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okay experts out there! I just became a KJ member of the family and I would like to know if there are any do's and/or don'ts for my first few cooks. All tips and tricks are appreciated. I have never used this kind of charcoal either so help there is appreciated too.

Thanks all!

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When you are done cooking, close the top and bottom vent. I made the mistake of leaving it open thinking it was going to burn the coal out. The temp skyrocketed, and thankfully my seals were okay.

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Fill it up and start getting used to controlling the temp once you have that down pat it's all smooth sailing from there get into a habit of always cleaning out the ashtray and don't forget to check the daisy wheel after opening the lid to put it back in the right position mine always closes

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Lots of people will tell you, take a day with a full load of lump, your favorite beverage, and work your way through temperature settings, (low to high) and how to hold the grill stable at them. Get to know your grill well before it ever sees food. This will be more of an asset than you could ever imagine...

 

Pork is very forgiving, Beef sometimes is, Chicken takes a lot of flavor on so be careful with what wood and how much you use...

 

Burp your grill when opening to avoid hair loss due to flames (OR WORSE)

 

A good digital probe like the maverick is worth its weight in gold (shell thermometer is rarely correct)

 

and most importantly, don't forget that your old gasser will make a great storage compartment for your Kamado grilling tools!

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Read threads here. Watch videos. Ask questions. Do the research on what you're cooking and temps you need to hit before you fire up the grill.

 

In reality, this stuff isn't that hard. Relax. If found so far with my Big Joe that even while I'm in the midst of the learning curve (I'm still only 7 cooks in), you really have to try hard to cook badly!

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these guys are good!!!

 

learn your grill.  You need to know how to react to a sudden temp spike or drop without panic. This will also teach you timing when cooking ie. grill takes this long roughly to get to this temp etc. 

 

as much as you step out of the comfort zone with lump charcoal it is very automated in reality.  I think of my kamado as a convection oven.  It is set it and forget it!!!  really difficult to screw things up...

 

  • when starting out, think of the bottom air vent as a 3 zone section.  1/4 open low and slow, 1/2 open grilling temp 350 to 450, full open for high heat cooks 500 plus
  • you daisy wheel should be the same as bottom vent, low and slow has slider closed with just the circles open, grilling you may have the slider half open, high heat fully open etc. 

Make a mental note when cooking.  You will start to be able to set these dampers by memory as you go! 

 

  • for low and slow don't be shy with lump.  Fill that bowl up full!!!
  • If you are cooking something greasy, cover your deflector with foil or a drip pan below.  I like setting my deflectors in with the xrack on top of that.  I place a drip pan on the xrack, then put the grills on.  keeps the deflectors clean.  If you cook your next cook with dirty deflectors you will get a strange smell in your food.
  • NEVER PUT YOUR DEFLECTORS IN LOW POSITION FOR HIGH HEAT COOKS! YOU WILL CRACK YOUR FIREBOX
  • when lighting your pit, think of how you want to control the fire.  low and slow, light in the center of your bowl one spot, for grilling multiple spots is fine ie. 3 spots in the bowl etc. will help get the temp up quickly.
  • read as much as you can as you prepare to make a meal.  If you want to do a butt for example read the posts here.  Learn from others mistakes.  I have attempted many of meals for the first time and nailed it just be learning beforehand.
  • take lots of pictures of your cooks
  • prepare to add a second and even third kamado to the mix as you go #trifecta
  • enjoy it and don't go chasing temps.  BBQ is a journey of patience.  If your grill locks in at 250 for a low and slow who cares.  If you cant hit your desired temp on the nose, not a biggie either
  • if your looking your not cooking is so true.  Part of the allure of a kamado is that it locks the moisture in, and sets temps and maintains them.  If you are constantly lifting the lid, then you are defeating the purpose of kamado cooking.  The kamado creates its own cooking environment.... stay out of the process!!!!
  • burp the grill someone mentioned is very good.  If you open the lid to soon you will get a fire ball or a blast of heat that will create for a nice loss of arm hair!
  • clean your grill every couple of months
  • always empty your ash pan prior to your next cook.  helps with air flow
  • season your daisy wheel with some lard, Crisco, pam, vegetable oil to keep it moving smoothly and prevent rusting.
  • try not to spill juices, bbq sauce etc on your felt gasket.  That stuff can act like glue and pull that nice felt off....
  • Do not go out and buy 1000 options for your kamado.  Find out what you want and like and buy as you go to prevent waste.
  • Personally I say avoid a temp probe, it is not really needed with a kamado. 
  • THERMAPEN 100% PURCHASE or any instant read therm.  game changer in BBQ!!!
  • ask questions when you are learning just like you have here.  I am still very green in the BBQ world and have tremendous respect and admiration for many cooks on this site!
  • only use lump don't use briquettes
  • do not put meat on the grill too soon.  Wait to the dirty white smoke goes away before adding food
  • also get in the habit of heat soaking your kamado. CC brought up this philosophy on here last year.  Let the ceramics build up heat before placing food on the grill.  This will help maintain a temp as well serve as a true convection.  meat cooks more evenly and consistently
  • ALWAYS MAKE SURE THAT YOUR GRILL IS STABLE AT THE DESIRED TEMP BEFORE ADDING MEAT.  If low and slow is the plan for example let it sit at 225 to 250 for a bit.  In the beginning I was impatient and would see the dial hit my temp, throw the meat on and 10 min. later the grill is 325.  know that your temp is stable!!!

 

Good luck, have fun, post pics, and enjoy this site.  Great group of people here. This post was way longer than I had expected sorry!!

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There are a couple of mentions above concerning the importance of burping the grill before you open up the top. I think this is the most important safety precaution you can take. Get in the habit of doing it every time you open the lid, even if you are cooking at a low temperature where it probably is not strictly necessary. The discipline and habit instilled by doing so may help avoid a serious burn if you forget and fail to do so when it is necessary. The few seconds it takes to do so won't be missed, but the weeks or months it might take to recuperate from a serious burn would be.

-AD

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Best advice I could give is don't read too much, research too much or make it a bigger deal than it is.

Watch a couple of the kamado joe cooking videos and cook something.

start off with burgers or chicken maybe, you can cook anywhere between 300-450 with good results, which you prob done 1000 times before on various heat sources.

Experience is your best teacher and its charcoal and airflow.......that's it.

Last thing is make sure that you are familiar with posting pics to the forum, we love to see them. Congrats on the new grill!

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Sorry, 1 more thing:

Resist the urge to fiddle with your vents too much. If your grill is parked at 275 and you throw an 8# pork shoulder on it, temps will drop but keeps settings where they are and let the grill do its thing.

If you open the vents to adjust, chances are you'll overshoot your temps.

Most of all, have fun!

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