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My 1st over night smoke... not good.


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Hey all,

Thanks for the info. Toe.. I think you hit the vent settings right on.. bottom was closed pretty tight with the top open a bit more. I'll try flipping that around next time.

have you guys noticed the value to adding a water pan? I've read mixed reviews everywhere I go. Obviously, use of one would not have mattered in this case, but do they help in general?

I'm planning on smoking some beef this week, but it will be cheaper than a brisket! Any suggestions on a cut? The wife doesn't like pork unfortunately. So I can't do that!

 

 

 

Chuck roasts are great candidates.

 

 

You can use the search feature and really find some great ideas.

 

 

You can let them smoke like a brisket all day until they probe tender and then take them off and pull 'em apart  or chip them for pulled beef.  Great on sandwiches with your favorite hickory sauce(add a few drops of roostershire sauce to it).  

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Your problem isn't your lighting technique. Temperatures are not controlled by lighting techniques. After a while it's all going to be the same, no matter how you lit it. Temperatures are controlled by vent settings - and that's pretty much it! And you probably don't need to make any mods, either. It's mostly just a matter of getting the vent settings right.

 

From your description, I'm betting that you had the bottom vent closed down tight, and left the top vent relatively wide open? If so, switch that - leave the bottom vent open, but shut the top vent down to about the 1 mark, or maybe 0.75. The top vent is the one you really need to get right.

 

TRUE DAT.  Note if your top vent is open or it's a leaky top, with too much initial coals going, then any bottom leaks will feed the chimney effect until you get the jet engine 700F result.  Lucky it wasn't worse.

 

So tighten up the envelope top and bottom, to control the burn.  I think bottom leaks are the most common problem.  The bottom vent often has gaps against the shell.

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Gurus - I have found that the problem that most new kamado users are brought about by not doing one simple thing: they don't understand how air flow through the kamado affects temperature.

 

I tell everyone I know, even experienced kamado cookers, to spend an afternoon with their kamado, a full load of lump, and a case of their favorite adult beverage.

 

Whenever you get a new kamado, you simply MUST sit down and learn your kamado's response curve to changes in vent settings.  The very first thing is to fill the firebowl,  open the vents wide open, light the charcoal in a single spot, watch how the lump responded to the starting process.  You do this with the lid open for about 5 minutes.  Close the lid and shut down the vents to about one quarter of wide open.  Notice the temp.  You need to be able to hit 225F.  Every. Single. Time.  If your dome thermometer goes over 225, shut down the top vent even more by about another 1/2.  With a bottom vent half open and your top vent about 1/8 open, you should be able to control your fire inside the kamado and creep up on 225.  Make note of the vent setting when you do hit 225.  You maybe want to mark the bottom vent setting on the vent with a Sharpie.  Take pics.  The vents setting you use to hit 225F will not change as long as you own your kamado.  That's great news because you don't ever want to chase temps.  You don't want to have to reinvent the world for every cook.  225F is always going to be 225F.  Due to strong winds, the settings for the top vent might vary, but only slightly, and furthermore there are ways to work around windy days just by turing your kamado 90 degrees to the wind.

 

The top vent is critical in controlling temps.  Now open your top vent slightly and hit 250F.  Make note of the settings once again.  Let the kamado settle at every temp you need to hit.  Once your kamado is at 250 for about 30 minutes, open the top vent slightly again and hit 275F  Note the settings and let the kamado settle at 275F

 

When you want to hit 300F, you'll need to open the bottom vent somewhat and at the same time, close your top vent.  Open the bottom vent something like double what you had the bottom vent open for the 225F setting.  Thus, if you had the bottom vent open 1" for the 225, 250, 275 temps, open the bottom vent to 2" for 300, 325, 350, 375F.  Close the top vent back down to down to where it was for 225.  The critical thing to note here is that you're using the top and bottom vents in tandem to control airflow.  You're also see how quickly your kamado responds to changes in vent settings.  

