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horseshoes

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  1. Well, another update. I found a Lowes with the bagged version of KJ lump, and grabbed a bag. Had 2 cooks on it now, seems to be fine. So this suggests that maybe the first box did have something nasty going on that required extremely long pre-burning to get rid of. I am actually finding KJ mixed with Royal Oak to be a good combo. Since the RO is much smaller, it fills in the gaps that the giant KJ blocks leave, which helps things light faster and packs the firebox more full for longer cooks. I have the KJ ash basket and usually use a Fireboard with fan, so there is still plenty of airflow. @John Setzler, if you still want to check out this "bad batch", send me a PM and we can arrange something.
  2. Well, drove 1.5 hour round trip to the road show and no KJ to be found. Asked an employee and they got a manager, who said that the KJ reps were a no show for the entire event. So, no lump for me! The manager at Costco said they may not be allowed back, because apparently this has been an issue, and they don’t take kindly to flakey vendors. Come on Kamado Joe, get your #### together...
  3. 1. Yeah, tried the smell test, and although the smell improved by the time I usually put it on, I questioned whether or not it still smelled right. I did think it was a little off, but was second guessing myself. I would say that it didn’t smell so bad that a less experienced user could immediately conclude that it was awful, but it didn’t smell great either. Although I had some doubts that the smell was where it needed to be, the color/thickness combined with running it for over an hour and a half, made me feel relatively confident that this had to be as good as it gets. 2. Grabbing pieces by hand and setting them in, plus in subsequent cooks, some lump that was reclaimed.
  4. Indeed, I'm a relatively new grill owner, and using the same logic, I've been puzzling over it going back and forth between both explanations. Didn't really make sense to me that it would be bad lump, and it doesn't happen with RO. But now I have a very interesting update to this! I made a couple of steaks last night. There were some very large chunks (much bigger than fist sized), and although I tried to break them a little bit, I didn't have a hatchet handy. I made a point of trying to ensure that the fire really got going, and for longer than usual. Instead of using the electric heating element starter, I lit 3 lighter cubes, gave it plenty of oxygen, burning with the dome open for about 20 minutes, then with the dome closed but the vents wide open for a while, and then started to close them a bit to bring it down to temperature. Total burn time before I put any food on was over an hour and a half. When it got to about 320 degrees, I decided to throw the steaks on, cooked them indirect to medium well/well done (accidentally overshot). They tasted pretty bad. Still edible, since steaks are a bit more tolerant than something like fish or chicken to smoke, but it was like a delicious steak flavor wrapped in a dirty aroma and flavor of smoke that was unmistakeable. Since I overcooked them, and the wife wasn't home yet, and I am too much of a perfectionist to serve a well done steak, I threw 2 more on. Still had plenty of charcoal and I just let it keep going. Easily burning for a couple of hours by this point. By this time, the temp had cooled to about 260-275, so I cooked them again and they went quite a bit longer, in theory, absorbing more smoke. They tasted amazing. Nothing like the first 2. Wife got home just as they hit medium rare and she loved it. Just for science, I cut a small piece from the least well done side of the original batch and put it on her plate. Night and day difference, she confirmed it tasted bad. I saved a bit of leftovers in the fridge from both, and tried them again this afternoon. One is still great tasting, one is unmistakably the putrid smoke one. To me this confirms what was posted above - too young a fire for charcoal that is too big. Even though I was well aware of this concept in theory, and thought 1 hour+ had to be plenty, that isn't necessarily the case. But, switching to Royal Oak, which as was pointed out is much smaller, it makes sense that following the same procedure for both would produce great results with RO but putrid garbage with giant XL logs in the firebox. It isn't obvious that your choices for dealing with the exceptionally large pieces are either: burn for over 2 hours, or take a hatchet to the pieces, so it's no wonder that some people have this experience and don't know why. Now I have to head to that costco road show, stock up on the 30lb bags while I can, and pick up a hatchet from home depot on the way back So I'm curious then, folks who use KJ XL regularly, do you always hack up the big pieces? I suppose a chimney starter likely avoids the issue as well, since they're pretty effective at burning lump up quickly, but I just find them too awkward and inconvenient to use and handle with a KJ. If anyone is not breaking up their big pieces and not having this problem, I'd be curious what your lighting method is... Edited to add: I also wonder if there is less potential for the really large pieces among those who buy the 30lb bags vs the 20lb boxes. Bags are prone to getting lump crushed during shipping/handling, boxes are immune to that problem. That's my biggest problem with the RO bags - the size of the larger pieces is pretty good, but it seems like a lot get crushed into chips and dust that settles as you get near the bottom.
  5. Sure, I have maybe 1/8th of the box left, if you want the remains. I ordered it from Amazon a few weeks ago (Seattle area). The Costco road show is here this week, so I think I'll grab one more box from there and see if the results are any different. Maybe I'll wait to see how that turns out, and then contact you for shipping info.
  6. You load it up to the handles? So lump is basically right below the grate in the top position? How do you use a heat deflector?
  7. Why might one want to cook salmon below 200 F? I’ve tried Salmon many different ways, and have not really noticed a difference when I vary the temp, other than taking longer. But I’m pretty new to this, so just curious if there is a benefit that I’m not aware of.
