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Trial Cook and First Cook


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Hi All --

  Between having a full summer with lots of activities and waiting for different Akorn Kamado accessories to arrive, it took me over a month from purchasing to assembling my Akorn. 

  The good part of that is I was able to absorb info about Kamado cooking from different sources -- this website, a kamado cookbook and YouTube videos, so I was familiar with a few details when I finally did a trial cook a couple of weeks ago. 

  I call it a "trial cook" because it was the middle of August and I knew I wanted to cook out for Labor Day.  For the trial cook I decided to do the chickens shown in the first two photos below.  I also did pre-made turkey burgers, hot dogs and a smoked sausage, which don't take much skill to do.  I wet-brined and butterflied the chicken and it came out great.  After the burgers and dogs were done, I was impressed that I seemed to have guessed at a perfect amount of charcoal because my coals were about spent as I finished up. 

  Yesterday was the cook I was concentrating on more.  It's shown in the rest of the pictures -- I did pulled pork, grilled veggies, meatloaf and not pictured are salmon and hot dogs.  My dad always cooked a few different items when he barbecued and I've followed his example.  Again, I liked the results.  Due to starting later than I'd hoped for yesterday, I pulled the pork off the kamado after 4 hours and let it finish in the oven.  (I think it had gotten to 185 degrees at that point).  Then I pulled out my stone, (heat deflector), opened the vents and let the heat build so I could cook the veggies and the salmon.

  As it was getting close to time to start the meatloaf, I could see that my fuel was depleting, so I started some more charcoal in a chimney and added it just before putting on the meatloaf.  It was getting late by then.  The meatloaf recipe, (from Chis Grove's book The Kamado Smoker and Grill), said after 45 minutes at 350 degrees the meat should be done.  It wasn't.  And I could see from the kamado temperature that I was depleting the charcoal I'd added.  So, I gave the meatloaves about another 30 minutes and with the hour getting late - about 8:30, I brought them in and finished them in the oven.

  Although I didn't finish everything off using the kamado, I'm still happy with my results, what I especially like about the kamado is that I seem to have more control over temperature and that it holds heat so well.  

  I'm thinking for yesterday's cook I probably didn't use enough charcoal to get through all the cooks.  I probably started out with my firepan 1/4 to 1/3 full (should I use more?)  I imagine in time I'll get a better feel for how much charcoal to use. 

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Welcome to the addiction. Judging by those pictures you're off to a great start!

 

Don't try to guesstimate how much charcoal you'll need, just fill 'er up. Some people are under the impression (not saying this is you) that more charcoal = higher temps. But if you use proper lighting and vent management techniques you can easily control temps with a full fuel load without worrying about running out of charcoal. And as previously mentioned, shutting down the vents will leave plenty of unburned coal for reuse, so there's no worries about wastage.

 

Think about it as an automotive analogy. Filling your car with gas before a trip doesn't mean you're going to go flying down the road and get a speeding ticket. Just means you don't have to pull over and get more gas B)

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Great looking cooks Gil.  I do my meatloaf the same way and let it drain.  You should be able to choke out your fire after a cook.  I sometimes get 4-5 cooks depending on the duration and temps of course out of a fire bowl full of charcoal.

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What everybody else said about the amount of fuel.  Don't try to guess, just fill the box.

 

Nice first couple cooks!  Nothing better than a smoked meatloaf and cooking it without a pan is key, so it doesn't swim in grease like everybody's Mom's meat loaf.

 

I take it back, there IS something better than a smoked meat loaf.  It's having a second smoked meat loaf when the first one runs out.  :-D

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