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Ogopogo

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Ogopogo last won the day on July 29

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About Ogopogo

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  • Location:
    Saint Paul
  • Interests
    Yes
  • Grill
    Akorn

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  1. I'd agree except that I found rendering tallow to be a lot messier than I expected and because I'm not good at canning some water got in the bottom of my first jar and I had to toss it due to mold by the time it was half finished. It was great for frying before it went bad though.
  2. I've been playing with tallow wrapping since I found it useful to rescue an overcooked too-barky overnight cook and I have some observations that might be useful to folks trying the same thing. Tallow has become the "next big thing," at least for a while until it gets replaced by foil boating or whatever. I don't think it's 100% necessary, especially if you use prime beef, but it provides some extra insurance if you do it right. I start my brisket fat down on an Akorn with a heat spreader. I prefer low and slow so I ride either 225F or 250F. The first thing that may be different is I don't wrap to push through the stall. I actually want the stall to last as long as it should last to get a better fat render. Last one I made (2 days ago) the stall was at 161F for around 4 hours. Once it starts heating up again, I start checking for when the bark is done. That's when I can't push it around with a fingernail. The I let it go more. I want the exterior to get a little too hard for eating because it's going to soften in the wrap. I then wrap in paper, with a few tablespoons of tallow spread around where the meat side makes contact with the paper. After it's wrapped, I put it back on, but fat side up. This is a small refinement that I find helps as long as the bark is nice and tough. The meat side cooks like a confit in the extra tallow, plus the tallow that still renders down from the fat cap. This last part isn't a lot since a lot of fat has already rendered out during the fat-down cooking process and I trim fat aggressively. The tough bark will also soften while getting braised in the fat. This will make the rub coat a little more fragile but I find it's worth it. If this has taken too long I can push my heat to 250 or 275 at this phase. When it probes soft around 200-205 I pull it out. Instead of the old foil-towel-cooler I discovered my Oster electric oven (maybe this one: https://www.amazon.com/Oster-TSSTTVFDDG-Digital-French-Stainless/dp/B014D9LBCY, I forget; bought it at Costco a couple years ago) has a dehydrate setting that maintains 150F with a 6 hour timer. I put the wrapped brisket in a large foil tray in there for 4 to 12 hours depending on when service is. Whatever resting technique you use is fine as long as you let it get down to around 180F first and it holds over 140F for at least 3-4 hours. I started doing this with home-rendered tallow, but I've switched to that Wagyu stuff from Chicago everyone on Youtube shills for. It's more convenient and I think the fatty acid composition is way better for this application. It's also got a lower melting point and better mouthfeel than muscle fat. I think it might be kidney fat but I'm not sure. Result: much moister flat, better mouth feel overall, more "saucy" bark. I used to struggle with the flat sometimes getting too dry; this has ceased to be a problem. The extra fat in the wrap has also allowed me to get way more aggressive with trimming. The 18 pounder I made two days ago with this technique I actually cut out a large portion of the deckle, leaving enough of it to keep the point attached, and I got a more even cook with less annoying seam fat while not sacrificing moisture.
  3. I've easily saved way more than $25 on ruined barbecue thanks to this site. Sent.
  4. Update: So not a formula solution, but I got this curve in a test using my "tower of inefficiency." This is using the following as a heat deflector array, from the bottom up: Weber charcoal grill over the fire pit, a 14" corderite pizza stone, a triangular steel heat spreader (just to make space), a 15" corderite pizza stone, and a 14" cake pan lined with aluminum foil as a grease trap. This was actually an idea I had to increase the air gap around the larger pizza stone but I think the increase in thermal mass gives me enough of a heat sink to normalize performance using the BGE PID presets. Temp went up to 230F, and I was still worried since the fan didn't kill itself at 225, but it started falling immediately afterwards. Temp is now 227F with fan duty cycle at 5%. This kinda sorta confirms my theory that the Auber isn't really tuned for a reflective cooker like the Akorn, but for a heat soaking ceramic. It also seems to solve my immediate problem. I still haven't heard back from Auber on the PID numbers but I can work with this for now.
  5. This is a test running with a reduced I value (I=1000) and everything else set to the BGE preset values, targeting 350F for chicken. What happened here so far is the device ramped up to target temp and again failed to shut the fan down completely at or near that temp, so the pit rose to 371F before slowly dipping back down to 337, which I thought meant the fire was out. It started rising again (right now at 344 so I'm going to set up for chicken). What seems to be happening is that the device doesn't brake enough on the way to the target temp, overshoots by 20 degrees, chokes the fire on the relatively long (half hour or so) drop, and IF there are any live embers left it will bring the temp back up to target in a few minutes, if the fire's not dead yet. The problem here is I and other kamado users like building with wood on the bottom of the pit to clean up the smoke and use it up while the meat can take it on, and this extra long and chokey start tends to eat all the wood up too quickly, or else makes me start over if the fire dies. I haven't been able to change this behavior by changing the PID values. One idea I had was to simply target temp about 25 degrees below my real target and then reset the target temp once the food is on. This would probably work but it's a stupid workaround for a device with enough of a microprocessor inside to handle automatically. Note that Auber also makes a kit based on a Raspberry Pi, which I may want to look into IF it can do things like run a small web server instead of relying on an app and IF I can redefine the startup heat curves like I want. Hopefully I get some help from the Auber guys this week, since other than this startup problem the unit's been solid and reliable. Time to make some jerk chicken.
