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  1. I followed this system about two weeks ago and had to try it again to see if it was reproducible, and for the most part it is. Of course every cook is different and the thing about the Akorn I'm finding is it's much more finicky than ceramics about air and starting fire size. In this cook I made a mistake by letting my initial fire cover too many coals while burning off the white smoke from fresh lump, so it took an extra hour at the top to bring it from 325 down to around 280 when I finally put it on. 15.5 lb prime Costco packer, took about 2.5-3lbs off. About 10:3:1:1 pepper/salt/onion/garlic, pretty heavy rub. Full box of fresh lump and a little hickory, started about 10PM, finally wrestled it down to 280 by midnight. 18" Weber grate over the firebox, 14" foiled red clay plate on top of that, and 15" foiled pizza stone on top of that. I think this gives me the best heat diffusion without choking the fire or giving me a hot zone at the edges. No water pan. Put brisket on fat cap down 41 internal, only spritzed a couple times with water, slept through while temps went between 280 and 200 (I had to open up the vents by about a millimeter when I woke up). It stalled for a very long time around 148. Paper wrapped around 160 and let it go until probe tender and jiggly around 202. It's snowing out so I took it off and foiled it pretty quickly over the paper, towel-wrapped and put it in a cooler for 4 hours. I still can't explain why I got a smoke ring this time and not others. I've come to the conclusion that the best way to make sure I get a smoke ring is to not care. Also I know this isn't the normal way of cutting the point, but I tried it this way a couple cooks ago and just like it better: no screwing around with differing grains, easier slicing, and when you cook fat down the presentation side bark of everything is just fine.
  2. I was talking about the quality of the smoke when it hits the food. Obviously a sidebox burning splits is going to be dirtier than the firepot of a kamado burning lump after you're done, but the smoke hitting the food in an offset is "cleaner" in terms of nasty volatiles if your fire is sufficiently perky. A gas grill/oven is only cleanest if no smoke in your process/product is an acceptable tradeoff. Getting a sufficient quantity of clear/blue smoke out of a stack burning cured splits is much easier (IMO) than getting it out of a kamado; conversely an offset requires more babying and water pans, while you can walk away from a kamado for hours without thinking about it. Far as preburning I just never used it when offset cooking except to build the initial coal bed, but that was mostly using apple/white oak so the profile didn't get overpowering. Nothing to see here, just a legend is all. *submerges*
  3. I think the crux is that charcoal obviously burns cleaner than wood (unless it's Cowboy maybe), but an offset burns cleaner than a kamado due to the small hot fire pre-burning volatiles before the smoke hits the cook chamber. As far as preburning, I've never used a burn barrel in conjunction with an offset so I can't compare but I can see where it might be useful to achieve a lighter profile, or if you're using lots of very heavily-flavored wood. AFAIK the few pits I've seen smoking with mesquite always pre-burned to coals first.
  4. IME you can adjust smoke levels from barely noticeable to way overpowering in a kamado but the smoke profile is different from offsets. The main difference is with an offset you're constantly tending and feeding your fire to maintain temps and not worrying so much about the quality of your smoke (since the nasty stuff tends to get consumed before hitting the chamber), and with a kamado your struggle is to balance whatever makes an acceptable level of smoke to you with the presence of initial dirty components that don't get burned off and aren't swept past quickly via convection. The cooking experience is totally different.
  5. I think my original plan was to set up a crosshatch of splits to make a little rack but when I saw the log size I just kinda forgot. Yeah burying it under coals seems like the way to go. I think I should just shoot for 275-300, which I've done in the past with success, but it's hard to break old habits like babying a fire to hold 225. I like the Akorn but I have the same problems with it I had when I bought it: it's way too efficient to get any kind of airflow at low temps and it's super finicky about vent settings. Not sure I'm ready to invest in a ceramic yet; decent kamados seem pricey to me, but I'm a cheapskate. I've done chicken with only lump and some chips sprinkled for a little accent in the smoke profile, but I never thought of going lump-only for a brisket. Normally I use maybe 5 chunks of hickory and get a nice but light profile, which is why I bought the logs in the first place (get a longer burn time out of the wood). I'll have to get some KJ big block if I can figure out which Costco around me carries it.
  6. A while ago I picked up a bag of mini logs from Menard's. I thought they'd be the size of small splits, the kind you use for kindling big logs, and would provide an even smoke source for briskets. Turns out "mini log" means "normal log cut down just enough to get yourself into trouble." Oh well, what's the worst that could happen? Those chips on the top are just some mesquite chips I use as secondary tinder to catch from 91% alcohol cotton starters. That log is a monster and I don't think I put in enough charcoal to fully compensate for it. Initially went with pretty conservative vent settings to hold around 240 but this didn't last. Configured, 12 pounder (maybe 9 or 10 post-trimming) with SPOG rub. I didn't get many pics during the cook because I was a little busy panicking. Temps were not very consistent, and I think it's a combination of that stupid log and the cold outside. Grate temps fell initially below 200, and throughout the 13 hour cook it jumped around between 208 and 450 (!!!). A couple of times I was convinced the fire went out so I cracked open the vents by a mm or two and then things spiked in a hurry. Worse, the meat probe went to 150, then fell to 141 and stalled there for 3-4 hours, which seems pretty long for a 9-10 pounder. Then it happened again; temps rose to about 175, then stuck around 170 for an hour. I stuck my hand over the grate and it sure didn't feel hot enough; I had to let the chamber spike to a grate probe temp of 350 for the thing to finish and get probe tender. That log was smoking the whole time and I was really worried about creosote and oversmoking. Split off the point through the fat seam this time, though I didn't do it too well. The thin part of the point was too tender and the knife couldn't tell it apart from the deckle. Overall the end of the flat was a little overcooked and the bark turned out crunchier than I like, probably due to the heat spikes and being past the edge of my diffuser. Flavor was smokier than I usually like but not inedible or creosote-bitter. Point tenderness is fantastic as usual and all fat rendered correctly. I used bagged pepper instead of mortar-ground and I miss the strength of fresh cracked pepper but other said the pepper balance was perfect (maybe they don't like pepper as much as I do). I don't think this is my best brisket but it's not ruined like I had feared. At least I think I managed to solve my smoke ring problem.
  7. Ogopogo

