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Brave Sir Robin

New Ceramic Akorn - initial thoughts and first cure

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Hey all, I'm new here. I just got my first kamado delivered yesterday, a ceramic Akorn. I'm new to this, but I know there isn't a ton of information out about this grill, so I wanted to provide some first impressions and maybe ask a few questions.

 

I started assembly around 10 this morning, and I was done by about 11:30. I did it all myself (well, my 4-year-old "helped"). I even lifted the egg into the nest myself. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but if you have a strong back and you don't want to wait for help, it can be done.

 

Assembly was easy enough. I accidentally over tightened one of the nuts for one of the shelves and broke off the screw, but there are eight screws holding each shelf, so it's not a problem. One of the legs stuck out a little and had to be pulled back to attach it to the lower tray.

 

Speaking of the legs, I was impressed with how heavy they are. I was worried the metal might be too thin, but it's a good heavy gauge tube. Once assembled, the whole thing seems pretty sturdy and well made.

 

I'm not so impressed with the grates. They are supposed to be porcelain coated cast iron. But the enamel does not seem to be good quality. The grates will require some care or they will rust. Sooner or later I will probably replace them with stainless, which I would prefer anyway.

 

Around noon I put in 8 pounds of lump and put a couple sheets of newspaper drizzled with oil and lit them to start a cure. I topped it with the smoking stone (purchased separately) and the grates. I wanted to use this time to try to understand how the temp would behave at different settings and get a feel for how quickly temps would change. I let it climb to 150 (measured with a wireless digital thermometer with probes mounted to the grates, one above the cast iron, and one hanging below the stainless warming rack) with the vents wide open then moved the top and bottom to the 1 position and watched the temps. When I did that, a fair amount of smoke started coming out around the air intake. That makes me wonder if it should be sealed up better. The temps gradually climbed up and settled around 300. Then I opened both vents to the 2 position. The temp got to about 450 on the warming rack, and 485 on the cast iron (the dome thermometer read 500). Since this was the first use I didn't want to risk burning anything up, so I shut her down at about 2:35.

 

Now, 2 hours later, the temp has gradually decreased to about 255 and still falling. At what point is it safe to open her back up to check how much charcoal was burned? Does that seem like a normal cool-down period, or should I be looking into sealing up the lower vent better?

 

Tomorrow I want to try a reverse sear on some ribeyes for my first cook. I've been doing steaks sous vide for awhile, so I want to try to recreate that perfect medium rare with a serious sear, but add some of the flavor that comes from cooking over fire. Any advice for quickly going from low and slow to raging hot as quickly as possible? What temp should I shoot for in the low and slow part? I want it as evenly cooked as possible, but I'm afraid that temps too low will make the steak too smokey. I'm thinking I should leave out the smoking stone, is that right?

 

If anyone has any questions about the grill I'd be happy to answer. Or if you have any advice, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

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I do my reverse sear stakes at 225°to an internal temp of 125°. I use the stone for the low temp cook. I will then pull out the stone and quickly raise the grill temps to the 600° range for the sear portion. This procedure creates a perfectly seared steak with an internal temp of 130°-135° for a perfect med-rare. I have a grill that sits almost on the coals that I use for searing. I don't know what you can find that would do this for your grill. I have found that if you have the fire too far away from the meat,  it's almost impossible to get a really good sear, without cooking the meat going past the internal temp you desire. Is the ceramic the same internal size as the Akron? If it is, then you can use the grate from a Weber Kettle grill and it will sit on the tabs for the stone.

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Thanks retfr8flyr. The internal size is the same as the metal Akorn, or very close. The smoking stone is the same for both.

 

I've been considering getting the Weber charcoal grate for searing. But I already have some GrillGrates, made of anodized extruded aluminum. They can absorb a lot of heat, and if I set them on the cast iron grate upside-down, they can act like a flat top grill. Works great for burgers on my gas grill. Tomorrow I'll try it and see if the Akorn can get them hot enough for a good sear on a steak.

 

I'll shoot for 225 to start and see how it goes. Do you use any wood chips for smoke for steaks? I don't want the smoke to overpower the flavor of the meat.

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Thanks Kismet. That's what I thought. I stopped monitoring temps when it got under 200, half an hour or so after I posted, and I opened it up for a bit to remove the probes. There was still a lot of lump left, which was my main concern - I don't want it to waste a lot of fuel every time I cook.

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I have had Ceramic Akorn about a month. Have made a little of everything. Steaks, hamburgers, brats, pizza, brisket, pork shoulder, ribs.

 

Make sure you are using a good therometer. I purchased Thermoworks Smoke. 

 

I'm learning vents but once you get it dialed it holds very good. Shut down takes along time stays hot but you will have alot of lump left.

 

Get your self some type of clean out tool to move the coals back and forth to get all the ash out. Add more and cook away. 

 

 

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I just finished dinner, and it was pretty great. I had a little trouble finding the sweet spot for 225, but it was between 205 and 240 the whole time, for a pretty quick cook. The steaks were only about an inch thick. I got them up to about 125 internal and removed them, put on the GrillGrates, and opened up the vents. The temp at the grate climbed up to the mid 500s quickly, which is were my thermometer maxes out. The dome thermometer read in the 300s at that time. I waited until the dome thermometer got up to 500, then I seared them on the flat side of the GrillGrates for about 3 minutes, flipping about every 30 seconds. Got a nice even sear, and then grilled some zucchini while the steaks rested. Served them with baked potatoes.

 

The steaks were a nice medium rare, and they were delicious. If I can be picky, the smoke flavor was a little stronger than I would have liked, but not too bad. When I put the steaks on the grill, there was almost no smoke coming out the top, but there was a fair amount of visible smoke coming out throughout the cook.

 

I don't have a ton of experience with charcoal. What's the trick to making sure it burns clean instead of smokey?

IMG_20180429_162641.jpg

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On ‎4‎/‎28‎/‎2018 at 5:52 PM, Brave Sir Robin said:

I'm not so impressed with the grates. They are supposed to be porcelain coated cast iron. But the enamel does not seem to be good quality. The grates will require some care or they will rust. Sooner or later I will probably replace them with stainless, which I would prefer anyway.

5ae70fe8444ea_GrillGrate.thumb.jpg.3f1148f7570e1da718274d9dd215bfd7.jpg

These fit the metal Akorn, should fit your ceramic-On Amazon for 45.00! Just put grill grate for akorn comes right up.

 

Scott

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Thanks Scott, looks like that would be perfect! I've put it in my wish list on Amazon so I don't forget. I better hold of on buying more accessories for a little while, the cast iron grates will work fine for now.

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BSR- more likely than not the smoke during the cook was caused by the fat rendering and dripping onto the bed of coals. If you are looking to keep this from happening you could try a hotter fire with the steak closer to the coals or you try a piece of cast iron on the grate to keep the rendered fat off the coals.

 

Good luck.

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No, the smoke started immediately after closing the dome after I put on the steaks. It seems that the added air when the dome was opened fed the coals, which were then choked when the dome was closed causing the coals to smoke instead of burn cleanly.

 

I guess the question is, since the kamado retains heat so well, how do you make it so the coals burn hot enough to burn cleanly, without raising the temp in the grill? Whenever I do a long smoke (maybe next weekend), I want to make sure that the smoke flavor comes from the wood, not the charcoal.

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