Jump to content

Newbie Next Steps


Recommended Posts

Alright so Im ready to continue down my kamado learning curve. Ive had my KJC3 for a few months now and have gotten some good and bad cooks under my belt. I have been keeping some basic notes on different cooks to be able to look back and see where things are going right/wrong. This is where I have some more questions to get past the issues Ive found re-occuring patterns with:

1) Is there better or worse ways to light the charcoal for hot/fast vs low/slow cooks? (For all cooks I light 1 starter cube in the middle, leave the top open until about 100F short of my goal temp, then close the lid and the vents to about where I think they need to be- usually have to adjust vents as temp gets closer)

1A) This seems to take a long time to get past the bad billow white smoke - I feel like an hour from lighting starter to seeing blue smoke and ready for meat is common.

1B) Does everyone base their cook temps off dome temp or grate temp? looks like mine is often 20degree difference

 

2) I keep finding that when the temp settles and blue smoke starts I will throw the meat on and then the temp will climb well beyond past what I wanted. (ex- set the temp at 250 and when stable and blue smoke put the meat on, temp went up to around 300 and couldnt get it back down under 290)

 

3) Is meat tougher before its done or is it is over done? Was doing a low and slow and some parts seemed probe tender around 195 but the center was a little tougher IT around 180 but by the time I pulled it was at 199 and still tough. Did it need to just go longer or did I overdo it?

 

I probably will have more I cant think of right now so Ill try to add to this thread

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a chimney starter – occasionally using a squirt from a propane torch to give it a bit more "enthusiasm" getting started.  Once the tube is filled with fire, I dump it in, open the top and bottom vents, then close the lid.

 

I let the interior temperature rise to 300º and find that it will then happily stay there with little or no adjustment.  (The more important of the two vents is the lower one, since that's the intake.) Make slight adjustments, then wait a while for the grill to catch up.

 

I basically regard these devices as a "charcoal-fired convection oven." That's how I use it.  Unlike a conventional charcoal grill, the food is cooked by circulating hot air, not by radiant heat from the charcoal.  (Which is why you routinely have charcoal left over.)

 

If you want to "sear" something, do it in a cast-iron skillet on your kitchen stove. (Coconut oil is an excellent high-temp oil – also the secret for delicious popcorn – and no, your steaks won't taste like coconuts.)

 

The single most important tool that you need is an external-reading digital thermometer.  Ordinarily, units these days come with both a grill-temp sensor and a food-temp sensor.  Heat-resistant wires go into the chamber while the thermometer itself is outside.  (Remote-reading unit, about $30 at Home Depot ...)

 

The only thing that should govern your cooking, IMHO, is the food-temperature sensor.  When the food reaches 10ºF below the target, take it off the grill and put it on a plate, "tenting" it with a piece of aluminum foil.  Over the next ten minutes or so, the still-embedded thermometer will show that the temperature continues to rise until it hits the target.

 

Some cooking techniques for thick cuts – roasts and such – call for the meat to be brought to temperature and then kept there for a longer time.  Kamado grills (of all types) are extremely adept at this, simply because you can reliably "park" them at a chosen temperature.

 

Try not to exceed your target oven temperature.  It's much harder to get it to cool down than to get it to slowly heat up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1.  If your lighting method is working and you are happy with it, there is no reason to change it up.

 

1a.  Don't over thing the smoke thing.  Most of the white vs blue smoke thing is blown way out of proportion.  It's not a significant thing when working with kamados.  

 

1b.  All of my cooking is gauged off the dome temp.  Your grate temp will be inconsistent from cook to cook based on how hot your are cooking, what you actually have on the grate cooking, and where your probe is place on the grate in relation to the food and the outer edge.

 

2.  You may be keeping the lid open too long.  Oxygen stokes the fire.  If you are doing a long low and slow cook, go ahead and put the meat on early.  And once again, don't sweat the white vs blue smoke thing.  I often put my meat on the grill right after I light the fire because I'm using a temp controller . I have NEVER EVER EVER EVER had issues with meat flavors from smoke being white for a while during the early stages of the cook.  

 

3.  YES.   It could be tough on both sides of the sweet spot.  You needed to go longer.  Wrapping in foil for the final parts of the cook helps equalize those temp differences in the meat.  

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, I'd be interested to know more about why you say that you base your cooking on the dome temperature, versus the temperature of the meat. 

 

Most of the time, I'm either cooking steaks or a nice roast.  In both cases, however, the only temperature that I am ever looking at is that of the meat.  (I know how to "park" the oven temperature at "my usual 300ºF" and to keep it there as long as I want ...)

 

Therefore – "please teach me something."  What sort of things do you routinely cook, and, of course based on this, why do you choose to work from this temperature?

 

(P.S.:  Whether in my kamado or in my kitchen oven, sometimes I wrap larger cuts of meat in foil and cook them that way. Do you have better suggestions?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, MikeRobinson said:

John, I'd be interested to know more about why you say that you base your cooking on the dome temperature, versus the temperature of the meat. 

 

Most of the time, I'm either cooking steaks or a nice roast.  In both cases, however, the only temperature that I am ever looking at is that of the meat.  (I know how to "park" the oven temperature at "my usual 300ºF" and to keep it there as long as I want ...)

 

Therefore – "please teach me something."  What sort of things do you routinely cook, and, of course based on this, why do you choose to work from this temperature?

 

(P.S.:  Whether in my kamado or in my kitchen oven, sometimes I wrap larger cuts of meat in foil and cook them that way. Do you have better suggestions?)

 

When cooking steaks the dome temperature is irrelevant to me.  So is the grate temperature.  The only temp that matters is the internal temp of the meat.  In any kind of direct heat cooking, dome or grate temp doesn't matter.  All I am interested in for direct heat cooking is a two zone setup where I can be ON or OFF the direct heat.  

 

I am interested in the dome temperature any time I am doing indirect heat cooking with a heat deflector or the SLoROLLER in place.  If you are interested in why I use dome temps vs grate temps, there is this post pinned at the top of this forum section:

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm actually not interested in "grate vs. dome," and I'm idly curious why I should be.  (I'll read the sticky to find out ...)  Meanwhile: the reason for my lack of curiosity is that  I haven't yet tried any cooking that uses a heat deflector, nor indirect-heat. 

 

Thank you very much for the quick reply, and for pointing out the "sticky." (P.S.:  "That 'sticky' was an interesting read!")

 

Also for the record:  my kamado of choice is an Akorn (or, Akorn Jr.), both of which are not "ceramic."  So, "that's where I'm coming from."  And, for whatever reason, I rarely decide to cook "ribs."  Roasts and steaks, as well as chicken, pork, and fish, are my usual fare. ("Routine stuff," maybe, but it sure tastes good!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Appreciate the input!

I do want to try a chimney starter and see how that works for me. I feel like Im often waiting a long time to get up to temp.

Ill try out some of the different advice throwing the meat on sooner, using the dome temp which I often did anyway.

I also need to keep playing with wrapping the last part of the cook and making sure I give it enough rest time

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/20/2021 at 8:47 PM, John Setzler said:

1.  If your lighting method is working and you are happy with it, there is no reason to change it up.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I have a couple of charcoal bags with small pieces I thought a good way of using them was putting them in my chimney starter (half full) and use the embers to light my fire. So I filled my charcoal basket, with  my oak wood piece in the (far side) bottom. Left a small crater in the top where I poured my chimney’s embers. It worked fantastic! Lit the charcoal really well without needing to add any fire starters. 
Have you tried this method? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...