(Full disclosure: the manufacturer provided this unit for review)
Meet the Komodo Kamado, my new outdoor oven. I’d call it a barbecue pit, but it does more than long, slow smoke cooking. I’d call it a grill, but it’s not limited to high temperature, direct heat grilling. Because it’s built from refractory materials similar to what kilns and furnaces are made of, it’s also an oven that easily withstands cooking temperatures of 1000 degrees F. Why would you need or want that?
If you’re a pizza freak like me, you can use the Komodo to bake the sort of charred-bottom, Naples style pizzas possible only in wood or coal burning ovens. Fans of American pizza restaurants like A16 (San Francisco), Mozza (Los Angeles), Grimaldi’s, Patsy’s, and Totonno’s (New York), Frank Pepe’s , or Sally’s Apizza (New Haven) know the sort of crust I’m talking about. It’s impossible to attempt pizza like this at home, unless you have an oven that can hit 800 degrees. Now I do!
I’m breaking in the kamado this week, and learning how to control its firebox. I learned to use the Minion method of starting a low temperature charcoal fire in the Weber, and that’s what I’m employing with the Komodo. Let’s look at some differences between the Weber and the Komodo.
|Komodo Kamado OTB 23 Supreme Plus
||Weber Smokey Mountain|
|Cooking chamber material||Cast refractory material||Roll formed, porcelain coated steel|
|Weight||476 pounds||44 pounds|
|Grill material||304 stainless steel, 1/4″ or 3/8″ rod diameter||Steel 3/16″ rod diameter|
|Grill surface capacity||23″ main + 18″ top + 18″ bottom||18.5″ top + 18.5″ bottom|
|MSRP||US$ 3500.||US$ 250.|
The Komodo dwarfs a Weber Smokey Mountain, the smoker I’ve been using for several years with excellent results. The Komodo is made of two different layers of a ceramic-like refractory material. Its dense inner wall absorbs and reflects heat back into the cooking chamber. The thinner outer wall insulates that heat within the vessel. All that mass should keep cooking temperatures very stable no matter the weather or wind conditions.
The draft door controls air intake to the firebox. The precision CNC-machined stainless door slides in and out smoothly, like a well-spittled trombone. Once the fire gets near the target temperature, the door is closed, and the daisywheel vent provides finer heat adjustment. The wood knob is beautifully turned from weather resistant teak. As a former machinist, I appreciate the Kamado’s extraordinary build quality.
The floor of the cooker is level with the draft door, which eases ash cleanup. Notice the cleanly machined metalwork.
Heat and smoke exhaust past this “hat.” The heavy stainless steel rod threads into its mate, which is cast permanently into the lid. A ceramic gasket material shuts out air effectively when it’s time to put out the fire.
Interior view of the lid. The ovoid shape of the lid is designed to reflect heat evenly across the entire grill surface. The Supreme Plus package comes with a top grill made of the 3/8″ stainless steel rod, and the main grill below it is made of the standard 1/4″ stainless rod. There is room for a third grill below.
The Komodo’s grill is much roomier than the WSM’s. Where I barely had space to fit a puny 9 pound slab of beef brisket on the Weber, I have plenty of room for a 15 pound monster brisket on the Komodo.
The lid weighs a whopping 108 pounds, but is spring loaded for effortless opening. Let’s look at how that works.
This is the heavy duty spring that lifts the lid. Notice the preload tension in the lid-closed position. Hinges are cast permanently into the Komodo, unlike hinges from other kamado manufacturers that require constant re-tightening.
Easily adjustable tension in the spring hoists the lid when the latch is opened.
A sleek fairing increases top speed on this bluff beast. Mine is made of black fiberglass, but current productions of the Supreme Plus model use a stainless steel cover.
The lifting handle is made from stout 3/4″ stainless rod. It takes a serious bending jig to form that material into a graceful arc. When the lid is closed, the triangular piece in the center latches it shut automatically.
Closeup view of the lifting handle’s weld. When a nice looking bead isn’t ground smooth, it’s called a “show weld.” It’s not easy to lay down a tiny bead on thick material like that.
Its massive size, over the top features, and top notch build quality makes the Komodo the Bugatti Veyron of ceramic cookers. While I’ll never be able to afford the Bugatti, ever, even I, with modest means, could save up to splurge on this seriously fancy smoker / grill / oven.
In the next episode of the Black Dragon: “Gentlemen, start your engines…”