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eolson's Achievements

  1. Girlfriend bought me a KJ Charcoal Basket for Valentine's Day (LOVE that woman!) and it is a game changer. If you don't have one, get one. I'm using the old fire grate plate as a trivet.
  2. Part of my issue with the daisy wheel is that it is lopsided and difficult to close all the way. Poor QA in the manufacturing I'd say. But over time I've learned to work with it. I plan to eventually replace it with the KJ Control Top. Buying some other things first, like a charcoal basket.
  3. Hi everyone. I have had an absolute blast learning to use the KJ! I like it. And like anything, the more you practice, the better you get. I cooked some ribs this weekend that were so good I almost cried. But back to the original question: Is ceramic worth it? In my opinion, No. There is nothing wrong with it, but I don't think ceramic is better than the metal Akorn, except it will probably last longer. I don't think that is a good argument for buying ceramic because it costs at least twice as much, so when the Akorn rusts out you can just buy another one and still come out ahead. I don't think anyone will disagree that the metal Akorn heats up faster than a ceramic grill, but which is more efficient with charcoal is something of a debate.
  4. Hi All. Glad this topic is getting some traffic. :-) I'm making progress. I recently cooked another pork butt low and slow. I loaded up on the lump and it went much better. Thank you all for that suggestion. Again, the taste was outstanding. Unfortunately, it took a crazy amount of time to complete: 7 pounds -- 13.5 hours. I even went with a higher temp, 250°F, rather then the 225°F I usually go with. A charcoal basket is definitely in my future as the plate with holes clogged up with ash. I think that might be part of the problem. On the upside, I was able to set the daisy wheel to maintain a relatively constant temp. I suppose practice makes perfect, but I still hate that thing, and will probably end up replacing it with something akin to a control top. More to come.
  5. Good advice on loading up more charcoal. I didn't put in as much, having seen some Youtube videos saying ceramic grills burned so efficiently that they didn't need much charcoal. I will experiment with that. I wish I had a charcoal basket. That's another thing I thought all KJ models came with now. I think I might end up purchasing a lot of extras. :-) I'll keep at it and let you know how it goes.
  6. Hi All. Wanted to revisit this thread and let everyone know that I purchased a KJ Classic I--finally. (Sorry that took so long.) I did a lot of research and apparently ended up confused because many of the features I was expecting are not included in the Classic I, but I get it: Kamado Joe needs to do something to distinguish between the models and justify the price differences, and I opted for the economy model. The daisy wheel was biggest disappointment. I thought all KJ models now came with the newer control top, but alas. I purchased it through Lowes with a store pick up. It took about 4 days. It was amazingly simple to put together. I thought I must have skipped something because the whole process took about 15 minutes. I bought it on a Thursday, assembled it, and did a break-in burn. I cooked ribs Friday, chicken Saturday, pork shoulder Sunday. The following weekend I cooked a bunch of pizza. Before I answer the question, "Is ceramic worth it?" I want to share the experiences I've had so far. Here is a summary: 1. Everything tasted DELICOUS! 2. Everything took longer to cook than expected--MUCH longer. 3. I had some trouble keeping constant temperatures. This may be due to number 4. 4. This thing burned through charcoal like it was paper. The charcoal issue was puzzling. I had to add charcoal twice to the pork shoulder cook because the fire burned itself out before I realized what was happening. The result was a 7-pound roast took 16 hours, and an entire bag of charcoal, to finish. The Akorn was quite efficient with charcoal, and I expected the ceramic KJ to be even better, but so far that hasn't been my experience. I realize this could have been due to sub-par charcoal, so I bought a more expensive brand, but I experienced the same results. Any tips? The biggest surprise was the pizza cook. I know how to do this because I've cooked pizza on the Akorn many times, but I had problems on the KJ. The fire was burning well, the temperature was dialed in to a steady 500 degrees, and I left it alone for almost an hour to make sure everything was heated up properly. The first pizza went on, cooked in about 8 minutes and looked and tasted amazing. The second pizza went on, cooked in 15 minutes and looked and tasted amazing. The third pizza went on, cooked in 20 minutes… you see where this is going? By the fifth pizza, it took over 30 minutes to cook. That's ridiculous. I realize every time I open the lid I lose heat, but the fire was blazing the whole time, and I don't understand why the internal temperature didn't recover. I'm comparing this to my experience with the Akorn, so maybe my expectations are off, but the Akorn would heat back up in a couple minutes. I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions for how I can remedy these problems.
