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MikeRobinson last won the day on June 17

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  1. As noted above, I have the Akorn Junior which comes in very handy for camping trips. Just set it on top of any convenient picnic table. Around $200 or a little less at Wal-Mart when I bought mine. The beauty of it is that the grill is both indestructible and lightweight. Plus, the Akorns have cast iron grates, which I seasoned and otherwise treat exactly like I do my many cast iron skillets. ("Nothing sticks to well-seasoned cast iron ...")
  2. And the very best thing about a Kamado is that you simply close all the vents to smother the fire, and the next morning nearly all of your charcoal is still there! Now, I must admit that for things like "hot dogs" or even "a couple of burgers" I usually just use my kitchen toaster-oven, which has a "Turbo" (convection ...) feature. This produces the same "hot air cooking" effect that is a hallmark of the Kamado process.
  3. My metal grill is an Akorn, Junior, and my Dad's is a Senior. I've never owned a ceramic grill, but both of us are by now very familiar with, and very satisfied with, our metal grills. It's really very easy to achieve whatever oven-temperature you want, and then "it just stays there." Even for hours. (As long as you don't have some other extenuating circumstance, like lots of flammable fat dropping into the fire.) Darndest thing I'd ever seen ... my "Smokey Joe" went to the yard sale instantly. I know quite a few people who have various ceramic types and I've never heard any of them tell direct-or-indirect stories about encountering cracks. Just make very sure that the grill cannot fall over, I think. Unless maybe you are shooting for extraordinary temperatures, I really can't imagine you doing anything that could "faze" a piece of ceramic.
  4. I simply put wood chips in an aluminum-foil envelope and punch a few holes in it with a fork. At the end of the smoke I have an aluminum-foil envelope full of usable charcoal. I don't think it really matters if you soak the wood chips in water. I know of other people who put solid chunks of wood or even pine cones(!) in their grills to produce smoke. It continues to amaze me just how miserly kamado grills are with fuel. I always have quite a bit of charcoal left over, even after an "all day" cook.
  5. It would very frankly surprise me if any meaningful-to-cooking difference existed. However – full disclosure – my kamado is made of steel, not stone.
  6. Okay, eric, it's a different use of the term but maybe not so much: "Thank you for your service – you and all of you" to your community! Chow down!!
  7. Full Disclosure: I don't use "hot fires" for any of my cooking: the highest temperatures that I look for are around 300ºF. (If I want "sear," I do it in a cast-iron skillet on my kitchen stove.) But I definitely did notice that Kamado-style grills are not only far more efficient in fuel, but also precisely(!) controllable. And I think that the "physics secret" is convection. The presence of an inner liner within the firebox creates convection currents so that a significant amount of the actual cooking takes place due to hot air, not the direct radiant heat from the fire. The heat that is generated by the burning fuel is used much more efficiently. My first exposure to this idea came from a toaster(!) oven in my kitchen, which has a "Turbo" mode. Oh, what difference could a little fan make, sez me. Heh. Try it and see! Cooks suddenly take less than half the time, and you begin to use the thing for "serious" cooking, food-thermometer and all. And the food tastes much different, too: it isn't scorched. "'Control' ... from a toaster oven?!"
  8. John-S, I just want to go on record here for saying thanks so much for putting together this "Body of Knowledge!" Both video and printed. You really are a very good instructor, and in both mediums. (And no, not many people are actually any good at it.) No reply is needed.
  9. I have a steel (non-ceramic) "Akorn, Jr." and my ritual is entirely different. After every cook, next day: Detach the bottom of the firepot, which in the Akorn is removable. Remove the unburned coals and put back into the bag. (It still surprises me how much is left!) Wipe down the entire firepot inside and out, as well as the bottom piece and the vent, removing remaining ash and coals from the various slots. (Ash/charcoal can capture moisture ...) Wash and scrub the cast iron grates, usually "with no more than slight use of soap" to protect the seasoning, but with Comet® powder and even a stiff brush if need be. (Any sign of rust calls for sandpaper and re-seasoning, as with any piece of cast-iron cookware – I've never yet needed to do it.) Store the grill with the bottom section upside-down and propped up by a small piece of wood, and a small steel pan loosely covering the closed top vent. Iron parts such as grate-lifters are stored inside the pot out of the weather. Lid closed and latched. Several years later, my grill still looks very much like it did when I brought it home. The cast-iron grates (not all kamado grates are cast iron ...) have built up very nice and entirely stick-proof seasoning. The entire ritual takes about fifteen minutes. Your Mileage May Vary.™ My ritual is appropriate (I think ...) to my non-ceramic hardware, and to my personal temperament.
  10. After careful consideration ... I really don't think that it would be worth the trouble. The cut of meat is what it is, and it ought to be delicious.
