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John Setzler

Kamado Guru - John's Really Right Stuff List

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The Kamado Guru Really Right Stuff Guide!

 

NOTE:  I am no longer participating in any affiliate programs.  My recommendations are purely based on experience and my personal likes.  I don't get paid to promote anything you see on this page and I don't get any kickback of any kind from you clicking on any of these links.  The Amazon links ARE my old affiliate links just because I have not changed them since I cancelled my affiliate membership.  The links still work.

 

The Kamado Guru / Man Cave meals REALLY RIGHT STUFF list is my personal list of stuff that I think is awesome to own.  Most of the stuff on this list is stuff that I have bought myself.  If it was provided to me, I have indicated that on each item.  Regardless of where it came from and who paid for it, if it's on this list, it's something I love and recommend.  

 

I want to start this guide out with the place where I buy my high quality meat.  When I want something that is amazing quality I go here:

 

Porter Road - https://porterroad.com

 

Porter Road approached me earlier and offered to provide me with some of their meat to try.  I accepted that offer and they won me over as a customer in the process.  I am buying meat from them now when I need something exceptional in quality.  

 

My full review of Porter Road is here:

 

 

Thermometers:

 

Thermoworks is at the top of the food chain when it comes to instant read digital thermometers.  They also have some amazing quality remote monitors that I have also.  I own each of the products listed here and I highly recommend them:

 

Thermapop - LINK

Thermapen MK4 - LINK 

Thermoworks SMOKE - LINK 

Thermoworks SIGNALS - LINK  (Provided to me by Thermoworks)

 

The Thermoworks Signals has an add-on enhancement that turns it into a grill controller: LINK  The Billows product doesn't offer customized adapters to make it fit your specific grill with any amount of precision so you may need to fabricate one.  I do NOT recommend the Billows product at this time.  I feel like it needs some enhancement on the software side before it's ready for prime time.  If this product evolves into something I like, I will add it to my temperature controller section below.  

 

Thermoworks IR GUN - LINK

 

I use an infrared thermometer fairly frequently.  When I am cooking on a soapstone or cast iron griddle, I use my IR thermometer to let me know when I have my temperature in the range I am looking for.  I do a good bit of cooking on flat surfaces that are in the 350-375°F range and then some more in the 475-525°F range.  The IR thermometer just helps me hit the target more quickly.

 

There are other thermometers out there that work just fine also.  The top of the food chain thermometer I own in the lower price category is:

 

Lavatools PT18 - LINK 

 

If you search Google and Amazon for instant read thermometers, you will come up with tons of options that range in price from cheap to not so cheap.  The reason I prefer the Thermoworks stuff is the durability aspect.  If you want durability and don't want to break the bank, grab the Thermapop.  In my extensive experience with those and the Thermapens, The speed is the only real difference in the two.  The Thermapen reads in 2-3 seconds and the Thermapop reads in 5-7 seconds.  

 

My other favorite Thermoworks product is:

 

Extra Big & Loud Timer - LINK 

 

Temperature Controllers that I Own:

 

I am also a big advocate of using temperature control systems on your Kamado or other grill/smoker.  These can take a good bit of work out of your setup process and they can also give you peace of mind when running a long cook where you aren't attending the grill for the entire time.

 

BBQ Guru PartyQ - LINK  (6/10/2020 - I think this product has been discontinued.)

 

This is the most basic system out there.  This is an updated version of the one I have.  The PartyQ does one job and does it very well.  It simply controls the temperature of your pit.  It doesn't give you any extra bells and whistles.  It's battery operated.

 

Flame Boss 400-Wifi - LINK 

 

The Flame Boss 400-Wifi is one of the cheapest wifi-controlled pit controllers on the market.  This one will controll the temperature of your pit and monitor the temperature of one meat on the grill.  This unit is controlled via a phone, tablet, or via a web browser on your PC.  It requires a phone or table to get it set up.  

