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First cook


jrocketrn1
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I am new to charcoal and to my Vision Kamado S.  I learned my first lesson that the grill can get very hot very fast but I was able to control the temp and keep it in the 350-375 range to cook 2 chickens.  I am a little worried about trying to smoke at lower temps though.  Even with all vents closed, it seems to hold temp.  I cooked the chickens with the top vent almost closed and the bottom between 1 and 2.  Is the key to lower temps not having a lot of the lump lit at the beginning?  I used a chimney this time.  Last question is, if I completely close all vents, how long should it take to choke out the fire?  If it burns through all the lump does that mean I have a leak somewhere?  Sorry if the terminology is wrong and sorry I didn't take pics of my first cook!  Oh and one more thing,  when finished, with both vents closed I still see a lot of smoke coming out of the top.  Does this mean the top isn't sealing properly?

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You first have to pick a way that you prefer to light the grill ,I have used a chimney many times for slow cooks during mainly the colder months ,during the warmer months I use the electric igniter the reason is the grill is by an outlet in the warmer months. Since you were at 350-375 it would take 2 1/2 - 3 hours before you can cover it .If you only put in a small amount of lump in ,then the lump would be gone. If you filled it up to the air holes you should be able to hold 350-375 3-4 hours  . The grills are not made to be air tight ,If I cook burgers and close it down ,I will have smoke coming out of both top and bottom. If you want me to help you with the lower temp ,you can p.m. me. Right now I wouldn't be worried ,its a learning curve to it.    

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What flyingscot64 said; there is a learning curve to using these things and once you get the hand of it, well it feels damn good!  And of course, there are rewards.  Great food!

 

To start up my lump, I typically have used an electric starter.  I find it's much more consistent and quicker getting my lump going.  I've done the ol' cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol a couple of times but I seem to have to put a lot of work into getting that going and it typically takes multiple attempts and lots of my wife's cotton balls.

 

I used to do my "low-n'-slow" cooks much like you describe in your post; the top vent is open a fraction of an inch, and the bottom vent is pretty much on "1" or sometimes even less.  Now I have a CyberQ and I have that hooked up for the slow cooks and I get ridiculously even temperature control!

 

To choke my fire, it found it takes more than just shutting down all of the vents and letting it sit.  I use an $8 ash rake I bought from Amazon to knock out the coals and spread them around. (https://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-500-586-Ash-Rake/dp/B004CPFBQ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497979514&sr=8-1&keywords=ash+rake)

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For low and slows, only light a very small amount of charcoal. Kamado's are incredibly efficient. I light one spot of charcoal with one ball of cotton soaked in alcohol and a lighter. Then I arrange a few pieces of charcoal on top of it and leave the bottom vent and top open for a few minutes until they catch. Then I close the top and set my vents. It is hard to bring it back down when there is too much charcoal lit/too big of a fire. 

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I use an electric starter.  When doing a high temp cook I bury it off in the heart of the coals and leave it for ten or so minutes.  

For slow cook I place the starter to one side and I barely get one or two coals lit.  I barely crack open the top vent but open the bottom one about an inch.  I let it get to temp and stablize for about 1/2 to 1 hour.  

Once the temp is stabilized I toss in my hickory chunks, set in my lava stone (used as a deflector), put the grate back on and add the meat.  

I usuually do my slow cooks over night and I get up the next morning and the temp is always right where I left it the night before. 

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It's interesting to hear how folks do things differently. I have a classic B and for high heat sears, I use a chimney to get the coals hot. I have found it takes for me less time to get it up to that 500-600 when I put a full hot chimney on top of the lump and then spread it around. For low and slow, I put a Weber was starter cube in the ash drawer, light it and let it go. When the temp gets up to around 200, i close her up and it floats between 225-260ish, which is good enough for me. When I close up from the high heat cooks, I just close the vents and walk away. If I am in the 550-600 range, it does take more than a few hours to cool down, but I always find my B has only used about half the lump that was in there. Again, very efficient. If you close her up and still burn all your lump, then you do have a leak and need to look into it as it shouldn't do that. 

 

The best thing is to take a day and just burn some lump and play around with the vents to see where your cooker gets to. Ceramic Chef and a couple other guys recommended that to me a when I got mine a few months back and it was great advice. Once you get to know her, you will love it!!

 

Good luck!!

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Thank you everyone for the advice, I definitely think learning curve is a part of it.  I did talk to Vision and they sent me silicon to put around the rubber gaskets for the ash box.  I am currently doing my first cook after the added silicon.  This time when I shut it completely up the temp actually started to fall after some time.  I am grilling today, but plan to do a slow cook in the next day or two to see if it goes better

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I'm doing my first ever slow smoke right now (spare ribs). I stuck the electric lighter in the empty kamado and buried it in lump charcoal. Plugged it in for about eight minutes. Pulled it out and immediately placed water-soaked hickory chips in foil to one side, dropped in my deflection stone, put on the grates and closed the lid with the all vents open full. When it got to a little over 200, I set both vents to barely open. 

 

Been about three hours and has held steady between 250-275

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