  8. I’ve burnt through a dozen or so bags of lump since getting my KJ, and almost all of it has been Royal Oak from home depot. I ordered a box of KJ xl big block lump and everything I’ve made on it so far tastes bad. The smoke is overpowering and kind of like an ashtray. I even smell much worse after handling the grill. The brisket was not unbearable, but kind of off tasting. I’ve made salmon a couple of times and it’s unbearably smokey. Wife has loved all of the other salmon I’ve made, but I’ve tried twice with the KJ and she won’t even eat it. Chicken was also bad. I am not adding any smoking wood, I let it burn for at least 30-60 minutes before adding food - basically I wait until it comes up to temp and the smoke changes color to TBS. I’ve tried some temperature ranges, went as low as 225 on the salmon once, and 320 the second time. My theory was that maybe the 225 was smoldering and the fire was not getting enough oxygen, so I tried to run it hotter. I think that actually made it worse. And I’ve never had taste problems running the RO at low temps. Until now I’d be skeptical that lump brands make much taste difference, and given how popular KJ brand lump is, someone would have opinions online if it was bad. But it doesn’t seem to be a personal taste thing. I use an electric starter, and a Fireboard with a fan. I keep the top vent open just slightly, maybe half way to the first white line on the KJ tower. I noticed that the Royal Oak left the grill with kind of a sweet smokey smell, while the KJ big block is more of a stale ashtray smell. I’d have thought maybe this was all in my head had my wife not also commented on it. She does not pay much attention to what I’m using, and does not know I switched brands. It could be a total coincidence that it happened when I switched brands and is actually unrelated, like maybe the ceramic walls are caked with something bad tasting, but the whole thing is a little odd. I wanted to like the KJ big block, and was going to stock up at the road show, but this is not encouraging. Although the Royal Oak has been doing the job and it’s cheap, it doesn’t seem to last as long, and half the bag seems to be pieces that are too small, especially with the KJ ash basket, the chips just fall through. Has anyone else had this experience? Anything I might be missing?
  9. Based on the date stamped on my KJC2, it was manufactured in nov 2018. After several smokes, my powder coat looks like many in this thread. At first I thought it was gunk, but after removing it to clean thoroughly, I noticed it has a little bit of gunk, but most of it is actually coating bubbling and peeling. Maybe I got old stock, but it seems like current units might still have the isue.
  10. Ok another failure at 225. Most of it was overcooked and falling apart as I cut it. Except the section of flat opposite the point, that was like shoe leather. I was probing it quite a bit and starting to wonder what “done” feels like. On the top half near the point, it felt tender for quite a long time, but the opposite end was still tough and springy. So, I thought I would let it go longer until the bottom half felt easier to probe. After 2 hours or so it still wasn’t feeling good but I knew the top half was done long ago and it was probably getting ruined (a theory which proved correct). I did rest it wrapped in paper and a towel in a cooler for a couple hours, pulled it out of there with temp still at 158. An interesting observation that I made was about a 50 degree (!) temp difference at the grate in opposite corners towards the last half of the cook. As I said above, they were pretty consistent once the grill was up to temp initially, but this apparently changed over time as the charcoal burned and shifted to the back. The front right side of the grill, where the end result was shoe leather, was 50 degrees cooler than the back left part of the grill (where the point was). It seemed like the natural hot spot was the back left, but this shifted to back right when the fan was going...which makes sense because that is where the bottom vent aims. How does everybody usually arrange their brisket? Mine was fat cap down, point on, point side towards the back left. I think I am going to do some more tests with 4+ different probes and see what the temperature differences are in different configurations, and see if I can get things distributed a little more evenly. If KJs are just inherently really uneven at low temps, it would be good to know how to best place the meat to even things out. Although I would have guessed having the flat side on the colder side would be ideal, apparently that didn’t help me much. In any case, it seems like reference temperatures that people are talking about when they cook are absolutely useless because it depends entirely which corner on the grill they probe. One person’s 225 can be another person’s 275 or 175 depending which corner you are in! The only thing that is a reliable reference to compare apples to apples is the dome temp. I’m gonna use up some of my cowboy lump (since that tastes like ####) and do some dry run experiments, but I’m curious what others think. I wonder if KJ made the same discovery and this prompted the change to the deeper shape in the KJ Classic III and the slo-roller thing. I do have the KJ ash basket, so maybe I can use the divider that it comes with to light one fire in front and one in back. I usually run without it to make more room for lump. Still though, I’ve seen plenty of youtube vids and forum posts of people cranking out awesome briskets on a KJ classic 2, so it’s definitely possible. I just have to figure out what variable I’ve got wrong here. My cooks are way longer than expected, so that’s probably a clue that I am sampling temp somewhere much cooler.
  11. I always put my probes at the grill, but not too close to the meat. I use a second thermometer, and also check the dome temp periodically to have 3 points of reference. Once it is up to temp, all 3 tend to read within a few degrees of each other.
  12. I was wondering about that. I actually did not do that by choice but because I couldn't get to it in time to take it off, so my controller was programmed to drop it to holding temp. It was still keeping it warm, so do you think that hour or so would have been what completely killed it? And would that make it too tough to pull? I have another one going now that is nearing completion, so I'll start probing it soon before putting it in the cooler. That will rule that out as a variable.
  13. I rested both the last butt and the last brisket and they were dry, so rest isn’t the issue.
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