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About CeramicTool

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    BBQ, Stereo.

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  1. Very cool thread. I have tried bread before at high temp like 500-550f but it always burns to black. Charcoal on the bottom. I didn't understand then, but I think I do now. Back then, I tried to preheat the base ceramics just enough so that the bottom and top would be finished at the same time. It rarely worked, and was often disastrous. It seems this entire thread is about how to get extreme heat from the bottom of the loaf to the top, and that large amounts of moisture in a small amount of time (high RH, more even temperature throughout the entire kamado) is the key to even cooking and crust generation. Experts, is this a fair synopsis? What am I missing? About to have a other go round next week.
  2. @tony bYou mentioned in another thread that "a 50F difference between dome and main grate temperature is "normal" for a KK, especially early in the heatup process. With a long enough cook (hours) they will tend to equilibrate a bit closer, typically within 20-30F." This is true of many cookers, very easily explained and goes to the heart of the relationship between heat and moisture. Temperature is a fight between the firebox and the moisture. The Firebox will stay relatively stable on a komodo. Lets assume the energy input stays the exact same throughout the cook (No drippings damping it, no flue rate changes due to temperature changes, etc). Heat rises. Therefore the top of the Kamado is hotter than the bottom. After adding moisture (meat), the energy input remains the same but some of that energy will be used to evaporate water. This will lower the stable average temperature of the Komodo (.vs dry stable temperature) as some of the energy is used to evaporate water. This evaporated water will then immediately get to work circulating in the komodo and facilitating the transfer of heat in a more equal way. It will lower the Dome temperature and raise the grate temperature as well as the mid and lower sections of the heavy komodo. This will also lower the APPEARANCE of total energy in the Komodo if the user is only using the Dome temperature as a guide. The total energy stored in the komodo steel/ceramic will stay the same (relatively), but be more evenly distributed. It will also allow the Komodo to hold more heat energy as the moisture allows the bottom half of the komodo to hold more heat energy. As you have stated, as the cook goes on, the grill temp and dome temp converge. This is the work of moisture. The reverse is also true. As a piece of meat loses moisture and loses moisture at a slower rate, the temperature of the Kamado will rise. The two-fold reasons are the same but in reverse. As the relative humidity drops, heat rises without the counterbalance of being conveyed back down by hot wet air. As the moisture disappears, the firebox is no longer wasting energy supporting water evaporation, so there is excess energy again to raise the temperature and create a higher equilibrium. (I wonder if the "stable dry temp" before adding meat is the same as the stable dry temp after allowing a piece of meat to completely lose its moisture and the internal temperature to rise to stability with the grill???? 350F roast please, lol) As a thought experiment, carry this to the extreme and replace wet air with wet water. The top and bottom of the grill would share the exact same temperature, just as the temperature of bathwater will not vary by more than a degree or two in a bathtub. Anyway, one of the things I have started doing is adding a small dish of boiling water to my Kamado at startup, even if only a few ounces. This will allow the ceramic of my Kamado Joe to hold more energy and achieve wet stability faster. It also negates the temperature differencial between the dome and grate before the meat goes on the grill. No more guesswork. Pre-Add moisture, get more useful temperature information from the existing probes.
  3. I have a Fireboard Drive 2, and I have noticed the same thing. its usually because the cable feels like it clicked in, but it only went one notch, or 1.x notches, but not 2 notches. This can impede the voltage transfer that the Fireboard converts to temperature.
