Jump to content

"Too efficient" is bad - unless it's a KK then it's good? Huh?


Recommended Posts

PLEASE NOTE: I do not care about brand flame wars - I am asking about the physics/chemistry of cooking.   

Many people talk about the importance of clean smoke in kamado cooking.  Many people say the Akorn and other double-wall insulated kamados are too well insulated and are hard to run at low temps (say 225) because they can go out, and they produce bad smoke.   Smoking Dad talks all the time about the importance of clean smoke, raving about the new KJ 3-series being slightly less efficient which he loves because it produces cleaner smoke.  Many people say stick burners are superior because the fire runs hotter and produces cleaner smoke. 


And yet the Komodo Kamado brags about its efficiency, saying it can go 85 hours on 16 lbs of charcoal.   This is in direct conflict with everything above.   What is going on here?  Is everyone except KK wrong, and more efficient really is better?     Or is there something about the KK that allows it to burn cleanly at such slow rates?   

 

One fundamental difference in a KK is that 100% of the air flows through the coals - there's no path around the inner basket.   This reduces the wasted airflow through the grill, which should keep more moisture in the grill, however it also means you need a cooler fire too keep the same temp so I don't see how this explains the contradiction above.  Are there other advantages? I'm curious to know why other cookers allow this airflow around the firebox.  Is this just to keep the ceramic from cracking, and not because it's best for cooking?

I really want to avoid a brand war.  But it's driving me nuts that no one can explain to me why so many people say you don't want to be too efficient, and yet the most expensive kamados brag about it, and their owners love the food they produce.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll tell you exactly what is going on here:

 

People spend too much time worrying about smoke.  Period.

 

Here's what you need to know:

 

1.  Less efficient fires, such as those in a stick burner, tend to produce better flavored food when in the hands of a pit master who knows how to run the system properly.

 

2.  Kamado fires are more efficient by nature.  They do not use as much air.

 

So....  You can't really compare the fires from a stick burner to a kamado.  They are totally different.  A qualified pit master who is using a stick burner is using 100% wood to run that fire.  No charcoal.  THAT kind of fire MUST be a small, hot burning fire in order to cook the food.  That visible flame is REQUIRED to burn off the volatiles in the wood that would OTHERWISE make horrible tasting food.  

 

When you are cooking in a Kamado, you are cooking with charcoal that has ALREADY had those volatiles burned off.  So, it's OK to have a more efficient slower burning fire.  

 

Where you get into trouble in a Kamado is when you put your own smoking wood in that charcoal.  That wood is going to SMOLDER in a kamado.  TOO MUCH of it will make your food taste BAD.  A small amount of it will NOT make your food taste bad.  

 

Your choice of charcoal in your kamado makes a big difference also.  SOME charcoals are not as fully carbonized as others.  The ones that are fully carbonized such as Rockwood and Royal Oak are the cleanest burning charcoals I have ever used.  Stuff like fogo, kamado joe, and jealous devil are less carbonized, which means they produce a bit more of a smoke profile on their own.  When I am using those coals, I tend to NOT add ANY smoking wood to my cook and everything comes out perfect.

 

It's all in the experience....  You can get amazing cooks out of whatever smoker you have once you understand its personality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After recently moving on from my Keg (a kamado that WAS too efficient) I think I can confidently say that *less* efficient grills make better smokers.  It took so small of a fire to hold 225 on the Keg it was difficult to keep it lit and never burned cleanly at that temp.  As I struggled with it over the years I tried everything.  As an experiment, I also sealed off all airflow around the fire box and forced it  through the charcoal as well (to emulate the KK airflow) to see if that would help and it made very little difference I could detect.

 

My *less efficient* Weber Kamado creates a much nicer smoke profile more easily than my Keg ever could (at 225).

 

That said, from a YouTube video I recently saw....this reviewer says (was a KK Ultimate 23) this is the amount of charcoal required to hold 225 for 15 hours....does not seem any more efficient than my last ceramic kamado by any amount.  That same amount of charcoal would have run my Keg for days.  I use less than this amount in my Weber as well for an 18 hour cook. 

 

image.thumb.png.0cb429a58870e9931719a34fc955f72d.png

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, matto6 said:

 "....raving about the new KJ 3-series being slightly less efficient which he loves because it produces cleaner smoke."  

In addition to what John said  which is all correct,  I don't think the comment above is necessarily true. I think what is important is to keep a "consistent fire", for lack of better words, because dampening or extinguishing a flame or a fire is what puts off the really bad, acrid smoke (ie, blowing out a candle).

 

Akorns are incredibly efficient, therefore, keeping a consistent fire usually results in a temp higher than some people want at low and slow and they end up putting out the fire and getting the bad smoke. I'm perfectly fine with smoking at 250 ish and my akorn jr will do that all day once dialed in.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, SmallBBQr said:

After recently moving on from my Keg (a kamado that WAS too efficient) I think I can confidently say that *less* efficient grills make better smokers.  It took so small of a fire to hold 225 on the Keg it was difficult to keep it lit and never burned cleanly at that temp.  As I struggled with it over the years I tried everything.  As an experiment, I also sealed off all airflow around the fire box and forced it  through the charcoal as well (to emulate the KK airflow) to see if that would help and it made very little difference I could detect.

 

My *less efficient* Weber Kamado creates a much nicer smoke profile more easily than my Keg ever could (at 225).

 

That said, from a YouTube video I recently saw....this reviewer says (was a KK Ultimate 23) this is the amount of charcoal required to hold 225 for 15 hours....does not seem any more efficient than my last ceramic kamado by any amount.  That same amount of charcoal would have run my Keg for days.  I use less than this amount in my Weber as well for an 18 hour cook. 

 


I was wondering about the keg..  It really does cross the line into too efficient, huh?   Interesting.

So you're saying you think they're not that much more efficient?   They claim they can hold 235 for 85 hours on 16 lbs of lump.  I think that's more than you get out of a KJ, but possibly not more than about double?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are some KK owners on board here, so they are probably the only ones who can give you any real life experience comments...I'm just regurgitating what I saw elsewhere.

 

Efficiency under normal use may be a lot different than "claims" of efficiency under specific conditions.  i.e.  who needs to run their grill for 85 hours with the lid closed the entire time?  Firing up an 800 pound KK to sear a single steak probably blows away that "MPG" rating.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I usually light my Big Joe or Classic with one cotton ball in the middle after adding whatever wood chunks I want, let it burn for 10 minutes or so, add the deflector and grate, then after 20 more minutes or so when it settles at the temp I want I add the meat. Sometimes some white smoke is still coming out, but not like when it first gets started, that heavy acrid smoke. Never been put off by too “smokey” or “bad smoke” flavor. 

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...