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First Time Smoker Here


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Hey everyone! I have fallen in love with these forums since being given an Akorn about a month ago. Since then I’ve tackled pork shoulder, whole spatchcocked chicken, and a brisket flat. I’m learning so much thanks to you all. Oh I also grilled some hotdogs and burgers for the famil lunch and steak and shrimp for me haha.

 

I had bought a two probe thermometer so I could monitor my temp at grate level but I realize it didn’t allow me to set a high and low setting. That’s being swapped out with a new thermostat that isn’t dependent on wifi or Bluetooth.

 

My questions are:

 

1) should I preheat the smoker before hand once it gets to temperature? Or throw the meat on as soon as it settles in at my target temp?

 

2) on the digital thermometers they sense every little fluctuation in temp. When should I be concerned if it deviates from my target temp?

 

3) Grilling: do I close the vents down the same way when I smoke when I’m doing higher temp cooking?

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Hello @gadgetguy03  and welcome.

 

I would give some time to heat up and stabilize before putting the meat on.

 

The temp is going to fluctuate 30 degrees more or less.  Be patient and if you want to bring it down a bit or up a bit make small vent changes and give it 30 minutes to see the result.  215 to 275 is acceptable for smoking. 

 

Use the same procedure you are using to land at any temp you want to target.  Obviously the final vent settings will be different for different temps.

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3 minutes ago, philpom said:

Hello @gadgetguy03  and welcome.

 

I would give some time to heat up and stabilize before putting the meat on.

 

The temp is going to fluctuate 30 degrees more or less.  Be patient and if you want to bring it down a bit or up a bit make small vent changes and give it 30 minutes to see the result.  215 to 275 is acceptable for smoking. 

 

Use the same procedure you are using to land at any temp you want to target.  Obviously the final vent settings will be different for different temps.

Thank you @philpom. I used your temperature setting guide for every one of my low n slow cooks.

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Check the temperature "every fifteen minutes or so."  As needed, make slight adjustments and then check again "in fifteen minutes or so." 

 

Carefully observe the food temperature throughout, because that's the number that really matters most, and it's not terribly dependent on the moment-by-moment firebox temperature. 

 

That (food ...) temperature should, one way or the other, fairly gently "coast" up to about 10ºF below your target, at which point you should remove the food from the fire, wrap it ("tent" it ...) in aluminum foil, and expect it to "coast" up to your desired final temperature in the next fifteen minutes or so.

 

Really, there shouldn't be anything that should prevent you from sitting down in conversation with your friends and enjoying that conversation as you keep one eye focused on those two temperature readings . . .

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With my Akorn, I start a small fire, and let it slowly cruise upward in Temp.  As it hits 180, I close the chimney and intake a little, then again at 205, 215 and finally at 225.  I usually put the meat on (quickly) at 215.  The temps can vary from 215 to 260ish without affecting food too much.  My Akorn seems to like 250 degrees and that is fine for almost everything.  Remember - this ain't a piano we are making here.

 

 ”it’s always better to creep up to the temp, than overshoot and have to rescue the fire.”

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1 hour ago, JeffieBoy said:

With my Akorn, I start a small fire, and let it slowly cruise upward in Temp.  As it hits 180, I close the chimney and intake a little, then again at 205, 215 and finally at 225.  I usually put the meat on (quickly) at 215.  The temps can vary from 215 to 260ish without affecting food too much.  My Akorn seems to like 250 degrees and that is fine for almost everything.  Remember - this ain't a piano we are making here.

 

 ”it’s always better to creep up to the temp, than overshoot and have to rescue the fire.”

Yeah I was also wondering if it was possible for the temp to overshoot first then come back down as the dome heats up. Is that a thing?

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It happens.  Usually through the users inattentiveness.  It can be hard to correct a major overtemp, because then you are chasing the thermometer. It’s better (and easier) to just be on the ball and make sure you get it right first.

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I generally find that "things are a good bit more forgiving than you fear."  Watch the oven temperature as it rises up ... taking care that it does not rise up too far, too fast.  And, throughout it all, watch the meat temperature.

 

"Yes, all of us have horror stories" where the oven temperature suddenly went through the roof – perhaps due to melted fat dumping down onto the charcoal – and thus ruining everything.

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First we have to figure what the dome temp we are measuring this is really the air in the upper part of the kamado. The Akorn will heat and stabilize a little faster due it not having the ceramic to heat up.  The ceramic in our Joe's suck heat out of the upper chamber air while it is heating up, hence it takes longer for the ceramic  Kamados to stabilize. All this ceramics ( think thermal mass) works as a heat sink and to a certain degree keep some of the small fluctuations in the fire temp to maintain a certain temp, either absorbing spikes or radiating some back into the chamber for dips. Fire spikes can be caused by grease burning, wood chunks catching fire, ect. fire is a living thing. As for "baby sitting " the grill if I'm doing a long smoke or roasting I use my temp controller to monitor the temps for me and have the alarms set for + or - 20 degrees, and it reports to my cell phone. I seldom use the fan for temp control except on an over night cook. Gadget this works for me and may be different for you it just takes time to learn your grill.  

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The very best thing about Kamado cooking is that – if you are using an external-reading thermometer which will tell you the oven temp and the food temp without opening the lid ... ~$35 at Home Depot, and "wireless" – you can quickly learn how to get repeatable results. 

 

Bring the grill convection oven up to the desired target temperature and you'll be pleased to discover that it stays there.  Be reasonably attentive to what the thermometer is telling you, and you'll get exactly the results that you are looking for, almost (heh ...) every time.

 

You'll sell your "Smokey Joe" at the very next yard sale, and never look back. :)  Because this method of cooking gives you: control.  (And you'll become accustomed to finding that most of the charcoal is left-over and ready for reuse!)

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Thank you everyone. I’m starting to realize the importance of uniform pieces of lump. Had a cook go awry today because I wasn’t paying attention to how uniform my pieces were and I was getting spikes in my temps. I grabbed a bag of lump at Walmart that Masterbuilt says is best for their gravity smokers. I didn’t think much of it because lump should be lump haha.

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I'm not overly concerned about keeping the charcoal the same size i just dump from the bag what i see is what i use. After a while you kind of get a 6th sense about the charcoal in the grill. I had to have learned something after a lifetime of grilling with charcoal.

 

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I use lump charcoal and a chimney starter, and I have not observed that the charcoal makes much difference as long as you take the time to let it all get properly on-fire.  Perhaps the most surprising thing about this style of grill is that most of the charcoal will still be there, ready for re-use, next day following the end of the cook!  Kamado grills are positively miserly in their use of fuel.

 

When I want "smoke," I put wood chips in a foil envelope and poke a few holes in it with a fork.  Next day, I have an envelope full of usable charcoal, which also goes into the bag.

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