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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 07-03-2013, 03:13 PM   #1
hominamad
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Default Should I buy an Akorn or Weber Performer?

I currently own a OTS and have been using it more and more the last 2 years and getting some great results so I figured it was time to upgrade. I have a smokenator setup and when doing longer cooks I usually use that. I've been getting great results so far, but the longest cook I've ever done was around 6 hours and I had to tinker a lot with the coals to get rid of ash, add water to the pan, etc. to help it along.

I want to venture into the world of briskets and want to be able to do longer or overnight cooks without having to mess around with it too much. Was considering a WSM but then settled down on getting a Performer Platinum. It seemed more versatile, plus the conveniences of having the table, the propane start, the coal bin, lid holder, etc seemed to make a lot of sense.

Then I started reading about the Akorn grills. And watching videos online. Now I'm thinking maybe this is what I want- pardon me... NEED. So I'm trying to figure out the pros and cons of a kettle setup vs. the Akorn. As far as I can tell, the Akorn can do everything the kettle can, maybe better. The main downside I see is that the cooking space is smaller for a direct grill situation. I've heard tales of people going 16 hours on one load of coals. Is this truth or legend?

What else do I need to consider in this decision? I guess I always have my OTS if I need to cook something on a kettle.

Thanks!

~H
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Unread 07-03-2013, 03:25 PM   #2
stl-rich
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A kettle is a kettle - you have a kettle and the performer is a kettle. If you are near a Lowes they have a model which is like the performer - on a cart, no gas ignition. Check it out and also check out the http://kamadoguru.com/viewforum.php?f=22forum which is run by a brethren
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Unread 07-03-2013, 03:26 PM   #3
aawa
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What I will tell you about kettles is that you do not need to use the smokenator to be able to smoke on the kettle. There are different methods to get longer smoke times without having to add more coals. Search the ring of fire method. I have gotten 8hours at 250 this way and have done a couple briskets this way.

Now don't get me wrong. I love my Performer more than I like my OTGs. The convenience of the table is great. I'm happy that I have the ash catchers also isntead of the ash tray that the OTS's have. Also the hinged grates when needing to add more coals or some wood to coals when grilling.

The Akorn grill is a different cooker than a kettle. It can do low and slow and high temp searing. It is more efficient than kettles on fuel and hold temperatures a lot easier.

If i had your choice, I would go with the Akorn as it adds more versatility to your cookers where a performer you are getting 2 of the same cookers.
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Unread 07-03-2013, 03:33 PM   #4
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Hmmm tough question there. I too love Webers for their versatility, and always say if I cold only have one cooker it'd prolly be a kettle. However I own both so I never really thought about which one would win out in a contest. Honestly I like the Akorn for it's own uniqueness and the flavor it imparts with burning lump, and it's ridiculously efficient too. I don't really smoke in my Akorn since I have an UDS, and a horizontal drum smoker, and I don't want everything I cook on the Akorn to taste like smoke like it will if it's used as a smoker(when the smoke seasoning burns off while grilling). I look at it more as a grill/roaster that has it's own application and flavor characteristics(see lump coal). On the other hand, you mentioned ash buildup in your Weber; have you considered using lump in your kettle instead of briqs? I've found there's prolly 1/10 the ash buildup with lump vs. briqs. The Performer does have some nice features like a table etc., but the Akorn also have shelves, extra cook rack etc. plus a cast iron grate is an awesome feature to have standard. You can also make a "one touch mod" to start your coals if you're a little handy with a torch and solder. If I get a chance I'll post a pic of this mod.

They're both great cookers...

Guess after all that blathering I can't really answer your question, but if you're keeping your kettle and adding to the "family" I'd say get an Akorn. That's just my opinion, man.
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Unread 07-03-2013, 03:59 PM   #5
hominamad
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Thanks for the responses so far. If I get the Performer I would probably give away or sell my OTS. On the Performer, having the coal bin right there and the propane start seems so convenient that I could come home from work and be grilling something in the same amount of time and slightly more effort than it takes to get my gas grill up and running.

I've been using mostly briqs so far b/c that's what the smokenator recommended using for consistency, etc. I find I can go several hours with one load of coals but I have to poke around and shake off ash buildup or else the fire starts to die out.

On the Akorn, if you put a water pan and a deflector of some kind, is it basically similar to a WSM setup at that point? Then for searing and grilling, I could light and spread the coals on an upper level.

I think at this point I'm leaning towards keeping the OTS and then buying the Akorn.

I guess the key question is, for those of you who have a kettle and an Akorn, what kind of cooks would you opt for the kettle over the Akorn?
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Unread 07-03-2013, 04:03 PM   #6
aawa
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An Akorn can do what a Kettle does but a kettle can't do what an akorn does if that makes sense.

check out kamadoguru.com. Brethren JMSeltzer runs the forums and also has a bunch of youtube reviews for the Akron (ManCaveMeals) He can show you how to run the kamado with direct grilling to indirect cooks, to low and slow, to high temperature searing.

I would personally keep the OTS and buy an Akorn so you have the versatility and the a good choice of which cooker you want to use for whatever cook you are doing.
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Unread 07-03-2013, 04:44 PM   #7
CtTradArcher
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I have an Akorn that I use quite a bit. As stated above, very efficient and versatile. I have done 15 hour cooks on there several times, with lump left over for another shorter cook at a later date. Plus it has the upper rack. Great for baked potatoes when roasting a whole chicken or pork roast.
I also have a few kettles. If forced to choose, it would be the Akorn.
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Unread 07-03-2013, 04:55 PM   #8
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If you get the Performer, I would suggest purchasing the Cajun bandit conversion for the OTS. This way you have both a grill and a smoker. On more than a few occasions I have found myself using both.

