Jump to content

Is 2 zone cooking even worth it on a Kamado?


agentgt
 Share

Recommended Posts

When I first started out with my Akorn I thought I would really need and miss 2 zone cooking which is almost required on a Weber Kettle.

I was even lusting for a primo or big joe because those grills allow you to do 2 zone and I even bought a half moon ceramic thinking surely I would use it all the time...

 

But I never seem to need 2 zone and when I try it the results are not that good compared to just using the heat deflector at first and then searing aka reverse sear.

 

I thought surely 2 zone would be nice for cooking vegetables. Searing on one side and then softening on the other but I found just using the warming grate or the natural cool parts of the grill (ie coals that are not as hot or stacked up as high) far easier and with better results.

 

Another thing I found is that its ironically very hard to control the temperature with 2 zone at least on the Akorn. The direct side quickly gets too hot which then increases the overall temperature of the grill and you loose grill real-estate.

 

I see some people put on an iron skillet on the cool side of a 2 zone but my iron skillets are too big for my Akorn (Lodge really needs to make more skillets with out long handles ie baking dishes) and besides the iron skillet may not get the direct heat but it will eventually heat up very hot like the rest of the Kamado and hold on to that temperature.

 

One rational I see for 2 zone on big grills especially oval shaped is for smaller cooks but wouldn't it be more ideal to just cook in a smaller place in the center of the grill since you will have equal airflow (ie just use a smaller coal basket or something)?

 

So I'm curious how useful people find 2 zone cooking on their Kamados? Do they it do frequently or is it rare?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not yet tried the split deflector than came with the Divide and Conquer rack system on my CKJ. That said, last night I realized I could have used one of the split heat deflectors for cooking a pork tenderloin in which I wanted both direct and indirect heat. There have been some other instances when a combination would be good, so I would say yes, a 2-zone arrangement has its place in kamado cooking, at least for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this topic is more complicated than it would seem on the surface.  I don't think I can really cover it in full here but I'll touch on a few things.

 

First I'll say that having a direct side and an indirect side is probably more descriptive than claiming dual zone  (although by definition that is dual zone).  An example, fajita beef cooking direct while I slowly cook mu fajita veggies on the indirect side or searing a roast and then moving it over to the indirect side to finish it.  Cooking burgers direct and melting cheese on the indirect side.

 

Second, When I want to cook a smaller meal I can split the box and place a D plate over it but leaving a gap all the way around it so it performs like a smaller kamado, small fire, little fuel.  It works well for me.  I do this much more than above.

 

Third, I have used an AKORN in this configuration and found it mostly ineffective.  I think 2 reasons for this, one was the shape, a 'D' is much closer to a circle than a half circle and due to the shape combined with other aspects of the particular implementation (that I'll discuss below) I think on the OVAL it works very well.  I can only comment on the AKORN and Primo since I haven't used any other kamado in this configuration.

Dynamics to consider:

 

The oval or essentially two smaller round kamados combined together does create in my opinion a more usable "half space".  Also consider the implementation of the divided fire box.  If the divider is short and the distance from the top of the divider to the bottom of the diffuser is great then the effect is greatly diminished.  The better the split compartment the better it works.

With all that being said you don't need to have this kind of setup, many folks cook on a kamado that doesn't have this feature and are doing just fine.  I tried this on my round kamado and the results were not all that great but on my Oval it works well for me.

 

Good luck with your next cook @agentgt ! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes one of the times I have considered 2 zone is meats like pork tenderloin where I don't have the time to do a reverse sear and attempt to just sear it to internal temperature (I have cooked pork tenderloin direct). The problem is I don't plan it out in advance and end up either just letting the meat sit tented longer or just go ahead and use gloves and put the full deflector on to finish the cook (assuming my direct heat didn't reach the internal temp and I'm borderline scorching the loin).

 

I usually try do a reverse sear on pork tenderloin if I can because the results for me are much better.

 

If you try to do a reverse sear with a half moon on the Akorn the grill seems to get too hot (ie its hard to keep 225) and the pork tenderloin will not have enough time to absorb much smoke.

Probably on a ceramic this is less of a problem?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love having split zone cooking available.  

 

Last week on the classic, I utilized it for sweet potato, asparagus and steaks.  I loved having a hot side and cooler side.  Worked really well. I have been spoiled with the split rack deflector set up with a KJ and would never consider a system without it now!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the Divide and Conquer system on the KJ.    I can cook wings  indirect and then move them to the direct side to finish them up with higher heat, without having to pull any of apparatus.  I have cooked vegetables on the indirect side and then steak on the direct.  It's also nice for a reverse sear.  Start off on the indirect side until the meat reaches about 10 degrees of the desired end temperature, pull the steak, raise the temperature, and drop the steak on the direct side.  You can do all this without having the remove any of the apparatus like you would have to do in a kamado without two zones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you try to do a reverse sear with a half moon on the Akorn the grill seems to get too hot (ie its hard to keep 225) and the pork tenderloin will not have enough time to absorb much smoke.