 

Kamado Joe iKamand - LINK 

 

(provided to me by Kamado Joe)

 

The iKamand is very similar to the Flame Boss 400-Wifi in terms of use and control.  This is the one I use on a daily basis.  This unit only works on Kamado Joe grills so if you aren't using a Kamado Joe then don't buy this option.  

 

Flame Boss 500-Wifi - LINK 

 

The Flame Boss 500 is the updated and most recent version of an older model that I have (the Flame Boss 200 which was provided to me by Flame Boss.)  This unit also offers wifi control via an app or pc but it also gives you hands-on control at the device itself.  It doesn't require a wifi connection to operate or change the configuration.  You can do all of that from the device itself.  It's capable of controlling the pit temperature and monitoring 3 separate meats at once.  It only comes with one pit probe and one meat probe.  If you want the additional meat probes, they must be ordered separately.  I recommend this unit if you feel like you need something more than the previous models listed here.  I don't use my Flame Boss 200 anymore but if I was going to use it, I would upgrade it to this model.  The only time I would want to use this is if I wanted to run a controller and monitor meats where I had no wifi connection.  

 

The Fireboard - LINK 

 

In terms of bells, whistles, and shiny things, the FireBoard system is at the top of the stack.  It's a bit more difficult to understand what you need with the Fireboard, but the base configuration you need for pit control is the basic Fireboard system ($189) with the fan ($59) and the Drive Fan Cable ($79).  In my personal experience, the Fireboard is control unit is so small, light, and fragile, I would never want to use it without the FireBoard Case ($55).  So that base configuration adds up to about $380 making it the most expensive of the list here.  Fully dressed out it costs $440 to take advantage of all six thermometers it's capable of managing.  

 

I own all of these and my go-to is the iKamand, simply because it is designed to live on my Kamado Joe all the time.  If I was shopping for something else, I would personally prefer the Flame Boss 500-Wifi from this list.  In my opinion, it's the Swiss Army Knife of the group.  

 

Charcoal Baskets:

 

If your grill doesn't come with a Charcoal basket, I highly recommend buying one.  Charcoal baskets offer you the ability to EASILY remove ash from your charcoal so that you can easily reuse any leftover coal from your previous cook.  They help create a zero-waste situation with charcoal.  They also promote more even airflow through your charcoal for more efficient burning.  I consider these to be MUST HAVE.  
 

Kamado Joe Charcoal Basket - LINK (Provided to me by Kamado Joe)

 

If you own a Kamado Joe grill, the Kamado Joe charcoal basket integrates with the Divide & Conquer cooking rack system included with those grills.  These come with a divider that can position either direction in the basket.  

 

Kick Ash Basket - LINK

 

Kick Ash Basket makes charcoal basket options for about every Kamado grill out there.  I have Kick Ash Baskets for all of my Kamado Joe grills.  I also bought several smaller sizes baskets that I use inside my Kamado Joe grills when I want to keep a smaller amount of charcoal bunched together in the larger grill.  

 

Vacuum Sealers:

 

I am a firm believer in the use of vacuum sealers.  They are PERFECT for storing/freezing leftovers.  There are two kinds of vacuum sealers out there.  There are Chamber Sealers and Channel Sealers.  My GO-TO right now is a chamber sealer.

 

Avid Armor Ultra Series Chamber Vacuum Sealer - LINK

 

This chamber sealer is priced RIGHT at $599.  I am extremely happy with mine.  I made this video walk-around demo of this sealer:  

 

 

 

For home use, this sealer is worth your investment.  The ONLY THING I have found disappointing about this company is that their product availability comes and goes.  They don't seem to have a steady supply of inventory and these sealers are out of stock quite frequently.  They also have a channel sealer that I BELIEVE is probably well worth the $299 price tag, but I don't have one.  When it comes to channel sealers, I can just recommend sticking with the Food Saver product line.  I have had several of those and to be quite honest about it, I PREFER the cheapest one they make.  It's small and easy to use and store.  