  7. I have a Chargriller Akorn that has been good to me. I learned (and it has been a long process) how to barbeque everything on it: steaks, brisket, pizzas (LOTS of pizzas), ribs, chicken, fish, pork shoulders, and on the list goes. It has been wonderful. Despite keeping my Akorn covered, it is at the end of its life, rusted through. That's the downside of a metal grill. I knew this would eventually happen and my plan was to "upgrade" to a Kamado Joe. However, now I'm second guessing myself because for the price of one Kamado Joe Classic III (which I really wanted to try), I could buy five Akorns. Is a ceramic kamado grill worth the price? Does a ceramic firebox make a noticeable difference? How long do they last? I'm really torn.
  8. I just did a 7 pounder over the weekend. It took 14.5 hours. It was worth the wait though. I've done several over the past two years on my Akorn and the shortest time was about 9 hours. They're all about the same size/weight and they all cook differently. I've learned to put them on anywhere from midnight to 3 in the morning and just let them go. It usually takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get the fire at a stable temperature, and every time I'm still shocked that I can hold it constant for so long. This weekend it was 225F. The last time it was 300F. The take away is, it's hard to plan a picnic around your Kamado. As you've read there are lots of different techniques for building the fire. Mine is admittedly goofy, but it works for me. I put a big round rock (about 7 inches in diameter) right in the middle of my charcoal grate. Then I stick an old paper towel tube down to the bottom. I fill lump all around the rock and the tube and push it down a little to make the charcoal feels relatively solid. I add apple wood chunks on top. Then I drop half a paraffin cube (a whole one seems to get things too hot to fast) down the tube. Pull out the tube, light the cube and away we go. This weekend it seemed there were two stalls: one at 160 and another at 180. I just couldn't seem to push past 180 so I increased the temperature to 275-300 for an hour and a half and that did it. It took me several tries to get one right so don't feel bad if your first one didn't work. Try starting it in the middle of the night instead of the morning. When you wake up, half your neighbors will be out in your backyard in their pajamas drinking beer and inhaling deeply. It's more than grilling or smoking. It's dinner and a show all day long.
  9. That looks fabulous! Unfortunately, my first low and slow was a disaster and I hope you will all offer some tips and help me figure out what went wrong. I didn't take any pictures because... well... it was embarrassing. My setup is a CG Akorn. I have a Weber grate with about a 12x12, half-inch thick, square piece of slate as the heat diffuser. I know this setup works because I have mastered the art of pizza making. But for this low and slow I attempted to cook a boston butt. I put rub on it, wrapped it and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Loaded the grill with lump charcoal this morning, started it up, adjusted it until it stabilized at about 250-275 degrees. I rely on an oven thermometer to track the internal temperature so I know the temp reading was accurate. Put the roast fat side up on a rack in one of those disposable foil roasting pans to catch the drippings. Put the whole thing on the cast iron grate and off we go. Two hours in I checked it and there was so much fat in the pan it was close to running over the sides so I used my bulb baster to drain it out. Closed it up and checked it every hour for the next 4 hours. I was really proud that I was able to regulate the temperature so well. At hour six I stuck it with a thermometer. It was at 190 degrees. It didn't look even close to done. There was no bark on it, the fat cap was still very thick and wobbly, but the temperature was right. I stuck it in a few other places and the temperature was the same. I've cooked lots of roasts in an oven and I follow the rule that the temperature is more important that how it looks so I took it off and wrapped it in foil and let it sit for an hour. I took the bone out and I cut into one end, but there was so much fat it was unbelievable. I managed to work around it and get to the center, but the meat there was too tough to eat. It was a complete waste. The carnivorous varmints in the forest behind my house will dine well tonight. All the fat and the toughness make me suspect I should have cooked it much longer, but with the temperature on target I really don't know where I went wrong. Did I just get a bad piece of pork? I'm sure there are about 17 things that could have gone wrong and apparently they all did. Help?
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