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sssteel

Startup for Low & Slow

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Hey all,

Haven't done a low & slow yet. Going to do a few practice/dry runs before actually cooking.

Question though: for startup, what "process" would you recommend?

1. Lots of lump. Wide open vents/oxygen. Let most of the lump catch on fire/begin (that way it's lit.) Let temp get up hot - maybe 450deg. Then, close vents to back it down & cool off to 250deg. Of course this will take some extra "set up" time, as it will have to cool from 450 to 250 - instead of cooking right away. My rational however, is a lot of pieces of lump will be lit and hopefully shouldn't have any "stalling" or causing a need to relight through the cook?

2. Same process, but instead of letting it heat up so high, start backing the temp down slowly like normal, to reach your desired degrees. i.e. say at 175 close vents a bit, close down a little more at 200, etc. So that vents are set by the time target temp of say 250 is reached. However, if enough lump isn't ignited, my thoughts are you may have to "tend" to the fire more....

Thanks so much! Cheers :)

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Good morning and welcome to the forum! 

Is your kamado an Akorn? (flesh out your profile, please) 

So, there are many perfectly good ways to fire up a kamado. 

I believe most people avoid ever over shooting the target temperature. It takes too long to bring it back down. 

I have struggled keeping my Akorn at low Temps without going out. You have to get it sealed very well and just don't aim too low. Most every kamado should hold 250°,  even an Akorn. 

For low and slow I put a paper towel cardboard tube in the middle of my grate and fill up with lump all around it.  Then place half a Weber starter cube in and light it with the bottom vent wide open and the lid up. When the cube goes out place your deflector and water drip pan, if any, add the cooking grates and close the top with that vent wide open as well. 

Now start modulating the vents to catch your target temp without over shooting. 

Get stabilized at your target temperature for a while and add the protein. 

Good Luck! 

 

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Tried many ways; best results using a big pile of charcoal and lighting it at the top (Volcano method). Fastest results use a chimney starter, to get a bunch of fuel completely burning, then dump it at the peak of the volcano. I get sweet smoke before I'm up to temperature.

 

That's important because the smoke from a young fire is not sweet; it's one of the few cases where I ruined the meat. USe your nose....

 

And, yes, method 2 is the only one with snowball's chance. Overheating is hard to recover. 

 

HAve fun,

Frank

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I don't know as much about kamado cooking as John Setzler, so I do what he does.  In most of his low/slow videos he lights a rather large pile of charcoal with one Kamado Joe fire starter cube "down here in a hole in the middle of my charcoal" for 250°.  See:  https://www.kamadojoe.com/getting-started/videos-recipes/.  Go to <Pork> <Spare Ribs>.

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4 hours ago, pmillen said:

I don't know as much about kamado cooking as John Setzler, so I do what he does.  In most of his low/slow videos he lights a rather large pile of charcoal with one Kamado Joe fire starter cube "down here in a hole in the middle of my charcoal" for 250°.  See:  https://www.kamadojoe.com/getting-started/videos-recipes/.  Go to <Pork> <Spare Ribs>.

I also follow @John Setzler's advice and don't have any problems getting my fire started.

 

As others have said in other threads, the less charcoal that you light the lower you can keep the temperatures, the higher you want the temperature the more charcoal you need to light.

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For low & slow I use a cotton ball soaked in denatured alcohol (sometimes it takes a second one) to start only a couple lumps of coal. At this stage all vents and lid are wide open. Once a couple coals are lit and doing well I put in the heat deflector and food grates as well as my Smoke grill temp probe. Give that a few minutes and close the lid with vents wide open. As grill temp hits about 175 I begin closing vents slowly and by 225 to 250 vents are set for low & slow. My process takes 1 to 2 hours to get the grill to temp. I've found this method leads to more consistent temps throughout the cook. Getting too much coal going and bringing temps up too fast will have you fighting to maintain a constant temp.

 

For high temp cooks, I use either a chimney or mapp gas torch to get a hot fire going quickly.

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Lots of ways to do it, but I find getting my fire hot before closing the lid avoids heating up the Kamado and then struggling to get the temp down to the desired temp.  When you do close the lid close the vents to maybe 24% on bottom vent and close the upper vent to 10% and adjust from there..  It won't take much air if you already have a hot fire.  I find this a very simple way to quickly get to clean smoke and not overshoot my target temp.

 

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I light two cotton balls (use 91% alcohol) placed off center of coals let it light coals with lid open when going (about 10 to 15 min) place deflector plates close lid wait till about 175 0r so on dome close bottom vent to about 1/2 top the same as temp rises close bottom vent and top at 250 my kamado runs with 1/2 inch bottom and 1/2 way to first mark on top vent. Each grill and brand of charcoal will be different  .These grills don't need a lot of lit charcoal to run at temp. If you overshoot the temp it will take a while to cool the grill down. I keep a small book on the grill and note settings and temp along with type of charcoal new or used what i'm cooking and how long. After each adjustment it will take a while for the grill to settle down so be patient. Enjoy

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On 9/16/2019 at 2:13 PM, pmillen said:

I don't know as much about kamado cooking as John Setzler, so I do what he does.  In most of his low/slow videos he lights a rather large pile of charcoal with one Kamado Joe fire starter cube "down here in a hole in the middle of my charcoal" for 250°.  See:  https://www.kamadojoe.com/getting-started/videos-recipes/.  Go to <Pork> <Spare Ribs>.

 

 

I'm originally from, and grew up in, the city you're in :)

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On 9/18/2019 at 3:06 PM, sssteel said:

Thanks! Quick question:

The alcohol - rubbing alcohol 91%, or 'actual' denatured alcohol in a can like lacquer thinner or paint thinner?

Thanks!

I use denatured alcohol from the hardware store just because I always keep a gallon in the shop for other things. The 91% you can buy in the drug store works too so either one is fine.

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