 

Sous Vide Circulators:

 

I am not a huge fan of sous vide cooking.  There are a couple things I like about sous vide cooking but not nearly enough to justify the cost of the equipment in most cases.  I do, however, believe that a sous vide circulator is a must-have device if you are using a vacuum sealer to store frozen leftovers.  The cirulator is the BEST way to reheat frozen foods, especially meats, without overcooking them in the process.  Take prime rib for instance.  If I cook one and have several big slices of it leftover, I never hesitate to vacuum seal those and toss them in the freezer.  I can reheat them in a sous vide bath at 135°F for an hour or so to restore them to a medium rare temperature and they are ready to eat.  They don't get overcooked during the reheating.  I reheat frozen pulled pork, ribs, and brisket in sous vide baths at 165°F.  I have had hands on experience with three different sous vide circulators.  My favorite one is below:

 

Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker - LINK  

 

There are cheaper sous vide cookers out there and feel free to buy whichever one you like.  I like THIS one because its easy to fit it on to about any kind of container you might want to use.  It's also quite intuitive to operate and it doesn't REQUIRE a smart device to control it.  I don't see wifi as a necessary tool for sous vide but, like everything else in culinary world, smart devices are taking over.  

 

Miscellaneous Accessories:

 

The Xapron - LINK

 

20190918_Xapron.jpg

 

(Provided to me by https://www.xapron.nl/en/)

 

I started wearing an apron regularly several years ago.  I looked at leather aprons and couldn't find one I was willing to pay for.  The stuff I found that I liked was $300 and up.  When I discovered the Xapron, I was extremely happy.  My Xapron is the "Utah" model in the "Choco" color.  The Xapron line has models priced between $79 and $149.  Atlanta Grill Company (https://atlantagrillcomany.com) has some customization options available as well such as the towel ring and square patch you see on mine in this photo.  People ask me about how hot it gets in the summer, but I am able to wear this leather apron more comfortably in the heat than my previous canvas material apron.  

 

Texas Canvas Wares Apron - LINK

 

This is a $40 workshop style apron that I was wearing and quite happy with before I got the Xapron pictured above.  I like the pockets on this apron quite a bit.  

 

Power Practical "Sparkr Wick" - LINK  

 

This is the coolest BBQ grill lighter I have ever seen.  Windproof and never needs a refill.  It just needs an occasional battery charge with the provided USB cable.  

 

Grease Monkey Gloves - LINK

 

These are the red gloves you may see me wearing in videos for handling food.  I like these gloves because they are reusable for quite a while.  I wash them in the washing machine and let them air dry.  I bought at 15-pair pack of these over a year ago (as of late 2019) and I'm still using them all.  These gloves are great for food prep and for handling hot food.  They are not durable enough for handling hot pans.  I have big hands and these LARGE size fit me fine. I have only seen them available in large.

 

Grill Beast Stainless Steel Injector - LINK

 

I use my injector for injecting flavor blends into poultry and injecting curing brines into larger cuts of meat such as hams.  THIS one is extremely good quality at a great price.  I owned a SpitJack system also (https://amzn.to/2Nmteu1) that has some bells and whistles at a MUCH higher price point and I gave it away.  I prefer the simplicity of the simple system.  Its MUCH EASIER to load and clean than the SpitJack.  

 

Traeger BIG Spatula - LINK

 

This is one of my favorite grill utensils.  I use it frequently when I want to remove a butt or a brisket from the grill.  

 

Weber STYLE Stainless Steel BBQ Tool Set - LINK

 

This is my favorite tong/spatula set for general purpose grill use.  I bought my set about 7 years ago and they have been my go-to tools since then.  I have had no issues with them.

 

Kuhn Rikon Vase Grinder - LINK

 

I use two of these... one for coarse salt and another for whole peppercorns.  They work extremely well and are easy to use and clean.

 

My Bookshelf:

 

Rule #1 about buying cookbooks:

 

If you are looking for recipes, use the internet.   It's free.  Any book you BUY should be a book that teaches you something about cooking and not just a collection of recipes.  When you get enough of those you will understand cooking METHODS and become able to free yourself from recipes.  I have a metric butt ton of cookbooks around here, but several of them rise to the top of the stack when I consider how much the have to offer beyond a collection of recipes.