Probably on a ceramic this is less of a problem?

 

Yes. I’m sure there are ways of tweaking an Akorn so that you can hold 225ºF without difficulty, but across the board it will be easier to do this with a ceramic grill.

 

My grill doesn’t have the ability to use a split heat deflector, but I haven’t found it to be a drawback. I have been able to cook foods requiring different temperatures by working in stages.

 

Doing a reverse sear has been much less difficult than I thought. The main drawback that I was worried about was managing a hot heat deflector and grates when switching from the low temperature to the high temperature. What I didn’t take into account was that if the low part of the cook is at 250ºF or under, the heat deflector and the grates won’t be that hot when moving things around, so it wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it might be.

 

Being able to do this all at once is certainly more convenient, but honestly, I’d rather have the increased cooking space than the convenience of moving from low to high with half the space available for each step.

 

One last thought: two zone cooking is most often used on a Weber kettle, as you mentioned. I’ve done that in the past, myself. I’m pretty confident is saying that the temperature difference you get when going from indirect/low temp cooking to direct/high temp cooking in a kamado grill overwhelms the difference in temperature between the two zones of a Weber kettle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have only had my Big Joe a few weeks now, but I have used the D&C and Firebox divider a couple of times now. Mainly use indirect side to keep items warm after they have been cooked on the direct side, such as corn on the cob or baked potatoes. It worked very well and I plan to keep using it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have even been teaching my son the benefits of the direct and indirect on the Big Joe. He is starting to show an interest in grilling, so we have spent more time with my Joe than we ever did with my Small BGE.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Mr. "Smiley" says...........................the Primo is designed to use this way & works well...........use it all the time, even on the Jr.

The Akorn is a bit more difficult & takes some mods to accomplish effectively.  Splitting the firebox somehow &, then closing off almost all the air flow on the cold/roasting side, so that the heat rolls over the top, rather than comes up from underneath was the only way I had much success.  I used a 1/2 moon extruded wire cage for the fire & almost completely blocked the other side with a 1/2 very large cheap pizza pan with a couple fire bricks on top.  Doable & worked, but a bit more trouble than the oval Primos.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like a split system on the Big Joe, especially if I am entertaining and my guests have different levels of "doneness" they want in the meat. It allows me to produce steaks and burgers which are cooked to "well done", but are still juicy (due to doing most of the cooking being done indirect), and getting nice browning and searing on the direct side. For rare, and medium rare steaks/burgers, they are cooked direct beginning to end. With a fire brick rested upon the charcoal grate on the non-charcoal side (to block 80 percent of the holes), I see about a 125 degree difference between the two sides, at a dome temperature of 350. I see a bigger difference when I put a cut steel plate (on the charcoal grate) placed on the non-charcoal side, to block 100% of the air holes.

Setting and holding 225 on the Akorn is easier, once you have taken the steps to seal the ash pan, main opening and the lower slide damper. Any air leaks in a kamado cooker makes temperature control more difficult. This is especially true at lower temperatures.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I had my CGK, I would do one of two things to achieve direct and indirect zones:

1. Push and pile the coal high to one side.

2. Pile and light the coals on top of one half of the Weber fire grate that I would normally use to hold my deflector pan. This made it more like a hibachi on one half and nothing on the other.

Neither method worked perfectly but it did get the job done.

Now on my Big Joe, I can easily have direct and indirect zones. I use this technique every time I grill. Love it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I first started out with my Akorn I thought I would really need and miss 2 zone cooking which is almost required on a Weber Kettle.

I was even lusting for a primo or big joe because those grills allow you to do 2 zone and I even bought a half moon ceramic thinking surely I would use it all the time...

 

But I never seem to need 2 zone and when I try it the results are not that good compared to just using the heat deflector at first and then searing aka reverse sear.

 

I thought surely 2 zone would be nice for cooking vegetables. Searing on one side and then softening on the other but I found just using the warming grate or the natural cool parts of the grill (ie coals that are not as hot or stacked up as high) far easier and with better results.

 

Another thing I found is that its ironically very hard to control the temperature with 2 zone at least on the Akorn. The direct side quickly gets too hot which then increases the overall temperature of the grill and you loose grill real-estate.

 

I see some people put on an iron skillet on the cool side of a 2 zone but my iron skillets are too big for my Akorn (Lodge really needs to make more skillets with out long handles ie baking dishes) and besides the iron skillet may not get the direct heat but it will eventually heat up very hot like the rest of the Kamado and hold on to that temperature.

 

One rational I see for 2 zone on big grills especially oval shaped is for smaller cooks but wouldn't it be more ideal to just cook in a smaller place in the center of the grill since you will have equal airflow (ie just use a smaller coal basket or something)?

 

So I'm curious how useful people find 2 zone cooking on their Kamados? Do they it do frequently or is it rare?

 

 

 

I find that it's very, very useful.

 

 

I do so on any cook where I'm doing meats and sides at different target temps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...