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About KenC52

  • Birthday 08/02/1952

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  1. I have an Akorn and 4 Weber kettles (one touch gold performer, one touch silver, smoky joe, & jumbo joe). I enjoy the all. Yes they are different but I have a hard time describing one as the best overall. Akorn is my go to for all things low and slow. Jumbo Joe is for travel and tailgating. One Touch Gold cooks my steaks, burgers, dogs, and pizza. One Touch Silver is in case I ever need to cook for a couple hundred people and just have to have more space (but as I have gotten older the prospect of being around more than 10 people seems unnecessarily annoying). Finally I converted the Smoky Joe to a portable low and slow smoker that works great at the beach or deer camp (where I don't mind tending a fire while I drink a few beers or sip a good single malt). I can't imagine giving up any except the One Touch Silver. I can cook pretty much anything on any one of them if necessary, but they each seem to have their area of expertise.
  2. Love John Henry's rubs! You should visit his main shop in Houston. We go there each year in May when we attend the church's annual conference there and buy a ton of his rubs and marinades.
  3. Something new this year, a spatchocked turkey. 14 lb. Brined for 30 hours (cup table salt, cup brown sugar, 3tbls. italian spice, 2 gallons water). Spatchocked it. Sprinkled on more italian herb mix. Put in fridge overnight. Now its in the Akorn shooting for 325. Used fire ring for charcoal (see photo) with 8 briquets to start one end. Will add finished product photos later
  4. 2 cotton balls soaked in alcohol dropped into a "chimney" made from half a toilet paper tube. Works great and it just doesn't get any cheaper!
  5. I use a large cast iron griddle that I have had for some time. I put it on a grill grate intended as a charcoal grate for a 22.5 inch weber kettle. I find it to be just a bit too large so I am planning to try and use an angle grinder to reduce it's diameter about 2 inches. Never tried to "cut" cast iron with an angle grinder so we will see. If it shatters I will probably just go buy a ceramic diffuser made for the Akorn. I have sealed my lid, air intake, and ash catcher with nomex (instructions found elsewhere on this site). I light my charcoal using the "volcano" method with cotton balls soaked in alcohol, let it come to about 170 degrees then close the air intake completely and open the top vent completely. I can stay between 225 and 250 all night like this. If that is too hot I close the top vent just a bit.
  6. Had an old sheep that I killed and butchered. Cooked some of the tenderloin and discovered that on an old sheep (mutton) even the tenderloin can be a bit odd tasting, even for a guy like me who will eat virtually anything that once walked, swam, or flew. So I took a whole shoulder and treated it the way I do when making pastrami. Made a pastrami pickle following the recipe on Amazing Ribs web site and soaked the shoulder, in the refrigerator of course, in the brine for a week. Took it out, rinsed it in clear water, placed it on a wire rack for a couple of hours to dry, and then coated it really well with John Henry's "Texas Chicken Tickler". John Henry's is a great place to get spice blends out of Houston, Texas. I love their rubs. Cooked the shoulder on my Akorn Kamado cooker at 220-235 degrees for 4 hours. Used some almond chunks for smoke. When the meat temp reached 168 F I took it off and let it rest for about 5 minutes (just couldn't wait!). It was awesome! As good as any pastrami I have ever made or eaten. No mutton taste at all. And it was tender and very moist. After trimming all the meat I could off the bones I stood in the kitchen gnawing on them till they were as clean as if you had put them over an ant bed for a week! The sodium nitrite gave the meat that beautiful pink color (and I am not worried about the miniscule amount of sodium nitrite I consumed. I will just eat one less McMeal and call it even). So if you have any old critters that need to be consumed, give the pastrami recipe a try. Might even make armadillo taste OK?
  7. Tried something completely different. Love homemade pastrami. Had a sheep shoulder (this was no lamb!) and was a bit uneasy about just cooking it low and slow. Mutton can have a very off putting flavor, even for people like me who will eat almost anything that used to walk, swim, or fly. So I brined (or technically pickled) the shoulder for a week before smoking it. Used a pickling recipe from Amazing Ribs web site (for their pastrami recipe). Long story short it was awesome! Removed the shoulder from the pickle, rinsed it off, put it on a wire rack over a sheet tray to dry for about an hour. Then I coated it all over with John Henry's (a great source for spice mixes in Houston, Texas) "Texas Chicken Tickler". Put it on and cooked it for about 4 hours between 220 and 235 on my maverick. Cooked it to an internal temp of 170 (well done!). Took it out and made some fantastic sandwiches from it. It was so good that after I sliced the meat off the bone I stood in the kitchen gnawing the bones until they were as clean as if you had left them in an ant bed. The little bit of sodium nitrite gave the meat that lovely pink color (sorry I forgot to take photos, but trust me it looked as good as any deli pastrami ever). And not I am not going to get into a battle about the miniscule amount of sodium nitrite that I consumed in the meat. It looked great and tasted better. I' just give up one fast food McMeal and call it even. So if you have an old critter you need to consume consider making some kind of pastrami out of it. Sure worked for this old sheep.