  4. As a Rotisserie Newb, I can contribute in the form of what not to do, and a little bit of what to do on the chicken wing front. One of the things I can tell you not to do is put chopped and reconstituted potatoes, aka Tater Tots in a rotisserie basket. If you do, those Tater Tots will tumble and unfreeze and break up into little bits that will burn and tumble until they end up on top of the red charcoal smothering it, sucking the heat out of it to evaporate moisture, the firebox will be smoldering something real nasty. There were also sausages and stuff left in the basket that didnt fall through. Tried to eat some, tasted like eating an ashtray. A few mouthfuls and my mouth had an odd sensation like burning in it. Creosote maybe? luckily only one guest over that day. I learned that when rotissering, the magic sauce is the radiation, and drippings can damp that radiation. Think about how much moisture and grease is going to come out of what your cooking, and over what period of time. Now I cook based off the firebox more than the temperature, for small things like wings and appropriately sized chunks of meat. I base where I start roughly off how much moisture and dripping I expert to land on the firebox. I could of course protect the firebox, but that would mean Im not getting the radiation I want. Chicken Wings are a good example. I like to start them with a red hot firebox, but on its way to settling down, somewhere around 850f, tumbling, dropping to anywhere between 500-650f over 8-15 minutes (in a KJ, not KK). But I dont get stuck on the temperature. There is a lot of moisture turned to steam in a short period of time. Its the radiation that can can turn juices into steam and crust and smoke as it leaves the meat, and be constantly browning from the very second the meat is in the grill. Its the radiation that has the most potential for Rotisserie cooking, in my opinion. It can be hard to burn meat if its juicy enough and has fat and/or skin, and counterintuitively, the higher the temperature, the juicier the meat in certain situations. Its a bit of a juggling act, but I just dont consider the temperature gauge of the grill very relevant for many types of rotisserie cooking. Back to the Chicken Wing example, What happens when you cook 1lbs in a rotisserie basket vs 3lbs in a rotisserie basket? You mess with the amount of radiation each chicken wing can get! The temperature is no longer the relevant consideration! Im not looking to "Bake" my chicken wings! I want to steam them from the inside out while frying them in their own fat while they turn! And I need a lot of radiation to do that. More wings = need more radiation = higher temperature BUT: The more mass of wings tumbling, the slower their temperature rises. Full circle. Its not about the temperature. Its about the radiation. (and moisture tells when to pull)
  5. Yes, I see how the temperature drop when adding cold vs warm meat is not relevant when there are hundreds of pounds of mass, and how a colder cut absorbs more smoke flavor. Good point. More interesting to me is "sealing the meat with Tallow". Its almost like a hybrid "frying" technique, where the evaporative cooling aspect is throttled and instead the water expanding in volume to steam forces its way through a layer of hot fat. As this steam bubble expands and then pops, the outer oil layer of the bubble can get really hot because its so thin. It browns, and then pops. Like mozzarella on a pizza. Its the bubbles and a thin layer of oil at a high temperature that create the browning where without bubbles that high temperature reaction wouldn't occur.
  6. I have done some extensive reading today to get to the bottom of this. Much of the literature deals with wood fires and offset smokers, so here is a good "translation primer" to help fit these into the framework of a Komodo Smoker: https://kbq.us/bbq-edu-blog/how-wood-burns/ Drying – that log is full of water. Green wood has ~80% (of dry weight) moisture; a 9 lb log = 5 lbs wood + 4 lbs water. Seasoned wood has ~20%, so the same log split and dried for a year will weigh 6 lbs. There’s still a pound (pint) of water that must boil out before the log’s temperature will rise over ~230F. Dessication makes lots of steam that helps keep your meat moist; it also consumes a lot of heat from the fire. Decomposition – once the log is dry, heat-up resumes. The cellulose and lignin structure of wood breaks down at high temperatures and boils-off much like the water did. Instead of steam, we get smoke – a cornucopia of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates. Smoke is a gaseous fuel. At 800F, the log has been reduced to its carbon skeleton, which we call charcoal. Charcoal is a solid fuel. Combustion – our two fuels burn differently, each governed by The Fire Triangle. Charcoal burns as a red-hot ember (a surface oxidation). Smoke burns as an orange/yellow