Jump to content

Burning Charcoal to Fast?


dbh21
 Share

Recommended Posts

I just picked up a KJ Classic. I'm new to cooking with charcoal. 

 

So I have grilled two times on the KJ now. The first time I loaded the lump charcoal up to around the round vents in the ceramic wall. I got it to 500F well enough, but then I couldn't keep it there long enough. I cooked my chicken fine (for maybe 15 mins), but I was also grilling naan and the temp died down and couldn't get past 375. When I shut it down, most of the lump was burned out.

 

The second time I filled it much more. Just shy of the lip of the ceramic above the round vent holes. This time I was grilling chicken again, but found the heat was much more fickle. And lots and lots of sparks. I cooked the chicken for 20 mins at 500F or so and shut it down. A lot of charcoal was used.

 

The first time I used half the heat deflector, the second time I used none. Don't know if that makes a difference.

 

I'm trying to figure out how full to fill the unit. I thought more was fine since excess gets used the next time. Also how long should the charcoal last at 500F? I assumed I should be able to cook longer than say 30 mins at that temp. I'm planning on smoking in a couple days at 250F and hoping I learn how to keep it going long enough.

 

I have no sense for how charcoal burns. Totally new at this. The sales guy said 4 bags of 20lb lump would last me the summer if I cooked 2-3 times a week.

 

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forget about ever trying how full to fill your KJ with charcoal for a specific cook.  You'll never get it right.  Simply put, it takes whatever it takes to get your cook done.  

 

ALWAYS START WITH A FULL FIRE BOWL OF LUMP.  Don't feel bad ... yours is common mistake for new kamado cooks.  The lump that remains at the bottom of your fore bowl is completely good for the next cook. Simply stir it to knock the ash off and put new lump on top to fill your fire bowl and you're good to go.

 

The first cook I suspect you burned up all your lump and that explains everything.  The second cook is explained by the 500F temp you're cooking at. How hot are you cooking chicken?  At 500F it has be almost incinerated!  The deflector won't make all that much difference. You might also want to checked to see that your fire grate at the bottom of the fire bowl isn't clogged by small pieces of charcoal that migrate down during a cook.

 

Your salesman is an idiot and lied to you, especially if you're going to do high temp cooks like you seem to be doing.  I tend to burn on average a 35# bag of lump charcoal in my kamados every 10 days to 2 weeks or so.  

 

PS - Welcome to Kamado Guru and welcome to The Obsession!  Please stop by the Introduction Section and give us a proper introduction.  Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Up to a certain point, it can depend on the quality/size/density of the lump charcoal you're using.  If you're using the KJ lump, it's good quality lump and should last a while but at higher cookings temperatures you're just going to go through some lump.  I tend to use the denser lump (KJ, Fogo, etc) for low and slows because with larger pieces they tend to hold stable temps better and not clog as easily.  I use the cheaper lump (Royal Oak, Frontier) for grilling and higher temp cooking.

 

To give you an example, a full load of Royal Oak in the KJ Classic will hold 650f for about an hour for my pizza cooks.  KJ lump will go for 1.5 hours.  It's a matter of BTU's so you need more lump to hold something like 500f for at least 30 minutes. And it will burn up at least half of the charcoal at those temps.  I don't think you have to load the fire bowl full for simple, quick cooks such as a few chicken breasts and veggies.  But for high temp steak searing or any low and slow smoking, I'll load it up.  There's a learning curve to these things.

 

It all depends on what and how you're cooking but If it's 2-3 times a week, with a mix of grilling and smoking, you will need at least double what the sales rep told you.  This is the reason I wait for sales and buy RO when it's $.50/lb and use it for grilling and high temp cooks.  On my Big Joe, I don't have to worry about using RO for long cooks as the fire bowl holds 3x the amount of charcoal compared to the Classic. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ok... this is some of the info I need. Thanks. I was cooking the chicken to attempt to replicate tandoori chicken. Quick and hot.

 

I'm smoking ribs next at 275... so I understand a fully load of lump should easily last 4-5 hours. Actually, it should last 12+ hours for cooking pork shoulders or brisket, no?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You shouldn't ever run out of fuel for a given cook. Per your example, ribs at 275°, (good call), you'll have plenty, and as you correctly stated, at that temp, you'll have ample fuel for a long cook, a butt or brisket for instance. A semi popular comparison is to that of a gas tank in your car. Fill it up, period. Run it wide open, it burns up quickly. Cruise control, well, you get the picture. ALWAYS start with a full tank.

Rob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ok... this is some of the info I need. Thanks. I was cooking the chicken to attempt to replicate tandoori chicken. Quick and hot.

I'm smoking ribs next at 275... so I understand a fully load of lump should easily last 4-5 hours. Actually, it should last 12+ hours for cooking pork shoulders or brisket, no?

You should easily get 12-24hrs out of a full load of lump at 275F. Ok 24 might be pushing it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the big Joe I have gotten 20 hours at 250 before I shut it down and had lump left over. In the classic I have gone 14 hours at 250 no problem. I have cooked pizzas at 600 for two hours on classic and big Joe and classic no problem. Fill them up!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...