  6. I set to half-moons which is less than I normally use because of the presence of the blower. Normally I set up for negative pressure where the top is slightly more open than half-moons and the bottom vent is almost closed so this is weird for me. I didn't notice additional fuel consumption when using the blower. I might have had extra ash in the pit from the blower moving air through the ash pan but not enough to block airflow. I used this on an overnight brisket this weekend and it turned out well, though I thought the smoke flavor was weaker than usual. I set up with the wood on the bottom right around the ignition point, so maybe the blower consumes the wood faster than normal. I might have to start spreading the wood around the coal pile.
  7. I asked about the D parameter modification but the reply I got seemed to indicate messing with the values too much can cause weird behavior. P is the most mutable. He said I might try modifying the integral by 20% but not sure why I would want to do that. I think the device works pretty well, just not tuned for the Akorn specifically because it's so oxygen-finicky. I'm about 4 hours in on this test burn and it's fairly steady, just oscillating a little which may be because I changed the P value. I think actually if I had a BGE I would only need one preset. The stepped timed programmability is of limited usefulness to me.
  8. This is almost 2 hours in at P=90. To be honest this isn't much different from my first runs at P=45 except the pit temp just increased from 218F, indicating the fire isn't dead. Still not ideal but in theory if you waited 30 to 45 minutes from ignition to thin blue smoke, the pit temp would go down from the mass of meat and start the fan sooner. Gonna let this run a little more. I contacted auber about this and at this point I'm getting referred to a senior PID eng, who is out this week. Edit: 10 hour plot to show the beginning.
  9. I picked up the SYL-2615 as it's on sale until they run out of them (around $150, about the price difference between a normal Akorn and the Auto Akorn). It's more sensitive than my Thermpro remote, which makes it a little picky about temp differences between different spots in the Akorn. The biggest problem I found was that when you start up the fire, wait for a few minutes, then close it up to let the fan bring the temp up, it tends to overshoot a lot, which results in a 30 minute or longer period of no fan while the temp lowers, which in turn resulted in a dead fire. I wrote to Auber about this, and they recommended trying to default settings for the BGE, which was what I had started with. problem is, the Akorn is not a BGE. Akorns are crazy efficient and crazy oxygen-sensitive, as anyone who's done low and slow on an unmodded Akorn knows. However, going through the troubleshooting manual as recommended, I found that the P value (in PID) on the settings page in the app is the difference between your current temp and the target temp where the fan starts to brake. The default value on the BGE settings is 45, meaning if your target temp is 225, the fan is running full blast until 180. I know that when manually creeping up the temperature, I start closing vents around 125 at the most or I could have a runaway fire. In the troubleshooting manual they have the following picture: The first pic is what's supposed to happen. What actually happens is I set for 225, the pit overshot to 265, then slowly went down and down and down, never recovering because the fire was out. Now look at the middle pic, which is a minor inconvenience you get when using a high P value. This is what I want to happen. The default P value is 45 so I set it to 90. At this point my P=90 test burn has been running half an hour, pit now at 233 (out of 225) and the fan around 20%. This is still way too high especially since I'm already past the target temp. It looked promising when the fan started out at 85% instead of 100% at 80 degrees but I'm not sure what's going on now. Will update. For reference my Akorn's top vent is sealed up with red RTV (after I burned out two O-rings) and on the deflector position I have a Weber charcoal grate, a triangular steel diffuser and a 15" corderite pizza stone. Charcoal is a mix of B&B and Western lump with a couple pieces of apple wood tossed in near the bottom. Top vent at 0.75 (half moons only).
  10. The upgraded model apparently supports push notifications. It's briefly on sale (just looked). Might have considered this one if the sale was on when I ordered but I'm okay with the 2615 for now. https://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=14_100_123&products_id=962 Getting a little off track here, still interested in the performance of the Akorn Auto.
  11. Doing a test burn now. Seems pretty stable. I haven't played much with notifications but there are other apps that will keep your phone alive depending on what app is in the foreground. Picked up a small brisket I'll try to overnight with it this weekend if my test burns go all right.
  12. Burning fat is a component flavor for some dishes and a key component in UDS cooks. If you don't like it put an (empty) drip pan under the food. I have a round cake pan I keep around for this purpose.
  13. I have the same experience although it does creep up or down and require some fiddling once in a while. My concern is overnight cooks; I've had the Akorn spike overnight causing some panicky fixes when I woke up, and once I had it hold 208 overnight which is cool but meant none of the water was evaporating. I do enough overnight cooks to want a controller I think.
  14. Not sure but I've seen a few posts elsewhere asking about swapping the bottom section out for manual vent mode which makes me think it's hard to manually control the intake. I actually did buy a replacement bottom section from Char-Griller since that seems to be rusting out first and it was around $50.
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