    Search For A New Forum Begins

    As far as I can tell this is an unadulterated transcript of every FB interest group I've ever read. It gets worse the more specialized/advanced your group gets. My favorites from a CCNA study group: "Can someone explain all of networking to me?" (Complains at > 1 sentence or at a friendly link to a study resource) "What's the easiest way to cheat on the exam?" (5 versions of this every day no matter how many people get banned for it) "What is CCNA?" FB groups and Reddit have taught me about walking the fine line between helping people with ridiculous problems and telling them to go jump into the center of the sun.
  8. Ogopogo

    Smoke ring tips?

    Another thought: anyone ever use 100% wood in the Akorn? Maybe that might get it close to offset-style gas penetration?
  9. Ogopogo

    Smoke ring tips?

    I've tried putting the meat on cold: trim the night before, refrigerate, rub, refrigerate for an hour, then on at internal 40F; doesn't seem to help. I think the efficiency is just too much. As for temps I've run it at 275-295 and then at around 240-250, no real difference. Not going to go for curing salt since I think the hamminess just takes over the beef flavor when using salts as opposed to smoke-derived nitrates. I think next time I'll try to put it on as cold as I can get away with without freezing at 275 and see if that helps, along with a little more aggressive trimming. My uncle's used an Egg for at least 15 years and said last time he did a brisket he got 1/4-1/2" ring. I'll have to ask him about it but I know eggs burn a little more fuel than Akorns so it makes sense. I've never tried a reverse, but IME it's far easier to spike the temps in an Akorn than it is to lower them so it may be difficult to pull off.
  10. Ogopogo

    Keto Diet

    I've been making keto ice cream for a while; it's decent. 2 cups heavy cream, 1 can (2 cups) full fat coconut milk, about 20 little packets of Truvia (I make it less sweet than most ice creams so adjust to whatever, can also use Xylitol but it kills dogs so I don't keep it in the house), few drops of pure vanilla extract, frozen keto-friendly fruit (blackberries mostly). Mix the liquids together and dissolve the sweetener, chill for an hour in the freezer, throw it in the ice cream churn, process the berries and add them when the ice cream starts getting a little gloppy near the end of the churning. It will turn hard as a rock in the freezer afterwards because of the lack of actual sugar but it's still pretty great.
  11. Ogopogo

    dry brisket

    When I pull a brisket in paper the internal temp is usually around 203F. I find if I let it sit out (still wrapped is fine, it will still cool) until it's around 170F then wrap the paper with a crappy towel and throw it in a cooler for a couple of hours it turns out well. Around 160 and below it stops cooking and properly rests; most commercial warmers and cambros are set to hold at around 140 as I understand. As far as later slicing I don't know; a smoked brisket is best when sliced and served right away. You could put slices in a warming tray with the jus or some beef stock I suppose, though the bark will suffer. If you're talking 30 minutes I'd say just wait before carving.
  12. So far I've done a few briskets and a bunch of chicken on the Akorn in addition to high-temp cooks. Specifically on the briskets I'm nailing the probe tenderness and moisture, but there's just the barest trace of a smoke ring. I've tried using more or less wood, adding the wood before and after lighting/getting clean smoke, using a water pan or not, cooking fat up/down, doing most of the cook at 225 or 275... nothing seems to help the smoke ring reaction. My theory is that the Akorn in particular is way too efficient to produce enough CO/NO2 to fix the myoglobin. I say that because people I know who use eggs or KJs have better luck producing smoke rings, but burn way more charcoal, which makes sense. Anyone have any tips? Soak wood? (Haven't done this yet.) It's getting frustrating as I've had no problems getting a decent ring in offsets, vertical water smokers, or even a cheapo gas grill set up for two-zone. Thanks.
  13. I have this problem with the Akorn and it doesn't have much to do with the amount of unburned wood. It's just so efficient that opening the lid for even 30 seconds to a minute is enough to spread the lit part of the coals so the temp jumps up, and then it takes forever to drop. Best practices I've found are just to minimize the amount of time the lid is open, and if desperate you can shut the vents about 2 minutes before opening, then reopening vents after the lid is closed. I don't like to do the second thing often since choking coals leads to a flavor I don't like if it happens too much.
  14. Ogopogo

    dry brisket

    Hard to tell but I guess early slicing. Briskets start drying immediately when you slice, so it's usually best to slice to order (at serving time).
  15. Worth a shot; does it wind up doughy enough this way? The gloves are probably the key part in this, though maybe hose wouldn't break as easily as cheesecloth.