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Love in the Time of Cholera -- aka Smoking during CoVid


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Hello from the West Coast of Canada (Richmond, BC)! New to Kamado cooking. Returned a Weber Smokefire after one week (just really never worked properly and after the 2nd grease fire... byebye) for a KJ Classic 2 (same price point).


First cook were some side ribs which turned out nice.  Mother-in-law brought some peaches over and asked if they could get grilled for a nice cobblerish dessert... so since the fire was still lit, opened up the vents full bore... realized that i had left the deflector moons in so I put some gloves on, took out the Divide and Conquer and (you guessed it) lay it on the plastic shelf -- WHOOPS!



Did I mention that was my first cook? Oh well...


I replaced the plastic slats with some untreated cedar. We'll see if that's just a temp solution.



I did a few small cooks afterwards: some okay baby back ribs, and then a total failure on beef ribs -- bought some on sale which ended up not having enough meat and fat to keep it juicy when I overcooked it (luckily my wife made some awesome Mexican street corn salad as a side) --, then an okay small brisket (again, on sale at the grocery store).


Decided that I'm ready for a real test: invited a few (Covid rules apply) friends for a brisket feast.


Went to four grocery stores and Costco... No packers in stock.  Went to the Asian grocery and they only sell the point and no flat... Called my favourite butcher: "Of course, I have a 15lb brisket in the back." YES! Called my friends and said this weekend is BRISKET TIME! Got to the butcher: "That'll be 190 CAD (144 USD)..." GULP...  This better be the best darn meat ever...


Consulted the all-knowing interweb for "How long to smoke 15lb brisket": 18.75 hours... Seems long, but okay, lets start at 11:00 pm and hopefully we'll be eating at 7ish tomorrow...




Didn't get much sleep but maintained 250 for 11 hours. At the 12 hour mark, the temp of the KJ plummeted.  Oh no! What happened? Ran out of charcoal - fire was out. "Quick, honey, throw this in the warm oven while I get this thing to temp!"  Threw some BGE lump on to the KA basket to burn (we have a major shortage of lump here in Canada - love to know where to get good lump charcoal). Lost about 45 minutes of cooking time. Once it got back up to 250, I Texas-crutched the meat and threw it back in.  Came back 10 minutes later and the temp was up to 350. oh poo... Took another 45 minutes to get it down to 260.


Okay, I've got time for a little nap before people come over... Told my wife and 18 year old son to watch it and if it goes over 300 (or under 250) to wake me up... Three hours later, I check it and it's at 310...  My bad, shouldn't have taken a nap...


I threw it into a cooler and waited for my guests to come... I was worried because it didn't bend the way it should have when I lifted it up...


When it was time to carve, it looked like this:



Looked okay but once I tried to slice through it, the whole under side was burnt/overcooked. There was no bark at the bottom of the pieces, as i had to slice down then "scrape" because of the burnt. Later, I chopped some of the burnt parts, threw them in a steamer and fed them to my son as really "burnt" ends.The meat that I did slice was super tender, flavourful, and juicy.


Besides, not taking a nap, buying a good wifi temp probe, and practice, any suggestions on improvements?


I would like to try and do bacon (we live in a city with 60% Asians so pork belly is super cheap), smoked chinook/king salmon (recently came back from a fishing trip on the Coast and our freezer is packed with salmon and halibut), and a Montreal Smoked Meat... But first, perfect the brisket...


Can I just smoke the point, as it's easier to source the part of the brisket here and no one in the family prefers the flat anyway?


TIA for your read and your suggestions

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Welcome, glad to have both you and your new Joe with us. Sounds like your hitting the ground running. Don't let yourself get too down because you had some issues with your first kamado brisket. I think I cooked 2, or maybe even 3, before I got one I was completely happy with. Long cooks are always individually different for me, as each one can have different challenges to be met. Enjoy the learning curve. On the hot racks and grates. Always do a three step prep before you lift something hot. 1. Do I really have to do this, is this the only way I can accomplish what I need to do? 2. Are my gloves adequate and dry? and 3. Where am I going to set this stuff down and is that place prepped to receive it?, also included is in step 3 is,  Where can I do an emergency pit stop along the way,  if my gloves allow too much heat through in the course of my trip? I learned the need for this forethought the hard way, along with receiving some pain and blisters on my finger tips.  Happy Cooking.  

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Welcome, and congratulations on picking one of the most difficult cooks to start out!  The one temperature you never mentioned was that of the brisket itself.  Though a wifi temp controller is nice to have, an accurate probe thermometer is pretty much a must have. Start out with a full basket of lump, let the grill equilibrate, let the brisket ride and monitor the temp along the way.  Thoughts differ on how to address the stall, I like to wrap in butcher paper and let it go until it is probe tender, then I rest it.  Like your family, I really like the point too, so if I can find just the point, I will grab it and smoke it up.

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Looks like besides the  Mounties always get there man they also get their brisket. Sorry i just had to say that  Don't despair it takes a little bit of a learning curve. Don't know how many times i almost put something hot on the plastic side shelves, one day i'll make wood ones.You seemed to have the grill dialed in at 250 for 11 hours was the fire bowl filled with charcoal? Agree with Retfr8 you can finish in oven i do that with pork butts. On you setup was the plates in the lowest position? For a tip watch the meat that hangs out past the deflector plates, especially with ribs. it will be in a much hotter airflow area and tend to over cook. Your off to a good start you made some mistakes and figured out what they were, and you've learned from them. Looking forward to your next cook.Glad your going to us pork belly for real bacon and not the funny Canadian bacon we get here once in a while. Bacon is on my to do list.

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