I am an experienced bbq'er. I have had all sorts of cookers. I bought an Akorn kamado style cooker this summer and have tried several things on it...
In all cases I can't seem to get enough smoke ring or smoke flavor on the meat and I can't figure out why. I'm using chunks and a minion style of cooking. I cannot get the cooker to hold under 250 and 250 is a challenge... but I've accomplished it.
Any advice here? I'm not sure what to do. I'm going to do a couple of butts tomorrow and really want to get some smoke on them. Thanks!
10-12-2013 01:23 PM
How many and how are you placing the chunks of wood? What wood? Using briquettes or lump? Wrapping during the cook?
10-12-2013 01:37 PM
I wrap with butcher paper. I use chunks of wood and I've up'd the number on every cook. I've tried lump and bricks. I place the wood around the starting point and put one very close to the starting point.
The brisket I did was super dry in the flat and when reheated is so hard it is practically inedible. I should have wrapped it earlier and perhaps in foil. I don't like to inject briskets, but perhaps steaming it a bit would be better. I've been trying to follow the general directions given around here for brisket, but it is just too dry.
I've done dozens of briskets in my vertical gasser that came out great. I've done briskets in a UDS that have come out great. If I can get more smoke on the meat in the Akorn I think it will work, but I have no idea what else to do.
10-12-2013 01:38 PM
I've tried hickory and cherry wood.
10-12-2013 01:41 PM
Once you wrap you basically stop the smoke penetration. I only wrap if the bark starts to get too dark. When are you wrapping?
I think, due to their efficiency, ceramics produce less smoke ring, but about the same smoke flavor. Hickory should be strong enough to work for you. I disrtibute the wood chunks throughout the lump so that at least one chunk is always in the fire producing smoke.
10-12-2013 01:43 PM
Depends on the meat.. I didn't wrap the ribs at all.. I've cooked pork and beef ribs and neither had enough smoke. The Brisket I wrapped around 180. Maybe I won't wrap the butts at all.
10-12-2013 01:57 PM
Do you have a leaky gasket? Makes no sense that you can't easily control the temperature in it. Have you tried putting the meat on right out of the fridge and then cooking at 225F until you reach an IT of 140F, then ramping up the temp for the duration? This should produce a better smoke ring.
I sure wouldn't wrap the butts during the cook if I wanted more smoke taste.
10-12-2013 01:59 PM
As far as holding temps under 250, I had to put a gasket on the air intake. It can leak air their pretty badly, but it is easy to fix. Are you using a diffuser?
10-12-2013 02:01 PM
I saw the videos on sealing the air intake. I tested mine and it didn't seem to leak much. It obviously does a bit.. I like cooking at 250... the problem comes when you have to open the lid. Man.. it takes off and does NOT come down fast.
Yes, I use a diffuser - pizza pan wrapped in foil.
10-12-2013 02:14 PM
HeSmellsLikeSmoke - I will seal it today and see if I can control temps a little better. I will also try the right out of the fridge technique. Briquettes work much better in this cooker than lump, but will lump produce more smoke flavor? I don't have access to very good lump, so I don't buy it very often.. have some cowboy lump, but the pieces are SO big in it. I thought I would use Kingsford with chunks for the butts tomorrow, but can also use lump.. maybe a combination?
10-12-2013 02:22 PM
I think lump produces better smoke flavor than briquettes, but not necessarily more smoke flavor. But that might be just my mind working overtime.
10-12-2013 02:36 PM
I use cowboy and have had more success with the big lumps. I do break up the gigantic ones though and I sometimes throw in a few chunks of wood. I sealed my acorn last year and had minimal leaks. But over time it has begun to leak a bit more, but the temps are holding pretty good so I don't worry about it. Put the meat on cold. I also use a pan of water on top of the difuser. I get plenty of smoke. I am getting away from wrapping most things,with the exception of brisket, I don't want it to get to dark so I wrap it in BP when its dark enough for me. The acorn is a good grill but recquires tweeking at first. Visit the kamado guru website for a lot of acorn info. I also made a charcoal basket for my acorn and the grill seems to like it.
10-12-2013 03:01 PM
Smokesalad - thanks! Do you only need to seal the vent on the bottom? Just around the edge? Anything else? Never thought of a charcoal basket.. I have one for my UDS that might fit, but I think it is too big.. What does the pan of water do? Provide some steam?
10-13-2013 09:29 AM
I sealed the bottom and top vent. I used BGE gasket material to seal the bottom vent and high temp rtv for the top. Some folks say the kamado cooking environment is moist enough, but I have had grat results with the water pan and I think it helps control the temps for a while. There is a lot of info on the acorn on JM Setzlers kamado guru site. Not to take anything away from this site of course.
10-13-2013 09:46 AM
One thing that comes to my mind is your fire. What you see as being "smoke" isn't necessarily what puts the "smoke" flavor in the food, what you really want is that nice blue smoke that you hear mentioned. You may be starving your fire of so much oxygen trying to keep the temperature down low that your fire isn't burning clean enough to get that good blue smoke going. My advice would be to not fight the temperature, that gets old and is counterproductive. If the smoker wants to run 300, let it, every smoker has a little range where it loves to run, find that and let it run. There are a ton of people who prefer to cook at 300 and above.