  11. As I've said before, I don't have a rust problem. Next morning after each cook, I remove the bottom section, clean and dry it thoroughly along with the rest of the grill, and place it upside-down beneath the grill, propped-up by a small piece of wood. I leave the top vent slightly open with a small metal pan set over it to block the rain but not the air. The grill itself, which I "seasoned" just like any of my many cast-iron skillets and "re-season" as often as necessary, is thoroughly scrubbed clean of all residue – yes with "elbow grease" and a small amount of dish soap. (Sometimes then a quick "spritz" of canola-oil spray, but only on the iron.) Likewise the firepot and its inner liner are thoroughly cleaned. The inside of the top lid, too. The outside. Everything. My "admittedly anal-retentive" goal is to leave the thing, each and every time, looking more-or-less as clean as it was when I first brought it home. And it does. The grill is several years old now but you can't tell. Ashes can absorb moisture, so you need to be diligent in removing them from all areas, both in the removable bottom pan and the place in the main body where it attaches.
  12. For whatever it may be worth, I use an Akorn Jr. which I bought at ... Wal-Mart. My dad now owns a "Senior" – at my recommendation – which he bought at Lowe's. These are non-ceramic grills: the firepots are made of insulated steel. And they weigh in at a $200-300 price point, significantly less cost and also much less heavy. It's only my opinion, but to me the key to "kamado" is that it acts as a convection oven because hot air circulates around the inner lining. Most of the actual cooking takes place, not from radiant heat from the fire itself, but from this recirculating air. I think that's the secret. I use a chimney fire-starter: no chemicals. This cooking process produces consistent, easily-controlled results, and it is positively miserly with fuel. Shut off both vents to starve the fire and most of the charcoal will be available tomorrow morning for re-use. Go figure. (Although like any grill a kamado is capable of achieving even extremely-high temperatures, I never use it that way. For "searing," I do that on my kitchen stove in a cast iron skillet using coconut oil, which is very heat-tolerant and neutral taste. Put the skillet in the oven to cool.) Buy a remote-reading food thermometer – I bought a wireless unit for about $40 at Home Depot – which will tell you the temperature within the firepot and the temperature of the food while the lid remains closed and locked. With just a little practice, you'll find that you can basically "set it and forget it." The firebox temperatures will generally "park" at a certain point and then stay there rock-solid for hours as the food temperature very slowly rises. Take the food off the fire about 10ºF below target and wrap it in foil to "rest." The temperature will continue to coast up to the target, as your thermometer will confirm. Start to finish, your thermometer is your guide. Unlike your "Smokey Joe," you will get absolutely repeatable results from a kamado. Because now you are in control, with just as much accuracy as you expect from your kitchen oven. (Especially if it also has the "convection" feature.)
  13. Lately now, I've been experimenting with "low and slow" with better success. By closing the top and bottom vents almost completely, I can bring the internal temperature down to around 200ºF or even 170ºF and of course then keep it locked there for as long as I want to. (It would be more accurate to say that "I don't let the temperature rise above that.") I put a steel pie-pan filled with a little water on top of the fire, thus blocking the heat, and place the aluminum-foil bag of smoking chips to one side. Nothing high-tech or expensive here but it works. The food temperature slowly rises to the target. I take it off the fire about 10º below the target, wrap it in aluminum foil and let it rest, knowing that the internal temperature will now "coast up" to hit the target. I leave the thermometer in place to confirm that it did so. Initial "searing" to hold in the juices is done on the kitchen stove in a cast-iron skillet, like before, using coconut oil which is very heat-tolerant. (And doesn't cause the food to taste like coconuts!) My remote-reading food thermometer (about $40 at Home Depot) then gives me complete control over the cook – reassuring me that the fire is still burning even though I don't see how it could. And I always have most of the charcoal left over. "I love this thing ..."
  14. My experience so far with "Kamado" is that the key difference lies in how the grill is constructed, not what it is made of nor how much it costs. (My "Akorn, Jr." is made of steel and cost about $200.) Within the insulated grill there is an inner lining which is surrounded by an air space. So, what you wind up with is: "a charcoal-fired convection oven." The food is cooked by recirculating hot air, not [just ...] the radiant heat from the fire. You have extremely-accurate temperature control within the chamber, and you will usually find that most of your charcoal is left over at the end of the cook. (Partly because, when you shut both vents, you immediately smother the fire, but also because the entire heating process is much more efficient.) You can literally "park the temperature at 170ºF," then come back several hours later and the temperature is still ... "±170ºF!" (Can your "Smokey Joe" do that? No.) I own a "toaster oven" which also has a convection "turbo" option that turns on a small fan. I can personally attest that this makes an unexpected difference: cooking really does happen much faster, and much differently.
  15. Well, Robert, as you have seen from your review of this old thread, both "temperature holds" and even "temperature drops" sometimes occur towards the end of a cook. I've never heard an entirely-satisfactory explanation as to why. Just try to hold the oven temperature steady at whatever you want it to be, and watch the internal meat temperature very carefully. When the temperature finally begins once again to change, it can do so fairly abruptly.
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