-Jeep
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Unread 07-05-2013, 02:49 PM   #9
hominamad
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Do you guys find the grate space on the Akorn to ever be too small? Would a packer brisket be able to fit on there?
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Unread 07-05-2013, 02:55 PM   #10
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OR? Isn't this an AND conversation?

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Unread 07-05-2013, 03:41 PM   #11
hominamad
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Uh - and now it looks like the Visions Kamado is on markdown at Costco for $399. So, Vision Kamado vs Akorn.... is it worth the extra $100 for the Vision? It's ceramic I understand...
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Unread 07-05-2013, 03:57 PM   #12
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One of the major reasons in buying my akorn was for low and slow in the winter up here in the North.. I see you are from NY which can also get very cold.. I did a multitude of low and slow on the Akorn this past winter including a cook at 8 degrees and the Akorn came up to temp quick and pegged temp all day long..

Just another thing to consider.
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Unread 07-05-2013, 04:01 PM   #13
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Acorn, over the Performer, Vision Kamado over the Acorn. The Visions at $399 won't be in stock long, last year they couldn't keep them at $569 in the store near me. The Weber has a 22" grate vs 18" on the Kamado but all else favors the kamados IMHO, have not lit a kettle since I got my first ceramic and I have 3 of both. Decisions?
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Unread 07-05-2013, 06:50 PM   #14
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Keep the kettle and get an Akorn.

My thoughts from a response to a recent post about the Akorn:

"Had my Akorn about a month and a half now and have done about 25 cooks.

I got it over the slightly higher priced Costco Vision model as:

- the cooking grates on the Vision seemed to be very problematic in regards to taking apart and putting back together whereas the Akorn cooking grate setup could not be more intuitive.
- the Akorn is lighter so I can move it up on the deck below cover if rain is coming....I can do this alone.
- there are slots for a heat diffuser in the Akorns inner basket but not the Vision...and a Weber charcoal grate from a 22.5 kettle fits the inner basket.
- The Akorn has a cast iron cooking grill and the upper swiveling rack is stainless steel whereas the Vision has both cooking racks stainless steel....a real good steak deserves cast iron as far as I am concerned. This last point sealed the deal for me.

What I have observed so far about my Akorn:

- Smoke levels in general have not been what I was hoping for. Not sure what the deal is here. I have been using 1/3rd width firebricks as a heat deflector (tried a pizza stone and large round baking pan as well) with and without water pans. Smoke flavour is clean, I get some smoke ring but usually not pronounced. I just want MORE.
- Steaks seared on the cast iron cooking grill above coals placed on the diffuser rack are outstanding. I take 2 grates from the bottom of 22.5 Kettles and offset them at the diffuser level so the coals are closer to the steaks. If you smoke the steaks a little at 180f ahead of time they taste even better.
- I have experimented with putting less coal and a little briquette with the lump to get lower more managable temps and had success. The last time I did this I put firebricks in the bottom of the cooker to create a even path for the lump/briquette/wood chunks mix.....no big circle of fuel to burn however it wanted. I was able to hold in the 215-225 range no problem. I will echo others comments on how if this Akorn get to a high temp....good luck getting it back down.
- What this thing does for chicken is AMAZING. Not just crispy skin but crunchy skin. Only done 2 whole chickens so far on it but they were both outstanding.



- I have done 5 rounds of pizzas so far. All good...I can get better though. My problem is I have to rely on the dome thermometer as my probe only goes up to 400f. I did the first 2 rounds of pizza without using a heat deflector under the pizza stone . That was a mistake as the crust was getting done before the rest of it.
- I have cooked one butt and 2 sessions of ribs and not been terribly impressed. The butt was a smaller cut and I questioned the lower level of fat on on it beforehand so I am gonna let that cook go but the ribs have not had the crust on them I would like to see. They were moist but not juicy and the smoke level was a lower than I like. I am not giving up but I must pass on these observations.
- Seals and joints seem to be tight on mine....no air leak issues here.

Is this the be all and end all of smokers? Probably not. Would I recommend buying the Akorn? Heck yeh!!! Go git one. Know I also have 4 other smokers though...... Bradley digital, New Braunsfels cheapo, 22.5 OTG and a Cinder Block Pit.
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Unread 07-05-2013, 09:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hominamad View Post
I guess the key question is, for those of you who have a kettle and an Akorn, what kind of cooks would you opt for the kettle over the Akorn?
I have both and to be honest, I am glad that I don't have to choose between them because they both are great cookers. They also both have strengths and weaknesses when compared side by side. You have been given lots of positives about the Akorn, but here is my answer to your question of what things I can do on a kettle that I can't do on an Akorn. IMO, the things that a kettle does that an Akron doesn't do are first, you can add a rotisserie to the kettle which is a great thing to have, especially for chicken. Second, the kettle allows you to easily build multi-zone fires and have simultaneous access to multiple cooking zones. These are where the kettle really shines and why it makes preparing different foods simultaneously like baking potatoes and cooking veggies while searing steaks. There are certainly ways to do that with an Akorn, but definitely not as easily as you can on a kettle.
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