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horseshoes

My pork and briskets are dry! Tried low and slow, tried 300F...any ideas?

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5 hours ago, Chasdev said:

Where in the cooker are you placing your temp probe/s?

There's a difference (and some debate) on where you sample temp data.

If you place cold meat near a probe, your fan will blow like crazy trying to come up to the set point.

I've always been a cook grate probe position guy but with Kamado dome temp may be the way to go.

I run my digital probe next to the analog probe where it sticks through the dome.

 

 

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I always put my probes at the grill, but not too close to the meat. I use a second thermometer, and also check the dome temp periodically to have 3 points of reference. Once it is up to temp, all 3 tend to read within a few degrees of each other.

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16 minutes ago, horseshoes said:

It was still keeping it warm, so do you think that hour or so would have been what completely killed it? And would that make it too tough to pull?

 

 

I'm almost certain that this contributed to the problem. As soon as it's done, double wrap tightly in heavy duty foil. You can leave a probe in to monitor the temp but this should hold several hours in the cooler. Some people believe wrapping immediately can cause it to continue cooking and overcook. That has not been my experience.

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Ok another failure at 225. Most of it was overcooked and falling apart as I cut it. Except the section of flat opposite the point, that was like shoe leather.

 

I was probing it quite a bit and starting to wonder what “done” feels like. On the top half near the point, it felt tender for quite a long time, but the opposite end was still tough and springy. So, I thought I would let it go longer until the bottom half felt easier to probe. After 2 hours or so it still wasn’t feeling good but I knew the top half was done long ago and it was probably getting ruined (a theory which proved correct).

 

I did rest it wrapped in paper and a towel in a cooler for a couple hours, pulled it out of there with temp still at 158.

 

An interesting observation that I made was about a 50 degree (!) temp difference at the grate in opposite corners towards the last half of the cook. As I said above, they were pretty consistent once the grill was up to temp initially, but this apparently changed over time as the charcoal burned and shifted to the back. The front right side of the grill, where the end result was shoe leather, was 50 degrees cooler than the back left part of the grill (where the point was). It seemed like the natural hot spot was the back left, but this shifted to back right when the fan was going...which makes sense because that is where the bottom vent aims.

 

How does everybody usually arrange their brisket? Mine was fat cap down, point on, point side towards the back left.

 

I think I am going to do some more tests with 4+ different probes and see what the temperature differences are in different configurations, and see if I can get things distributed a little more evenly. 

 

If KJs are just inherently really uneven at low temps, it would be good to know how to best place the meat to even things out. Although I would have guessed having the flat side on the colder side would be ideal, apparently that didn’t help me much.

 

In any case, it seems like reference temperatures that people are talking about when they cook are absolutely useless because it depends entirely which corner on the grill they probe. One person’s 225 can be another person’s 275 or 175 depending which corner you are in! The only thing that is a reliable reference to compare apples to apples is the dome temp.

 

I’m gonna use up some of my cowboy lump (since that tastes like ####) and do some dry run experiments, but I’m curious what others think.

 

I wonder if KJ made the same discovery and this prompted the change to the deeper shape in the KJ Classic III and the slo-roller thing.

 

I do have the KJ ash basket, so maybe I can use the divider that it comes with to light one fire in front and one in back. I usually run without it to make more room for lump.

 

Still though, I’ve seen plenty of youtube vids and forum posts of people cranking out awesome briskets on a KJ classic 2, so it’s definitely possible. I just have to figure out what variable I’ve got wrong here. My cooks are way longer than expected, so that’s probably a clue that I am sampling temp somewhere much cooler. 

 

 

 

 

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When I do a low and slow cook, I use half of a KJ firestarter and start the fire in the middle of the charcoal. The fire spreads out from the middle after that. As others ahve noted on here your KJ may have a different burn pattern for the charcoal.

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I haven't much experience with brisket but I've smoked more than a few butts over the years. I've cooked it low and slow, hot and fast and usually haven't run into too many problems. I think the main reason for that is that I know my grill. Whether it was my offset smoker, Akorn Kamado or my Big Joe I know it's nuances, strengths and weaknesses.
 
I think you're on the right track figuring out how your Kamado cooks but IMO you may be overthinking this a bit. Smoking is more art than science and like others have pointed out, rather than focusing so much on temperature points, pay attention to the look and feel of the meat. Every couple hours check the internal temps to figure out if you need to rotate the meat becuase it's cooking unevenly and if it looks dry spritz it.
 
My suggestion is to set a baseline for your smoking process. 
  1. Decide between low and slow or hot and fast.
  2. Fill your ash basket with the same amount of charcoal each time.
  3. Light the charcoal the same spot(s) each time.
  4. Choose which variable you are going to control and then keep testing until you find what works for you.

Looks like you are a note-taker already, for me that was important so I could keep track of what I was doing different when I was first getting started. Now I have the process down and when I change something up it doesn't make a huge difference because I have my process down pat and am only changing one variable.

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If you're having trouble with the brisket, you could always separate the flat and point.

 

I was trying to read through all you posts as far as technique goes.  Seems like you're changing things for the better (e.g. probing for doneness vs. relying on temperatures).

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