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Everything posted by MikeRobinson

  1. "Rivet nuts" rank right on up there with "pop rivets" as practical solutions to vexing problems. (And they both work in a very similar fashion.)
  2. The most-beautiful thing about Kamado cooking is that the heat is inside the firebox ... and it stays there. I can have a 350ºF temperature going on inside my (steel ...) Kamado, and I can still put my hands directly on the outside of the lid and it's just "warm." Furthermore, there is never an objectionable amount of smoke. "This is not the Smokey Joe that you just gave away at the yard sale ...!" Just try to keep it under some kind of shelter, mostly out of the rain. (I don't use a "cover" because I noticed moisture accumulating under it even in dry weather. A small metal pan sits loosely on the top vent, which is slightly open, to keep rain off of it.)
  3. I also use a small water pan ... just a steel pie-pan that I also sometimes use for pies ... and a very nice (wireless!) external-reading thermometer ... ~$40 at Home Depot. It separately tells me the temperature inside the firebox and the temperature inside the meat. So I don't have to "look." The lid remains closed-and-locked for as long as it takes, except for very occasional breaks to flip things over. Yes, the firebox temperature briefly "dips," but it doesn't matter, as the food-probe will instantly tell you. The very nicest thing about Kamado is that, once you establish the firebox temperature, it tends to just stay there, even for many hours. It takes a little getting used to realize that you an actually "set it and forget it" in a cooking process that is driven by a fire.
  4. "Crumpled-up aluminum foil as an effective scraper." Yeah, I first learned that trick while eating lunch at a Waffle House.
  5. Dunno – I don't want to incinerate my cast-iron seasoning. A few minutes with a wire brush and maybe a metal putty-knife gets rid of the residue. Then, let it dry completely in the air and zap it lightly with canola-oil spray. Quick check for rust that would require re-seasoning. Done. Full disclosure: I never subject my (not-ceramic ...) grill to temperatures over 350ºF or so. I do any "searing" that I want to do in a cast-iron skillet on my kitchen stove. Lodge Corporation – a major manufacturer of cast iron products whose headquarters is very close to me – has many excellent web-pages and videos on the subject of seasoning. If you properly season a cast-iron grate and maintain it, nothing will stick to it anyway. You hit it fairly lightly with your wire brush and the stuff just falls right off. "Seasoning" is not a surface coating: it is a polymerization which actually binds to the metal.
  6. Rig up something through the top-side handle using a bungee cord ...
  7. I can only say what works excellently for me. I start the charcoal in a chimney starter and then dump it into the firepot, sometimes onto a small layer of unburned charcoal. I bring the temperature up to where I want it to be with slight adjustments, usually to the bottom (inlet ...) vents, as it begins to get close. I don't want it to go substantially "over." And, I really don't attempt any "high temperature" cooks: I basically use it like a smoky convection oven. Where my practices differ substantially from yours, I have no experience and no comment.
  8. I use lump charcoal and a chimney starter, and I have not observed that the charcoal makes much difference as long as you take the time to let it all get properly on-fire. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this style of grill is that most of the charcoal will still be there, ready for re-use, next day following the end of the cook! Kamado grills are positively miserly in their use of fuel. When I want "smoke," I put wood chips in a foil envelope and poke a few holes in it with a fork. Next day, I have an envelope full of usable charcoal, which also goes into the bag.
  9. Before I bought a remote-reading food thermometer which would tell me the firebox and the food temperature, I relied on the "lid thermometer" with very good results. Now, I basically ignore it. (About $35 at Home Depot ... and it's even wireless!) The only thing that really matters here is that you find some grill-temperature reference to work from and understand how it works ... so that you can achieve repeatable results. The most important temperature is always the internal temperature of the meat. ("Never mind what's going on 'outside' ... what's happening 'inside?'") If you look too hard for "differences" between any two sources of data, you will always find them. But, they don't actually matter. Just develop what is for you a repeatable process that doesn't demand too much of your time and attention. Kamado-style grills actually enable you to do that ... predictably. You'll never fire up your "Smokey Joe" again.
  10. I've never used "high temperatures" to burn-off my (cast iron ...) grill. Just a wire brush or kitchen "scratcher," soap and water, and elbow grease, followed by "re-seasoning" if very-occasionally necessary. My grill never operates at a temperature over 400ºF. Food never sticks to properly-seasoned cast iron. The next day after every cook, I thoroughly clean the (Akorn, Jr.) grill inside and out. To this day, my grill looks mostly just like it did when I first brought it home. And, "I like it that way."