flame. Charcoal and smoke split the fire’s energy production roughly 50/50. "The charcoal-only fire – charcoal is just wood that’s been taken through steps 1 and 2 at a factory. Having no volatiles, this fire is simple to control – just throttle the air supply. This allows the pit boss to load up a surplus of fuel, dial in the temperature with dampers, and get a long burn with minimal attention. The downside is that a charcoal-only fire is flavorless, making CO, CO2, and barbecue that tastes like pot roast." ***Im not buying that Volatile Organic Compounds are completely burnt out of wood in the process of turning wood to charcoal. I feel like Ive tasted them on my friends chicken all the time, but maybe that's just large soot particles! lol. And different charcoals give different flavors, so its not 100% carbon with the VOC's cooked out. This is probably the best article I read, though it is for wood burning, not charcoal, the principals apply. Charcoal has just had the water and other compounds pre-cooked out of it so it burns cleaner and hotter. https://www.texasmonthly.com/bbq/avoiding-dirty-smoke/ "The thick smoke from a smoldering fire carries a higher concentration of those sooty solid particles. Once the fire temperature reaches 750 degrees Fahrenheit, the more flavorful compounds come forward. According to Harold McGee in his book On Food and Cooking, compounds like guaiacol and phenol provide the pungent and spicy flavors that we’d call “smoky.” Vanillin tastes like vanilla, isoeugenol like cloves, and syringol like sausage. These are the desirable flavors that smoke provides, but only at higher temperatures." ANd from The Naked Whiz: "But then you might ask why is bad smoke produced early in the lighting of the fire when the cooker's temperature is low? And why isn't bad smoke produced later in the cook when the fire spreads to chunks of smoking wood that haven't started burning or smoldering yet? Let us explain. Most people start their fire by having the vents wide open which allows a small area of charcoal burn at very high temperatures. Because the burning area is small, the cooker temperature remains low. As the fire begins to spread, however, the area of very high temperature spreads and the cooker starts to heat up. When the cooker starts to heat up, you start closing down vents which limits the amount of air to the burning charcoal and reduces the temperature of the burning charcoal. Eventually, you reach an equilibrium where the charcoal is burning at a much lower temperature than when you started, and this is enough heat to keep the cooker where you want it. So, initially, you have some very hot charcoal burning at high temperatures that produce bad smoke, but eventually the temperature of the burning charcoal lowers to a point where it produces good smoke. And this is why later in your cook when chunks of smoking wood finally begin to smoke, those chunks produce good smoke." That explains Lower Temperatures, and for higher temperatures: "However if the ingredients in your wood chunks burn at higher temperatures, the molecules which produce these wonderful flavors are themselves broken down into smaller molecules which are either flavorless or harsh. This is how you produce "bad" smoke. So, the difference between good and bad smoke has little to do with driving off bad chemicals and more to do with the temperature at which the fuel is burning." Conclusion: The simplistic explanation is to say VOC's need to be cooked off. This explanation works for most people, most of the time, but is technically incorrect and denies to the user a theory that bridges the gap between wood and charcoal. There is an optimal temperature range. Too low, and the fire smoulders, creating large sooty particles, and maybe even a smattering of VOC's that haven't burned hot enough to make the flavors wanted, and instead produces something closer to creosote. Too hot, and there is a double-breakdown thing happening where the desired flavors are themselves broken down into smaller useless or nasty parts that lack what is desired. With this "universal" explanation, 18 months into my kamado career, I think I understand enough to start using wood to smoke! and to do it properly. I have held off until now because I wanted to take things one step at a time and not develop any bad habits, which is hard to do when functionally a dummy and don't understand how things work. This wood smoking to charcoal smoking continuum has taught me its all the same, except that charcoal has had most of the flavors (VOC's) "baked out" of it. I can then use wood chunks to put those flavors back in, in the proper amounts, at the proper place in the wood to charcoal cycle, at the right temperature for the desired results. The key is minimizing the time that charcoal and wood chunks spend outside the ideal temperature while in the Kamado with food. After that, its just preference.
