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Preparing for Thanksgiving cook with some questions

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Hey Guys, 

I know I should have done a prerun with perhaps a small turkey to cook but This Thursday I will be cooking two 23 lb turkeys on the 42 inch.  So a couple of questions as I have used my 42 inch that have come up for me that I think will help with cooking this week if I can get some advice and suggestions. 

1.  So I have been using aluminum foil as my heat deflector when I have used the entire grill and then only been using the divider as my deflector when I don't need the entire grill.  In addition I have my drip trays underneath.  Is this too much deflection?  Sometimes I find it really hard to get it up to the 325-350 temp I want for chicken and in this case a turkey with the aluminum foil in.  Perhaps Im not waiting long enough for it to heat sink and absorb all of the heat.  Do I need to wait a good hour-1.5 hours before putting food on and also the aluminum foil deflection or should I have that in from the start.  Are drip pans enough to serve as heat deflection?


2.  Controlling temp.  I know the mantra here is small adjustments can make a tremendous difference in temp control.  I am trying to get the hang of the bottom vents and then the top turnwheel.  If I am wanting to get to a higher temperature is it better to leave the bottom vents alone and adjust the top turn wheel, adjust both or adjust only the bottom vents.  I seem to want to adjust everything and I think its probably too much, If Im not getting the temp I want and then I seem to do a lot of chasing.  

3.  When starting your fire, how many places do you start your coals?  One, two or three places?  Maybe I am starting too many spots.  For low and slow do you only need one spot and then for the temp I want with this turkey or chicken do I light a couple of more places? I use a heat blower/gun to start my fire which works great.  

4.  This cook this thursday with two 23lb turkeys which I will be spatchcocking, should I plan it to take much longer because its two turkeys instead of one? Meaning should I plan on 8 hours or more at the 325-350 mark because it is almost 50 lbs of meat?  I know the  I have cooked on other grills that the more meat that was on, the longer it took to cook.  Is this principle true with the komodo kamado?

  I have read on the website here some great ideas with cooking turkeys.  I have done well cooking whole chickens and I hope that maybe cooking the turkey is just a chicken on a bigger scale.  I think just having some advice with the heat deflection will help me or maybe I don't want any heat deflection at all other than just the drip pans.  Thanks in advance for the help.  I am hoping to post some pictures this week of the cook and also of my set up as I finally got my potion built which I wanted the 42 for.  Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone,


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I would open the top one full turn then the bottom vent half open on the left and the biggest hole on the right. Light the fire in two spots and close the lid and wait 30 minutes and see how the temp in coming up. It should be coming up well at that point. Then as it gets up to 375 close the top down to a half turn open and the temp should stabilize. Of course every fire is a little different based on how it is packed but you should be in a good spot there to make small adjustments one way or the other at that point. if it is stable then just put in your drip pans, they will do your deflecting and catch drips. I like to cook my turkeys at 400. Last weeks 25 pounder took 2 hours and 15 minutes if memory serves me. That was a single in a 32. If your fire is stable and you have a decent heat soak i don't think it would make too much of a difference cooking one vs cooking two. Just be patient and let the temp come up after the birds go in. 


Edited by C6Bill
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Judging by this weekend where I cooked both pork butts and my al pastor, in my 42, I think you had the idea about right on the heat soak timing for your 42.  My grill heat soaked for about 90 mins before food went on and everything was perfect. I'd allow at least 90 mins, because after the food went on I still had to adjust again a couple of times.

I was cooking at 300.  My top vent was at about 1/4 to 1/3 of a turn, so for 350, I think C6Bill had it about right at 1/2 turn.  It might be a little much or it might be just right.  You'll have to see.  

Because the 42 is so big and has so much heated mass, I don't think 2 turkeys is going to take much longer than a single turkey.  it will be more like an oven.  There's no way it's going to take 8 hours.  I don't spatchcock mine, but if I was doing  a single 23 pound turkey at 350 without spatchcocking, I'd expect to be done in 5 hours.  So my guess is with spatchcocking yours will be more like 3-4.

As far as vent adjustments, The way the KK is designed you should only have to worry about the top vent.  I "chased" a little bit as well this weekend, but I realized pretty quick that I should mostly fool with the top damper.  I come from a BGE so I have been more conservative on my bottom vent.  I've never just kept the bottom half moon all the way open.  But I will probably try that sometime.

I think that the drip pans provide enough deflection, esp at the higher temp of 300-350.  If you have some crispy edges where a small part of a bird hangs over unintentionally, that'll probably be tasty. If you said you were trying to do 6 pork butts at 225 and lighting the full firebox or something, I'd tell you to use lots of foil on that lower grate b/c to me (so far) it seems easier to maintain lower temps on the 42 with more deflection.  I was surprised this weekend when (at one point) my top vent was at 1/3 turn and the temps crept up to about 325.  I had to cinch it down to about 1/4 turn to get it it go go back to about 300 and it stayed pretty rock solid from 290-305 the rest of the time.  

Contrasting with my brisket cook from a couple weeks ago.  I had lots of foil on the bottom grate on that brisket cook, and I found it difficult to raise the temperature.  I wanted to get the grill up from about 235 to more like 275 but I was afraid that i would start to get too much heat if I tried to open it up too much more and it was so rock solid.  Being conservative, I ended up cooking those briskets at like 240.  They were good but would have had better bark at a little higher temp.  Based on this past weekend, it seems I would have achieved a much better solid higher temp if I would have used less deflection, b/c even in the neighborhood of a quarter turn I was getting high 200s low 300s.

About adjusting and "chasing" - Even with the BGE I used for 14 years, I feel like it takes 10-15 mins to fully realize the impact of a vent adjustment.  So the key is to adjust and walk off.  Come back, adjust, walk off again.  Don't stand there and adjust over and over again.

I'd say with turkeys as long as you don't crest 400 at the grate you'll be fine.  It'll be pretty forgiving because of how insulated the KK is and how much moisture will be retained.

This is going to be the best turkey you ever ate.  I have to go to my in-laws house and they do their turkey in an oven, so - I'm jealous.  I can't wait to see pictures (please send).


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