 

Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling - LINK

 

I think everyone should own this book.  This book does have a lot of great recipes in it.  This book is also packed full of the fundamental knowledge you NEED to gain understanding of everything that is happening when you cook on your grill or smoker.  This is a cover-to-cover read book.  If everyone in the BBQ and grilling community bought this one, you would quickly lose interest in most of the others out there.  

 

Serious Barbecue - Adam Perry Lang - LINK

 

This book is also full of outstanding recipes but I learned a lot more from this book in the form of cooking technique.  The recipes and content in this book are a little more difficult.  

 

Michael Symon's Playing with Fire - LINK

 

Michael Symon was one of my two favorite Iron Chefs.  This book brings some great technique and flavor profiles to your table.  

 

 

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In regards to the Billows was your assessment pretty recent? I see they've come out with various adapters now (i.e. one specifically for Kamado Joe). It seems like some more recent reviews have been positive for this product. 
 

I'm really curious since I'm looking for a temperature controller and have had really good experience with Thermoworks products. Assuming they'll enhance the software side. One thing that does give me pause is that it's a pretty strong blower (looks to be the strongest out there) but it's not variable so when it's on it'll be cranking some serious wind.

 

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2 hours ago, Heuer said:

John - How about tongs, spatulas, knives and gloves (especially those red/black ones you use for pulling pork)? 

The gloves he mentioned above, but don't forget the grill brush.

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John, really can't thank you enough for all the time and effort you put into this site. Your knowledge and insight is invaluable!  EXTREMELY glad I found the ultimate guru! 

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On 11/5/2019 at 4:13 PM, helliger said:

In regards to the Billows was your assessment pretty recent? I see they've come out with various adapters now (i.e. one specifically for Kamado Joe). It seems like some more recent reviews have been positive for this product. 
 

I'm really curious since I'm looking for a temperature controller and have had really good experience with Thermoworks products. Assuming they'll enhance the software side. One thing that does give me pause is that it's a pretty strong blower (looks to be the strongest out there) but it's not variable so when it's on it'll be cranking some serious wind.

 

I have the Signals/Billows combo and the adapter plates ordered from Thermoworks. This combo generally works but here is are some observations after 5 cooks with it:

1. The adapter plates don't seal all that well on my KJ Classic, perhaps because I did not want to use up the metal foil tape.

2. The first time I tried to use the billows, I spent almost an hour trying to get it to work - it wanted to do a firmware upgrade first and that was way too complicated for this IT guy - I did eventually figure it out.

3. The Signals doesn't hold a charge for very long. The Signals must be charged before hooking up the Billows and everything. Otherwise you are out of luck, despite the fact the rig needs to be plugged in.

4. The graphs on the phone app do  not always display.

5. The phone app sometimes looses connection to the Signals.

6. You need to unplug the Billows if you are opening the lid for any length of time. Otherwise the fan will stoke your fire and cause a significant temperature spike.

7. I drilled extra holes in the temp sensor clip to try to hold it onto the dome thermometer but that only worked for one cook. Now I just gave up and clip to the grill grate.

8. This set up looks like a real nasty mess of wires in use. It works but looks like a kludge.

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Just in case you don't want to pay for the ridiculously overpriced Thermapen, I use these:  https://smile.amazon.com/Inkbird-Instant-Thermometer-Grilling-HET-F001/dp/B078SQD4B3/ref=sr_1_36?keywords=inkbird&qid=1573831337&sr=8-36

 

12 bucks, free Amazon prime shipping, works perfectly, and no problems with durability or accuracy. I use these in SCA competition cooks where substantial money is involved and need a reliable, accurate thermometer. 

 

And the reason I say "these" is that I have two.  You don't go to a competition cook with just "one" of any essential piece of equipment.  So instead of almost 200 bucks for a pair of the Thermapens, I spent $24.00 for two quality Inkbird thermometers.

