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  1. I had similar problems. Some quick pointers which got me over the hump: Temperature. Akorns are generally a bit finicky about staying at 225, but mine has been quite happy at 250 and I think I get a better product out of it. Akorns are steel and thus reflective instead of a giant heat sink like a ceramic, which makes them crazy efficient but also makes them harder to maintain at super low temps. Don't worry so much about 225. I've done 225 for a long time but tbh it wasn't worth the trouble. Nowadays I look for clear smoke and aim for 230-250 and I don't care if it fluctuates up to 280. Fire building: Lay out the bottom of the firepit with large chunks first. I use a mix of big chunks of charcoal and wood, since I subscribe to the "wood on the bottom" school. This helps you maintain clear air channels throughout the cook, which prevents the fire going out. Mine went out for almost a week before I started doing this. Put your little pieces on top of your large chunk bed without choking it off. Alcohol starters: Use 91% alcohol minimum, as 70% tends to put itself out. Use ONE for starting a low/slow, right down in the middle of the pile with access to that air channel you built before. Akorns are too efficient, so you want to have a very small surface area fire or else it'll run out of control and you'll never calm it down. Pans: Don't use a water pan for humidity as you won't need it. I will often put in an empty pan on top of my deflector just to prevent burning fat screwing up my smoke profile, but a water pan just messed up my chamber temperatures and could actually make the product soggy. Kamados maintain high humidity by themselves. Spritzing: Minimize any time the lid is open, so only do this if you absolutely must and don't keep the lid open. Since Akorns are over-efficient, every time you open the lid the extra oxygen has a disproportionate effect on your fire. This is what I dislike most about the Akorn, which I like a lot otherwise. If you insist on spritzing and such, then you probably want to shoot for 220 instead of 250 as your control temperature or baby your vents before and after opening, although babying your vents leads to neuroses.
  2. Fat up is common in stick burners, where the top of the chamber is naturally hotter than the bottom and the firebox is off to the side. I have switched to fat down on kamados since that's where the heat source is and like my results (better bark, and drying isn't a problem with prime cuts). I also trim aggressively. However I know very good cooks who do it fat up, so there's no magical rule one way or the other. I personally go with fat toward the hottest part of the chamber.
  3. Costco carries full packer primes, though they're up to $3.99/lb from usual $2/99-$3.29 at Maplewood. The quality of the brisket is one of the only reasons I still have a Costco membership.
  4. I've had briskets that look like this. Sometimes it's just a sloppy cutting job at the plant, sometimes it's just a weirdly shaped cut with a significant difference between the flat and point. It hasn't been a problem for me. I have sometimes cut those myself getting a big chunk of deckle fat out. As long as you don't do something like pack it full of rub like turkey stuffing you should be fine. Since it's your first brisket don't get too hung up on it. Every brisket is different. I trim pretty aggressively but for your first err on the side of leaving too much fat on.
  5. Tip Top Temp (mechanical vent controller)
  6. All veggies including cauliflower soak up a lot of smoke and can get bitter quickly. I've taken to completely foiling them, or only cooking them on clean burned-off charcoal or lid-open (wok/shishkebab). Great find on the $70 Akorn though!
  7. Had similar problems when I started with full size Akorn. This is what worked for me: KEEPING THE FIRE LIT: When you build your fire, make sure you have an air channel from the bottom up. This means put your wood chunks and biggest charcoal pieces on the bottom of the firebox, especially in the center. When you put in the little pieces over this, make sure you don't clog up the air channel. This was a big problem for me at the beginning because I had a big bag of tiny pieces of lump and didn't know any better. I also like to keep the top vent a little more open than the bottom to keep a light vacuum happening to draw in more air. If the top is too shut you can snuff your fire. Be careful here; the Akorn is so efficient that you're dealing in millimeters or less of vent gradations. SMOKING TEMPS: Be more conservative than you think you should be when deciding when to close the lid. I know there are a lot of videos of people starting eggs and KJs with happy crackling fires with the lid open, but steel kamados reflect heat instead of soaking. If your starting fire is too big you will never wrestle it down to smoking temps. Do some practice runs. I find things work for me if I start one 91% alcohol cotton ball in the middle and close the lid after about 10 mins or less, vents open until I'm halfway to target temp (around 120ish), then keep shutting vents as temp rises until I reach my target temp of around 250. I like to let the grill stabilize at my temp for about half an hour or more, which is coincidentally also a good way to burn off the VOCs and get the kind of smoke you want for cooking. Finally keep a log of your experiments. This helps with building your fire as much as it does for cooking. I kept one on this forum when I first got my Akorn and ran into a bunch of problems like you're having, and found documenting my problems was a great way to figure out what works, as well as getting some great advice.
  8. I might spray it with some ACV or whatever I've been using to spritz but since I use paper adding broth would be a waste. By the time it's done the thing is swimming in fat anyway. Moisture has never been a problem in a kamado as opposed to a stick burner.
  9. I wrap in butcher paper once the bark is a reddish mahogany color and doesn't fall apart when I scratch it with a fingernail. This usually happens during or right after the (first) stall. Comes out very moist at the edge of falling apart with tacky non-crunchy bark if I time everything right.
  10. Regarding stacking: when I started with my Akorn I had constant problems trying to maintain low temps without the fire going out. These problems went away when I started building the pile with large pieces/wood chunks on the grate, smaller stuff on top of that, to maintain an air channel. If you're using lump you shouldn't ever have to clear ashes mid-cook, plus it's possibly a fire hazard if the ash catcher has live embers hidden inside.
  11. I brine chicken legs for smoking but that's mostly because I tend to take my temps higher than average and brining is an overcooking insurance policy. No more than a couple hours for small pieces. However I'm admittedly not a great chicken cook so I'm sure I could go without with some practice. Back when I cooked turkeys I would brine those since I just find them to be uninteresting otherwise. Overnight in a food grade bucket. I don't buy preinjected meats.
  12. I haven't encountered this; actually I found water pans made everything a bit mushy. Part of that is how you're cooking (temp, how long) and what kind of stuff you start with. Can you add some specifics?
  13. Fahrenheit, since at 400 Celsius (about 750F) the fats cook right out of the cast iron and you have to reseason. Personally on my Akorn I first did a pretty hard burn at around 550-600F to burn out resudial oils (especially that gross stuff they put on the Weber grate I used on the lower tabs), then cooled it down to around 350 and seasoned with canola oil all over and some tallow on the iron.
  14. Maplewood had plenty in yesterday at $499. I'd grab one to replace my Akorn but I figure I can fight with it for another couple years before it rusts out.
  15. Where do you find prime points? I never see the point by itself out here, just flats and full packers.
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