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John Setzler

Kamado Guru Frequently Asked Questions

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Kamado Guru Frequently Asked Questions

 

Greetings Gurus... I’d like to start this document to answer some of the most frequently asked questions that appear on this group... with my own bias of course! These questions, when posted to a group like this, do NOT come with a single and agreed-upon answer. Most of the questions that appear here have answers that are based on the opinions and demographics of whoever is providing the answer, so here are mine:

 

Question: Which size kamado grill should I buy as my first grill?

 

Answer: You should buy the mid-size or the 18” diameter grill model as your first grill.

 

Why? Because you can do about everything you would ever want to do on this size. Sure... there are some instances where a bigger grill is better but there is also a work around for about any situation you might come across. People are going to tell you to that it’s better to have too much space than not enough. If you believe that then go ahead and buy the larger grill. I cook a LOT of food on the grill. I cook on my grills frequently. I cook on my grills a lot more than the average person does. I cook a much wider variety of food on my grills than most people do. My 18” Kamado Joe Classic is my go-to grill. If I could only have ONE grill, THAT is the one I would want. For most of my cooks, the bigger grill takes longer to stabilize and is just an overkill for the task.

 

Question: I am going to buy a kamado grill. Which brand should I buy?

 

Answer: If you ask this question in a forum like this, what you will get is an answer from everyone who says to buy whatever brand it is that they own. The first question you need to ask is the one above. Decide which grill size you want to buy and then buy the most expensive one your budget will allow. Typically, you get what you pay for. If it comes down to $100-$150 variation in price between two competitors, look at the features that are included with the grill and see which one suits your needs the best. Once you have an idea of what you have to choose from, go to the company website and use their dealer locators to find a place close to you where you can go physically see the grill. You want to be able to put your hands on it and see the build quality and see the differences between one grill and the next. You may have to go to more than one location to see the various brands you have to chose from. If your dealer carries more than one brand that you are considering, don’t hesitate to ask them for their advice so you can compare it with any advice you have already received. Support your local dealer!

 

Question: What are the ‘must-have’ accessories for kamado grilling?

 

Answer:

 

1. You need the ability to cook over direct AND indirect heat. If your kamado grill does not include a heat deflector kit for indirect cooking, that is a must-have item.

 

2. You need a decent quality instant-read digital thermometer. Meat is cooked to specific internal temperatures. It is NOT properly cooked for a specific time at a specific temperature.

 

There are a LOT of other wonderful accessories for kamado grilling, but these two are the only must-have items. Let your cooking experinece determine what accessories you want. Don’t buy anything before you realize if or why you need it.

 

Question: What’s the best charcoal for kamado grilling?

 

Answer: Hardwood lump charcoal.

 

There are a lot of brands to choose from. I have personally used about 10 different brands and cooked successfully on all of it. I think some brands are better than others and I have my own favorite brand. My suggestion to YOU is to buy what is convenient for you to start with and learn how to use it and control your grill with it. Once you have mastered the operation of the grill, experiment with different charcoal brands. In order to really evaluate a brand of charcoal effectively, you will need to cook with 3 to 5 consecutive bags of it to get a good feel for how it behaves in your grill environment. You can’t get a ‘feel’ for how good or bad a charcoal brand is by using a single or even a partial bag of it. There are always consistency variations from one bag to the next, even within the same brand. A good cook has his/her preferences in charcoal but a good cook will produce good food on any charcoal.

 

Question: I have my new kamado grill! What’s the first thing I should cook on it?

 

Answer: Nothing!

 

