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LK BBQ

Basic advice

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All, I've owned a KK 19" TT for years, but for various reasons I have a few very basic questions:

1.  To grill a burger, would you cook it on the lower grate or on the main grate?  It would be easier to do it on the main grate, but I'm wondering if you need to go to the lower grate to get a nice crusty sear.  Also, how would you set your vents - or would you just let it burn wide open to get lots of direct heat?  

2.  What are the advantages of cooking a chicken on a rotisserie vs. just cooking it in the upper grate in the dome?  Does Rotisserie make a dramatic difference?  If so, why don't we cook more things using rotisserie such as a pork butt?

3.  If you're cooking a pork butt on the kk, do you need to use a drip pan to avoid all of the fat and juice falling to the bottom and causing flare-ups?  Just wondering what people do.  

 

Many thanks for your advice!

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Hey LK

1. I use the lower grate with a fire that registers 450-500 on the dome thermometer before I open the lid. I cook them with the lid up.

2. I have not used my rotisserie in years. I usually spatchcock.

3. Yes, definitely use a drip pan. I line my drip pan with HD foil for easier clean up.

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I've had a 19" TT for a couple of years now. 

1) I've gone both ways. Main grate is easier to deal with and the 19" TT isn't that tall so with a direct raging fire you can still get a decent sear on the main grate. 

2) rotisserie chicken is basically high heat direct cooking. The rotisserie keeps things from burning and somewhat self bastes. I prefer rotisserie over Spatchcock. No big advantage doing a low-n-slow rotisserie cook, probably more pain in the rear than it's worth. 

3) definitely use a drip pan. Butts expell a lot of grease and water during a cook. Don't want that mess in the bottom of the KK. 

 

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Original OBT here since the beginning.

The sear grill absolutely for high heat cooking if you like a char on your burger or steak.  Some folks have called it a reverse sear, but you can cook on the main grill close to the temp you like, then slap it down on the sear grill and give it those marks and char the outside.  Personally I see no need for it and cook pork chops, steaks and burgers on the sear grill 100%.  You will need a long spatula for burgers on the sear grill as it gets freakn hot.  Long tongs work for pork chops or steak.

Warning on letting the grill get up to high temps and closing up vents and the lid.  A starving fire will create a backdraft effect if you open the lid under these conditions (and this is any grill).  We used to have some vids done at a safe distance to show it.  Personally I just keep the lid open, hit it with a torch, cook, shut it down and walk away.  But don't close the tophat tightly with it that hot, just barely enough to seal or come back before it cools and crack it back open a bit.  Makes it easier to open next time.

As for drip pans, it just depends.  For chicken, I prefer the main grate, open the tophat a few turns to keep from being so smokey, close the bottom vent to a tiny sliver (as these babies are tight and can almost be completely controlled from the bottom damper) and let the juices create the smoke for the chicken with no drip pan.  To me it gives it a nicer skin and mimics pit cooking.  Doing a really greasy butt can be more of a challenge, but I've done it and ribs before.  Just need to keep a closer eye on things, which is easy to do with a pit thermometer.  You'll see a spike if a flame up happens, but usually because all the hot air is pushing out of the top, the inlet air is very restricted, it keeps it smothered down pretty good.

I have a love / hate relationship with the rotisserie.  It does work fantastic, but to me it's a lot of setup work and I'm lazy (which is why I have one grill setup for high temps and another for low and slow...😎.).  Even worse for me is the cleanup.  It's too big to soak all of it in my sink at once to get off the charred bits, so takes more effort than I like, which is none.  So being honest, I never used it much.  But I probably have one of the first rotisseries ever made for this grill and pretty sure there are improvements now I don't know about.  So can't comment on the current versions, but unless you have a big wash tub or sink, I can't imagine cleanup is any easier....and again, I'm lazy...LOL. 🙄 So that's more about me than anything.  I hate cleanups.

