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John Setzler

Smoke - What You Need to Know

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14 hours ago, Alpharetta_EggHead said:

@John Setzler Thanks for the great video. I like that trick about putting the chips in the foil. Can't wait to try that this weekend. Also, I'm fascinated by your "cheat" with the pink salt. I had no idea.

 

The pink salt cheats are easy to spot.  They create VERY well defined and DARK red smoke rings.  

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sorry, I have a really stupid question. is it generally a bad idea to try to reuse unfinished wood blocks? some of my cooks came out with a really bad burn taste. I think I know why now. Some cooks I reused old wood chips. can someone confirm my suspicions? 

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A partially-burned piece of wood is called....charcoal. :)

 

Those unburned pieces should not have any effect on the cook other than to ignite a bit more quickly. 

 

Maybe the food went on too soon? The ideal is thin blue smoke so if it’s still fairly thick  and white then just wait a few minutes more. 

 

Many times I’ve cranked up my Kamado with wood chunks and watched as it came up to temp, pouring white smoke into the neighborhood. After a while, distracted by other tasks, I’d look at the grill again and the smoke had changed. Thin. Blue. Gauzy almost. It’s a beautiful thing - but requires patience. 

 

The irony of barbecue is that we need far less time to develop searing temperatures. Achieving low and slow temps takes time. 

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I've noticed when I light up my Kamado Joe initially, there are billows of smoke that last perhaps about 30 minutes are so.  I believe it is both from the initial burn to the coals, along with cooking off the bits of grease and food from the deflector from previous smokes.  

 

For a cleaner taste on my food, I tried a bit of a different technique on my Kamado Joe, and I was curious what your thoughts were:  I light the coals as normal, give it about 10-15 minutes, then put the deflector on, close the lid, and bring it up to the desired temp (250 degrees lets say), and I watch the chimney.  At first, there is white smoke, that eventually dies down to next to nothing, after about 30 minutes to an hour depending...It is at that time, that I then remove the deflector, and place a couple chunks of wood in, and then replace the deflector, and add the food, and proceed to the cook  Now, any of the smoke coming out of the chimney, I know, is pure wood smoke flavor.

 

The last cook I did, I noticed a distinct difference in the flavor of the food.  The pecan wood I used, the flavor really came out, tasted much cleaner.

 

I'm curious what your thoughts are?  Is this extra care I give to precharging the kamado before adding the wood, worth it?  Most of the videos I've seen, the suggestion is just to add the wood either in and under the coals, or right at the lighting of the coals.  Am I wasting my time, in other words?

 

Also, I've observed that my smoke dies down after about an hour.  I've read and watched over and over again, that even if you don't see the smoke, it's there, and that less is more when it comes to smoke.  Is that true?  Would you tweak my methods in any way, to ensure good smoke flavor throughout the cook?

 

Thanks all!

 

Sincerely, t

 

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10 hours ago, tomlevine1 said:

... For a cleaner taste on my food, I tried a bit of a different technique on my Kamado Joe...

 

...  Is this extra care I give to precharging the kamado before adding the wood, worth it? ...

 

... Also, I've observed that my smoke dies down after about an hour. ...

 

You're onto the same technique I've settled on: let the fire get hot before you cook. If this is what you mean by "precharging" it's not just worth it, it's mandatory!! Food will not taste right if you don't wait. 

 

And, yes, adding smoking wood will cause billowy white smoke, which will die down. But the smoke flavor got onto the food, and will soak in with time. Note that the "smoke" ring doesn't need smoking wood at all, just charcoal!

 

Have fun, 

Frank 

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22 hours ago, tomlevine1 said:

I've noticed when I light up my Kamado Joe initially, there are billows of smoke that last perhaps about 30 minutes are so.  I believe it is both from the initial burn to the coals, along with cooking off the bits of grease and food from the deflector from previous smokes.  

 

For a cleaner taste on my food, I tried a bit of a different technique on my Kamado Joe, and I was curious what your thoughts were:  I light the coals as normal, give it about 10-15 minutes, then put the deflector on, close the lid, and bring it up to the desired temp (250 degrees lets say), and I watch the chimney.  At first, there is white smoke, that eventually dies down to next to nothing, after about 30 minutes to an hour depending...It is at that time, that I then remove the deflector, and place a couple chunks of wood in, and then replace the deflector, and add the food, and proceed to the cook  Now, any of the smoke coming out of the chimney, I know, is pure wood smoke flavor.

 

The last cook I did, I noticed a distinct difference in the flavor of the food.  The pecan wood I used, the flavor really came out, tasted much cleaner.

 

I'm curious what your thoughts are?  Is this extra care I give to precharging the kamado before adding the wood, worth it?  Most of the videos I've seen, the suggestion is just to add the wood either in and under the coals, or right at the lighting of the coals.  Am I wasting my time, in other words?

 

Also, I've observed that my smoke dies down after about an hour.  I've read and watched over and over again, that even if you don't see the smoke, it's there, and that less is more when it comes to smoke.  Is that true?  Would you tweak my methods in any way, to ensure good smoke flavor throughout the cook?

 

Thanks all!

 

Sincerely, t

 

Your doing it right. 

 

If you want the smoke to last a little longer, put a few chunks around the perimeter of the lit coals. As the cook progresses and the fire burns, it will start those other pieces and you will get a longer smoke. Yes smoke is there even when you can barely see it. One other thing I do is. If I'm looking at a long smoke on say a brisket or butt. I use smoke packs made from double wrapped heavy foil and soaked wood chips. 2 large sized packets. Punch a few holes in the top.  One next to the coals that are ignited and one towards the rear. In most kamados the fire tends to spread towards the rear. By the time the first one has finished doing its thing the fire has spread to the rear and then that pack takes over. 

