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Everything posted by Ogopogo

  1. FWIW it's not necessary to do briskets at 225; actually, lots of posters on here prefer 275, which is just before you get into hot & fast. I like to shoot for 250, with the idea that I don't care about temp changes from 225-275. On the Akorn in particular, it's harder to hold 225 without some modification just because it's much more efficient than most kamados and so the tiny fire required for 225 has a tendency to die out. The counterbalance to this is that you'll use way less charcoal. My last brisket took about 16 hours to finish, started with a full box of Kamado Joe XL Big Block, and I guesstimate I used maybe 15-20% of it.
  2. I haven't done a pork butt yet on my Akorn (just seem to prefer brisket these past few years) but I used to rub as heavily as possible, sometimes marinating the butt pre-rub in fruit juice, and cook it the whole time in a pan with a wire rack to keep it out of the liquid. After pulling, I sat the butt to rest/cool and separated the fat out of the pan liquid to discard. Then I put the butt back into the pan without the rack and pulled it there, added any extra rub I might have left over, then put it back on the smoker covered tight in foil to steam in the jus for 30m or so, like a burnt ends process. IIRC the skimmed jus in the pan and a little extra rub was enough without adding sauce at this point, but I have to admit not liking sugared rubs or sauces so I tend not to use sauce when finishing.
  3. The actual Akorn gaskets are great, probably the best thing on them from a design standpoint. Pinch them around to puff them up a bit and look for spots where the metal pins might have come out of the housing, causing a leak. I never had to do any actual mods on my Akorn for leaking until I burnt out the top O-ring a couple of times and just sealed it up with RTV. Mostly the Akorn is just a bitch to control compared to ceramics. You'll definitely learn a lot about laying a proper fire and fine vent setting. Meantime for initial sealing, my favorite mod is to cook a whole lot of greasy burgers.
  4. So I picked up some cheap ($2.99/lb) corned points at the supermarket, figuring I'd like to try to turn it into pastrami. I know the last stage at a lot of great delis I used to frequent is steaming. Now I know the kamado is a moist environment and I never use water in my drip pan for regular briskets as it just mushes up the bark, but what's the best way to finish a pastrami? Foil wrap after the crust sets? Add water to the pan to turn the chamber into a steamer? Some combination? Or is it totally unnecessary? FWIW my plan is to desalinate the point (they're only around 3 lbs each so shouldn't take long), trim fat cap if necessary, rub with mostly pepper and coriander, smoke with apple around 250 until the bark sets, and then... well, whatever seems right to finish up. Thanks.
  5. I don't know, but a similar thing happens at the end of cooks. My only guess is that as the meat gets hot and the exhaust heats, it's tricking the TTT into thinking the ambient temp is hotter as well so it opens up to maintain a temp difference. Maybe it's the amount of steam in the exhaust since the stall started about when the alarm went off. I can't answer for sure since I don't have the gear to measure enough points during a test run.
  6. Started another cook last night. This time I had a 17 lb brisket, but I trimmed a LOT of fat away so it's about the same size as the last one. I was thinking of bringing the cooker up to temp before adding the TTT, but the plate hanger is a little finicky and I didn't want to wrestle with it on a hot cooker. Tip: the plate hanger legs get bent out quite easily with normal use, and can require some bending inwards to catch the lip of the vent again. Laid out fire as normal, brought cooker up to about 270 and stabilized without meat. Added meat, dropped the grate temp/TTT stable temp to about 210 so I manually adjusted back to around 250. Things went okay. I got woken up 5 hours later by my grate temp alarm exceeding 285 so I readjusted and went back to sleep. It's still cooking now, in the stall at 154-157 for (as far as I can tell) the past 5-6 hours. I opened up the bottom vent another mm and adjusted the top a bit and it's holding at 252 now. Not ready for wrapping quite yet. I'm finding the device is REALLY good at readjusting the Akorn back down to a set temp after opening the lid, which is another big problem with the Akorn. I'm still having to chase temps a little bit, but less than I normally do.
  7. I've seen pictures of those lines. I'm not interested in standing in a line right next to a bunch of strangers coughing on each other right now. Good on them for letting the seniors in early though.
