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Paul in AZ

First couple Akorn cooks

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New to this and starting experiments.

First try: T-bones.   Following directions I saw somewhere I direct cooked at high temp.   Two minutes a side and a couple more with everything shut down.  Meat was well done -AKA overcooked- and there was no meaningful browning.   I'm guessing it needs thick 3lb steaks and a grate much closer to the charcoal.   Failure.

Is there a good way to cook steaks on an Akorn?   Maybe a grate that fits closer to the heat like where the stone goes?

 

Today St. Louis ribs.   Once started I closed the bottom vent to 1 inch and the top half way.  At 200 degrees the bottom closed to ~1/8 inch and soon after closed the top some more leaving ~1/8th.    This maintained a steady temp of 250-260F.   Not bad I figure since the incoming ambient air was 108 degrees.  Doesn't  take much fire to double ambient air temp.

Cooked naked -no rub or sauce or wrapping.   Total time not quite 4 hours.   In spite of the temptation to peek I didn't.   But I did wish they had put a glass window into the dome so I could look.

Result was quite good although ribs were beginning to get a bit dry.  As good as I've cooked with other methods but not up to my gold standard.  That was a funky guy who worked out of tent in the AZ mountains.   He hickory smoked ribs all day. opened the cook shack when they were ready and closed when sold out.   Boy, he could cook ribs.

 

My guess is that if I can't get the temp lower I'll cut the cook time by 1/2 hour or more.   Or maybe try wrapping.

 

Suggestions anyone?

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Ribs:  If you're going by the dome temp gauge you might be running hot.  I use a digital thermometer (ThermoWorks Smoke) and put the temperature probe on the grate.   Did you use the smoking stone for indirect heat?  Also wrapping the ribs for around an hour is a good idea, keeps them moist, then unwrap and back on the cooker to firm the bark back up.

 

Steaks:  I think you're right on not getting a good sear because of the grate location.  I cook steaks on my gas grill or fry them on cast iron.  I have reverse seared steaks on the Akorn and they turned out fabulous 

 

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For searing steaks you can pick-up a Weber charcoal grate that will fit nicely on the firebox tabs. You can either cook on the lower grate or place your charcoal on the grate to lift the fire. 

 

As far as the ribs go, I think your temps are fine (assuming the dome temp is fairly accurate). Dryness of the ribs aside, what was the texture of the ribs? Did you cook to time or until they were done? Try checking the ribs earlier in the cook cycle with a bend test or toothpick to dial in the cook to your preferred doneness.

 

Happy cooking.

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I'm beginning to think that steaks are easier to cook and come out just as well on a red hot cast iron pan done on the side burner of my gasser.

 

Ribs were tender and came out just as I like them [the bit of dryness aside],   I forgot to strip the membrane and that was noticeable.

I did this by time.  The temp was as low as I could get it.   My guess is that with incoming ambient air so warm it could be tough to get lower.   Cooler air would be OK with me too.  That gets here in October.

 

What is a 'bend test'?

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The bend test is to pick up the rack in the middle and see how far down the ends bend. If the rack doesn't bend down, keep cooking.

 

FWIW, I much prefer using a toothpick inserted between the ribs to test doneness. If the toothpick slides in with resistance, keep cooking.

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On 7/11/2019 at 11:59 AM, Paul in AZ said:

I'm beginning to think that steaks are easier to cook and come out just as well on a red hot cast iron pan

There's a lot of truth to this. I got a CI grill/griddle for just this purpose. This one fits your Akorn. 

https://shop.lodgemfg.com/griddles-and-grill-pans/double-play-reversible-grill-griddle.asp

 

The direct-heat alternative is the Weber grate @SmoovD mentioned. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

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Get an instant read thermometer (IRT), ASAP! I use a very inexpensive Weber IRT, but Thermoworks models are highly recommended on this site. The precision the IRT brings to cooking is priceless.

I currently use the Thermpro remote for grate and internal monitoring. The Thermoworks Smoke is on my procurement list.

Many great ways to cook steaks with with and without kamados. Excellent advice in the thread.  Lately, I reverse sear on a KJ soapstone I scored a damaged one for $60 shipped. I leave it on the cooking grate to heat up and block the direct heat from the steaks. Those go in the upper rack, over the stone, to get to intermediate temp. Pull the steaks and open the vents in my steel buddy so the soapstone will heat up to searing temp.  Slap them on there for the beautiful brown color representing the Maillard reaction. Searing can be done many ways, this is just mine. I use an Infrared thermometer to monitor the soapstone temperature. 

The stone heats slowly. Maybe I should preheat it on my gasser? It would appreciate the attention, I have only used it three times since new because I got my Akorn before I assembled it a couple of years ago. Someday maybe I will get an Akorn Jr. and a round soapstone for it so I could sear immediately after the steaks reach intermediate temp. 

I cook ribs indirectly with a Lodge CI griddle on a Weber charcoal grate setting on the tabs to block the direct heat. I put a water pan on the griddle. I put it all in place as soon as the lighter cube goes out. Here the thermometer should be secondary to the doneness tests discussed above. I always rub them and don't wrap. I usually cook ribs hotter, like 325°.

I am considering getting a Lodge CI Dual Handle Skillet that can hold the water. I saw one at Wally's for twenty buck. That or a griddle could double for searing, too.

Nice discipline on not peeking! 

Good Luck and welcome to the forum and Kamado cooking! Both are grate!! Get it!? 

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