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1) how long on average does it take to heat a soapstone to 350 and 500 in a regular size kamado grill?

2) do you place it on the xrack (joe users), place it on grill grate, or place it over diffuser plates with cast iron spacer bolts?

3) I have a joe classic and was going to get a 16 inch stone for plenty of cooking surface, thoughts?

4) any experience with the longevity of the stone?

5) any general comments on this cooking style?

 

thanks!!!

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1) That depends on the fire. I use an IR thermometer. Don't rush it for best results; hot spots suck. 

 

2) KJ's stone is grate-sized, so I use it like a grate. Deflectors and spacers go with pizza stone set-up. 

 

3) Consider KJ's semi-circular stone, as you can get a killer 2-zone set-up for reverse sear cooking (more below). 

 

4) They are FRAGILE. No need to drop it, heat will crack them. You don't need a searing-hot fire to sear on these. I have a second in a box, waiting for the first one to break. I treat it like the ceramic deflectors and pizza stone. 

 

5) Soapstone provides a maintenance-free cooking surface that will retain heat better than metal surfaces. There's no pale second-side-sear from CI cooling under the first side.

- I find 1-2 minute applications at 500F provide sear without burning, ideal for a reverse-sear process.

- For single-stage cooking (burgers?), I'd only run it up to 350-400, so the food can cook before burning, or

- Cook the food at high-temp for a short time and repeat until done. Steaks come out great repeating a pattern of 1 min/side + 1 min. rest off-heat, until you like the internal temp. The outside should look like mahogany.

 

Comparing KJ's CI half-grates to their soapstones, the latter hold 2-2.5x the heat of their metal counterpart because they're heavier. They heat slowly and retain heat because their thermal conductivity is 1/10 metal. The raw food doesn't draw heat out of the cooking surface. 

 

A recent culotte cook that came out like prime rib used this set-up...

- fire box divided so all fuel is under the soapstone, lay a low-n-slow fire

- soapstone in lower grate position on the fueled side

- heat deflector on the ring over the empty side

- grate in upper position above the heat deflector

- second heat deflector installed vertically, resting on the first deflector, supported by the stone and grate

 

This creates one side that has no exposure to direct heat, and another that is a searing surface near a small fire. The 60-90 minutes it takes at 235F grate temp to bring the meat up to 130F internal gives the coals plenty of time to preheat the soapstone. 2-min/side gave a satisfying sear with very little change in the uniformly pink interior. 

 

Stay well,

Frank

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Agree with everything above, but I have always used mine in the upper level resting on the grate.  It takes a little longer to heat up, but I find it easier to handle the food when the soapstone is a little higher up.  Probably not as big a deal with steak, but my favorite proteins on the soapstone are shrimp and scallops, they are a little more delicate and require a lot less time to sear.  I still have not found a great way to clean it after a cook, the high heat burn off works to a point, but I have heard of people putting them in the dishwasher so I may give that a try.

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On 8/18/2020 at 11:34 AM, GrillnBrew said:

I have always used mine in the upper level resting on the grate. 

Indeed!

Unless you're running at-or-below 250F, as in the example, the lower setting is too hot, and can start cracks. The point was you can still sear meat when running in low-n-slow mode. 

 

On 8/18/2020 at 11:34 AM, GrillnBrew said:

I still have not found a great way to clean it after a cook

I use a "cookie" spatula with a perfectly square, straight edge to scrape it down. Use if vertically, like a wood scraper, not horizontally, like a kitchen spatula. Soapstone has no grain; it's perfectly flat when clean, so this works really well. Just be careful to keep the corners from digging in. For spot cleaning, I use Kosher salt, just like CI. 

 

Stay well,

Frank, who's doing another culotte this weekend. 

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“Unless you're running at-or-below 250F, as in the example, the lower setting is too hot, and can start cracks. The point was you can still sear meat when running in low-n-slow mode. “

Upper grate as in KJ 1 or 2 right?

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On 8/17/2020 at 1:49 PM, fbov said:

Steaks come out great repeating a pattern of 1 min/side + 1 min. rest off-heat, until you like the internal temp. The outside should look like mahogany.

THIS! 

I gotz ta try it! I am always trying to slow roast the steak and reverse sear. This is a great idea! 

On 8/17/2020 at 1:49 PM, fbov said:

 

A recent culotte cook that came out like prime rib used this set-up...

- fire box divided so all fuel is under the soapstone, lay a low-n-slow fire

- soapstone in lower grate position on the fueled side

- heat deflector on the ring over the empty side

- grate in upper position above the heat deflector

- second heat deflector installed vertically, resting on the first deflector, supported by the stone and grate

 

A picture would really assist our imagination challenged members (like me).

Frank, you always got the powerful JuJu! 

I just place mine in the sink to clean it with water and a very light scouring pad. If necessary I run a plastic scraper on it first. 

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You can't see the firebox underneath it, and I've removed the grate above the soapstone for searing at the end. While the meat was smoking on the back, I put baked potatoes on the front where radiated heat from the soapstone cooks them faster than the meat in back. No problem getting 200F internal when the grate probe in the rear is at 225F.

Frank

IMG_20200823_soap_divided.thumb.jpg.74c77c366ba45b08223c78f1bf69a7e4.jpg

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Everyone has their preferred method of cooking- and no one is necessarily better if the desired result can be achieved. However, I do not turn my steaks anywhere near this often. Perhaps I am cooking larger steaks idk. But, I only turn them once if I can help it, twice max. The thought of burning them never enters my consciousness.

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On 8/24/2020 at 12:00 AM, CentralTexBBQ said:

Everyone has their preferred method of cooking- and no one is necessarily better if the desired result can be achieved. However, I do not turn my steaks anywhere near this often. Perhaps I am cooking larger steaks idk. But, I only turn them once if I can help it, twice max. The thought of burning them never enters my consciousness.

An alternate strategy is to turn them frequently to cook them at high heat but more slowly. Ideally, this enables the Maillard reaction to form more fully. 

That's why the 1 minute of rest interests me. It's all an effort to get more heat into the crust but less in the interior. 

Whatever works, right? 

Good Luck! 

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