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KJ Newbie. Overheated Overnight.


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I apologize if this has already been discussed/answered. Last night I started up my new KJ with a full firebox of fresh lump, got the temp stabilized at ~225 after an hour. Lower vent was open around 1 inch and top vent was open to the second white line counter clockwise from fully closed. It stabilized at 9:30 and I put the butt on at 10. Temp held at ~225 until midnight when I went to bed. Unfortunately at 6am I awoke to a 400 degree KJ and a 210 meteorite of a pork shoulder. No big deal, just curious as to what may have caused this or where I went wrong. Any help is appreciated. 

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I don't own a KJ but those vent settings sound to far open for 225*. My guess is you weren't really stable at 225*. The addition of cold meat kept the temperature low for a period of time. Also wood chunks starting to burn can increase the temperature even more so when not really stable yet. 

 

My advice to all new kamado users: Never attempt an overnight cook until you've mastered vent settings for low-n-slow. 

 

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Thanks so much for the response. I started the fire with a looftlighter. The heat deflectors, not 100% sure what you mean by position, were directly on the on top of the metal rack on the firebox. It makes sense that it wasn't truly stabilized. It was a cheap butt so no harm!

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Another thing I was curious about was the smoke itself. I had a Masterbuilt electric for years and every time I smoked on it the scent of the wood was fairly intense. By intense I mean that if I was cooking with hickory chips, it was very obvious to the whole neighborhood. Not in terms of billowing smoke but in terms of scent. I did not notice this with the KJ. I used three  fist sized chunks of hickory. I also didn't note a typical charcoal taste (like Kingsfird on a Weber) on some food we grilled the first night. Any thoughts?

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Your lump charcoal burns cleaner and hotter than a pressed sawdust and filler briquette. Some lumps will give you a more "smokey" flavor profile on their own vs others it seems. As far as the smoke, when you cook hotter, the wood will also burn cleaner, thus less smoke. Three lumps sounds pretty good to get a good smoke going though if you are keeping it under 300.

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The looftlighter was too aggressive for low temp cooking, gets too many coals going at a time. Try the cotton ball method or 1/2 a lighter cube. You only want a few coals lit and spread out a little at a time. 

 

As for the lack of charcoal smell, it might be because using lump? I came from gas grilling and get plenty of pleasant charcoal aroma on the food.

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5 minutes ago, adam319 said:

Your lump charcoal burns cleaner and hotter than a pressed sawdust and filler briquette. Some lumps will give you a more "smokey" flavor profile on their own vs others it seems. As far as the smoke, when you cook hotter, the wood will also burn cleaner, thus less smoke. Three lumps sounds pretty good to get a good smoke going though if you are keeping it under 300.

Could you suggest a good lump? I just grabbed a bag of "Premium B&B" from Academy

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There could be many possibilities for any errors... 

 

Was it windy that night?

Did you use a water pan?

How much did your pork weigh?

Did you use the thermometer on grill or bought a separate thermometer for inside grill /and meat?

Did you trim off the excessive fat? 

 

 

its crazy how it kept its temp at 225' for two hours then somehow sparked it up...my only theory with that is the drippings on the butt somehow dripped into the charcoals, even with your smoking stone/grate assembled

 

I would suggest investing towards a digital thermometer; one probe for the meat, the other for the inside grill temp. It'll beep if your temp is too low/high...$30 dollars well spent!!! And now some of them can be monitored by your phone...

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1 hour ago, hungho760 said:

There could be many possibilities for any errors... 

 

Was it windy that night?

Did you use a water pan?

How much did your pork weigh?

Did you use the thermometer on grill or bought a separate thermometer for inside grill /and meat?

Did you trim off the excessive fat? 

 

 

its crazy how it kept its temp at 225' for two hours then somehow sparked it up...my only theory with that is the drippings on the butt somehow dripped into the charcoals, even with your smoking stone/grate assembled

 

I would suggest investing towards a digital thermometer; one probe for the meat, the other for the inside grill temp. It'll beep if your temp is too low/high...$30 dollars well spent!!! And now some of them can be monitored by your phone...

 

 

+1 on the water pan or empty drip pan of some sort.  If the grease drips into the fire then it can ignite and raise the temp in a hurry.

 

As for your Masterbuilt, were you using the side port to add chips or pellets?  I found that adding smoke flavor that way made lots of smoke in a hurry.  I eventually switched to the "mailbox mod" and an "amazing pellet smoke tray" for a more consistent smoke.  When I started on the Akorn I had to adjust my approach because I used to use too much smoking wood.  You will find your best approach in no time.  Happy smoking.

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I start the fire all the time with a loft lighter, but will immediately set vents to where I need them, top daisy wheel closed and vent almost all the way open. Bottom about half inch or so. This puts me at 225 at the grate and I will see that in two to three hours. I throw meat on and go to bed. That simple. With a loft lighter set your vents once lit. 

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