July 5, 2007

Happy Fourth

Filed under: BBQ,Equipment,Home cookin' — Professor Salt @ 7:05 am

Nothing says Independence Day like slow smoked barbecue, American style. Hope everyone had a good Fourth. Beside the requisite burgers and dogs, I cooked brisket and pork ribs on the Komodo Kamado to celebrate our glorious release from British tyranny.

Brisket

This is the best brisket that I’ve ever made, thanks to the steady temperatures held by the Komodo. I haven’t cooked all that many briskets in the past because my Weber Smokey Mountain doesn’t accomodate their large size, but with the Komodo, cooker capacity isn’t an excuse to avoid cooking this most difficult of traditional barbecue cuts.

Pork ribs

The second session on the Komodo fared far better than my first. Dennis, the owner of the Komodo company, gave me some tips, and the cooker stayed pegged at 200 degrees F for many long hours.

I’m taking the next few days off. Going to race cars up in Northern California. Keeps tabs on my race team at the 24 Hours of Lemons!

6 Responses to “Happy Fourth”

  1. James Says:

    Mmmmmm…those ribs look really good. Making me hungry! That Kimodo seems like a pretty sweet rig, I guess I’ll have to save my pennies!

    For the Fourth we had tri-tip, smoked pork, and chicken wings but ribs are were my heart’s love truly lies.

  2. brett Says:

    can you share the tips dennis gave you? my KK just arrived (black – identical to yours), but i’m still trying to figure out how to control temps, how much charcoal to use etc.

  3. Professor Salt Says:

    Hey James,

    You’ve got some good looking BBQ on the Fourth photos yourself, that tri tip especially. It’s one of my favorite cuts to cook. And yes, the Komodo is a sweet rig: the most advanced ceramic cooker on the market. It’s more expensive than the gorilla in this category (Big Green Egg), but all the smart features and incomparable build quality will be worth it to cooks willing to shell out a few shekels for the best.

    The big downside for folks like you and me that take our smokers on road trips is the Komodo’s way too heavy to take anywhere. I’ll still rely on my Weber for competitions. This is a non issue for anyone who’ll keep it parked on the patio.

    Hi Brett,

    Dennis passed on a couple of good pointers. First, the vents have the biggest effect on your cooking temperatures. The top vent controls the major temp adjustments, and the lower daisywheel vent makes fine adjustments. Second, loading more charcoal determines the burn duration, not the burn temperature.

    To hit a low cooking temperature in the 200 – 250 F range, Dennis said the top vent should only be cracked open about 1/4 to 1/2 turn from the fully closed position. Seems like too little exhaust, but it worked.

    Dennis mentioned that keeping the exhaust choked down has a secondary effect of retaining moisture within the cooking chamber. This batch of rib tips came out moister than my usual cooking sessions in the WSM, so I believe this claim has some merit.

    I started with a full load of charcoal in the steel basket, plus three chunks of hickory. I lit one corner of the pile (three or four chunks of charcoal) with a propane blowtorch for about 2 minutes, until they started to go on their own. The three hickory chunks were distributed around the pile, and gave off plenty of smoke for the entire 16 hour session. They smoldered for a long time, rather than flaming up and burning away.

    In my opinion, it’s better to cook with too little smoke rather than too much, so I’m going to err on the side of using fewer wood chunks. Let me know how your mileage varies.

    The lower draft door was slid open about 1″ for the first 5 minutes after starting the fire. The lid was latched shut while the fire started. After 5 minutes, I slid the lower door closed, and opened the daisywheel vent about 1/4 of the way open until I got close to 200, then nudged it closed even further.

    I just took delivery of my 1000 degree F thermometer today, so I hope to get this cooker blazing for a pizza session soon. Will have to learn how to set up the cooker for this purpose. I suspect I’ll start with a chimney starter full of well-lit coals to get the cooker up to 700 F right away.

  4. brett Says:

    brilliant detail! thanks.

    re: “I started with a full load of charcoal in the steel basket”, the basket appears to have an inner-ring that comes out. do you fill just this inner-ring, or the entire basket?

    i’ll be interested in your technique to crank the heat up. my KK didn’t ship with a thermometer (just arrived today) so i’ve been a little blind on the first few cooks.

    i tried pizza, but it was a disaster as i couldn’t get it hot enough. interpolating from your explanation above, it sounds like cracking the top vent and a fully-open bottom vent (even removed) with a ton of coals is probably the way to go.

  5. Professor Salt Says:

    Brett,

    The inner ring is for times when you only need a short cooking duration (e.g. you’re grilling a few steaks). The ring keeps a small amount of coals piled together so they burn more consistently.

    To reiterate, the amount of coals you start with determines the duration of the cooking session, not the temperature of the burn. The amount of airflow determines how hot the fire burns.

    If you’re going to do a longer cook session (say, a 16 hour low & slow), then remove the inner ring and fill the basket all the way. You’ll probably have unburned charcoal left over, but you can reuse for subsequent burns.

    For pizza – I’m plannning on opening the top vent a lot more. Maybe start with 4 full turns of the top, and increase the gap from there until I get to 750 F. The daisywheel vent – I’ll probably leave it about halfway open and see what happens.

  6. Chubbypanda Says:

    Nice! Gonna bring back any restaurant reviews?

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