The Pit Barrel® was painstakingly designed for simplicity to ensure even novice cooks could create amazing results every time. That said Pit Barrel® owners are some clever folks, and we are amazed by their suggestions. One thing that is for certain, Pit Barrel® cooker fans will always find new ingenious hacks for their favorite cooker. So, we queried the Pit Barrel® fans in the popular user Facebook groups, the Pit Barrel® Nation Group and the Pit Barrel® Owners Group, to find the most popular user hacks for the best-selling cooker on the market. BTW – If you are a PBC owner or even considering joining the family, you need to follow these groups, otherwise you’re really missing on some drool-worthy pictures, great tips, and some amazing people!
So, here are some of our favorite PBC hacks that can take your PBC experience to new levels.
Double the Fun
The standard grill grate included with the Pit Barrel® is perfect for searing off steaks and burgers, all you have to do is remove the lid and the PBC will crank up the fire in a matter of a couple of minutes. With the lid on, the grate is perfect for foods that you don’t want to hang or skewer. If you want the best of both worlds, many PBC owners opt to add the Hinged Grate allowing them to grate foods over half the barrel and hang them on the other. Chicken wings are a perfect example of a food that cooks best on the grate as they need room to breathe to ensure an all-around crispy skin. As it turns out having both grates on-hand can be valuable. So, what if you’ve loaded up the entire grill grate and still have more wings to squeeze in? Nikki from Denver, Colorado excited PBC fans with her ingenious and simple double rack hack. While she was quick to point out that she adopted the technique from someone else, her description of the hack made us want to over-buy on our next trip to the grocery store. She says all you have to do is, “put the first grate, handles up, on the pegs. Flip the second grate handles down, and set it on the first. Plenty of room for burgers, wings, meatballs, etc.” Another interesting way to make the grill grate do double duty comes from Johnny in Charlotte, North Carolina who hooks up racks of ribs below the grate with a PBC hook on either end of the rack.
Fat = Flavor
A universal truth in grilling and smoking, and life in general actually, is that bacon makes everything better! One of the key aspects of the amazing food the Pit Barrel® conjures is from the added flavor developed by juices, marinades, and fats that drip from cooking meat onto the coals to create a flavorful fog that envelopes the outside of the food. Eric in Piqua, Ohio takes this concept to a new level by hanging strips of bacon alongside the day’s entrée. Simply lay a few strips over the rebar, or threat it onto the PBC hook along with the day's main dish.
Low Hang with Skewers
When it comes to large cuts like pork butts, there is a forever debate amongst PBC owners between using the PBC hooks to hang the meat or to lay it on the included grill grate. Matt from King William, VA goes a step further and uses the Hanging Skewers to drop pork butts further down into the cooking chamber. With the skewers penetrating at center mass of the heavy butt, Matt feels he can hang the meat even longer before wrapping without concern the pork will get so tender that it tears, and the closer proximity to the coals delivers a crispier bark.
The Hanging Skewers are a favorite of fans for a lot of applications from roasting potatoes to colorful kebabs, but a lot of PBC owners also use the skewers for an improvised al pastor rotisserie. While this rotisserie doesn’t spin like the trompo you might see at a Mexican street fair, the natural convection of the PBC’s vertical cooking environment behaves very similarly. Layering a thick slab pineapple on the bottom of the skewer followed by ascending layers of thin-sliced, marinated pork, the whole tower then descends into the PBC. Some users let the slow smokey heat work on the entire tower until cooked through, but for more authentic al pastor crisp, crack the lid to let the heat climb, then retrieve the whole spit with a Pit Grip-covered hand and shave thin slices off the outer layer of caramelized pork. Then return the whole tower to the heat for a few minutes to get some char on the outer layer, before you rinse and repeat. Check out White Thunder BBQ’s high-speed look at this whole process.
Chicken Leg “Nun Chucks”
Hanging foods whenever possible gets the best out of the PBC’s inherent convection cooking style. Keeping hooks secure is easy with foods like a rack of ribs or dense meat like beef brisket, but finding a way to dangle chicken or turkey legs can be a be bit challenging. Administrator of the Pit Barrel® Cooker Owners Group, Ri Ry, came up with an ingenious hack he calls, “Chicken Nun Chucks.” Simply tie two legs together (preferably after an overnight stay in a brine to ensure moist results) with butcher’s twine or thin steel wire, and drape each “nun chuck” over the PBC’s rebar. It’s simple, it’s effective and, best of all, it ensures your PBC hooks are available for other meats.
The Circle of Deliciousness
Regardless of which charcoal is your favorite, it all turns to ash eventually. Depending on who you ask, disposing of that ash is either a simple or terribly-messy job. The Ash Pan is one of the top accessories sold with the Pit Barrel® simple because if makes the ash removal process a breeze. Once it's out of the barrel many folks drop it in a trash barrel and are done with it, but PBC owner Casey from Kalamazoo, Michigan, puts it to work for the next generation of cooks. She says, “I love to take my charcoal ash and add it directly to my garden soil or to my compost to spread on the garden. It adds wonderful nutrients to the soil to help grow more veggies to smoke on the PBC. I call it the circle of deliciousness!”
There you have it, some of the most popular hacks for the Pit Barrel® Cooker. If you are already a Pit Barrel® owner, make sure to check out the amazing community of fellow fans in the popular Facebook user groups, the Pit Barrel® Nation Group and the Pit Barrel® Owners Group. If you’re now chomping at the bit to get your own PBC, please jump over to our homepage for more details about the Pit Barrel® Cooker and all our accessories.