  7. On my quest to tame charcoal, I am continually running into moisture and realizing they are part of the same ecosystem, and one cannot be conquered without understanding the other. Everyone knows the cheeseburger skillet trick. The one where the burger is ready to come off, but you forgot to put the cheese on. The solution is to drop a small amount of water into the skillet and immediately put the lid on. The moisture, trapped, steals heat from the bottom of the pan, boils, turns to steam, and transfers heat to the cheese which promptly melts in seconds. Voila! Moisture is the great temperature equalizer. A dry grill will have more hot spots and cool spots than a moist grill. Ever notice (perhaps not with a heat soaked KK!) that a fully stable Kamado Joe will have a temperature drop when you put meat on the grill? I will ignorethe heat lost to opening the lid, and calling it even for the additional oxygen added. Firstly, the equilibrium is slightly thrown off by adding a weight of room temperature meat. This is a vapid and beginners explanation though. My 340lbs Big Joe at a temp of 275f shouldn't have a temperature drop of more than a degree per pound of meat I add, if it were a simple balance the temperatures equation. Secondly, there is the issue of wet/dry equilibrium. A "dry" has a tenancy to be hotter on top, cooler on bottom. Try touching underneath the ceramic, the bottom of the grill. Very cool. This has led me to recognize there is a dry heat equilibrium, and a wet heat equilibrium. A dry heat equilibrium of 275f will have energy used to warm meat (of no consequence), and to evaporate moisture (of large consequence). As most of us know, it takes 5x the energy to evaporate a ml/gram of water than it does to raise its temperature from frozen to boiling. This energy used to evaporate water will provide for a lower grill temperature with the same airflow rate to the charcoal. This is the reason a grill will lose temperature when you add meat, and then slowly climb over the coarse of the cook as moisture leaves. The less energy expended evaporating moisture, the higher the equilibrium temp of the grill. This applies more so if the meat added has a large wet surface area, like chicken wings. Less so if the meat has a small surface area to volume, like a roast. Additionally, adding moisture to a dry equal grill will lower the dome temperature and grate temperature because just like the cheeseburger, the moisture has the ability to steal heat from the top of the grill and give it to the bottom of the grill. Which brings me largely to the end of my knowledge of moisture, but opens up many more questions. For example, although the temperature of the grill may be lower and the relative humidity higher, does it really matter? "The temperature feels hotter than it actually is with the presence of more humidity in the air". Does this translate to a BBQ and Meat, or is it only relevant to human skin? Will the moisture help transfer heat faster from the air to the meat? Does this energy that evaporated water (not destroyed, but repurposed), make up for the drop in temperature when it comes to cooking time? is it a "wash" as they say? If I hold a dome temperature of 275f, will keeping a lower or high RH make the cooking time shorter or longer? or does it matter? Next I have many questions about moisture, RH, and browning. and a few crackpot theories. I have come to the conclusion that certain foods need to be cooked above a certain temperature, and others don't. Bacon is one such food. In this illustrative example, I cook bacon single layered on my grill at 225f. Its too salty to eat because the moisture has evaporated, rather than dripped off the bacon. When evaporating water, the salt remains, and the bacon is too salty. When cooking faster, some grease drips away, taking salt with it, leaving the bacon edible. The obvious solution is to cook it like a roast, in a slab, for tenderness, then grill at the end. As the temperature increases, there is less need to worry about this phenomena, as the faster heating = faster protein twisting expelling water = drippage. I'm wondering if this has anything to do with the beloved temperature of 275f being the transition point from Smoking to BBQing? or more to the point, that perfect temperature that is hot enough to build a crust, and low enough to tenderize meat. I suspect perhaps. Some well respected people I know will favor tenderization and drop the temp to 250 and compensate with a sear at the end. Browning will only happen above a certain temperature, and more efficiently at even higher temperatures. Water will not rise above a temperature of 212f, but any excess energy added when at this temperature is instantly used to vaporize water. Water will still vaporize at a lower temperature, but slower. The way a french fry gets its brown, crispy outer shell and pillowy soft inside is my starting point for trying to figure out how a roast on a BBQ gets its browning, in relation to moisture and temperature. With a french fry, the surface area to volume and moisture content are key. When the french fry is dropped in hot oil and starts to warm, it shrinks and expells moisture. This moisture, upon contact with hot grease, does a phase transition from liquid to gas whereby that 5x energy we