From Aaron Franklin's MasterClass

Fire and Smoke

Building and managing fire is key to barbecue mastery. In this chapter, Aaron demonstrates his technique for constructing clean fires, explains how to analyze smoke, and unpacks the anatomy and science of an offset cooker.

Topics include: Wood and Flavor Development · Good and Bad Smoke · How Wood Burns · Troubleshooting Bad Smoke · Anatomy of an Offset Cooker · Adapting to Weather Conditions · Working the Fire · Regulating Temperatures

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Building and managing fire is key to barbecue mastery. In this chapter, Aaron demonstrates his technique for constructing clean fires, explains how to analyze smoke, and unpacks the anatomy and science of an offset cooker.

Topics include: Wood and Flavor Development · Good and Bad Smoke · How Wood Burns · Troubleshooting Bad Smoke · Anatomy of an Offset Cooker · Adapting to Weather Conditions · Working the Fire · Regulating Temperatures

Aaron Franklin

Teaches Texas-Style BBQ

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[MUSIC PLAYING] - So obviously, the foundation for any barbecue cook starts with a fire. That's your base. It's the base layer. It's a coal bed. It's the flames. It's the flavor. It's all the stuff. I've got a really specific way that I like to start a fire. I usually pick up my logs. Since the bottom of the fire box is round, this is kind of what I'm looking for. I want them to fit into a round fire box. So I picked these out earlier when I was splitting these up. That's kind of what I was thinking in my head. It's like, OK, well, I've got one dense one to go in the middle, and then I've got a bunch of dry small ones that I split to go in there. So all the flames kind of go through. It lights up really quickly. And that will be this one, first one. It goes right about there. And what this does is it creates a nice base right here. And then I've got these two wedges to be like the foundation for these lighter pieces. A couple light ones, I'm going to start with three. And I want to space the wood with about an inch gap between these three top pieces. That way, as the paper burns underneath it, the flames just kind of go through. It's a basket weave kind of scenario. There's enough airflow in there. Everything ignites itself. I've got this one. The next one is I'm going to put one dense one right in the middle. And the dense one is not going to burn very fast, because I want the other ones to burn quickly, create a coal bed, and then that heavy one will be in the middle. And it's just going to drop right in the middle. So two pretty lightweight ones here, and again, I'm going to put them just about an inch worth of spacing right there. I think that's a pretty nice looking base for that. So I totally realize that not everybody has a 42 inch long fire box to play with. So really, if you've got a smaller fire box, if you've got maybe a cooker that doesn't have really much of a fire box at all, you can totally use this principle. The idea behind it is that it gets a lot of airflow. It burns quickly. I'm not using very nice pieces of wood because it's not going to affect the meat because nothing's on there yet. But it will burn quick, and it will get my cooker up to temp super fast. But it also lays a good foundation. It's kind of like a little log cabin. So it's got a log there. It burns down. It burns down. And this kind of gets me in the habit of building a fire and working a fire the way that you really want to be able to work a fire to have clean flavors, airflow, and all that stuff. So this is a good foundation. I'm going to get it lit. So butcher paper comes in pretty handy for this stuff. It's kind of a cool trick. If you actually cook barbecue a lot and you have greasy butcher paper leftover from wrapping briskets, I like to save that stuff, and I like to use that to start my fires. But if you don't, a little oil-- I prefer grapeseed-- works pretty good too. Rub together. Got some nice oily papers here. Just...

The art of smoke and fire

Once a backyard hobbyist, Aaron Franklin is now the James Beard Award-winning owner of Franklin Barbecue, where the line for his famous smoked brisket is hours long. Now the Central Texas barbecue specialist teaches you his meticulous low and slow process for mouth-watering ribs, pork butt, and brisket. With perfectly seasoned cuts and optimal temperatures, you'll learn to handle an offset smoker like a true pitmaster.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I learned a bit about Brisket and Tx BBQ that was nice to know. It was good to hear that others have grown up with fire and meat and been drawn to the art of BBQ.

Good tips regarding triming the brisket and cook times. Also pit / fire management. I'm cooking for family and friends and wanted to improve my skills.

I have been looking to set up my own BBQ restaurant for about 10 years. We have been in the hospitality business for over 30 and finally have the right venue to add a BBQ food outlet on the back of the restaurant/pub we now have. This Masterclass from Aaron was quite simply the best information and education I needed to give me the confidence to open it to the public. many thanks, Peter

I learned a ton from Aaron but I didn’t realize how little I knew about wood and fire management! Well worth the Masterclass for those eye opening tidbits. That, and I realized I need to learn to weld.

Comments

A fellow student

So interesting and insightful. Simple concepts making such huge differences in the outcome of your meal.

nathan C.

7am - "this is a good time to go get a beer"...................Yeah, I think I am going to like this class.

Zack F.

Great! If you slow it down to 0.5. Aaron sounds like he had too many beers waiting for his fire to get to temp. :)

John

Great lesson, filled with info that comes with experience and passion. Can't wait to try these techniques.

Ryan K.

Any idea what the outcome will be on food using maple, it’s what I have available around me.

Ryan K.

Great lesson on fire building, I went right outside and started experimenting with the techniques. Very helpful and gave me an understanding of just what I was trying to accomplish.

TE O.

Anyone catch what kind of wood? Watched twice and read the PDF, no mention...

Nick B.

WOW! I had no idea there was so much building and maintaining a fire. I mean I do OK, but now I feel like I can really ROCK my off set smoker at home!

Tim C.

I am pretty much a rookie myself when it comes to Texas style BBQ and offset cookers but I have been a firebug since I was kid. I use a very cheap 100$ smoker from amazon. Very thin metal, not much heat retention and rather difficult to control under cold/wind/rainy conditions(so standard conditions here in Germany). The biggest problem I think is the very small firebox. A small fire always has more difficulties to keep itself hot than a big fire would have. This is also because your coal bed at the bottom is much smaller than the one in the video. So with thin walls and cold outside conditions a lot of the fires energy goes into its surrounding. So since a lot of people seem to have similar problems I wanted to share some of the tricks that I have found to be working for me. I definitely preheat my wood on the firebox. I always got a couple of logs on the fire box to be able to choose one and have it warmed up so the fire doesn't have to put so much energy into igniting the new log.(also I like to imagine that all those logs insulate the cooker at least a little bit :D ) I also add single pieces of charcoal to the coal bed from time to time if it gets especially hard to control the heat. Didn't know about the burying of logs in the coal bed to lower temperature. Also learned that I have to move my temperature gauge. ^^ Love the lessons so far, love the love for fire as well ;)

Akicita

At 13:05 it is suggested to add a lit piece of wood and let the flame "jump" over. Would it be feasible to have a separate fire pit or fire box to "pre-fire" the wood to a good burn before adding it to the smoker firebox?