Jump to content

Why Can’t I Achieve “Kamado Zen”


Recommended Posts

New to Kamado cooking here. Why do I feel under pressure when I use my grill? Tonight we did steaks. Steaks! Should have been a piece of cake. But then it took forever to get the charcoal lit and up to temp. It took forever to stabilize the temp. Meanwhile the wife is doing the side dishes in the kitchen and I’m apologizing about why it’s taking so long. My wife is very understanding about what’s going on but I feel like I’m screwing up dinner. This has happened on every cook. I thought this supposed to be a relaxing process. Why am I stressing about coordinating the rest of the meal to what I’m doing on the grill? What do you guys do? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It will come with time. Keep a note book on how you started the grill time amount of coal brand of coal  how you lit it, how many places you lit it vents. ect.I had a few calm (?) discussions on why my wife would start her sides as soon as I light the grill. Now she wait for my word to start. Johnny is right no stinkin stabilized temp needed for steaks 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are over thinking the process and you are still under the learning curve since you are new to Kamado cooking.  I'm sure you have probably cooked steaks before, but correct me if I am wrong....  When did 'stabilizing the temp' ever play any role in cooking a steak?  Getting a Kamado going for something like steaks or any other direct grilling process benefits from having a Weber charcoal chimney.  Fill it up and put a firestarter under the chimney and let that chimney ride for 25 minutes or so until all the coals are ashed over.  Dump those coals in the fire basket (or half of the fire basked if you are using a divider), put your grates on, and you are ready to cook.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, John Setzler said:

  When did 'stabilizing the temp' ever play any role in cooking a steak? 

Well, maybe the initial cook on a reverse sear. Then crank it up.

last night’s ribeye and a couple shi####o peppers. 1/2 basket charcoal 

 

328FA478-5EA0-4C3F-85E6-1B9A6E4DEBA9.thumb.jpeg.2c6ff1bda7a04a49e3107e2bf3742bb6.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i always give myself about an hour to get the coals going and come up to the temp i want.

then i am sure everything is heat soaked, and i can clean the grates easily before i put any meat on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For steak, chops, shrimp, kebobs etc, I now always use what I call "slow n sear" mode...(based on the slow n sear kettle BBQ products). 

 

I have my charcoal grate raised up right underneath the cooking grate so the coals are only 2" below the food.  I start only the needed amount of coals with the chimney (i.e. cooking 1 steak, only need a few handfuls of charcoal) and bring them up to a nice glowing red hot.  Sear/flip the food continuously until I am happy with the color and sear, them place it off to the side to come up to internal temp as desired.  Works very well and easy to juggle many pieces at the same time. 

 

Alternatively, depending on the kamado, it might be easier to keep your charcoal down low, and then use the lowest food grate you have as an option.

 

IMO...trying to use your kamado "as a kamado" when just searing food is NOT it's strong point.  Searing a burger or steak on a traditional "weber kettle" just like dad used to do to me is still where it's at, so I make my grill do it that way.  I love to sit and tend it while sipping a cold one.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I came to the kamado from a regular ol' garden variety Weber kettle and a cheapo stick burner, both of which were fairly high-maintenance during any given cook. I'm not sure the problems you're having are the same as the ones I had, but basically, during the first couple months of cooking on the Big Joe, I absolutely could not stop fiddling with it. 

 

Mainly, I was ignoring all the advice I was reading here. Eventually I came to my senses and started over from square one: I finally spent a day, or most of one, just burning a load of fuel and learning how to set my temps, and how my grill reacts to different vent settings and adjustments. I can't recommend this step enough. After that day, EVERYthing started to fall into place.

 

Otherwise, as far as feeling stressed/rushed at dinner time, my main strategy (and my advice to others) is to start your grill way sooner than you plan to use it. In a pinch, I can get my Big Joe up to cookable temps in around 45 minutes or so, but when I have the time, I often start it 2 or 3 hours early and just kinda let it idle at ~200F. As it gets closer to cooking time, I just re-set my vents for whatever temp I want and wait for it to stabilize there.