  11. The very best thing about Kamado cooking is that – if you are using an external-reading thermometer which will tell you the oven temp and the food temp without opening the lid ... ~$35 at Home Depot, and "wireless" – you can quickly learn how to get repeatable results. Bring the grill convection oven up to the desired target temperature and you'll be pleased to discover that it stays there. Be reasonably attentive to what the thermometer is telling you, and you'll get exactly the results that you are looking for, almost (heh ...) every time. You'll sell your "Smokey Joe" at the very next yard sale, and never look back. Because this method of cooking gives you: control. (And you'll become accustomed to finding that most of the charcoal is left-over and ready for reuse!)
  12. If you're coming from a "traditional charcoal grill" experience, Kamado takes a little getting used to, because this thing is really a "charcoal-fired convection oven." And it might also be your very first experience with "convection oven" cooking! The food is actually cooked more by recirculating hot air – which cycles around the inner liner – than by direct radiant heat from the fire or even the [ceramic?] pot. The best way to approach this is to bring the oven up to temperature gradually. It's much easier to get it up to the desired temperature than to bring it down. Also, once you do get it to the desired temperature, it will tend to stay there. An absolutely-essential cooking tool is a remote-reading thermometer with "food temperature" and "oven temperature" sensors which can be read without opening the lid. I bought a very fine unit – wireless, even – for about $35 at Home Depot. This will give you everything that you need to carry out your cook with confidence and precision. Take the meat off the fire when it's 10ºF below the target temperature, then "tent" it in aluminum foil. Your thermometer will show you that the meat will "coast up" to the target on its own. Incidentally: if you want "sear," here's how I do it ... in a cast-iron skillet on my kitchen stove, using heat-tolerant oils such as coconut oil. (No, your meat won't taste like coconuts ...) Sear it before or after the cook. Put the hot skillet in a cold oven to cool naturally.
  13. Okay, thought question ... "If I don't have [a Joetisserie®] ... how might I participate in this very-tasty discovery?" Start from the beginning: you say that you applied a rub, then roasted at 500ºF, then let them cool and devoured them. "Any other thoughts?"
  14. I generally find that "things are a good bit more forgiving than you fear." Watch the oven temperature as it rises up ... taking care that it does not rise up too far, too fast. And, throughout it all, watch the meat temperature. "Yes, all of us have horror stories" where the oven temperature suddenly went through the roof – perhaps due to melted fat dumping down onto the charcoal – and thus ruining everything.
  15. Check the temperature "every fifteen minutes or so." As needed, make slight adjustments and then check again "in fifteen minutes or so." Carefully observe the food temperature throughout, because that's the number that really matters most, and it's not terribly dependent on the moment-by-moment firebox temperature. That (food ...) temperature should, one way or the other, fairly gently "coast" up to about 10ºF below your target, at which point you should remove the food from the fire, wrap it ("tent" it ...) in aluminum foil, and expect it to "coast" up to your desired final temperature in the next fifteen minutes or so. Really, there shouldn't be anything that should prevent you from sitting down in conversation with your friends and enjoying that conversation as you keep one eye focused on those two temperature readings . . .
  16. Dunno – I don't own a ceramic kamado – but this sure does sound like a great strategy for winding up with a crack that your manufacturer's warranty will not cover . . . Finish your cook, enjoy your dinner and your final glass of wine, and go to bed. Tomorrow morning, your grill will be cool.
  17. My [unsolicited ...] personal opinion is that the real difference is convection. (I saw this first-hand when I bought a toaster oven which had a "turbo" mode that simply turned on a small fan.) Within the body of any Kamado grill there is always an inner liner. And this creates air currents. The circulating hot air ... rising up to the top, then passing around behind the liner, then flowing up again ... becomes the primary thing that actually cooks the food – not direct radiant heat from the charcoal fire. As a very simple result of this, you now have a cooking process that is both far more fuel-efficient but also much more controllable. You can literally set it at a temperature, with both the inlet and the outlet openings set almost-closed, and watch your external-reading thermometer as it shows you that the firebox temperature stays right there, literally for hours, with no intervention required from you. It is really quite the sight to see . . . And, after the cook, even a very long one, you close both vents to smother the fire and what you wind up with is ... reusable charcoal! (You do not use "briquettes.") "Searing," by the way, is now something that I do in my cast-iron skillet on my kitchen stove. I use my Kamado literally as a "charcoal-fired, smoky, convection oven." And I can obtain cooking results with 100%-reliable consistency. "An external reading thermometer which shows both firebox and food temperatures" is your essential friend – about $40 more-or-less (wireless, even!) at Home Depot. Now, you always know what's happening in there.
  18. 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 ...")
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. It would very frankly surprise me if any meaningful-to-cooking difference existed. However – full disclosure – my kamado is made of steel, not stone.
  23. 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!!
  24. 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?!"
  25. 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.
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