talked about earlier is released as a giant expansion, or explosion if you will. Water, in the form of gas, takes up 5500x more space!!!!!! and this happens almost instantly. This is what you see bubbling up from a deep fryer, steam. It only seems impossible and endless, but given enough time the moisture in the food in the deep fryer will run out, the bubbling will stop, and the oil is still hot as F, even though motionless. (always beware the still oil! it is potentially much much much hotter than bubbling oil, whereby converting water to gas keeps the temperature lower) Back to the french fry, its this rapid expansion of moisture is constantly happening on the very outside of the french fry that makes a crispy fry. Every explosion near the boundary of fry and oil tears little holes in the potato (i imagine it looks like dead skin under a microscope!), allowing the oil to penetrate further into the french fry, even as the moisture is billowing out. It is the hot temperature of the oil that causes the browning, but the expansion of gases that allows the crust to expand inwards toward the center of the french fry. To little moisture to begin with, and you have a crisp but dry fry. Too much moisture to begin with, and the inside isn't pillowy soft, but rather starchy hard. Come to think of it, a brisket at 225f has a great crust! Even a brisket at 215f. But 200? Not that Im aware of. I have always thought that 225f was a thing because its a good minimum for food safety. Lately, I have been tending to think of it as a temperature that is near the phase transition of water into a gaseous state, which may also overlap with food safety. More importantly, my intuition tells me that a good crust requires an ever so thin outer layer that approaches or exceeds the boiling point of water. My intuition tells me that moisture prevents browning because the energy is being used to evaporate water, not brown meat. Even if that isn't true, moisture still keeps the temperature down, and makes browning less efficient. It further tells me that there is a transition zone on the edge of meat where the temperature going from meat temperature to dome temperature is where the crust is built. It also tells me that this layer doesn't exist if there is an unpenetrable wall of mositure in the form of water on the outside of the meat, and that this is why nobody cooks a brisket at 190f. Because the moisture not evaporating and not rapidly expanding fails to create that jagged, sharp, crevasse filled landscape that allows for a larger temperature transition, and by extension a hotter outer layer where the browning is happening. Am I on the right track? In what other ways can I see and utilize moisture and temperature in the service of better cooks? Is there some kind of special phase transition or other energy thing that happens around 275f? Or is that temperature just a good balance cooking the meat slow enough to be tender, but hot enough to operate higher in the Maillard heat/efficiency curve? or is that just a made up temperature that signifies the divide between Smoking and BBQing? Any thoughts are appreciated, even debunking my entire parts of my post would make me smarter.
  8. In the last couple months I have been trying different techniques, sous-vide and reverse sear with a special emphasis on getting a good sear. The above advice seems to tack with what I have been seeing. At first, I was trying to get as hot a coal as I can, compliments of a hair dryer. This is how i stumbled on blowing the ash off before searing. Hotter isn't better though. I have found that the pit of coals should be of a natural disposition, which is to say at a natural equilibrium without the use of a fan, unless you plan on using the fan throughout the entire sear process, which creates an artificial equilibrium. It wasnt necessarily the blackness that was offputting about such a high heat (say 700-900f), or even the burnt pepper or garlic taste. I believe that supercharging the charcoal out of equilibrium causes it to burn less efficient and give a nasty smoke flavor. Which has become a rule: when using forced air, allow the coals to settle back down to equilibrium before using. As for the sear itself, I have found that letting the coals settle down, a quick blow with the hairdryer from below and above, and 5 minutes to stabilize at a temperature of 450-550 on my dome works best. I also use a kamado joe mini grate to sit down on top of the coals, giving an extra half inch or so of clearance from the coals. From there, I just turn when appropriate until seared to my liking. I have found getting off the coals a touch allows for no grit from the ash, and less "heat suckout" from the meat using conduction to steal heat and turn charcoal from red to black. I'm satisfied with my progress so far, but have advance plans to perfect the sear that improves on moisture wicking for more browning and searing. (hint: less charcoal, more airflow, artificial equilibrium, faster and better moisture wicking from surface of meat, less drippage and flairup, more brown, less black)
  9. Ok. I like these answers.... just go hardcore on the direct Radiation and call it a day. Double the distance, 1/4 the radiation. But who needs that kind of math when you can just plop the steak on the coals.