Anyway, I've owned every type of grill that I know exists and these babies are the most versatile on earth.  You can use it for high temp, direct, indirect, low and slow, brick oven, pit cook and even cold smoking.  Never seen another grill that does it all like a KK, but even more, does it all so amazingly.  You will love getting to know everything you can do with babies. 👍

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Thanks, all.  This is very helpful.  Believe it or not, the reason for at least some of these questions is that I was living for years in a condo that didn't allow charcoal - so with DL's help, I converted it into an electric KK.  I recently moved and am now learning my way through charcoal.  I would put the heating element right under the main grill, so I've never had to deal with the lower grill and even the firebox before.  

I've cooked a few chickens without a rotisserie and had delicious results.  Spatchcocked and even just whole.  The thing that hasn't worked for me is getting a crispy skin.  It's always been a bit too moist in there.   I've tried drying the chicken off and putting a little baking powder, but it didn't really do much.  Will experiment with higher heat.  

 

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, LK BBQ said:

Thanks, all.  This is very helpful.  Believe it or not, the reason for at least some of these questions is that I was living for years in a condo that didn't allow charcoal - so with DL's help, I converted it into an electric KK.  I recently moved and am now learning my way through charcoal.  I would put the heating element right under the main grill, so I've never had to deal with the lower grill and even the firebox before.  

I've cooked a few chickens without a rotisserie and had delicious results.  Spatchcocked and even just whole.  The thing that hasn't worked for me is getting a crispy skin.  It's always been a bit too moist in there.   I've tried drying the chicken off and putting a little baking powder, but it didn't really do much.  Will experiment with higher heat.  

 

 

 

 

Chicken IMHO needs 400* minimum to get really crispy skin. I've tried to kill a chicken on the rotisserie with higher temps and progressively longer times. I never did dry out and kill the chicken. Search out the thread. 

 

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I have no trouble getting crispy skin on my chicken at 275 using the pit cook type method I described above.  It doesn't allow a lot of moist air in, so dries the outside nicely.  I even spritz it with vinegar during the cook.  It also has a salt based rub on it.  But also, this is a long cook (2-2.5 hrs) for chicken and the breast can end up being dry.  So I prefer the leg quarters and making chicken salad from the breast.

20190817_173638.thumb.jpg.54b9b5d946b1378683a1bfdb45cbd006.jpg

Edited by ThreeDJ16
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On 8/28/2019 at 5:46 AM, ckreef said:

I've had a 19" TT for a couple of years now. 

1) I've gone both ways. Main grate is easier to deal with and the 19" TT isn't that tall so with a direct raging fire you can still get a decent sear on the main grate. 

2) rotisserie chicken is basically high heat direct cooking. The rotisserie keeps things from burning and somewhat self bastes. I prefer rotisserie over Spatchcock. No big advantage doing a low-n-slow rotisserie cook, probably more pain in the rear than it's worth. 

3) definitely use a drip pan. Butts expell a lot of grease and water during a cook. Don't want that mess in the bottom of the KK. 

 

One other question - to get a "raging fire" do you keep the KK wide open or do you just open up the vents all the way?

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44 minutes ago, LK BBQ said:

One other question - to get a "raging fire" do you keep the KK wide open or do you just open up the vents all the way?

If you think about it, the KK with the top and bottom vents wide open is basically like a chimney starter.  Of course that being said, I still just open the lid, hit it with a torch, grill, shut it all down and walk away.  I don't even mess with the tophat, just open the bottom door.  But I guess that depends on what type of cook you are doing.  If you aren't sear cooking, and maybe doing a pizza, you want the dome to heat up.  So in that case, I'd open the bottom and the top and leave the lid closed.  So many methods of cooking with these things and so many great options.

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I pull out the bottom vent and open the top vent fully, I hit the charcoal with a weed burner in a few places and then close the KK all the way closed (2nd latch position so as tight as it can get) and go away for 30 minutes. When I come back I'm sitting @ 400+.

If I'm going for high temp, I will hit multiple places across the entire basket of lump, for low and slow, just 1 place. For low and slow I will come back sooner and start closing the top/bottom vents to get to the desired temp. For higher temp, I make sure to have a lot of charcoal lit and give the KK longer to get there.

Dennis has mentioned a couple of times that high temp cooks with the lid open can cause premature main gasket failure, so I chose to believe him and try to cook with the lid closed. I think with the older grills, before he went to the 2 gasket type may not have had this issue.

