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danix

real world owners manual

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What are some tips you expert users have for newbies?  I've never had used anything but a gas grill before, but at $499 I had to get a Pit Boss.  Yes, I've read the (sparse) owners manual.

 

Here are some questions I have:

  • I'm having a hard time figuring out how much wood/charcoal to put in it.  How high do you go?  The BGE has a noticeable lip as the limit, the pit boss does not.
  • it's hard to start it.  Use rolled up newspaper or fire starters?  
  • Once it's lit, do you close the lid right away?  If not, when?
  • Do you really have to wait for all the coals to turn light grey/ash color before cooking?
  • What's the function of the vents?  My son and I always argue about whether to make it hotter you open the vents (letting more airflow through but losing heat which rises) or closing the vents partially to keep heat in (but causing less combustion).
  • I have a hard time getting it above 400 degrees.  Why?
  • Can you reuse/save wood/coals if you want?  Last night I tried closing top and bottom vents and it put the fire out, so I assume I can relight those coals next time?

 

On the positive side I do notice the taste difference.  My burgers have this nice reddish color while on the gas grill they now look grey in comparison. :) 

Thanks in advance.

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2 hours ago, danix said:

What are some tips you expert users have for newbies?  I've never had used anything but a gas grill before, but at $499 I had to get a Pit Boss.  Yes, I've read the (sparse) owners manual.

 

Here are some questions I have:

  • I'm having a hard time figuring out how much wood/charcoal to put in it.  How high do you go?  The BGE has a noticeable lip as the limit, the pit boss does not.

fill it up. 

  • it's hard to start it.  Use rolled up newspaper or fire starters?  

I use firestarter cubes. Rutland brand is the cheapest. 

  • Once it's lit, do you close the lid right away?  If not, when?

light cube. Leave lid open for 10 minutes, then close. 

  • Do you really have to wait for all the coals to turn light grey/ash color before cooking?

No! Wait for the temp to stabilize unless you are just cooking hot and fast. 

2 hours ago, danix said:
  • What's the function of the vents?  My son and I always argue about whether to make it hotter you open the vents (letting more airflow through but losing heat which rises) or closing the vents partially to keep heat in (but causing less combustion).

Kamados are a fuel rich oxygen starved environment. Open the vents more, more 02, more heat. 

2 hours ago, danix said:
  • I have a hard time getting it above 400 degrees.  Why?

Poor air flow

2 hours ago, danix said:
  • Can you reuse/save wood/coals if you want?  Last night I tried closing top and bottom vents and it put the fire out, so I assume I can relight those coals next time?

 

Yes

2 hours ago, danix said:

 

On the positive side I do notice the taste difference.  My burgers have this nice reddish color while on the gas grill they now look grey in comparison. :) 

Thanks in advance.

 

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Real world owners manual? - this book is about as close as you're going to get for a real world owners manual. Good for all kamado brands. Read this book (it's an easy read). Will teach you 52 different kamado techniques and recipes to go along with those techniques. I consider it a must read for new kamado users. 

 

The KAMADO Smoker & Grill Cookbook 

 

By Chris Grove 

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-61243-363-9

 

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6 hours ago, ckreef said:

Real world owners manual? - this book is about as close as you're going to get for a real world owners manual. Good for all kamado brands. Read this book (it's an easy read). Will teach you 52 different kamado techniques and recipes to go along with those techniques. I consider it a must read for new kamado users. 

 

The KAMADO Smoker & Grill Cookbook 

 

By Chris Grove 

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-61243-363-9

 

 

+1 on this

 

I was pointed this way by this forum and it helped me heaps.  Just remember it's only guidelines and one thing Chris does is encourage you to experiment and think for yourself.

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Fill the bowl with more than you think you need. I usually go 2-3 inches below the rim. You a lot of charcoal so you don't need to refuel during long cooks and you need a lot to get super hot. 

 

Use a propane torch to start. A Bernzomatic with push button start that plumbers use to solder is a good choice. 

 

Depending on on how well they are lit, you can close the lid (vents wide open) or leave it open a couple minutes. 

 

No!  The ash over thing is for Kingsford briquettes which give off a horrible stank smoke when first lit. You should only be using lump charcoal so no need to ash over briquettes, plus if you do you will never get the fire under control. 

 

Charcoal grills run fuel rich, low on air.  The more oxygen (air) you allow to flow, the more combustion and heat you get. To run a PB in the 200-275 range for smoking, light a small part of the charcoal, close the lid and leave the vents open until it comes up to 150-200 or so and then close down to a sliver. Maybe 1/8" opening on the bottom vent.  Just enough air to keep the fire going and hold a low temp. For a hot cook light more of the coals, and leave the vents more open to allow a bigger fire. If the target is 400, start clamping air down at 350, but leave a bigger opening.  I leave the top vent slightly more open than the bottom so the bottom is my main control. 

 

If you can't get to 400 you either have the vents closed too much or not enough charcoal. To get really hot you need a deep bed of burning charcoal, not just a single layer. 

 

Yes you can reuse charcoal. Don't worry about waste and end up not putting in enough. Load it up, shut down when you are done and save what is left for the next cook. 

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If memory serves, the book says 4lbs of lump is max and that is just above the holes in the firebowl.

In reality you can put as much as you like in there as long as there is room to place the deflector too.

On mine 1/4 inch open on the bottom and 1/4 open on the top will hold 250/275 for 14 hours or more if i have enough lump in there.

Lastly, for short cooks like burgers or even cut up chicken pieces you can run any charcoal you like but for longer cooks like pork butt or ribs or briskets you should invest in high quality lump like FOGO or B+B.

Edited by Chasdev

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