 

Tom

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3 hours ago, T_om said:

Just in case you don't want to pay for the ridiculously overpriced Thermapen, I use these:  https://smile.amazon.com/Inkbird-Instant-Thermometer-Grilling-HET-F001/dp/B078SQD4B3/ref=sr_1_36?keywords=inkbird&qid=1573831337&sr=8-36

 

12 bucks, free Amazon prime shipping, works perfectly, and no problems with durability or accuracy. I use these in SCA competition cooks where substantial money is involved and need a reliable, accurate thermometer. 

 

And the reason I say "these" is that I have two.  You don't go to a competition cook with just "one" of any essential piece of equipment.  So instead of almost 200 bucks for a pair of the Thermapens, I spent $24.00 for two quality Inkbird thermometers.

 

Tom

Ditto this. I use a inkbird blutetooth as well. Love them both.

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On 11/5/2019 at 2:09 PM, Heuer said:

John - How about tongs, spatulas, knives and gloves (especially those red/black ones you use for pulling pork)? 

 

If you find some utensils that are above average in any way, let me know.

 

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This list is my personal list of things I think are exceptional.  I won't add anything to it where I have no first hand knowledge. Everyone has stuff they think is great and that's awesome.  This is just my recommendation list.  I will add things to it periodically.  

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Hey John, I am curious to know why you prefer to use the general purpose Grease Monkey Gloves over something tailored to BBQ, like this pair of Rappica gloves on Amazon?
 

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On 11/14/2019 at 11:21 AM, captio2000 said:

I have the Signals/Billows combo and the adapter plates ordered from Thermoworks. This combo generally works but here is are some observations after 5 cooks with it:

1. The adapter plates don't seal all that well on my KJ Classic, perhaps because I did not want to use up the metal foil tape.

2. The first time I tried to use the billows, I spent almost an hour trying to get it to work - it wanted to do a firmware upgrade first and that was way too complicated for this IT guy - I did eventually figure it out.

3. The Signals doesn't hold a charge for very long. The Signals must be charged before hooking up the Billows and everything. Otherwise you are out of luck, despite the fact the rig needs to be plugged in.

4. The graphs on the phone app do  not always display.

5. The phone app sometimes looses connection to the Signals.

6. You need to unplug the Billows if you are opening the lid for any length of time. Otherwise the fan will stoke your fire and cause a significant temperature spike.

7. I drilled extra holes in the temp sensor clip to try to hold it onto the dome thermometer but that only worked for one cook. Now I just gave up and clip to the grill grate.

8. This set up looks like a real nasty mess of wires in use. It works but looks like a kludge.

 

 

Thanks for the info. I went ahead and ordered it before I saw this. I got it just because I've always had good luck with Thermoworks products and figured at least the Signals is a top notch unit. Software can always be improved and they have the resources to improve that. I bet the open lid issue will be dealt with soon. It is a high powered fan and if it's really not variable it might be hard to program around that, we'll see.

 

In regards to your temp sensor issue though I have a great solution. I also have a Thermoworks smoke and I just bought an alligator clip at the hardware store that has a screw that attaches to the probe end. Works great! It came in a pack of 5 so if you pm me your address I can send you one. 

I clip it perpendicular to the dome thermometer about half way up if I'm cooking something on the larger side so it doesn't hang down and touch the food. 

 

 

IMG_20191117_184459020.jpg

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On 11/17/2019 at 12:06 PM, Nut said:

Hey John, I am curious to know why you prefer to use the general purpose Grease Monkey Gloves over something tailored to BBQ, like this pair of Rappica gloves on Amazon?
 

Not sure about Rappica gloves, but I just got my grease monkey gloves and they are are awesome for handling food and general heat protection. Very flexible and good fit. Not sure if I could hang onto to a CI pan at 700 degrees, but don’t plan on using them for that. 

 

Thanks for the recommendation, John!

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