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I’m a bit annoyed by vague recipes.  Instructions like “Add some oregano” or “Add your preferred amount of garlic” are meaningless the first time I follow a given recipe.  Moreover, charcoal cooking temperatures, like medium-high, are especially worthless to me.  I know, I know, some of you will say, “Just cook it to the proper internal temperature irrespective of the heat.”  I do, but grill heat plays an important role in meat texture and Maillard reaction production.  


So, since a medium temperature on my Kamado Joe is significantly different from the medium temperature attainable on my two-burner hibachi, I set about trying to determine if there’s an actual temperature consensus among professional cooks.  The first (and only) cookbook I reviewed is a collection of other authors’ recipes, Weber’s Greatest Hits, by Jamie Purviance.  He doesn’t differentiate between grate temperature and dome temperature, but his definitions appear to be–


High............ 450° to 550°
Med-High.... 400° to 500°
Med............. 350° to 450°
Low............. 250° to 350°


So, what temperature do you use when you read Low, Medium or High?  And do you measure at the grate or dome?


BTW, I prefer grate temperature since I consider dome thermometers to be unreliable, and even if accurate, don’t tell me much about the heat surrounding the meat.

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Interesting, I am equally as annoyed by exact recipes. I use them as references to advise not laws to obey. Particularly, since they can't factor in things such as the effect of sea level, where more or less liquid is required in a given recipe, etc. :-D


I only use the dome therm and really haven't established exact numbers for various ranges of cooking. But, I guess it would follow more closely the KJ Dome Therm. I also am overlooking cold smoking much as Jamie is. Anyway, my low starts at ~205 - 215° range, (I don't see how one could possibly omit going at least as low as 225°) and runs perhaps to ~290°. Once I get to 295° or so, I figure I am starting to roast somewhat. The sweet spot there being around 350° to 375°. Above that is medium high which I use for direct cooking of chicken, burgers, tuna steaks, etc. Searing begins at ~475°, my optimum for thick chops and ribeyes being 525° - 600° .

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Thanks for the prompt reply, CentralTex.  


I should have made something more clear—since the book is from Weber, it only focuses on grilling.  Smoking temperatures aren't considered.


I appreciate your reasons for disregarding recipe specificity.  But...consider your ample experience versus another reader.  I can use all of the help available.  That's one of the reasons why I am attentive to John Setzler's comprehensive instructions.  Think what might happen if your automobile's manual said, "Change the engine oil when appropriate."


All of that aside, I truly appreciate your help.

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Those look like generic temperature ranges, consistent with conventional ovens. That's perfectly fine; many recipes just need an oven and an attentive cook. The food's not always picky. 


As to temperature consistency inside the Kamado, there is none. When cooking direct (no deflectors), thermometer readings are augmented by radiant heat, so probes will read much higher than air temperature. Install the deflectors, and you still get hotter air collecting in the dome than down at cooking surface level, and it's hotter around the perimeter than in the center. 


I use it to control the fire. Probes at the exit vent will usually read higher than a probe on the grate, and the exit vent temperature will lead any changes in grate temperature. That allows you to make adjustments before the food known something changed. Just be patient or you'll chase your tail. 


And I think vagueness in recipes is to accommodate personal taste. I knew a gentleman who was allergic to garlic, for example, so his preferred amount was none! Conversely, some recipes (baking) require precision. 


Have fun,


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While the IR from open coals will cause the probe to read higher than the air temperature, that IR will also cook the food faster than convection alone at that temperature. So I assume that the reading will be close enough to accurate as far as the grill's "oven equivalent" temp. That assumption may be pretty inaccurate, but good enough for me. But you will have to flip or rotate the food to even out the effect of radiation.


I only concern myself with precise temp control if I'm baking or smoking, and even then I just want it to be in the neighborhood most of the time. For most cooking, I get the temperature to something that seems right, then pull it when it's done. You'll make mistakes, eat some dry pork chops or have to put some undercooked chicken back on the grill. But you learn, you get better, you eat good food, and you have fun.

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I'm with you pmillen on following recipes. It's one thing if you have been cooking the same recipe on the same grill for years. At that point you don't even really need to look at the thermometer, you just know by how much lump you put in, seeing how much smoke is coming out of the vent, and how long the meat has been on. However, for something new I agree with you 100% about following recipes. When ever I am looking to try a new recipe I go to allrecipes.com and look for the recipe with the highest rating and the most reviews. I figure if 1500-2000 people rate it 4.5 plus stars it must be pretty damn good. Then I follow it to the tee and guess what, it's pretty damn good!!!

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11 hours ago, pmillen said:

Change the engine oil when appropriate."


Not sure about this analogy though, as "change every six months" or every 60,000km etc. are all just an estimation anyway based on the average number of heating and cooling cycles over this period and, anecdotally, include a large contingency factor so we are wasting a lot of oil following these instructions.

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Indirect cooking, I rely on grate temp. Direct, I go with Dome temp. Simply based on the fact that, If you're cooking Indirect, typically what you are cooking is more sensitive and requires closer attention. Whereas Direct cooks typically mean you want the exposure to the heat source for desirable texture, and as such, your temp is more of a guideline, and your cook requires you to be attentive and observe if the conditions are favorable. No two vessels will cook exactly the same at "x" temp. not even ovens.


Low for me is 300 or less

Med is 3-400

Med High is about 4-500

High is 500+


Hope this helps.

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I only go by dome temperature. Can't really remember the last time I used a grate thermometer. I think @Catsn'doos has the different temperatures spot on.


"Low for me is 300 or less

Med is 3-400

Med High is about 4-500

High is 500+" 


As for recipes, doughs, cakes etc... are about the only recipes where exact measurements are fairly critical. And they should be listed in weights not amounts. Your 1 cup of flour can vary a good bit from my measured 1 cup. So doughs listed as measurements is a fairly useless recipe (in my opinion anyway). On the other hand 300 grams of flour is 300 grams of flour. 


As for things like "garlic to taste"....... The more you like garlic the more you add. Always start with less let it cook a bit and then taste. If you need more add more. I have a bunch of recipes in my personal cookbook that have no measurements. Depending on my mood that day I may use more onion or maybe less onion. Once you get over the idea of exact recipes and start going by how it tastes along the way all your cooks will taste better. 




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Pmillen, I'm the same as you. I admit, that cooking strictly by the rules will result in mediocre result (so many variables that are omitted by general rules). However, when starting out and dealing with a learning curve for your Kamado and Environment, General Rules to start with help with the Learning Curve.

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The only temps that are of any concern to me are the temps at what you are cooking 


I enjoy cooking from recipies and will follow the recipie the first time and will then adjust to suit me for further cooks 


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