  8. Not using a PID (currently figuring out the TTT) but I ran my Akorn for a couple of years with zero mods. Recently had to seal the top since I kept melting O-rings, so I used some RTV and noticed a serious difference in stability and low temp holding without fire snuffing. It seems any sealing mods seem to accomplish improved stability and flow control. I find that as long as the middle/bottom of the fire is laid with big chunks of charcoal and wood with a central channel and the little bits are scattered out to the sides they don't seem to matter; heck most of the time they won't even catch unless I'm high-temp wokking or something. If all the charcoal you have is gravel then it might be a problem.
  9. Kinda wish I had a Restaurant Depot membership now to see if they're better stocked, especially with restaurants being hit pretty hard right now.
  10. Picked up another brisket today; stores may be out of TP and canned soup but plenty of stuff you need to cook, which is a sad commentary in itself. Will work on it this week and see if I can duplicate the problem or if it was a one-off. Also cleaned off a fair bit of gunk from the TTT in detergent and water so there shouldn't be any risk of sticking.
  11. Do you mean the weird temp drop after adding the protein? If you could describe it I'd appreciate it. I'm in contact with the manufacturer and they're trying to help me figure out what's going on so some triangulation may help. Thanks.
  12. Chamber temp measured using a grate level probe; I set it at least 2" away from the protein and still over the diffuser. I would say probe position might be a thing to consider except this is how I've always placed probes and haven't encountered a temp change like this before when adding briskets between 12 and 20 lbs straight from the fridge. Next time I'll check the exhaust temp; good idea. 15-25 degree swings is fine with me. Without a TTT I set for 250 expecting 225-275 swings. This was the most surprising thing; I expect a climb at the end normally, but not so drastic. Without the TTT the spikes I get are from opening the lid for wrapping/replacing and the resulting increased burning surface area. In this case I could observe the TTT valve opening and closing to increase combustion while the ambient temperature did not change.
  13. Liking it a little less now, but still experimenting... Checked the burn pattern from the previous smoke. I had filled up the chamber and put about 8 chunks of post oak and apple in the bottom. For that 12 hour-ish smoke I figure I'd used about 20% of the available fuel and only caught 3 chunks of wood. For the next cook I moved all the wood toward the center of the charcoal grate so they'd all catch. I got another brisket and overnighted again. This one came in at about 16 pounds pre-trim (the last one was 12.5). Stabilized at 250 empty then added the meat. This time the chamber temp dropped to 180; I went out and looked and saw that the valve was closed. This sorta jibes with the temp drop the first time, but it doesn't make any sense since if the chamber temp went down because of the thermal mass of the meat, the valve should in theory open more to achieve a bigger delta between the interior and exterior. In any case I had to fiddle with it to hold around 250. EDIT: Rethinking this the math actually works out to the TTT trying to re-establish the same delta between ambient and chamber; I meant a bigger delta between the ambient and the new chamber temperature. The next day as the meat and the exterior heated up the targeted temperature kept climbing, to over 300F. I had to adjust it to keep it under control, which defeats the purpose of the device. It's possible the device is getting punked by the temperature of the exterior shell as the sun goes away and comes back, but it's more likely that there's some sort of recalibration happening when a large thermal mass is added. It might also just not work as well on heavily insulated cookers as opposed to Weber kettles, which is what the thing was designed for in the first place.
  14. I know some folks with fan controllers and I'd say there are plusses and minuses either way. In this case you're right that an accurate sensor and a triggered firing system is the only way to control based on grate level temp overnight, and fans can also stoke dying coals. However, the TTT is cheaper, doesn't consume power, won't die if the batteries or AC line do, and isn't subject to firmware errors or electronics degradation. I still like it and will keep playing with it. I think maybe I wouldn't have run into this issue if i wasn't so worried about slowing down phase 1 of the cook and just stuck to my normal brisket temps around 250-275 Also, I also just sealed up the top vent with RTV after burning out my second O-ring, which I'm sure contributed to being able to hold 208F. Had I not done that I think my fire might have choked completely, ruining the meat instead of leaving it wet.
  15. Maybe a little OT, but last year I never saw the roadshow on the schedule for my local Costco (Maplewood, MN), and it was just there one day when I showed up. Has anyone else ever seen the roadshow appear at a Costco but not be on the schedule, and how would I possibly find out if this was the case this year? Thanks.
