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So far I've done a few briskets and a bunch of chicken on the Akorn in addition to high-temp cooks. Specifically on the briskets I'm nailing the probe tenderness and moisture, but there's just the barest trace of a smoke ring. I've tried using more or less wood, adding the wood before and after lighting/getting clean smoke, using a water pan or not, cooking fat up/down, doing most of the cook at 225 or 275... nothing seems to help the smoke ring reaction. My theory is that the Akorn in particular is way too efficient to produce enough CO/NO2 to fix the myoglobin. I say that because people I know who use eggs or KJs have better luck producing smoke rings, but burn way more charcoal, which makes sense.

 

Anyone have any tips? Soak wood? (Haven't done this yet.) It's getting frustrating as I've had no problems getting a decent ring in offsets, vertical water smokers, or even a cheapo gas grill set up for two-zone. Thanks.

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You are correct, the Kamado is too efficient to produce a good smoke ring. 

 

The smoke ring is only a visual effect, it doesn’t enhance flavor or mouthfeel.  I don’t worry about it. 

 

You can dry brine with a little pink salt or celery salt.  I have seen reports of people adding a couple Webber briquettes to the lump.  I have never tried either. 

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Smoke ring is a product combustion gases.  Since the Akorn is so efficient, there isn't a lot of combustion needed to maintain low and slow temps.  An offset cooker on the other hand chews through wood and charcoal like crazy in order to maintain the temperature, and by doing so, a TON of combustion gases pass through the cook chamber which gives you that nice smoke ring.

 

While you're unlikely to see a smoke ring like you can get on a different type of cooker, one thing I have experimented with and had some success is cooking at higher temps (275-300).  At these temps I can see there is a good deal of smoke coming out of the top of the cooker (lots of combustion).  When I cook at 250 or less, you can barely see smoke coming out.

 

In my recent post "Sticky Asian Ribs" you can see a smoke rib on my rib, something I hadn't seen much of before this.  I cooked those ribs at about 275 which I think helped produce the smoke ring (and also, a noticeable increase in the smokey flavor).  I also made sure there was plenty of wood in the cooker by putting more wood chunks in than usually done in the past.

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Put the meat on cold, right out of the fridge and shoot for temps in the 275 range +/- 15 degrees. I'm sire you already know this but the smoke ring doesn't change the flavor at all, it just adds that nice color. So if you want it for presentation try what I did and you'll notice a significant difference in the smoke ring. 

 

I found this out accidentally not long ago with a rib cook. I was pressed for time and decided to turbo cook a couple of racks of ribs. Lit the Akorn and while it was coming up to temp I seasoned the ribs and removed the membrane then put them in a few minutes later once the smoke had turned a lighter color. The Akorn still wasn't up to temp and I ended up over shooting it a bit and it hit 300 at one point early in the cook. With a minor vent adjustment it held around 275 for the majority of the cook. The ribs still came out really tender and had a noticably different smoke ring than I usually get, more similar to what I get on my Chargriller offset that consumes a ton of fuel and requires nearly constant monitoring.

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I've tried putting the meat on cold: trim the night before, refrigerate, rub, refrigerate for an hour, then on at internal 40F; doesn't seem to help. I think the efficiency is just too much. As for temps I've run it at 275-295 and then at around 240-250, no real difference. Not going to go for curing salt since I think the hamminess just takes over the beef flavor when using salts as opposed to smoke-derived nitrates. I think next time I'll try to put it on as cold as I can get away with without freezing at 275 and see if that helps, along with a little more aggressive trimming.

 

My uncle's used an Egg for at least 15 years and said last time he did a brisket he got 1/4-1/2" ring. I'll have to ask him about it but I know eggs burn a little more fuel than Akorns so it makes sense.

 

I've never tried a reverse, but IME it's far easier to spike the temps in an Akorn than it is to lower them so it may be difficult to pull off.

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  • 2 years later...

Weber kettles produce a nice smoke ring. I like smoke rings because they look nice. Especially, when I have guests. You can smoke the brisket on a Weber kettle for a couple of hours. Then, transfer the brisket to a kamado. Works for me when I Sous Vide brisket . This technique might not be for everyone, but an option if smoke rings are important to you. 

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