Marvin the Paranoid Biological Android
Kamado Joe, Classic Joe II 18"
After it were assembled..
In the aftermath of the BGE cracked ceramics horror show I ranted on about in my other blog on the Kettle Joe, she who must be obeyed was averted from purchasing yet another BGE horror story and we ordered the Kamado Joe Classic II 18" with the allegedly "free" installation for $999 all in on Amazon.
The nice chap who arrived to assemble it on 9/16 was paid by Amazon to the tune of exactly $99, so this was in fact not exactly free to me.
It did make me understand the various "other" offers available for them all though.
One comes with a "free" cover for $899 and there are more expensive options with the SloRoller Hyberbolic chamber and other bits like the Series II charcoal basket for various price points upwards from my $999 to $1599 et al, all based on what you are getting in your package.
KJ Egg in the pallet
Had I known that this thing was so simple to install, she who must be obeyed and I could have lifted it off the pallet and assembled it all pretty easily ourselves.
Now one thing to consider with paying for installation is if the hinge system needs complete removal for adjusting you will need someone like this to set it up right and the ceramic petals in the AMP firebox thang is a delicate job do try yourself without a live demo as an example the first time.
Overall, this thing is not the BGE drama show when it comes to assembly, due to the sanity in Engineering of the Hinge system Kamado Joe now use.
There is no hinge or rings to assemble a la BGE, it comes assembled! Tres sane!!
The install guy put it together while I yakked at him about the Kettle Joe and I even showed him the fine job I had done sealing the Kettle Joe and it's few peculiar quirks plus the most awesome price I had paid for it!
He then took the Classic Joe's dome off and placed it on a plastic table he had brought with him before he single-handedly lifted the Joe base into the nest and proceeded to put the dome back on.
I offered to help him lift it but he ignored me and just did his own thang.
He later explained it was because when he had done this in the past, one customer had dropped the base and he is on the hook for breakages that result from assembling them.
With one person grabbing a grip in the ash vent hole and another on the underside of the hinge it's not actually that heavy or difficult.
Next, you place the red ceramic egg carefully on the cardboard that you already removed from the pallet and laid on the ground and build the metal two piece nest and trolley wheel gig and tighten the 4 screws in that thang and then you lift the KJ Egg off the cardboard it is resting on into the nest making sure the ash vent has open space with zero nest leg obstructions and away you go.
On the Pallet sans cardboard box surround
Sometimes the hinge spring needs to be adjusted and that be a bitch on a Kamado Joe Series II and III, per my install guy.
For some reason he did not adjust mine properly and the dome lid was falling a good 9 inches in the open position, so I used the tool it came with to adjust it on 10/1 and it was actually pretty easy.
I think he was referring to that hinge mechanism tool it comes with for when you remove it completely.
The dome latch was also no longer aligned after a few cooks so I got me some spanners and fixed that up as well while I was at it.
Next was cleaning out the inside of Styrofoam and assorted gubbins that collected in there, before placing the stainless steel insert the ash draw will live in at the bottom of the Kamado, aligning it so the tray can slide in and then you put the AMP firebox base so it is over the steel ash collector plates and tray.
I have since learnt this slider tray is a stupid thing because you need to dismantle the whole AMP firebox to get it out again and ash and bigger bits of charcoal do find their way under there so you will be doing that often.
In the Kettle Joe it just lifts out so I am going to dismantle my AMP firebox in a few weeks and that sleeve thing the tray slides into is going to go bye, bye forever.
I will still use the ash tray itself to catch most ash and burn wood blocks from though, just sans the tray sleeve thingamabob.
I have a routine after every cook where I remove the charcoal basket, clean the ash in the tray and use a brush and pan I bought to sweep ash out from in-between the AMP box petals and the bottom piece, re-arm the charcoal basket and then properly wash the grilling grids with a Brillo pad.
I am pals with a Dr who specializes in stomach disorders and various cancers and he tells me a lot of BBQ folks get cancers from not cleaning their cooking grates so I am fastidious about having sparkling cooking grids for every single grill.
It is an eye opener to see the dirt coming off of them actually but a gas or electric oven has the same problem which is why we clean ours a lot as well with high temp burns to white!
For ceramics I am not fond of taking any Kamado over 550 degrees BTW so I am OK with Brillo pads and various devices to clean the grates.
I also watched a smoking Dad BBQ video where James shows using toilet paper bunched up behind the AMP petals as the easy way for the AMP petal ring to get set up for the ring they clip into and this is a real swell idea I am keen to try out for myself as well!
The toilet paper will burn up at Fahrenheit 451, per Ray Bradbury at any rate...
I also did a cook with the bottom AMP iron grid in place with the Series III charcoal basket resting on that but quickly found that this causes clogging and impacts airflow so its just the Charcoal basket solo now sans the iron grate at the bottom of my rig.
After I first assembled the rig it was time for a run in burn and another rebuild of the petals after that and a first cook five hours later on that same evening.
The results of the first cook were pretty stunning actually.
Some of my pals from Danville have long claimed Kamado Joe BBQ tastes better than BGE BBQ and they are amazingly quite right, it really does!
I did a huge Rib eye, three Lamb chops and three chikken drums with Asian veggies and a baked potato for my first cook.
It shoulda been 2 baked potatties but one rolled off onto the floor revealing another KJ flaw and a change in how I cook them pesky thangs.
I now Microwave them for 1 minute 25 to One minute 45 depending on their size as I grew tired of waiting hours for them to cook.
After that I throw them on the KJ grids and they are roughly ready about the same time that the meat is.
I no longer wrap Baked Potatoes in Aluminum foil either by the way.