  16. Leaving the lid open for an extended period might make your grill sensor drop a lot for a while, but all the extra oxygen would make your fire take off. I second/third the idea of a misplaced probe. With a drop that severe I'd even suspect the cold food came into contact with the probe. 6kg of pork ribs is a lot of meat. It's remotely possible that if they weren't placed correctly (with air between them) that they could impede air flow and choke your fire.
  17. Picked up a Tip Top Temp and a plate hanger a couple of weeks ago to try and deal with the Akorn's biggest problem, which is temperature stability. On my test burns it worked really well, holding within +-5F of my targeted temperature. I discovered that because of the exhaust choking, you have to keep the bottom vent open more than you normally would to prevent fire snuffing, which took some getting used to since normally Akorns are so oversensitive. Used it on some short chicken cooks and it worked very well. I was a bit worried about choking off the exhaust vent producing stale, creosote-ey smoke but I didn't notice any. Decided to try it on an overnight brisket, which worked okay but I discovered (or rather confirmed) one of the problems with the TTT. Because it's a bimetal coil carburetor, the opening/closing points are determined by the difference between the interior dome temperature and the outside ambient. So I set it to about 230F, figuring I wanted to cook slower than normal to avoid overcooking on a smallish 12 pounder, and went to bed. During the night the temp dropped significantly, and when I got up I found that the temp in the pit went to around 208F and held there. First though: cool, my Akorn can hold 208 now! Second thought: Water boils at 212F. Sure enough, brisket was super wet on the outside and the bark wasn't even close, though the internal temp was around 165F. I cranked it up to around 250-260 (which I planned to do anyway) and steam started billowing out like crazy. In the end I managed to save the bark, though I don't think the slow start did anything good for my smoke ring. Overall quite happy with the device, especially considering how cheap it is, but do keep in mind how the coil works and adjust accordingly.
  18. Maybe. I've always left at least 2 inches of air space on all sides if cooking 2 small butts.
  19. IME if multiple pieces of meat are touching or close together they'll act as one big mass. If there are a couple inches between them you'll get better airflow and cook time won't be as impacted, though there's always a little bit of extra time from the extra surface area.
  20. +1. Cheap, reliable, and double as quick hand//tool/moving grill part cleaners.
  21. Might be a regional thing. Most Costco's I've been to/heard of sell prime packers around $3.49-$3.99/lb (used to be cheaper sometimes). $6-7 is where they sell choice flats. It's one of the only reason I have a Costco card. (These are prices in MN.) Still sounds and looks like it came out awesome. I may have to try this method after a couple more experiments I've got on the back burner.
  22. $6.95/lb crikey that seems like a lot for Costco. Still the results are impressive. I haven't heard about going hot until the stall and then finishing low; will have to check that out. How would you compare the gelatin render with a low/slow?
  23. Looks good especially for your first cook on a kamado. I did a bunch of burgers and chicken legs then did a packer as soon as I thought I could hold temps so I can relate. Is that rosemary in the rub? 11 hours is very fast for a 17 pounder at 250F but I've had similar cooks sometimes.
  24. Acrid flavor is either too much wood, creosote dripping on the food from the inside lid, (rarely) a grease fire, or putting the food on too early before the smoke has a chance to clear. Usually it's too much wood or, more commonly, that last one. There are lots of videos and articles about this, but when I hit my target temperature I hold it there until (A) the smoke stops being thick and billowy and takes on a bluish or clear color, and (2) if I hold my hand in the smoke and smell it (safer than just sticking my head in a smoke cloud), it smells good. Like something you want to eat, not a burning tire. One chunk of hickory with pork is a good place to start. Sounds like things are going well now. I think if you fill up the firebox you could take a slow burn test very long in that cooker.
  25. That was unexpected but explains the temp drop after 2 hours. I think you've got things about dialed in now. FWIW I've broken a pizza stone and a foiled clay flowerpot base, but they were sitting on top of a grate so they didn't kill my fire the same way. I switched to metal deflectors and haven't destroyed one yet and haven't seen much difference in the cook.
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