred it all up and I have smoked chicken for tacos, rice, enchiladas, salads, etc. Goes a long ways.

Cooking the whole chickens is definitely good, but I like skinless in a lot of cases because the smoke will penetrate more and seasoning does a better job without the skin.
 

MelroseHawkins

Well-Known Member
I used mine a ton when I first got it, now I just use it maybe once a month at most for chicken or turkey. I prefer a Weber Smokey Mountain for ribs or shoulder. The Pit Barrel makes the best chicken and turkey hands down. It is worth the price just for what it can do with chicken if that is your jam. You can get chickens for $4 or $5 and throw two on there with the hangers and have plenty of relatively healthy meals.
So is it the size of it or the preparation that makes you lean towards the WSM or just that it cooks the latter better? I just picked up my PBC last evening. I actually found it locally in a ACE hardware store. Last one and is a discontinued item.

Anything you don't like about the PBC. It does look quite tall. Is that an issue?
 

okeefe4prez

Well-Known Member
So is it the size of it or the preparation that makes you lean towards the WSM or just that it cooks the latter better? I just picked up my PBC last evening. I actually found it locally in a ACE hardware store. Last one and is a discontinued item.

Anything you don't like about the PBC. It does look quite tall. Is that an issue?

Nah, I love the PBC. It's just that my neighbor has a WSM and the WSM with the water is just better for certain items and is better for infusing wood flavor because you can control airflow better and prevent the wood from igniting. One big problem with the PBC is with the direct coals if you do something like shoulder you can have a problem with fat drippings extinguishing a chunk of the coals directly beneath the meat. That is not an issue with the WSM.
 

Fryowa

Administrator
One big problem with the PBC is with the direct coals if you do something like shoulder you can have a problem with fat drippings extinguishing a chunk of the coals directly beneath the meat.
That's actually a big advantage in my book. That smoke coming for the drippings is awesome flavor-wise. I love it. Never had an issue with extinguishing coals and I've ton a truck load of butts on it.
 

MattinColumbus

Well-Known Member
I don’t have a PBC, but from other purchases, look at the size you think you need, then buy the next larger size. Only regret I have with my BGE and pellet grill.

I’m looking at gravity fed smokers, but am afraid my wife will simply change the locks and throw my sh*t in the driveway.
 

okeefe4prez

Well-Known Member
That's actually a big advantage in my book. That smoke coming for the drippings is awesome flavor-wise. I love it. Never had an issue with extinguishing coals and I've ton a truck load of butts on it.

The meat smoke is good for chicken, but pork needs hickory or occasionally applewood.
 

Fryowa

Administrator
The meat smoke is good for chicken, but pork needs hickory or occasionally applewood.
I use half hickory half pecan for about everything. I don’t do much for beef.

I do like to smoke chuck roasts from time to time and post oak has been my go to for that. I like it better than brisket.
 

Fryowa

Administrator
I don’t have a PBC, but from other purchases, look at the size you think you need, then buy the next larger size.
Great advice, except with the PBC they came out with a ginormous one this summer that I cannot think of ever having a use for. I’d avoid that one.

In the normal size PBC you can easily get 12 racks of ribs, or 6 racks of ribs and 3 whole chickens halved. The new PBX is 4” bigger in diameter and taller. Just doing the rough math you could get more than 20 racks of ribs in it and god knows how many chickens. I see zero use for that thing unless you have a restaurant or catering business, and at that point I’d be looking at industrial model smokers anyway.
 

MelroseHawkins

Well-Known Member
I don’t have a PBC, but from other purchases, look at the size you think you need, then buy the next larger size. Only regret I have with my BGE and pellet grill.

I’m looking at gravity fed smokers, but am afraid my wife will simply change the locks and throw my sh*t in the driveway.

Lol. I hear ya. "You need another grill!!!!"....nag, nag nag
 

MelroseHawkins

Well-Known Member
Great advice, except with the PBC they came out with a ginormous one this summer that I cannot think of ever having a use for. I’d avoid that one.

In the normal size PBC you can easily get 12 racks of ribs, or 6 racks of ribs and 3 whole chickens halved. The new PBX is 4” bigger in diameter and taller. Just doing the rough math you could get more than 20 racks of ribs in it and god knows how many chickens. I see zero use for that thing unless you have a restaurant or catering business, and at that point I’d be looking at industrial model smokers anyway.

Damn, now I wish I would have just ordered the Jr. and saved $100.00. I don't know when I would ever need to cook that much. F me.
 

MelroseHawkins

Well-Known Member
I don’t have a PBC, but from other purchases, look at the size you think you need, then buy the next larger size. Only regret I have with my BGE and pellet grill.

I’m looking at gravity fed smokers, but am afraid my wife will simply change the locks and throw my sh*t in the driveway.

I used to think like this when I was younger but have changed my tune after I've gotten older and have bought a few. People buy way too much grill or square inches, typically. I know the outlier guy who consistently cooks for big groups is one who needs a big grill/cooker/smoker, but most individuals really don't, IMO. Most that are just most times cooking for their family.

I got sick of lugging around and storing a huge ass grill when I really didn't need all the square inches in the long run. But, it was big and shiny. Also, one just uses more propane or heating source the more it has to heat up.
 

Fryowa

Administrator
I used to think like this when I was younger but have changed my tune after I've gotten older and have bought a few. People buy way too much grill or square inches, typically. I know the outlier guy who consistently cooks for big groups is one who needs a big grill/cooker/smoker, but most individuals really don't, IMO. Most that are just most times cooking for their family.

I got sick of lugging around and storing a huge ass grill when I really didn't need all the square inches in the long run. But, it was big and shiny. Also, one just uses more propane or heating source the more it has to heat up.
It’s not very big. The reason you can fit so much in it is because you can hang stuff vertically.

Like I said I fit the cooler, charcoal, a big cooler, and a couple totes in a Kia Sorento no problem. When it gets to your house you’ll see what I mean.
 

okeefe4prez

Well-Known Member
I used to think like this when I was younger but have changed my tune after I've gotten older and have bought a few. People buy way too much grill or square inches, typically. I know the outlier guy who consistently cooks for big groups is one who needs a big grill/cooker/smoker, but most individuals really don't, IMO. Most that are just most times cooking for their family.

I got sick of lugging around and storing a huge ass grill when I really didn't need all the square inches in the long run. But, it was big and shiny. Also, one just uses more propane or heating source the more it has to heat up.

I do about 85% of my outdoor cooking on a weber smokey joe (the little one). It's waaaaay more efficient than a kettle for grilling for my family of 3.
 

MelroseHawkins

Well-Known Member
It’s not very big. The reason you can fit so much in it is because you can hang stuff vertically.

Like I said I fit the cooler, charcoal, a big cooler, and a couple totes in a Kia Sorento no problem. When it gets to your house you’ll see what I mean.
Actually, I picked it up at a local Ace Hardware store the other night. It's in the back of my Subaru Outback now!! Can't wait to open it.
 
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