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Beginner's S.O.S. : smoke/temp. management guidance needed


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This is surely covered many places elsewhere but I got lost in the archives. I'm a beginner with a new KJ Classic I. After watching several videos and reading a bunch, the first cook of ribs (St. Louis and beef) were exceptional. Around 270 F for about 4 hours and the balance of smoke, texture, moisture, flavor was perfect. One finger opened bottom vent, cracked the daisy wheel a little.

 

Then the wheels fell off the cart! Attempted spatchcock chicken. Indirect, targeting 375 F +/-. Expecting it to take about an hour and a half. The results: I couldn't get it into the garbage can fast enough. The dog didn't even get any for fear of toxicity. It was an ugly shade of sooty black. It smelled like the inside of a creosote lined chimney and tasted like licking one (not that I've ever tried).

 

I assume that I just don't yet know how to make a good clean burning fire and manage the balance of airflow, smoke and temperature. There was indeed a fair amount of white smoke coming out of the top. I think I had a reasonable amount of charcoal and this time use no smoking wood. I let the fire burn for about 20 min. before starting to cook.

 

I hope this is one of those "been there, done that" experiences to put in the rear-view mirror. Thanks for any advice.

 

 

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Just a guess here, but you had two low temp cooks, both of which produce a good bit of drippings.  You then didn't do any cleaning burn or let the grill get all the way to temp completely before dropping on the chicken. Chicken takes up flavor pretty easily, so picked up some of those flavors as the greases of the prior cooks volatilized. 

 

I've had my grill take up to 45 minutes to get rid of the heavy smoke if I've got a buildup of residues from old cooks.  Normally this is only so for the first higher heat cook after a low and slow, for me.

 

You don't always need to do a cleaning burn after a low and slow, but for me, at least, it's important to let the grill get up to temp and get rid of the white smoke in those cases.  

 

Others may have other thoughts.

 

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How's the airflow? Do you have a lot of ash build-up? Was the firebox loaded to the brim? If there's not enough air to go around the coals, then you will get more white smoke because the charcoal and smoking wood is smoldering instead of burning.

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The airflow was quite good. Not enough charcoal if anything. I didn't use any smoking wood either. I use a drip pan in the previous smoke so things were pretty clean. Maybe I just started the cook too soon.

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Seems a little hot to me for a chicken, I usually start around 300 and finish when its ready at that 375 mark. I never start to cook till the white smoke is gone.

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10 hours ago, A.O. said:

 I never start to cook till the white smoke is gone.

Bingo! It might be as simple as that. Started to cook too soon and a bit too hot.

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52 minutes ago, Grande said:

Bingo! It might be as simple as that. Started to cook too soon and a bit too hot.

Let us know how it works out next time.

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Do you lump charcoal or briquettes? I always use lump, light it in the middle of the pile and usually see no. Heavy white smoke after about thirty minutes then the birds go on. Mine usually runs between 275-300 and the chicken is typically do e I 45-55 minutes. Lately I’ll put the chicken in a Pan uncovered 

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I used no smoking wood at all. Lump charcoal was used. When you're waiting that 30 minutes or so for the fire to get stabilized, are the top and bottom vents in the full open position?

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1 hour ago, Grande said:

I used no smoking wood at all. Lump charcoal was used. When you're waiting that 30 minutes or so for the fire to get stabilized, are the top and bottom vents in the full open position?

NO!! At that point you would be close to 2 million degrees, dont ask how I know! 

Go here..  Its a great beginners place to start.. lots of good info from our fearless leader!

 

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Many, many years ago, on one of my first cooks, I lost a full rack of ribs because I thought BOTH vents had to be wide open to cook properly. The result; an inside temperature greater than that of the sun and a rack of ribs that could have easily passed for a bag of charcoal. Yeah, many of us have been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Difference is, I'm a big enough of a man (in more ways than one to now knowing how to cook properly on my Kamado) to admit it. :)

Stick with it, ask questions. Knowledge is power. You'll love your grill.

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17 minutes ago, NVRider said:

Many, many years ago, on one of my first cooks, I lost a full rack of ribs because I thought BOTH vents had to be wide open to cook properly. The result; an inside temperature greater than that of the sun and a rack of ribs that could have easily passed for a bag of charcoal. Yeah, many of us have been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Difference is, I'm a big enough of a man (in more ways than one to now knowing how to cook properly on my Kamado) to admit it. :)

Stick with it, ask questions. Knowledge is power. You'll love your grill.

Now just wait a minute!! T shirt?? I did not get a T shirt!! I want the T shirt!  :mrgreen:

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