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Advice for a Noob-What to cook


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My lovely wife spilled the beans, and a KJ Classic II is arriving for father's day.  Should be here Wednesday afternoon.  I plan to spend my father's day weekend cold beer in hand and cooking meat (So my wife, who is an avowed carnivore, was not entirely selfless in her choice of gift) . I've cooked on Webber kettle's and Gas grill's most of my adult life, so I am halfway decent at running regular grills.  What my question is, what should I start with.  I'd like to learn with a some low and slow (already bought the lump and the wood chunks) and some other stuff more like chickens at 350-400.  What would all you experienced folks recommend to break in a new Kamado Joe. I eat anything, so focus is on stuff that will help climb the learning curve.  Thanks in advance.   

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Welcome, Jdog, glad to have you and your KJ with us. Kamados don't really need a break in, so my advice is just to start cooking on it. Better than an instructional video is just lighting a fire and watching what your kamado does.  As you set up, I would recommend putting in a full load of lump up past the air holes probably just an inch and half to two inches below where the deflector sits in low position. Then I would put one fire starter or alcohol soaked cotton ball in a slight depression in the middle of the lump pile. No volcanos or special shapes, just a full load flat across the top.  I would open my bottom vent to about an inch and a half and the set the top vent to about a 1/4 inch .Light the starter and let it burn for about 5 minutes, then shut the lid. Now put on some music, get a beer, pull up a chair, and watch your kamado as it does it's thing. With the vent settings I recommended you will hit some where in the range between 350 an 375, but it will take you about an hour to get there as with only one starter your fire will develop slowly and finally establish itself.  Your temp will rise and then settle, remember the settings and the settle temp for your next cook. If you want a higher temp open the vets wider, if you want a lower temp close them down some. The smoke will start off white and then gradually change to a nice almost invisible blue grey color. Always cook on the blue grey and not the white as it will create a sharp acrid taste you wont't like. Just try to keep you hands off the vents and watch how the fire and temp builds when it is left to itself. Once your fire develops and settles to a temp,  your set to cook a whole range of moderate heat cooks, spatchcocked chicken, pork chops, steaks, sausage, fish, corn on the Cobb, and so on and so on. IMO it is very instructional just to watch your kamado the first time you light it instead of trying to hit a specific low temp right out of the box. Happy cooking, and enjoy your new grill.

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I second keepers advice. I wouldn't go trying a full packer for my first cook. Load up the box and play around with it for a day, and make your first cook something easy, like hotdogs and hamburgers, OR, OR OR this, this is a great recipe and I make it all the time:

https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/05/grilled-italian-sausage-with-sweet-and-sour-peppers-and-onions-recipe.html

 

My first time (hehe), i loaded up the box (oof) and started a small fire and tried settling in on the low slow temps for a bit, then opened up for 375-400 for chicken. It's much easier to gradually increase temps than start high and work down (which is nearly impossible), the biggest difference you'll notice is how slowly temps change, but how much easier it is to hold it there once you arrive.

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Yeah, thanks. I'm a long way from a full packer.  I was thinking trying to get it up to 350-400 for a chicken indirect, then pulling the heat deflectors and getting it up to 500 and grill a steak or some burgers.  Something like that to tray and get my feet wet. 

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4 minutes ago, KJTerp said:

I second keepers advice. I wouldn't go trying a full packer for my first cook. Load up the box and play around with it for a day, and make your first cook something easy, like hotdogs and hamburgers, OR, OR OR this, this is a great recipe and I make it all the time:

https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/05/grilled-italian-sausage-with-sweet-and-sour-peppers-and-onions-recipe.html

 

I agree, Sausage and peppers is a great cook, delivered great results cause not one person alive will turn down a grilled sausage with spicy mustard on a roll. My recipe is very similar to the one on the website except I pour a beer in the alluminum pan. 

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