  8. Just started cooking pizza on my Akorn. Just love it! Way better than the pies I cooked on my weber! I use whole wheat flour (we grind our own) because I like the taste & texture. Use a handful of pecan hulls on the charcoal for smoke. Amazing. We never buy frozen pizza anymore.
  9. Cooked my first brisket & baked beans yesterday, for lunch today. Brisket was amazing! Beans were OK but I need to work on that recipe some more. Photos & cooking info later.
  10. Philpom I sealed the bottom the same way I did the top. I had tested mine earlier (built a fire with lots of smoke then closed all the vents) and found that it had several leaks. None were sever but there were quite a few. Thought that might explain why I had difficulties with low temps. Now I think I am just starting too much charcoal. Tomorrow I am going to "test" (no food) a snake method. I have used this before with my Webers. Thanks.
  11. Cooking ribs today. First time on the Akorn and first time since sealing up the Akorn with BGE replacement gasket. Having trouble keeping temps down. Photo shows how I started the charcoal using a starter cube and a colander full of charcoal. I use the colander so I can use less charcoal and yet hold it together better for (I hope) a better burn. I layer charcoal and wood chips (hickory this time) and put a starter cube within the top layer of charcoal. I lit her up, made sure that the cube was burning well, and closed the lid. Put bottom vent at 3 and top all the way open (it does not have numbers on it). At 160 degrees I put the meat on and closed the lid. I moved the bottom vent to 1 and the top to about half open. At 200 degrees I closed the bottom vent to about 0.5. At 250 I closed the top to about 1/4 open. At 290 I closed the top to just a small sliver and the bottom to about 0.2 (see photos). After 15 minutes it seemed to be settling in around 280 - 290 so I left to take care of some business. Came back in an hour and heard my thermometer beeping (I had set it at 300). Found the temp at 326! Pulled the ribs, put them in a SS pan with 1/2 cup apple juice, sealed the pan well with three layers of aluminum foil, and put them back on. That's where they are now. When I sealed this thing up I realize that I not only seal out excess air but I have sealed in all the heat. Next time I will try the cotton ball soaked in alcohol method and try to light less charcoal! Having cooked on many cheap grills including offset smokers, numerous Webers (I own 5 now) and some home made smokers I have never seen one that is this "tight." You really have to start with a TINY bit of lit charcoal to keep this thing under control. I think mine could run at 300 degrees for a couple of hours on 4 or 5 briquettes! And yes I use briquettes, Stubbs and even good old Kingsford blue. Anyway I hope I can salvage the ribs with the wrap and some glaze later on. Though they were not near done they had a very dark (black) bark already! We'll see.
  12. Ok, just dedicated smokers? Well 5. Since 1976. My first was a home made deal that I made out of a really old refrigerator. It was one of the kind that had a latching door and the area for the compressor and such was a compartment below the refrigerated portion. I removed all the wires, coils, compressor, etc. Then took an ax and cut "vents" between the refrigerated portions and the compressor compartment (which also had a service door that could be closed fairly tight). Then I took a .22 pistol and shot vent holes in the top and sides. I built a huge fire in both sections of the refrigerator to burn out any plastic or other noxious items that I might not have noticed (or so I hoped). I replaced the refrigerator shelves with ones made from fairly heavy expanded metal. To cook in it we loaded the refrigerator with the food and closed the door. Then built our fires in 3 lb. coffee cans (this was back in the late 70's when coffee actually came in cans) and placed them in the section below the refrigerator. We controlled the temp by the number of cans we put inside and/or the amount of wood and charcoal we put in the cans. Since we never opened the door to add fuel the temp stayed very constant. It worked wonderfully well. One Thanksgiving we cooked more than 20 turkeys in the thing for various people raising money for the volunteer fire dept. and everyone raved about the results! Since then I have had an electric vertical smoker (don't remember the brand) and a cheap offset. I now have an Akorn Kamado and I made a "mini WSM" to use on my Smoky Joe when I am traveling to the lake or beach. I have also owned various cheap grills, both portable and Weber wanna-bes. I now own 2, 22.5 Webers (Silver and Performer), Smoky Joe, Jumbo Joe, Q120, Fiesta Gas Grill (for my wife who like gas), Holland Gas Grill (given to me, but it's OK), my Akorn, a Sonofhibachi (portable hibachi) and I have just ordered a Pit Barrel cooker. When the Pit Barrel cooker arrives, and my wife sees that I have yet another outdoor cooker, I hope I don't have to sleep in it! Oh yeah, I almost forgot I also have an outdoor "vessel" fire pit that has two cooking grates on it and a hook for pots and such. OK I think that's all. Probably. I need to look in the shed to be sure though.
