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Getting the Big Joe really hot 600+


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Hey guys - I have had a Big Joe since March and have enjoyed it.  However,  I've tried to make the grill temp really hot a few times, but can't seem to break 400 degrees. Evidently I need a hot kamado for Dummies lesson. So basically I have been working off 2 different brands of lump. The Kamado Joe brand usually has nice large blocks that I put on the bottom, and then Cowboy brand from Costco that burns perfectly fine but is more prone to smaller pieces - on the top. I usually use 3 starter block pieces to get things going.  So any tips, recommendations, or just a basic 1, 2, 3 would be great.  Twice I have tried to reverse sear, where the sear part was never achieved (and trust me - your family starts thinking you are weird when you talk and curse to Big Joe like he is a human).  For the record, the grill is new and I don't believe this is in anyway related to a gasket issue or any other hardware problem. 

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Dave

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How long are you giving it to ramp up once you start going for the sear?  Assume you're starting with a good full load of lump, right?  As has been mentioned recently in some other threads, if you are opening your top vent all the way you are letting a lot of the heat escape, so you may want to not be full open on the top - more like half maybe.  Also, make sure you don't have any airflow issues with excessive ash buildup or anything.  If the airflow is impacted you could definitely have that type of problem.  I haven't had my Big Joe very long, and I have always cleaned the ash out of my other grills after every cook (which is probably a bit overkill, but it's just how I am).  However, on the Big Joe, although I find that ash tray thing handy.... it almost necessitates cleaning after ever cook as there just isn't much room for ash (my opinion).

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OK good tip about the top. I will try that. I'm pretty good about keeping the drawer clean. I guess I will use more lump this time as well. Out of curiosity, how long do you guys keep the lid open when you are starting things up?  Also if i'm going half the Joe indirect with one of the deflectors in, should i just pile all the charcoal on the direct side? It seems like that would allow more air to come in. 

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I leave my lid open until my starter goes out.  Maybe 10 minutes or so - if that even.

Not sure on the charcoal question.  By putting it all on one side you're also letting a lot of air bypass it instead of being drawn through it.  But that's just what my thoughts are... and they are not based on anything scientific.  :)

I know on my Big Joe I have to remove the grate and sweep a lot of ash off the wings of that little assembly that funnels it to the slider drawer / tray / whatever you want to call it when I clean it.  It really piles up on those.

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First and foremost, War Eagle!  I’ve had my Big Joe for almost two years and never have had an issue with getting to high temps. Fill it full

of charcoal and make sure the holes in the firebox are not blocked or clogged.  I typically open the top vent most of the way and the bottom vent is fully open.  I put two fire starters in and close the grill after 10-15 minutes.  I typically just do my steaks at 500 degrees and I get really nice grill marks doing them about 2.5-3 minutes on each side.  I bought a half cast iron grate that I use for steaks. I have the heat deflector on one side and will finish them on that side.  Good luck. 

 

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Thank you snaumcheff and War Eagle! Just an update to everyone....I actually cooked some filets last night  and everything worked out great.  My verdict is that I was not putting enough charcoal in the pit.  Per the video posted above, I filled it up to just past the middle air vent holes and lit in 3 places. That being said...it still took over an hour to reach 600.  But its progress and the steaks could not have turned out any better (sorry should have taken pics :/ ).

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One thing to consider is heating the Kamado. 

 

I just did pizza; a big, indirect fire and a long heat soak at 600+ to get the lid hot, so the top cooks. An hour to get up there, then another half hour to get the body hot. Pizzas taking 2 hours seems reasonable. 

 

Just checked  the firebox, and there's very little ash, just a lot of partially burnt wood. And the inside is ever so clean!

 

Have fun,

Frank

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Exactly, for a fire you need fuel, air and heat. Before the kick ash basket, I had to meticulously clean the Joe of ash as @KismetKamado said. But, went even further to cleaning under the firebox itself, if I wanted to get up to high temps quickly. Also, I had to ensure my lump was stored properly in a dry place.

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