  10. There is no such thing as "Just" BBQ. If you wish to argue, Ill have the moving truck pick up your KK and leave you a rusted out Wal-Mart BBQ 😜
  11. Topping up is more for long brisket cooks so I can sleep through the night. Now that I have a Thermoworks Smoke and Billows, they seem to be more energy efficient and its not really an issue. But the question still remains, if I wanted to cook a brisket overnight and then keep the grill going the next day, how do i keep if going indefinitely? Its really more of a learning question than a practical question that has implications for many things. As for steaks, thin cut are not appropriate for RS, so Im usually doing a 2 1/4" to 4" cut (anywhere from steak to small roast). I find 10-15f below target works well, but the smaller the steak, the harder to judge. The bigger the steak, the closer to 10f below I go. I get pretty good results. The problem is I have done a few truly amazing RS's before, and I need to be able to repeat that perfect turbocharged Maillard dark brown. Its not as easy as it looks. My main problem is I get the fattiest cuts I can, and they ooze fat out. For pork rib roasts with skin on, I have no choice but to sear first and get the cracklin going with all that fat. But for a fatty steak, I really want that crisp all around dark brown finish, and searing first, roasting second ruins the crispy crust.
  12. I have had a lot of questions about charcoal and how to master it. I think I have developed a decent grasp of the situation and looking for some advanced input to take my cooking to the next level. Fire needs three things in my kamado: Oxygen, Heat, Charcoal. On my very first cook I put the approximately appropriate amount of charcoal (only a small amount! lol) in the cooker and left the vents wide open to achieve a temperature of 250. A lot of work, not very stable. Definitely doable, but I wouldnt recommend it. Then I learned to just fill the cooker right up with charcoal! The next Question I had was when is the charcoal lit, and how does the fire travel if the charcoal isnt touching? A: The charcoal is lit when the charcoal reaches a certain temperature over an area large enough that the heat cant be disapated away (through conduction) faster than the chemical reaction just started. This is why it only takes a quick hit with the Looftlighter when the charcoal has recently been extinguished to get it going again, and why it takes a lot longer in -30c weather. Just like a slab of meat sucks the heat out of the grill, so too do the surrounding charcoal. What causes nasty smoke and how can I top up my grill without creating it? Nasty smoke is created when the system is out of equilibrium. It starts out of equilibrium because its cold with a hot spot. This causes heat to be wicked away, which means the temperature of the charcoal is lower than it otherwise would be. The environment is stealing heat, causing an inefficient burn that leaves nasty smelling stuff unburnt. Slowly, as the differential between the Komado and charcoal temperatures reduces, the fire gets more efficient and produces less nasty smoke. Eventually, the Kamado will reach thermal equilibrium, and clean, but just slightly smoky smoke will be the byproduct of the system. This is what I want. Every deviation from this equilibrium will create a sub-optimal smoke. Opening the lid feeds excess oxygen to the charcoal, raising the temperature. When the lid is closed and the oxygen flow is reduced back to normal the charcoal bed is still hotter than it should be for the amount of oxygen it has to burn. This form of oxygen deprivation will bring the system out of equilibrium and create sub-optimal smoke until the heat has a chance to disapate and settle back to equilibrium. The same goes for putting something cold in the grill, like a large cut of meat or a water tray. The heat will migrate towards the coldest part and the system is out of equilibrium. As the meat/water warms up, and the grill is brought back up to temperature, equilibrium is again established. The reason throwing meat on the grill usually doesn't do this is that the excess heat created by opening the lid is counterbalanced by being able to travel to and end up in the cold meat/water and equilibrium is achieved faster than if only the lid were opened, or only cold food was put on the grill (without opening the lid). With a good heat soaked Komodo to provide heat to the cold meat/water, the smoke should stay clean in