  13. Just finished cooking a "corned beef" and it was possibly the best tasting piece of meat I have ever eaten! Bought it at Wally World as a "kit." Had a choice between a point cut or flat cut and I chose the point. It came with the pickling spice pack and the instruction were to boil it in the spices. Instead I dissolved the spices, and added a bit more from a pickling recipe I have, and brined the brisket point for 5 days in the refrigerator. Took it out this morning, dried it off, and dusted it with John Henry's "Texas Brisket Rub". Lit the Akorn using the colander and volcano method (and yes those are pecans you see layered with the charcoal) using pecan shells for smoke. I discovered this years ago when I had several pecan trees in my back yard and just threw the shells away. Found that the shells give the same flavor as pecan wood, just a little less intense. Put the brisket on when the grill temp (using a digital thermometer at the grill level) hit 190. Set the bottom damper at about half way from 0 to the 1 setting and opened the top (to let out the enormous amounts of smoke). Then the temps ran away! Kept closing the bottom damper trying to stop the temp from rising. When it hit 336 I completely closed the bottom damper and almost closed the top. Finally the temps began to drop. Never got below 280 however. When the brisket hit 185 I pulled it off, put it in a stainless steel tray, and sealed it with aluminum foil. Put the whole thing in the oven and set it to 325. Left it till the meat thermometer said 205. Pulled it out and set it on top of the stove, still sealed. Carryover temp went to 210 and then began to drop. Opened it up at 125 and gave it a taste (the small piece missing from the end of the whole brisket). If I were writing to my grandchildren I would say OMG! It was awesome. Wife agreed it was about as good as meat gets! BTW (back to grandchildren-lingo) I closed both vents down and found that I have several air leaks. Between top and bottom, ash pan and body, and around the bottom damper. Ordered the BGE high heat seal kit. Will install it per everyone's instructions before my next cook.
  14. Does anyone know of a dome shaped grill rack for the Akorn (or any Kamado) that would allow you to hang something like a whole brisket in the Akorn? Akorn is a bit small for a full packer and I like the idea of hanging it from hooks (as in a drum cooker). I know I have seen one somewhere, but I have looked at so many things associated with the akorn in the last couple of weeks I cannot remember where! Thanks.
  15. Just did my first true low-n-slow. Did a duck earlier but it was more a medium than a low and slow. This was an 11 pound pork shoulder. Used John Henry's "Bubba's Rub" and Chris Lilly's pork injection recipe to season the shoulder. John Henry's is my favorite brand of rubs and marinades. Operates out of Houston, Texas. Look him up on the web. Great stuff. All in all I was pleased with the results. Used the SS colander to hold the charcoal, but used the advice I got from Toe and used a cardboard tp holder to keep the center of the charcoal open for the lighter cube. However I just left the tube there and lit it all! Worked great. Up and cooking in about 20 min. Held the grate temp between 230 and 260 for 5 hours. When the meat temp reached about 160 I pulled the shoulder, placed it in a disposable pan, sealed it well with heavy duty aluminum foil, replaced the temp probe, and put it back on. Here is where the problem began. Used two digital thermometers, one for the grate temp and one for the meat temp. Meat went to 185 and "stalled". I had read about the stall before but either never hit it or didn't notice with my other cookers (I own more than I should with out a catering business!). This being my first Kamado style I thought it might be different. After an a couple of hours I bumped the grate temp up to 340. Another hour and a half and meat was still at 185? I pulled the probe from the digital thermometer it had been in and put it in two others (all use the same probe) and all read within a couple of degrees of 185? Something had to be wrong. So I pulled the meat off and tested it with my instant read thermometer. 207! I usually stop my pork at 195 (that is where I set the alarm on the meat thermometer) and it comes off great. 207 should be dry and miserable, but it wasn't. I got lucky, I had wrapped the shoulder very well and added about a cup of apple juice to the pan and that kept it from getting bone dry. Though it was still a little dry it was not bad at all. Very tasty, Bone came out easy and clean. Pulled apart and shredded well. Had a thicker bark than I am accustomed to on pork but I treated it like "burnt ends" on a brisket, just chopped it up and mixed it well with the juices in the bottom of the pan and it turned out marvelous. We got some nice q out of the deal, but the problem with the temperature probe bothers me. It was a polder replacement and I had tested it (using ice water and boiling water) when I opened it. I will test it again tomorrow and try to see what is going on. It had to be the probe because all three digital thermometers read essentially the same temp with that probe. I know probes can fail, but I thought they would just stop reading, or read something totally weird and obviously wrong. From now on I will test my probes before each cook, just to be sure. And I am going to email Polder abut this also since this was just the second time I had used that probe and neither one was in a high temp environment. Now for another smoked pork sandwich!
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