 

But I agree with others: Firing up to grill a steak is no different on the kamado than any other grill. Just get your coals lit and get cookin'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I spent quite a bit of time on YouTube before my KJ was delivered, so I already had an idea of what it takes to determine the right amount of coals for a cook, get the fire started, get dome up to temp and hold steady. Check out this video - maybe more detailed than you need, but I found several helpful tips in it.

 

 

And I use the reverse sear method for steaks, so I can relate to your desire to stabilize the temp! The sear part is a blast on the KJ, with temps in the 900° range! (I actually don’t know the temp since I have the dome open, but 900° sounds cool.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for your advice. I can use a chimney starter? That makes things a lot easier. Everything I read or watched showed people lighting their fire in the Kamado itself. I thought using a chimney starter might thermal shock the ceramic when I poured the coals in. Again, this is a example of me overthinking things.

I think I’m going to take Brick Pig’s advice and burn a load of fuel and play with the settings without the pressure of a cook. Should be fun. I bought a notebook this morning to jot down notes as I go along. Appreciate everyone’s thoughts. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, TomC23 said:

Thanks everyone for your advice. I can use a chimney starter? That makes things a lot easier. Everything I read or watched showed people lighting their fire in the Kamado itself. I thought using a chimney starter might thermal shock the ceramic when I poured the coals in. Again, this is a example of me overthinking things.

I think I’m going to take Brick Pig’s advice and burn a load of fuel and play with the settings without the pressure of a cook. Should be fun. I bought a notebook this morning to jot down notes as I go along. Appreciate everyone’s thoughts. 

 

depends what you want to do. i think using the chimney will start you off well above smoking temps. if you just want to sear it great. but if you are trying to use it to get started smoking meat you will overshoot your temp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it takes 2 beers or 3 to be ready to cook, so be it.  You will get the hang of it after a few tries.  For what it's worth, I use a propane torch and if I want an inferno I light about 5-6 separate places in a circle around a full load and it will be roaring hot and ready in 30 mins.  If I'm going for low temp (250ish) I light a single spot in the middle and plan for an hour to slowly creep up and stabilize.  Mid temp(400 ish) 3 spots and takes about 45-60 mins to stabilize before I'm ready.  I'm more so waiting for the acrid smoke to clear, takes longer when the temps are lower even though the temp may be hovering where I want it, I don't put food on until the sniff test passes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I stress just like you if I have family or guests over. 

 

In the beginning give yourself and hour from lighting to cooking.

 

If I am doing steaks, I use 2-3 fire starters. Light about 1 1/2 hours before wanting food on

the table.  After about 10-15 minutes, I place my soap stone down low and my grill grate up

high.  I monitor my soap stone temp and around 500-600 F I drop the rib eyes, filet, HB, etc.

Sear them for about 1-2 minutes on each side and then move up to grate to finish them off.

 

It took me 6 months and umpteen screw ups to learn how to become  somewhat competent.  I have a

tech background which hurts me.  I feel the need to by the data.  By the exact number. 

 

Some the best advice I can give you is God gave you 2 eyes and a nose. 

Learn to use them more than the thermapen and a timer.  AND....that is much easier said than done.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even though the complete failure of my most-recent attempt at "low and slow" is also documented here, simple steaks and so-forth are easy to do:

  • Use a chimney starter.
  • Dump the fire in, set the bottom grate to about an inch, the top vent open slightly.
  • Wait a bit for the fire to stabilize at about 300ºF.  Once it gets there, it will stay there.
  • Optionally add smoke-chips wrapped in an aluminum-foil envelope punctured with a fork.
  • "Cook and enjoy!"
  • If you want "sear," do it in a cast-iron skillet on your kitchen stove after the grilling.
  • Close all of the vents at the end of your cook in order to recover nearly all of your charcoal for next time.
  • Thoroughly clean your grill between uses.  Prop it slightly-open to promote air circulation.
  • "Rinse and repeat."

 

A kamado-style grill is essentially "a charcoal-fired convection oven," and is best considered that way.  The food is ultimately cooked by recirculating hot air – not by radiant heat from the charcoal bed.

 

Quote

A remote-reading food thermometer "is your bestest friend."  (About $30 at Home Depot ...)  It will tell you the internal temperature of the food with certainty.

 

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...