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Interesting cook today


SmokeyMac
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I cooked four racks of baby backs on the Big Joe this afternoon (all on the main grill, didn't need to use the grill extender).  It was an interesting cook and a good learning experience for a few reasons:

 

1)  Gusty 15-30 mph winds makes controlling temps, shall we say, a bit more of an "adventure" than normal.  It's like having a fan blowing into your lower vent while randomly switching between low, high and off.  After fighting the temp swings for a while I decided to just ride the wave as long as things didn't get too far out of hand.  I won't say it was a "fight" to control the temperature, but it required more attention and tweaking than usual.

 

2)  It's amazing how much moisture a kamado retains.  I've never been one to spritz/spray my ribs during cooks, even in the old offset smoker, but for whatever reason I decided to try spritzing the baby backs with apple juice today.  Did it once after about an hour and a half, and a short time later there was moisture percolating/pooling around the top vent/daisy wheel and dripping down the dome!  Relative humidity outside was only 14%, so it wasn't humid weather causing it.  I ceased spritzing activities, drank the rest of the apple juice out of the spray bottle and just let 'em cook the rest of the time - and they came out with a nice crunchy bark, but very moist, tender meat underneath.

 

3)  Not sure if it was the wind issues causing it or a quirky probe/wire or what, but the ET-732 and my dome thermometer were sometimes in disagreement by up to 80 degrees.  So far it's been my experience that once everything equilibriates in the kamado, they'll match within a few degrees - but I had the 732 showing grill temps at 300 degrees and the dome thermometer showing 220 sometimes.  They'd even out, then the dome temp would rise and the grill temp would drop, then they'd swing the other way.  Crazy. 

 

4)  A visiting friend from out of town who's never experienced the deliciousness of slow-cooked ribs on a kamado can put away a lot of bones and make a lot of various noises of approval and satisfaction in the process.  He picked a sample off one of the racks as I was getting ready to pull them off the grill, and I almost had to fight my way through him to get them onto a platter and into the house.  I think he would have happily eaten his dinner right there off the grill!  :)

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A nice simple solution to wind gusts is to turn your kamado away from the wind. Get the lower vent facing 90° or 180° to the prevailing wind. Thus, if the wind is out of the South, as is generally the case here in OKC, I'd turn my kamado to face the East or West or in the extreme, I'd turn it so that it would face North. That solves gusts causing temp swings via the lower vent.

However, the need to swing the kamado around wasn't all that often. On low-n-slow cooks, the lower vent was open just a slit and thus there was very little sensitivity to the breeze. There was the rare instance when the breeze would gust to 40+ mph and then there would be spikes.

Next time try closing the lower vent to a slit and maintaining temps with your upper vent. Either that or put a wind lock in front of your kamado. A patio chair with a semisolid back works well.

There are all kinds of ways to solve temp spikes, all you have to do is think like a kamado. After 20+ years doing this in more than a few states, you learn a few tricks. But then, I'm more hard headed than most kamados, so thinking like a kamado comes naturally! LOL!

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I try not to drive myself crazy by correlating fire grate with dome temperature readings. For one, you are measuring temps in 2 different places and whether or not they agree or disagree is, to me, unimportant. Go with one or the other. Most kamado bi-metal thermometers in the dome are notoriously bad anyway. I generally rely on one or the other only in a ballpark sense. To me, the only important measurement is the IT of whatever I'm cooking.

 

The really important thing in your post is that your friend agrees you are putting out some great tasting ribs. That's what really counts.

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