As I recall he said anything over 500 and cooking with the top open could cause an issue with the gaskets.

Regards

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1 minute ago, bgrant3406 said:

Dennis has mentioned a couple of times that high temp cooks with the lid open can cause premature main gasket failure, so I chose to believe him and try to cook with the lid closed. I think with the older grills, before he went to the 2 gasket type may not have had this issue.

As I recall he said anything over 500 and cooking with the top open could cause an issue with the gaskets.

Regards

Good point, as neither of my grills have a gasket on the lid itself, only the bottom lip (which doesn't matter about the lid being open).  Didn't know there were upper and lower gaskets now.

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12 minutes ago, bgrant3406 said:

Nope, just the 2 lower gaskets, some of the early models didn't use the two gaskets like the more current models.

 

Is one towards the inside or something?  As otherwise, I don't see how it would damage a gasket on the bottom lip.  Mine is towards the outside slope and really no way having the lid open can damage this gasket.  Of course, I guess it may depend on the materials used now too.  Whereas I have a ceramic fiber type gasket, which is made for high temps.

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Current gaskets are some form of silicon or other "rubber" like material, not the ceramic fiber. I'm saying silicon based on the temp Dennis mentioned.

I would have to try and find the explanation Dennis provided, but from what I recall it was the high temp air flowing/blown over the side that could cause the damage.

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50 minutes ago, bgrant3406 said:

Current gaskets are some form of silicon or other "rubber" like material, not the ceramic fiber. I'm saying silicon based on the temp Dennis mentioned.

I would have to try and find the explanation Dennis provided, but from what I recall it was the high temp air flowing/blown over the side that could cause the damage.

That makes sense as silicone is only rated to 500 degrees max.  So that would explain the difference. 

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3 hours ago, LK BBQ said:

One other question - to get a "raging fire" do you keep the KK wide open or do you just open up the vents all the way?

Top vent 3 turns, bottom vent fully open. You never want to keep the dome open for an extended period of time. 

 

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To clarify.. Leaving the top open ongoing at high temps can damage the acrylic jacket which holds the tiles. Easy enough to close her up when you are waiting for that minute and a half.  
The gasket issue is leaving the grills latch in the first position causes screaming hot air to run over the gasket and will eventually damage it. When latched in the second position, there is zero airflow over the food-grade silicone gaskets and they don't deteriorate. Pretty much everybody who second latches all the time still have their original gaskets. I think we are at 9 years now.

You don't get airflow thru the charcoal until you close the lid.. once closed, the air leaving causes vacuum and forces the air thru the charcoal.

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On 8/29/2019 at 6:31 PM, ThreeDJ16 said:

The sear grill absolutely for high heat cooking if you like a char on your burger or steak.  Some folks have called it a reverse sear, but you can cook on the main grill close to the temp you like, then slap it down on the sear grill and give it those marks and char the outside.  Personally I see no need for it and cook pork chops, steaks and burgers on the sear grill 100%.  You will need a long spatula for burgers on the sear grill as it gets freakn hot.  Long tongs work for pork chops or steak.

total newbie question relating to the reverse sear protocol:

After the cook on the main grill, do you remove the main grill from the KK and place to the side to access the sear grill for those final few minutes?  The hinged section on the grills doesn't seem wide enough to provide good access.

Thanks

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9 minutes ago, John T said:

total newbie question relating to the reverse sear protocol:

After the cook on the main grill, do you remove the main grill from the KK and place to the side to access the sear grill for those final few minutes?  The hinged section on the grills doesn't seem wide enough to provide good access.

Thanks

 

That's one reason I don't use the main grill for high temp cooks where I want to sear/char the meat.  No idea if anyone makes one or not, but many years ago, I came up with the idea of a veggee grill.  It's sorta like a 1/4 main grill so you have access to the sear grill.  It worked fantastic.  Dennis may make one of those now, I've been out of the loop so long, so I don't know.  But I would sear my veggees and meat, then put the veggees up on the small grill.  I'm sure there's a pic around here in some of the really, really old posts.

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