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Charcoal for Vision


Dale
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I'm beginning to understand a little more about this kamado cooking on the classic and so far I'm really jazzed, I like it. I'd like to get your opinion on charcoal. I've got a birthday party coming up Monday and will be cooking three chickens -- probably roasting them with a Puerto Rican spice, for a family get together. The pressure is on, its my wife's family, and I want this to be tasty!

 

So far, I've tried two kinds of charcoal, the first was Royal Oak from Home Depot and then I got a bag of Cowboy at WalMart. I did a roast chicken with the RO and it was perfect, just a hint of smoke flavor -- but I was running out of charcoal in the firebox and pulled it at 161 degrees, thinking it would it would come up a couple degrees as it sat. Next time I'll wait until 165 :)

 

Then I tried beer can chicken with the Cowboy charcoal and 1 chuck of applewood. The smoke flavor was too strong and although the chicken was pretty good when I first pulled it off, left-overs had a strong smoke taste. Its possible I didn't have the cowboy charcoal burned enough and there was too much smoke, but it was at the right temperature.

 

Last night I cooked a London Broil, making sure the fire was hot and there was very little smoke coming out the chimney (450 degrees). The steak came out great, but the smoke flavor was a little strong and since I didn't add any wood for flavor, I'm convinced this is from the charcoal. Cowboy lump is probably made from Mesquite since it comes from Texas/Mexico and it seemed there were some 'branches' in the bag. Mesquite is great for grilling steak, but I've always thought it was too bitter for smoked meats. Years ago a guy from Texas told me it was fine for brisket, ribs or pork butts as long as you brined it or sprayed the meat with some kind of citrus juice during the cook.

 

I know there are a lot of people who like Cowboy lump, but from here on out, I'm probably going to scratch it from my list. But, maybe I'm missing something here, and there's a way to get a milder flavor from the Cowboy lump.

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Get some FOGO from Amazon. Great size distribution; it's mostly XL and L pieces with some medium. It's been my go to lump for quite some time now. I use it exclusively for all high temp cooks, i.e. > 325°. For all my low-n-slow cooks I use KK Extruded Coconut Charcoal.

Fogo has a relatively neutral smoke profile, so it doesn't add harsh smoke to your cook as is often the case with other lump charcoals. FOGO is dense, burns hot, and burns a long time. Finally, you get charcoal, not concrete, not plastic, etc. that you dont need. Give it a try; you won't regret it.

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I had the same experience with the Cowboy Lump, strange smell and taste and leaves a ton of ash.  I was lucky enough to find a local grocery chain that carry Best Choice Lump ( http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpdatabase/lumpbag34.htm ) burns clean, lights fast and no off  smells or strange debris.

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Dale a little late for your get together, but several things could be going on, 1 Some people are real sensitive to smoke ,2 The last cook may have been a drippy cook and coated all your charcoal. 3 maybe throwing things on too soon.  Unfortunately it may not be the charcoal company for powder charcoal as the people that handle it could be the cause. I have steered away from some bags as you could tell they had been handled roughly. I used cowboy this past weekend and made some pulled pork, now since this is a long cook and I use a water pan for drippings ,every thing that has recently dripped has burned off ,so this is a perfect time for baking,so I made cookies.No smoke flavor     

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Thanks to all who have been sharing information.  I am new to my vision (one cook under my belt) and I am glad that folks are having these kinds of discussions.  I've got a wife and kids that don't enjoy the heavy charcoal flavor, so any chance to dial that back should result in more enjoyment of my meals cooked on the vision.

 

I just bit the bullet and ordered a bag of Fogo and will see how that goes.  There's one Rockwood dealer on the north side of Chicago, but with travel time and/or delivery costs, the Fogo comes out a bit cheaper for me with the free Amazon delivery.  I will still give Rockwood a try, but since I'm trying to buy all of the other gadgets right now, a couple bucks saved here and a couple bucks saved there are worth it at the moment.

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Never tried it myself as we like a little smokiness on grilled food, but from what I hear the extruded coconut charcoals are probably the best for little to no smoke profile, I know several of the baked goods done on a kamado have been done with this fuel to prevent that smoky flavor profile.

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Welcome to the club.  I am 3 cooks old myself.  I bought the vision 2 years ago, however, the condo complex I lived at did not allow patio grils (well, the circular prohibiting grills came 3 months after I bought the vision at a costco close out in fall).  Anyways, got to try it out after I moved to a SFH recently.

 

First cook with Lazari - the second cook with a mix of Lazari and Best of West.  Third cook with Best of West.  I like Best of West (good mix of huge and medium chunks, a little bit of small bits).  The huge chunks break up easily if you strike it with a heavy tong or the grill brush).

Thanks to all who have been sharing information.  I am new to my vision (one cook under my belt) and I am glad that folks are having these kinds of discussions.  I've got a wife and kids that don't enjoy the heavy charcoal flavor, so any chance to dial that back should result in more enjoyment of my meals cooked on the vision.

 

I just bit the bullet and ordered a bag of Fogo and will see how that goes.  There's one Rockwood dealer on the north side of Chicago, but with travel time and/or delivery costs, the Fogo comes out a bit cheaper for me with the free Amazon delivery.  I will still give Rockwood a try, but since I'm trying to buy all of the other gadgets right now, a couple bucks saved here and a couple bucks saved there are worth it at the moment.

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