 

For the temps in the 300+ area, you control the temps with the top vent.  Once you've got 300F dialed in, let the kamado settle.  To get to 325 from 300, open the top vent a little more and watch how temp changes.  Follow the procedure for 350 and 375.  This isn't rocket science.  It just plain common sense.  More airflow means more oxygen which means more charcoal will ignite and the fire will burn hotter.  

 

To hit 400F, open your bottom vent some more and close the top vent.  You going to repeat the procedure to hit 400, 425, 450, and 475. Then dial in 500F.

 

When you've done all this, open your vents and get to about 550F.  Now reward yourself and your family by searing some ribeye or NY Strips and enjoy!

 

Look, if I can learn how to control a fire to get the temps I want, so can you good Gurus!  I've done this with every kamado I've owned.  Bear in mind that there was variation between my BGEs, my Primos, etc.  Vent settings are specific to a given kamado, NOT a given brand.  Yes, the vent settings are close for a given brand, but they are NOT exactly the same.  

 

Finally, once again there are two important factors you need to know.  First, vent setting are not going to change for a given kamado.  You'll notice in the videos that John Setzler, Kamado Guru Administrator, posts that he knows his kamado vent settings.  He makes it look easy, and it is, PROVIDED you've spent the time with your kamado to get to know the vent settings.  Secondly, if you live where the wind blows like it does here in Oklahoma, temps can be affected by gusty winds.  To avoid temp spikes, simply turn your kamado away from the wind.  Turn your kamado somewhere between 90 and 180 degrees to the wind.  Protect your vents from gusty vents and you won't have bug temperature transients.  

 

Controlling a kamado is easy if you learn about your kamado.  Invest an afternoon, some charcoal, and some adult beverage into getting you know your cooker.  It's much cheaper than burning up a cook.

 

Enjoy the journey, have fun and make some great memories, and eat well!

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^ Pretty much the way I feel, except I don't worry so much about the exact temperatures. Rather, I take note of what temperature I get with the top vent set to 1.0, what I get at 1.5, at 2.0, etc. Your dinner isn't going to care much that it was cooked at 378 instead of 350 (your oven temp probably swings that much as it cycles on & off, even though you've got it set at 350 the whole time). You just need to be aware that it's going to cook more quickly. And eyeballing your probe thermometer while trying to hit an exact temperature can make you antsy, leading you to make adjustments much more frequently than you should. As I've said many times, you will never, ever reach a stable temperature if you don't stop messing with your vents.

 

And if possible, I think it's best to just always leave the bottom vent in the same position for all cooks - it's just one less variable to worry about.

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Hey guys,

New member here... I purchased an Akorn about a year ago and have had some trouble smoking with it. My biggest issue is with temperature and it getting hot to soon. I've looked around on here, and will try some things I've read... Back to the post topic...

I had a 8# brisket I wanted do smoke overnight, loaded up the lump and lit it up. I used the Webber starting cubes (which I've read was a bad idea..). I used more of the cubes then I should have. I know that know.. long story short, went to bed at 1am, and the Akorn was sitting right at 240, awesome! Woke up at 6am... 700+ degrees. My Maverick thermometer actually said HOT without an actual temp displayed. I had crispy brisket for a few days...

Anyway, I'm curious about some mods people have done. I've notice a lot of people putting the BGE gasket around the ash pan and the bottom vent. I've already put a piece of expanded metal on the bottom so smaller lump pieces wont fall through.. What else would be considered an "essential" mod?

My smoking "technique" (obviously needs some work): Tried the minion method, but put a little to much of the starter cubes in. I use a webber grate and a metal pizza pan wrapped in foil for my full diffuser.

My next long smoke, I will be trying the "volcano" method.

Haven't read other comments so may be repeating but my take:

700+ is not air leaks. No way no how. It was improper vent settings. I usually end up around .75/.75 give or take for weather

Brisket goes way too quick for an overnight. Ask me how I know. Expect 5-10 hours depending on size and selected cooking temp

ALWAYS triple check you've set your maverick alarms before going to bed

Stock Akorn gaskets are the best. Maybe bend your mounting tabs to since it a little tighter but stock seals well and lasts twice as long as nomex high end gaskets.