these above scenarios. This neatly solves one of my beginner misconceptions: That brand new charcoal causes nasty smoke no matter what, and that pre-burned charcoal produces better smoke. This is somewhat true on its face, new charcoal DOES produce nastier smoke when first lit. It is denser and less porous. The energy available is high, but because it has a smaller surface area to volume (because less porous), it also is harder to light and takes longer to reach equilibrium. Because it takes longer to reach equilibrium, it produces nasty nasty smoke for longer. Preburnt charcoal has had a bazillion extra holes burnt through it and has a much larger surface area to volume which allows it to heat up faster. it also has a lower weight, so it reaches equilibrium faster because there is less material to heat up. The easy workaround for this is to absolutely blast the charcoal at the beginning to generate a lot of heat, and then let the grill suck the heat out of the charcoal. A cold grill can be brought to equilibrium faster by guestimating how much to overshoot the fire on the initial light knowing that the heat will be sucked out and the charcoal will not be able to produce a runaway temperature. From the above, I have some theories. Im too lazy to use a chimney starter and just make one small/medium fire in the center of the charcoal, maybe a little closer to the bottom vent than center. When it comes time to top up the grill with charcoal, I can do this a couple times preemptively If i wanted to keep the grill going indefinitely. I havent had this problem lately, so I havent been able to try this on-the-fly refilling method. A couple room temperature chunks at a time in an area that has already burnt away wont suck too much heat out to create nasty smoke, and putting them away from the ebbing and flowing lit charcoal allows the charcoal to gradually come up to temperature and light without creating nasty smoke by trying to light room temperature charcoal. Theoretically, I could create good smoke for an indefinite period of time with this method. Thoughts? Which brings up another question I had, why is a chimney starter necessary? I think the short answer is that it is not, but that by getting the entire bed of coals going at a low clip that the grill temperatures will be more even and less erratic depending on where the fire below is travelling. This would also preclude topping up charcoal without creating nasty smoke though, there would be no safe place to put it without it catching on fire immediately and making bad smoke and taking a long time to equalize. Which segues into my prime objective: How to create the Best Steak. One of the problems Im having is the Sear part of a reverse sear. Flare-ups cause an inoptimal smoke flavor. On the one hand, I need to sear, and sear fast so there is no large grey ring on a 1.2KG Striploin roast (yum!). On the other hand, the intense heat causes grease drips which cause fire and flareups and meat that sometimes ends up more Charbroil than Maillard. Some of the best successes I have had are using a hair dryer in a system to create something that I dont totally understand, but that may approximate an artificially high equilibrium. If I dont entirely fill my KJ mini I can use a hairdryer in the bottom vent and achieve a thermal equilibrium at a lower temperature than the usual 600-700-800-900 that would ensue with a full basket and blower. My best successes have come with an equilibrium of about 525-600f created using forced air. My theory is that flare ups make nasty smoke because the sudden heating caused by flareups brings the system out of equilibrium and makes bad smoke, not to mention the fire directly against the meat. Instead, I bring the grill to an artificially high equilibrium that relys on feeding it lots and lots of oxygen, which gives me the benefits of moisture wicking. As the steak sears, the moisture is wicked away more efficiently leaving the stuff from the juices naked and dry on the outside of the meat where it does its Maillard thing well. The fire still shoots out the top of the grill and touches my meat, but there seems to be a sweet spot where the rapid temperature increase of the meat provides a protective barrier of moisture that is constantly being wicked away without the steak catching on fire. Hope this makes sense. I still feel like a beginner, but Im starting to be master of the fire. Any tips, tricks, suggestions, corrections are appreciated.
