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Not sure it was ever 'recommended' per-se.

I have one and use it when I want to bring up some coals to hot temps fast for burgers or steaks.

 

I bought a couple of bags of coal for general testing and have settled on Royal Oak Lump as my go-to coal...

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Depends on your preferences. A little bit of expanded metal, wired to the coal grate makes lifting out all the coals extremely easy. The ash pan should be dumped/cleaned after every use just to make sure no water+ash mix ends up in your ash pan and rusts out your ash pan at an early age. Those 2 make lye. Also with the coals removed, installation of the ash pan is much easier IMHO since you can see the bracket that holds the ash pan while standing without having to get down low to see well enough to install it. If that makes sense. Also, I doubt you will ever find a time where using a basket will not hold enough coals/wood to smoke 20+ hrs on one load. And if you want dual heat zones, put the coals on the inside/outside of the basket depending. The basket also gives a more complete burn of the coals since they are stacked (even more so using lump).

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One cheap way to add a basket is simply to use a fryer basket. I grab this one from lowes, cheap, then I just broke the handles off. The biggest benefit for me is that it keeps all the charcoal under the smoking stone, so I avoid burnt meat from any direct heat while going low and slow. And the akorn is so efficient that I have not ran out of fuel in a 12 hour cook with it. ecb892481e25379be3295c7521c5df1c.jpg

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I have 2 akorns and one has a basket the other one I've not made one for yet. I can say it's easier to light and keep temp for me with the basket. It makes clean up easier and I can drop a grate down there to sear on. I like the add on for sure, could be personal preference but still like mine. I have expanded metal for a second one just not made yet.

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