I've been waiting along time to be able to post this experience.
Intended to buy a KJ Classic in the spring. But was too expensive. Finally decided today to give in and pay the price (my wife wanted to buy me one for my birthday anyway). Got to the store and found out that the price had dropped! Sweet! Was happy to let my wife buy it for me for $880 (as if I really had a choice, she has all the money). It gets better..... The owner of the store said he was going my my, loaded it into his panel truck, followed me home and carted it up the drive way, through the house and onto the deck. It could not have been easier!
First cook. Ribs. Normally done in a gas smoker. So I applied my general smoking technique combined with suggestions from posts on this forum to make my first cook. Here is how it went.
First, while I was waiting for my wife to bring home the meat, I started the fire. Loaded the firebox as prescribed in the instructions and started it with my blow torch. As I wanted to sneak up on a low temperature of around 225, I just ran the torch for about 30 seconds right in the middle of the lump. Draft door full open and grill top open. After about 20 minutes I closed the grill. Adjusted draft door to about 1.5" and top vent to 5 holes slightly closed. It heated to 225 degrees (my desired temperature) in another 15 minutes. Very cool. I let it stabilize for about an hour. The temp did not vary. Once I acquired the temperature it was rock solid.
My wife finally arrived with the meat. Normally I would wash and rub my meat the night before. But today I was too excited about cooking to do the normal preparation. So I just rubbed the ribs (one rack cut in half) with one of my favorite premixed rubs (normally use homemade rub) and set them aside. Next I dropped a handful of wet apple wood chips on the coals, put the heat deflector in place in the lowest position, added a drip pan with some water on top of that and set grill at the highest position. Then I placed the ribs in the grill, standing vertically on their sides in a rib rack. It started smoking like crazy and even after an hour the temp had only risen to about 180. So I helped it alittle by opening the both the draft door vent and the upper exhaust vent. Took a few minutes but I finally got it back to 225 and then reset both vents to the original settings. After two hours, I took the ribs off the rack, wrapped them in foil and put them back in the grill at 225 degrees for another two hours. I was very surprised and pleased that the KJ maintained such a constant temperature with no fuss and very little attention. After that I took them out of the grill and just let them set for about 45 minutes. BEST RIBS EVER! (if I may say so myself...and more importantly, wife agrees). The had a beautiful smoke ring, were very moist and were fall off the bone tender. Perfect.
Here is my self critique:
1. Probably should have allowed heat deflector to preheat before adding the meat.
2. I think the damp wood chips (which I normally use in my gas smoker) had the effect of dampening the temperature of the grill after I added the meat.
3. Maybe should have used dry wood to make the smoke.
4. Not sure why it took so long to get the temperature back up after I added deflector, wood chips and meat.
5. I pretty much guessed at the initial draft door and exhaust vent postions. I was maybe a little conservative, but I did not want to over shoot my temperature.
I am not a neophite when it comes to grilling, but I'm humble enough to admit that kamado grilling involves some nuances that I did not foresee. Any Guru advice would be greatly appreciated. My first cook was somewhat clumsy but the resulting ribs were excellent. I count this as the first in many great cooks to come. (Brisket tomorrow)