If you are new to kamado grilling, there are a couple steps you should take BEFORE putting any food on your grill. There is a small learning curve associated with controlling the temperatures inside a kamado grill. And controlling the temperature inside the grill is a fundamental learning procedure you need to MASTER as quickly as possible. Once this process is mastered, you can cook anything you like at any time. Your first task as a kamado owner should be to fill the firebox with charcoal, light that charcoal, insert the heat deflector and grill grates and stabilize your grill at 250°F without the help of any electronic gadgetry. In order to do this you should use one or two fire starters and bury them in the charcoal bed as deep as possible. Light them and let them burn with the lid fully open on the kamado grill for 10 minutes. Once that 10 minutes has passed, install the heat deflectors and grill grates and close the dome lid. Open your bottom vent to about 25% and open the top vent about 50%. DO NOT open the dome lid during this process. When your dome temperature reaches about 175°F, close the top vent to about 25% and let the temperature continue to rise. When it reaches 200°F, close the top vent a little more. Do this again at 225°F. If the temperature STOPS climbing before you hit 250°F, open the top vent back up a little more. Once your grill gets stable at 250°F, let it sit untouched and see if the temperature changes. If it goes for 20-30 minutes without going up or down, you have been successful. It’s not uncommon for the temperature to swing a little at this stage. Your ceramics are still absorbing heat. If you need to increase the heat inside your grill you will open the vents a little more to increase the airflow through the grill. If you need to cool things down, you will close the vents to decrease the airflow through the grill. Once the grill has gotten to temperature, it takes a while for vent changes to be noticed on the thermometer. It can take 20-30 minutes to see a temperature change sometimes. It’s more important to NOT overshoot your target temperature. If you do, don’t fret. If you catch it quickly it’s easy to bring the temp back down. If you do not catch it quickly it can take quite a while to cool the ceramics back down to your target temp. This process takes practice and you should practice it a few times to master the technique. Ceramic kamado grill stabilize and hold their temperature VERY WELL without any help in optimal conditions. The one condition that creates problems with stabilizing the temperature is wind. If you have windy conditions, you need to try to block wind from entering the lower vent of your kamado as much as possible.

 

Question: Now that I know how important it is to understand how to control the temperature on my grill, what should I cook first?

 

Answer: A Boston Butt

 

I always recommend a boston butt as a first cook for a lot of reasons. This process teaches you several other important aspects of kamado cooking. A boston butt is a very forgiving piece of meat and it’s really hard to mess it up if you pay attention to a few simple things. Patience is one of those things. The meat will be ready when it’s ready and not before. This process also teaches you good lessons in how to control the temperature and stabilize your grill. You will quickly see exactly how stable a ceramic kamado can be.

 

Question:  Where should I measure the temperature inside my grill?

 

Answer:  It doesn’t really matter on a kamado grill.

 

Your kamado grill comes with a dome thermometer.  It’s perfectly capable of providing you with temperature readings that will get you through any cook you wish to do.  

 

Question:  I didn’t believe the previous question and answer so I bought a digital thermometer system.  When I put the pit probe inside my grill, it does not read the same as my dome thermometer.  What is wrong?

 

Answer:  Two thermometers inside a kamado grill will never or very rarely read the same temperature.  Which one is right?  Chances are both of them are right.  Since you have made the decision to try to chase precision and perfection in your temperature readings, you will be constantly perplexed by this question.  A temperature probe that is too close to the meat on the grill will not read an accurate pit temperature.  A temperature probe that is placed too close to the outer edge of a grill when the heat deflectors are in use will not read an accurate temperature.  A temperature probe that is placed too close to the heat deflector will not read an accurate pit temperature.  A temperature probe that is placed in a grill where a heat deflector is not in use will will not read an accurate temperature.  If you can’t get an accurate pit temperature with a digital pit probe unless a bunch of these conditions are met, why  own one?  See the previous question and answer.  The best results I have gotten with digital pit probes is to place them about 2 to 2.5 inches above the meat right in the center of the grill space.  This usually requires clipping the probe onto a skewer or some other object that is stuck into the meat.  The question always comes up about grate temp vs dome temp.  There is a variation in some cases but it’s insignificant.  When cooking with a heat deflector the grate vs dome temperature variation is not enough to worry about.  It will not change the dynamics of your cook.

 

More to come...

 

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19 hours ago, Marty said:

Good solid information.  I agree this should be pinned. My only question is when you have answered all of these on going questions from those just starting--what will we have left to talk about?? LOL

 

We'll still be answering the same questions, you can count on that. 

 

Most every question someone could ask has already been answered if they just did a little searching. (even the obscure questions) 

 

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8 hours ago, Lumpy_Coal said:

Don't forget about the all famous question: "How many barbecues do you need?!" Lol

Sent from my SM-G900W8 using Tapatalk
 

 

As many as you can sneak past the wife - LOL 

 

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