I recall that I started doing this while in the Army in South West Africa as I threw them directly on the charcoal we built for a Braai and then we put the fresh Kudu liver and kidneys in the fire and finished with Kudu steaks sizzling on our makeshift steel wire grid we took with us everywhere in our Samil truck.
After they transferred me to Helicopters we still had a similar grid stashed away in the old Alouette and we shot our game much faster from it as well.
For some reason since then I always wrapped potatoes in aluminum foil and this slows down how they cook but I think I did it because the hydraulic fluids from the Samil and the Alouette were not great on the potatoes and wrapping them in aluminum stopped them getting completely charred when we grilled them.
We always had mountains of charcoal with us back then for some reason I cannot fathom.
In future I will have the Baked Potato lower down and the meat on the other half of the stepped grid equation to stave off the potatoes rolling to oblivion problem.
Kamado Joe Grill corner
There are also two half circle deflector plates, which I did cook with by the way and these did not fit perfectly until I discovered what the accessory ring was for.
I watched another YouTube video from Smoking Dad BBQ and saw the accessory ring is supposed to hold the deflector plates (Duh)!
I also found the notches are where each half circle of the grilling grid are supposed to go so it does not slide off everywhere...(double duh!).
I have since fiddled with it and have managed to get it all right using the charcoal basket notches.
KJ Dome latch
These series II onwards KJ's also have another very nice feature the BGE is lacking, which is a dome latch that you can operate with a single finger while cooking.
Lid closed and latched
After a day or so operating the latch was like second nature and real easy to accommodate.
On 9/18 the weather was warning of incoming rain cells so I hurriedly put both the KJ eggs in their all weather Pajamas and I am glad I did because it is still raining!
Kamado Joe and Kettle Joe in Pajamas
The Kettle Joe is good but the Kamado Joe Classic Joe Series II was in a different league with steaks and chops and especially veggies, much to my utter amazement.
After two weeks of cooks on both my KJ devices I can report a massive increase in the taste of my food and concur with James at Smoking dad BBQ on that score.
He actually has a taste test between BGE and KJ and guess who won?
I have also been barbecuing beef ribs of different types and OMG what an awesome thing those thangs are on the Kettle Joe!
I did a fast cook with pork back ribs the other day following James advice from smoking Joe BBQ but mine were on for 5 hours and were still not completely done but they were still in another dimension taste wise.
My temps were at a constant 250 though, he managed just over 300 on his cook.
I like my pork ribs to be done to 205 degrees Fahrenheit and it seems this does take a long while on the Kettle Joe but I had to keep adding Blue Hog charcoal and have since switched to FOGO Supreme charcoal which burns much longer and tastes better too!!
The Kettle Joe will be for long and slow cooks as well as beef, pork and Lamb ribs and beef chuck roasts and I will use the Classic Joe for steaks, chops, chikkens and such quick stuff.
If I am in a hurry the Kettle Joe will be the tool as it is much quicker to get going than it's ceramic cousin without the SloRoller device, but it is harder to clean as well.
The Kettle Joe is also easier to control temperature wise for some reason...
This was most interesting, I was not expecting that one!
So on 9/21 I needed to cook my beef short ribs while we took to the helicopter to take care of rapid family health transport issues with one of our kids and I set the Kettle Joe up for a fastish smoke of these Beef BBQ ribs I had paid 20 odd $ for.
2 Days prior I had dry brined them with Kosher salt and added 4 tablespoons of crushed pepper with some thyme into the equation.
I set the temp for 278 and climbed into the Bell and we flew off to do our business at Stanford hospital.
3 hours later we get back and the charcoal was near spent (only armed 2/3). So I lifted the SloRoller and tipped a dustpan full of charcoals in it and it climbed back to 275 and sat there for another hour before it started to dip again.
The rib temps were at 191 and I needed 200, so in went another dustpan full of charcoals..
The total cook was some 5 hours and I let it rest for a full 45 minutes.
Then came the taste test.
All I can say about that is Fuck Pork ribs!! Seriously!
That shit was mega delishus! I never cooked anything finer in my entire life!
I also cooked 2 cheaper and smaller chuck steaks and that too was ridiculously yum but these were not pre-brined.
I will try them pre-brined as I suspect this is THE secret to smoking any meats on the Kettle Joe or Ceramic Classic Joe.
My Soapstone arrived 10/3 for steaks and fish and I am eyeing out the BGE 12" Pizza stone for the Ceramic Classic Joe as it is just $39.....
I am also eyeing out the DoJo Pizza making accessory for even cheaper and more rapid yum cooks.
I have also concluded that if I was pushed for cash and wanted great tasting food the Kettle Joe would be the one device I would invest in if I had to just have one.
I got mine for $159 but I have convinced a few folks to get them on special for $399 and do the same mods that I did on mine.
I am very happy with both of these BBQ devices though!
So it is now October 14th 2022 and I have standardized on the Kettle Joe for week based fast cooks because the KJ and soapstone, while awesome need a good 44 minutes for the charcoals to burn right and that soapstone soaks energy for about an hour and ten minutes before that is ready to start cooking.
I have done a few reverse sear cooks for big fat Rib eyes, pork chops and lamb as well as beef and pork ribs.
For fast no shit sherlock cooks and eats the Weber Summit Gas Grill or the Kettle Joe are used.
I am going to use them both this weekend for Pork and Beef ribs to see which tastes the best but the Kettle Joe is fast becoming the standard go to for quick results.
I also want to add a 14" BGE pizza stone for both to see how pizza cooks would go sans the DoJo for the Classic Joe as I am not fond of the over 500 degree temps thang as you have to remove the dome thermometers and I have bust a good few Thermoworks pit probes by mistake when temps run over 500 degrees.
I may just go get one in a bit....