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How do I add wood with the Stone in place?

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I've had an Akorn for a few weeks now, and I'm really enjoying it.  Starting to get the hang of controlling the temperature! 


I've done  a few longer smokes, 5-8 hrs, and I'm running into a problem of adding chunks of wood.  


This is my normal method: 

Light the charcoal with an electric starter, about 10 min.  

Put the stone and grate in place and leave the lid up for 5-10 min

Close the lid and open the vents partway until I'm within 50 degrees of the target temp. 

Close the vents almost all the way, temp goes up another 30ish degrees, and I'm ready to cook!  


Here's the problem.  If I put the wood in right away, it mostly burns off while the grill is getting up to temp.  If I try to drop more down the side in the space between the stone and the inner wall, it seems that the wood never really burns.  I guess I could take the meat off and remove the stone every hour to drop wood into the center, but it seems that this would really slow the entire process down a lot.  


In case you need more detail, I tend to put a lot of charcoal into the fire pit.  Almost all the way up to the tabs.  Also, I use briquettes.  I prefer the uniform temperature and the longevity.  

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Put the wood chips in a pouch made from aluminium foil. This avoids direct contact between the chips and the fire. I learnt this trick from a John Setzler video. You should never have to get into the firebox during a cook.

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I've come to the understanding that the meat doesn't care if you preheat the grill, the fire does. 


I prefer to leave the grill empty, no grate or deflector, when first lighting and until I get a nice clean smoke coming from the vent. This takes time and restricted air flow for low-n-slow, or you get a big fire that burns too hot.


Once the white smoke clears and it no longer has an acrid smell, open the lid and add chunks of smoking wood, then the deflector and grate, then the food and fire control probes (thermometers). The white smoke you get this way should smell a little sweet, and fade after a short while. No worries, it's still flavoring the meat for hours to come. You'll need to bring things up to temperature, because adding the deflector and food will drop the temperature inside (unless you leave the lid up too long).


You can also start with your smoking wood at the bottom of the fire box. Light the very top layer and let it burn down to the wood, which will burn faster than the charcoal leaving hollows in the fire that collapse and consolidate your fuel. 


Have fun,


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I use a chimney starter, dump the charcoal through the hole in the center of the grill, and close the lid, setting the top vent barely open and the bottom vent open about one inch.  I lock the lid and wait for the temperature to cozy up to 300ºF.  Now I'm ready to cook.  Stones, etc. would go on at this time.


If you want smoke, soak the wood and put it into a handmade aluminum-foil pouch and poke a few holes in it.  Or, buy the smallest aluminum pan you can find, cover it with aluminum foil and poke holes in that.  Set this down on top of the charcoal pile right after you've dumped it in.


You shouldn't have to add wood.  Kamado grills are miserly with fuel.  I've slow-cooked roasts all day long on a single charge of fuel.  Let the temperature ease up to 300ºF or so, set the vents mostly-closed, lock the lid, and check the thermometer from time to time to be sure that the temperature is remaining steady.

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  • 2 months later...
On 10/17/2018 at 12:52 PM, TiCoyote said:

That's a good idea, @MikeRobinson.  I should preheat the grill without the grate or the stone.  I bet the stone actually inhibits the dome from preheating.  Plus, I can drop in the wood once the coals are hot, and the stone will be easy to handle because it will still be cool.  


What are you preheating without the stone or grate?  The dome doesn't absorb any heat, it's just the grill coming to temperature.


As far as adding wood after the charcoal is heated, I don't know why you would wait, but all I do is remove the grate, lift the stone with the grate tool and toss the wood on. 


However, for long smokes, I add the wood to the charcoal when I'm loading the grill up.


Use wood chunks.  Lay out a first layer of charcoal on the bottom of the firebox with something in the center to prevent charcoal (you can skip this since you are using an electric starter and don't need the center empty).  On top of this layer add your wood chunks; however much you want, but make sure you can add charcoal on top of this layer and still add the stone.  Add the third layer, charcoal only this time. 


Proceed to light the charcoal in the center of the full fire box.  Let it burn for 5 minutes or so and add your stone and grate at this point.  Keep both the vents wide open till a thermometer on the grate hits approximately 150F.  At this point, adjust your vents to the settings you would normally use and get the grill up to temp.

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  • 4 months later...

I used the "ring of fire" method with my ribs and chicken this 4th. I place my wood chunks a little ways down the ring, so when the initial burn stabilizes the temp and coals, the smoke wood ignites. Works like a charm. I get a big kick sitting on the deck and noticing the "ring" has run into a new chunk of wood with fresh smoke that brings a smile to my face. :)

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On 7/10/2019 at 5:10 PM, paintflinger said:

Broke my cast iron grate the other day and purchased a stainless replacement that has the side hinge.  There's enough room that I can get in, lift the smoking stone and toss wood into the center of the fire if needed.  Just another option for you.

I broke mine last year. I got a stainless one for the Akorn that accepts the upper grate. It's fine but I am still having withdrawals. 

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