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Poultry problems on new Kamado Joe Classic


Selli
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Purchased KJ a classic two months ago and have done about five cooks so far.  I have done a roast chicken three times and a thanksgiving Turkey. I researched online and you tube videos and felt I did everything I should have,  in all four, we had to finish the birds in the oven.  I cooked two of the chickens at 350 with the deflector plates in.  Chicken hardly browned at all.  On third attempt I was advised to cook at a higher temp which I did setting it at 425.  Chicken browned somewhat but wasn’t quite done with a thigh reading of 175.  When I used to roast chicken or Turkey in my old electric smoker the birds were brown after one hour and when they reached 165 they were done.  These don’t seem to be done or really cooking through.  Basically same thing happened with Thanksgiving Turkey.  Cooked it at 350 and it barely browned after 3 hours.  Ended up cooking it for four hours (13 LBs.) and then took it off and put it in the oven at 350 and twenty minutes later it was perfect. 
Sorry for the lengthy post but I’m puzzled why I’m not getting on good result on KJ classic and looking for some solutions.  Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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Sounds like you're talking about the color of the cooked bird, rather than issues with the meat being cooked.  I've been surprised myself by the lighter color of the skin when the chicken is fully cooked.  I'm just learning the grill, and have always cooked by eye rather than temperature.  Kamados are different though, and you'll see a lot of posts about folk having issues getting skin crispy in them.  The other side of that point is that the skin won't be as brown as you'd expect, for a given doneness.  

 

I think a lot of that has to do with the high humidity in these grills.  Keeps food very moist and juicy, but crisp skin is a challenge.  I haven't solved the problem for myself, at least on a consistent basis.  I can get crispy skin, but only when the bird is over the temperature goal (losing moisture, not optimum).  Hopefully someone has the answer.  

 

Or maybe that isn't your question :?:

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I think of my Kamado as "a charcoal-fired convection oven."  It cooks the meat mostly using recirculating hot air, not the radiant heat from the fire.  Therefore, "radiant-based effects like 'sear' and 'color' are not its strong suit," at least in my admittedly-limited experience.  "Okay, fine!"

 

Therefore, to me, "a few final minutes in the kitchen oven" is a perfectly valid finishing technique, because your oven uses radiant heat.  It's also a very flexible strategy, because each cooking environment (kamado, oven) stays the same.  The two environments are very different, so they work very well together – and your audience will never know how the trick was done.

 

Keep your remote-reading food thermometer in place as you transfer the food from one environment to the other, and pre-heat the stove's oven.  You want to remove the meat from the kamado sooner than you usually would have, so that when you then put it into the oven it will complete the process.  Use the oven's "broil" setting because you want that radiant heat to be coming down only on the top of the food: use best judgment about oven temperature – maybe it should be quite hot – and watch the thermometer like a hawk.

 

Remove the meat and "tent" it under aluminum foil as usual.  "Final internal meat temperature" is still the guiding light, even if you use more than one cooking technique to get there.

 

In like manner, if you want "sear" on your meat, a great way to do it is in a cast-iron skillet heated quite hot on your kitchen stove.  Use heat-tolerant coconut oil: no, your meat won't taste like coconuts.  You can do this before or after the grill cook depending on conditions.

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The first thing– if the chicken is @ 175° in the breast, It Is Done, period. In my experience, the following things can affect brownness.

  • Smoking wood and how much? I get more color when using smoking wood vs. not
  • Rub, particular a rub including brown sugar of sugar, though I always don't prefer sweet
  • Butter, helped a ton with my Pellet smoked turkey this year vs. none last year
  • Higher Temps, yes I agree can affect brownness, particular when used in conjuction with one or two of the above suggestions
  • Remove a deflector plate!!! This absolutely will affect the birds color due to radiant heat and you have the option of:
    • Coals under deflector plate; chicken over deflector plate. Near cooks end, place chicken on side without deflector for even more 'indirect' exposure to radiant heat
    • Coals on on side; deflector plate on the other; chicken over deflector plate. Near cooks end, plate chicken directly over coals for both browning and crisping of skin

my three cents

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Thoroughly and evenly cooked:  mostly the Kamado.

Smoke and color:  Kamado.

Crispy exterior:  Kitchen stove.

• (Steak sear:  Cast iron skillet.)

 

When you combine multiple cooking techniques and pay close attention to the internal food temperature throughout, as far as I have ever been able to determine it simply doesn't make a difference.  You can have "the best of more than one world" and get away with it just fine.

 

In the case of the crispy bird, your trusty kitchen oven (on "broil") will rain heat down directly on top ... which is exactly where you want the crispness to be.  The broiler doesn't have to cook the meat and it will probably have only a slight effect on its internal temperature.

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My last couple of poultry cooks have turned out great - both chicken and turkey. Great color, crispy skin and fantastic flavor. I’ve been cooking indirect in the 325° - 350° range and raised temp to 400° for the final 15 minutes on the turkey. Both were spatchcocked. I also used a buttermilk brine on both. I didn’t consider the effect that might have on the skin or color, but it may have helped. 
 

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In my experience golden brown color and crisp skin are enhanced when you remove the moisture from the chickens skin prior to cooking it. Just patting a bird dry with paper towels, doesn't seem to do the trick. However, I have found letting my chickens sit uncovered in the fridge over night before I cook them does. Before I cook them I paint the super dry skin taunt skin with olive oil or clarified butter and sprinkle them with  fine kosher salt. Now the oil or butter at the end of the air drying,  seems like a step backward, but I got it from a video from Thomas Keller the  chef who owns both  the French Laundry and Bouchon restaurants both with multiple  Michelin Stars. It seems to do the trick every cook. Ps. I cook chicken at 400 to 425.

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Lots of good advice here!! Chicken/turkey are some of my favorite cooks on my KJC I . Normally I brine them first, dry them off, oil them with olive oil and then my famous salt/pepper/minced garlic rub. I cook them low ish to start, 275-300 till the breast is up to 110-120 then I raise the temp to about 425 to finish. I've worked this plan up over 4-5 chickens and 2 turkeys and it works great for me, and my people love it.

 

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