  13. I am a meat enthusiast, and my journey has brought me here. One time, I wondered how to cook the perfect steak, while around about the same time trashing anyone that likes to get up at 6am to light a BBQ. No one ever gave me a convincing argument for why charcoal was worth the hassle, and they obviously weren't that good a cook, or didn't cook for me. Well, eventually I got serious about the perfect steak and owned 7 Webers and a Napoleon 2 years ago, and that's when I started to see the shortcomings of gas/propane cooking (it only gets to 500, there is little mass to sustain that temp, moisture issues, wind issues, flare ups, cold spots/warm spots, etc etc) So I bought a Broil King Keg off Kijiji for $70Cdn. It was rusted through on the bottom by the door, but I was too stupid to know how to use charcoal anyway, so I just thought the proper way was to put the proper amount of charcoal in the Keg. And it worked pretty good until I tried to do a packer brisket.... lol. Disaster. Yet everyone loved it. That's when I knew everyone is an idiot, and that Charcoal is heads and tails above gas. The rest is history and I ended up with a Big Joe. Recently I heard about Komodo Kamado, and I've been trowlling the forums. I must say, its one of those things that, once heard about, one finds a way to acquire. As an adhd perfectionist, Im happy to be here hanging with the big boys. Other Forums seem to be full of novices and semi-informed people (Just like real life!) I do pretty good with my Kamado, its really not a hard thing to do with a proper understanding and game plan. Which always then amazes me the mediocre stuff some people manage to cook. I'm here to take my cooking to the next level, and am aiming at owning a KK in 12-18 months. Or sooner if anyone between Winnipeg and Vancouver wants to upgrade to a newer, bigger, better grill (contact me!)
  14. Im spending $700/year (CDN) on charcoal, roughly $2/day. Which is only a 17.6-20lbs bag every second week. I understand the math will never work because of the time value of money, but at 1/2 charcoal usage, that's $350 saved every year. 14 years + $1500 from my Big Joe gets me a budget of $6400 CDN. That's pretty close to the cost of a used 23" ultimate. Please don't destroy my delusions, let me get away with saying a KK pays for itself, because it really truly almost does unless it kills me first.
  15. I'm definitely over my head on this one, so feel free to correct where Im wrong, or add more insight where Im close. But here is a better explanation: Is the Billows more efficient? I firmly believe it is super-efficient vs not using it. I got this idea from @DennisLinkletter in a roundabout way. He said something about the KK having a set and forget damper temperature control system because all the air is drawn through the charcoal, and not allowed to circumvent the firebox like in other designs. I interpreted/visualized this, rightly or wrongly, as a stream of air entering my Big Joe, going around the outside of the firebox, sucking up heat along the way and exiting the top damper warmer than when it entered, but while using less of the available oxygen than if it went through the firebox. This is obviously a simplification, and its more complicated, but the point stands. From this perspective, I visualize the the billows as alternatively creating a "closed air system" and "open air system", one at a time, (Tony B, you are right, this is the inappropriate usage of the words) with relatively little vaccuum action until the temperature drops below where it needs to be. Then Billows forces air into the Kamado, which in turn forces air out the minuscule damper hole in the top. The oxygen level will of course never rise above 20.9%, but will drop as it is used to create heat. I see in my minds eye an imaginary oxygen meter in my Kamado. As the oxygen level drops, so does the heat production. The oxygen in a Billows controlled Big Joe set at 225f will stabilize at a set point between 0 and 20.9%, but I have no idea what that number might be, and it would vary based many things. With the Billows, I see the Big Joe as a totally different cooker. The oxygen may still not have to pass through the firebox, but it must circulate endlessly until it drops too low to maintain the desired temperature, which is close to the same thing. This is made possible by the smaller top damper hole and forced air action of the billows. I humbly suggest that when using the Billows, more oxygen is converted to heat than when not using it, which equals less airflow. And this in turn increases its efficiency by allowing less heat out. I also think that somehow not letting as much moisture escape makes it more efficient as well. I understand it takes 5x the energy to evaporate moisture than to bring it from frozen to boiling. I also understand that as relative humidity rises, evaporation happens slower and slower until it stops completely. I'm not sure what what 100% humidity is at 225f, and Im not sure if a kamado gets that high, and I'm not sure what happens to moisture in meat when the relative humidity is 100%. I do however feel like I'm on the right track that more moisture retained = lower future evaporation rate = more moist meat = less energy used to evaporate water Everything about the Billows seems to be pointing in the right direction of energy efficiency equaling less moisture loss equaling better meat. My cooks are bearing this out as well.
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