Practice practice practice. Do your next few low n slow cooks during daylight and take notes on your settings. Or even just do a few burns without food on the grill

I use the volcano, light in the center and only 1 place, and don't add wood chucks until stabilized and 10 minutes before meat goes on so I can see where the fire develops and where to place the chunks.

Good luck

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Thanks for all the info everyone.. haven't read through the last few posts but I have a question about the vents... Toe and Frosch.. If I close the bottom vent, won't it snuff out the fire? Or when you say close, do you not mean all the way? I'm still new to the whole Kamado thing, but I would think if the bottom vent is closed, the coals wont be getting air. 

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Toe, Frosch, I hope I'm stepping in your supper here, but may I offer and opinion?

 

Rhaugle - the life blood of every fire is fuel, heat, and oxygen.  Your fire box is full of fuel, once lit there is heat, and the fire needs oxygen to sustain itself.  Oxygen is about 29% of air.  What you want to do is control the amount of air (oxygen) that gets to your fuel so that way you control temperature.  

 

I think that both Toe and Frosch, both very knowledgable kamado cookers, are driving at is that instead of closing the bottom vent entirely, you close it mostly shut.  You leave it slightly open to maintain the fire, but you starve the fire by restricting the amount of oxygen reaching the fuel.  It is in that restriction of oxygen that you gain control of the fire and by extension the temperature.  Less fire, less heat and that is manifested by a lower temperature.

 

All the best for successful cooks!

 

Toe, Frosch, back to you!

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Hey all,

Thanks for the info. Toe.. I think you hit the vent settings right on.. bottom was closed pretty tight with the top open a bit more. I'll try flipping that around next time.

have you guys noticed the value to adding a water pan? I've read mixed reviews everywhere I go. Obviously, use of one would not have mattered in this case, but do they help in general?

I'm planning on smoking some beef this week, but it will be cheaper than a brisket! Any suggestions on a cut? The wife doesn't like pork unfortunately. So I can't do that!

Another thing to try is a Tri-Tip. These are alittle cheaper per pound than a brisket but weight alot less so instead of $150-$200 you pay $15-$25.

 

As for the wife not liking pork, is it that she has already had pork on a kamado and didn't like it, or she has only had it at a so called BBQ place that didn't know how to cook it? I would say once you get to know your cooker to cook up a rack of ribs or a pork butt and then let her try it. You can cook a butt and shread some and put it into spaghetti sauce. Then ask her what she thought of it. Of course this all comes with 2 major caveots: Is she alergic to pork, or does she eat Kosher only. Obviously if either of the 2 are yes then I agree don't even try to cook it. If not...... see if you can make something she will like.

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@CeramicChef -- you should post your tutorial as a sticky. It has lots of VALUABLE information. I applaud you.

 

Keep Kookin' Kewl Kats

 

LawnGnomeKiller

 

Thanks.  Maybe I'll talk with John, the Kamado Guru Administrator, about doing just that.  

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I think that both Toe and Frosch, both very knowledgable kamado cookers, are driving at is that instead of closing the bottom vent entirely, you close it mostly shut.  You leave it slightly open to maintain the fire, but you starve the fire by restricting the amount of oxygen reaching the fuel. 

 

Yes and no. In its unmodified form, the CGK's bottom vent doesn't seal 100% shut even when it's all the way 'closed'. I think this can actually be a bit of an advantage, simply because it's trivial to get it set in the same position every time, which is effectively open just a tiny crack. But I still recommend leaving the bottom vent open and focusing on controlling temps with the top vent only, because temperatures seem to creep less that way.

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OP... You mentioned water pan. Did you have one in there ? That makes a difference too and I avoid using them after I learned my lesson.

Water will regulate the temp as it evaporates. Once it's gone the kamado will run away with the temp.

Advice on the vents is spot on. Top almost closed and bottom to fine tune the airflow. Remember heat rises so reduce the rate the air leaves the kamado also reduces the air coming in.

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