 

I can have thin blue smoke for a very long time doing it that way. Once the meat hits about 170 its done taking on anymore smoke anyway. Be careful though. You can over do it. Everyone's smoke tolerance is different and you have to find out what works for you. 

 

Oh and yes....soaking chips and even using chips is taboo. But it works for me. I don't soak chunks when using them for short smokes like ribs. 

 

 

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On 1/28/2019 at 10:38 AM, landscaper said:

... double wrapped heavy foil and soaked wood chips....

+1

 

OK, I'm not using chunks, not chips, so I make charcoal if they're heavily wrapped... but foil wraps of varying tightness are a great way to moderate smoke duration and intensity. A recent and permanent add to the tool kit!!

 

Have fun,

Frank

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I am new to Kamado cooking.  While waiting for my first Kamado Joe to be delivered, I've been reading in this forum and watching the videos, in preparation.  I learn best by doing.  But figure I am clueless right now about it all and need a base of information.  I will be using the KJ lump charcoal.  I also have a wood pile of aged white oak that I can use for smoking (I want to try and smoke salmon).  I liked the smoke video and I get it that less is more.  But is there another option other than using the heavy aluminum foil?  I'm probably worrying about nothing here, but I've read about health risks associated with aluminum with food.  I've also read where this is not the case.   I want to err on the side of caution though.  I figure if there is another way I'll not do the aluminum.  Is it okay to just use chunks of the white oak as it is?   Or is this going to make for a harsh smoke taste?

 

 

Edited by JABF99

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17 minutes ago, JABF99 said:

I am new to Kamado cooking.  While waiting for my first Kamado Joe to be delivered, I've been reading in this forum and watching the videos, in preparation.  I learn best by doing.  But figure I am clueless right now about it all and need a base of information.  I will be using the KJ lump charcoal.  I also have a wood pile of aged white oak that I can use for smoking (I want to try and smoke salmon).  I liked the smoke video and I get it that less is more.  But is there another option other than using the heavy aluminum foil?  I'm probably worrying about nothing here, but I've read about health risks associated with aluminum with food.  I've also read where this is not the case.   I want to err on the side of caution though.  I figure if there is another way I'll not do the aluminum.  Is it okay to just use chunks of the white oak as it is?   Or is this going to make for a harsh smoke taste?

 

 

When I add wood for smoking, I just add the chunks of wood in with the lump charcoal.

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After some experimentation in the last few weeks, I've started adding in the wood chunks in the BOTTOM of the firebowl, then placing all the charcoal on top.  I find it works much better in providing a "cleaner" smoke taste.  Previously I would just add chunks randomly.  I'm a convert.  Smoke taste is more refined.  A bit more hassle to place, but noticeable difference.

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Smoking wood at the bottom has advantages. Using a "volcano" fire lay, the fire naturally burns down into the wood, so it all burns. Smoking wood burns faster than charcoal in my experience, so it leaves a cavity under the charcoal when it's gone. As the fire burns down, that cavity collapses, putting new fuel in contact with the embers. All good.

 

However, the problem of fire maturity remains: when is it safe to put on food?

 

Have fun,

Frank

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9 hours ago, JABF99 said:

I am new to Kamado cooking.  While waiting for my first Kamado Joe to be delivered, I've been reading in this forum and watching the videos, in preparation.  I learn best by doing.  But figure I am clueless right now about it all and need a base of information.  I will be using the KJ lump charcoal.  I also have a wood pile of aged white oak that I can use for smoking (I want to try and smoke salmon).  I liked the smoke video and I get it that less is more.  But is there another option other than using the heavy aluminum foil?  I'm probably worrying about nothing here, but I've read about health risks associated with aluminum with food.  I've also read where this is not the case.   I want to err on the side of caution though.  I figure if there is another way I'll not do the aluminum.  Is it okay to just use chunks of the white oak as it is?   Or is this going to make for a harsh smoke taste?

 

 

 

 I like to use a cast iron dutch oven to "wrap" my wood chunks. I particularly like this mini dutch oven from Bed Bath and Beyond: 

https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/artisanal-kitchen-supply-reg-pre-seasoned-cast-iron-4-inch-mini-dutch-oven-in-black/1061633827?keyword=cast-iron-dutch-oven

 

mini_DO.thumb.jpg.9d90de11ce5e1fdf780021303a4cb183.jpg

 

 

mini_DO-1.thumb.jpg.a6bd75fd841a0fd7a51c15d0430759c8.jpg

 

It's big enough for one or two chunks of wood depending on how big you cut them.  I take the non-cast iron shiny metal handle out of the top which leaves a small hole for the smoke to exit the dutch oven. One or two of those and you are set for life. It's only 4 inches in diameter so it is small enough not to affect how you like to build your fire.  You can place it anywhere in your firebox, top, bottom, wherever and it just makes clean smoke.

 

The smoke profile is amazing and it really makes a difference. If you are burning your wood chunks then you aren't getting as clean smoke as with this method. You could add wood chips, pellets, chunks or whatever kind of smoking wood you want. As a bonus, it'll make beautiful charcoal out of wood chunks and you can re-use that to cook with.

 

I personally don't have a problem with the aluminum but some do... either way this method works and saves you money on the foil in the long run.

 

 

Edited by T Yelta
added picture

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