So today I finally attempted my first low & slow!! This was with TWO grills (my trusty Akorn Jr and my brand new Vision Classic B), and for two different purposes - simultaneously.
The purpose of the Akorn low & slow was to cook ribs for dinner (first time cooking ribs on a Kamado.)
The purpose of the Vision low & slow was, because I had never cooked with it, and the main reason I bought it WAS for low & slow (larger cuts of meat), I wanted to:
A. Do a couple dry/practice runs to get myself acquainted with the low & slow "technique."
B. Test my Vision, and particularly it's lower/ash tray gasket & seal, for air-tightness. Making sure there seemed to be no extra air getting in, causing temps to rise against your will (an old complaint on this brand.)
So, I started each grill at the same time with the same process. I have KABaskets in both. Nice large piles of lump coal (Royal Oak.) Maybe approx 75% full in each.
Two alcohol soaked cotton balls in each grill, Volcano style, offset from the center a bit (in an attempt to start two different "areas" of coals.)
I kept the lids open for cotton ball burn off, both for the initial burn off, and also so the temp in the grills didn't rise and I could get an accurate reading once lid was closed and began adjusting vents...
Adjusted vents as everyone describes. Tried to take my time, wasn't in a rush - as I definitely wanted to do it right!! Eventually (& nicely I may add!!) got up to about 240 deg on each, exactly where I wanted to be!
Began cooking on the Akorn (with deflector, etc) and just simply kept the Vision lid closed. Monitored each like a hawk. Despite a nice slow come up, and not over-adjusting then under-adjusting the vents, the Akorn DEFINITELY was fluctuating. I realized it was about 275-280 deg, so I closed vents slightly, and gave it some time. Got to 250 however kept going down, I would open vents more once reached 230, would continue to drop to 210-220. Then open vents raise it to 260, close vents just a bit while it rises to 270 then it starts falling again..... This happened several times (maybe 4) in the span of an hour and 20 minutes. Frustrating.
However, I am incredibly pleased to report the Vision was dead-locked at 240 deg SOLID!!! Yes!!
Well, at an hour and 20 mins in, the Vision had dropped not only to 210, but was at 200. I watched it and it kept dropping a bit. At 190 I opened it up. Come to find out, the whole area where I placed one cotton ball, had been extinguished... Therefore, only a portion of the coals were going. I knew I needed to light that other side again.
Took the ribs off. I kinda panicked a bit, didn't want to leave them off for a long time, and added 2 soaked cotton balls among those coals. We were going to get this baby heated up again!! Lol.
Well, needless to say a few minutes later, I realized what I had done. I sure had a roaring fire now!!
Lid was open to not heat the grill up. However, nearly all the coals were glowing RED hot! This was a hot fire...
Continued to let it burn away. Meanwhile 20 mins had passed. I decided to close most of the vents to let the fire & temp die down a bit. Closed the lid finally. I had to put the meat on and get dinner going again, lol! Well, temp on dome thermometer quickly shot up to 400... 450.... 475... Whoops!! Ribs are sitting beside the grill, and I just KNEW I was going to have a hard time bringing this one down again! Plus, would have to deal with fluctuating temps and be frustrated! Didn't want to add the meat at 400 deg... Nope, this grill was ruined for this cook!
But wait! We still had the Vision. Chugging away 1hr45min later at a steady 240! Perfect!
Threw a deflector and ribs on there. Closed up Akorn for good for the day.... Needless to say, finished the cook on the Vision. It held a great/steady temp and did very well. I'm a proud papa, to say the least.
The ribs came out very good, enjoyed them quite a bit!
So that's the (sorry so long) saga of my first low & slow (x2). Lessons learned, and a fun experience had overall. Plus delicious ribs!
Two side notes gents:
1. Do you notice, I presume it's normal.... if you get a grill up to temp -- whatever temp that may be as I've had it happen at 250 and at 500 -- then add a deflector stone/plate, often it takes the grill just a bit of time to "recover"? More so than if a deflector was not added? I figure that's just the nature of the beast as let hot air simply goes directly up / to thermostat.
2. My Vision, despite it holding 240 before my cook, and while cooking the whole time, and being VERY steady which I greatly appreciated -- I was surprised to find I had to have my lower vent at about 50% open?! I was expecting, for such a low temp, like 10-20% open... However, if the low temp was held (which it was), and if I know the grill and can maintain it, I suppose it doesn't really matter much after all??