Kamado Joe's Kettle Joe
Kettle Joe waiting patiently for me at Lowes
My Introduction to Kamado grilling was back in 2015 when "she who must be obeyed" bought me an XL Big Green Egg from Alamo ACE hardware in Contra Costa County for fathers day.
Probably as a result of how I gawped at them in amazement while in the company of she who must be obeyed at some point in 2014, if my memory serves me.
The darn Green thang developed a hairline fissure on the outside from the moving trauma in 2017 when we moved into our new house in Brentwood and this developed into a 22" long fissure over the next 4 years.
When I removed the old dome seals the other day, the fissure had become a 22" long dome crack which effectively rendered it "Yesterdays Hero" as a consequence of how bad said crack now was and BGE's failure to honor their life of ceramics guarantee.
BGE allegedly looked at the outside photos of the crack we sent and replied that the crack was "normal" after a year of playing catch the tail of the rat with them through ACE hardware acting as intermediaries .
Flipping the dome upside down to replace the seal showed a different situation of the crack severity entirely and it went from one lip of the lid to the other in a wide arc.
There was a lot of hot air that passed between ACE and BGE over this issue during which it became super clear they were never going to honor their lifetime ceramics warranty and the long and short of it is that we are now much happier ACE hardware and BGE EX customers as a consequence of much dishonor on both their sides over the matter.
I was not even expecting it for free but a special rate would have been a common sense approach by BGE Inc. I suspect.
Some of the cracks from the inside
The BGE in any event had many flaws and one of them is directly responsible for this dome cracking saga.
The top and bottom half the these BGE Kamodo Egg devices are held together by a hinge design that was obviously designed by an engineer with a sick sense of humor or an IQ roughly equivalent to that of your average dead ferret.
BGE showing bad humor in Engineering
If you open the lid on these and drop it for whatever reason, chances are good that it will crack the ceramics if dropped from more than a few inches.
In contrast, their main competitor, Kamado Joe, who also had this self same flaw in their Series I Kamado's but who least had a much more sensible and serious Hinge that was designed by a rational mechanical engineer, were ordered to fix this costly problem pronto Maximus.
This was entirely due to the fact that they had wisely concluded that the free dome replacement game due to this dome drop issue wuz for the birds, so they diligently went back to the drawing board and did a proper job of it.
Hence all Kamado Joe Series II Kamado's onward have the new kickass hinge design where you cannot drop the two ceramic pieces on top of each other.
BGE in contrast did nothing other than not to honor their lifetime warranty on their ceramics.
For this reason I wanted to be shot of my XL BGE with a major passion.
It still worked with the crack but as time rolled onward, the temperature control went out the window which meant all the charcoal burnt out in a single cook, which irked the Jew in me greatly!
It was when removing the BGE seals that it was revealed that the damage was worse than expected but which I strongly suspected was in fact the case.
I advertised the BGE XL on Craig's list "as is" and quite the bun fight ensued for the darn thing and the $2000 worth of assorted accessories I was giving away with it.
A new dome woulda just been $350 but then there was the hassle of the terrible BGE hinge and much paranoia that another drop would have led to a repeat experience and a fear of a crack bugging my already overly paranoid mind!
Nein Danke Kamerade was my view on that shit!
I had been lovingly admiring the KJ Series II and III stuff over the last three years in my local BBQ specialty store and really wanted one of the cute red bastards real bad!
I also became aware of deals at Costco, Home Depot and Lowes for the Series II classic Joe from around $799.
When I went to look they were in fact series I systems with the potential dropped lid threat but Costco has just had a special on the Series II with the new hinge, a cover and the new metal side shelves for $799.
There were none left in the Bay area apparently but some stores in Fresno still had them.
When I went into my local Lowes for a Series II recce I also saw that they had three of the cheaper Kettle Joe's for $499.
I had a cursory look-see out of mere curiosity but saw gaps all over the place where smoke would leak from many places on the darn things.
I went home and watched a few videos on how to fix a Kettle Joe but thought that for 499 odd clams it was a lot of work and churned it over in my sole surviving synapse.
So in any event, time passes and I showed she who must be obeyed the crack in the BGE and after she chatted to the ACE hardware crooks again, she climbed on Amazon and was about to buy a BGE Large Kamodo for $1750 when she at least had the sense to call me into her office for me to bless the purchase she had been about to make.
My horrified eyes radiated panic on sight of such notion and I told her I wanted a Kamodo Joe at a lot less than the $1750 she was about to spend on another BGE disaster show.
So she switches to the Series III Classic Joe for $1799 with a withering look that was telling me I was an idiot as it was more expensive but I told her to look for a Series II package which she found for $899 with free installation.
This is because the Smoking Dad BBQ videos I had been watching had led me to conclude that a Junior Joe or a Classic Joe Series II with the Series III KJ accessories was the path to happiness and general Kamado Joe nirvana.
I did warn she who must be obeyed that we would be spending around the $1750 level she had been about to commit to regardless but that I would be getting the KJ Series III accessories et al for the Series II, which she agreed to.
Just to set expectations a tad!
Of course, since agreeing to this she has had an attack of amnesia and is fighting me every step of the way for the little things I need, which is a total drag.
As a consequence of this change of demeanor, suddenly my desire to get the goodies for the soon to arrive Series II before she who must be obeyed suffered yet another bout of amnesia spurred me into immediate actions and I leapt into my Jaguar EV and raced to Lowes, Costco and Home Depot to see what they had accessories wise for the Classic Joe.
Lowes was the first stop on this KJ Classic Joe accessories adventure trip.
They did not have any KJ Charcoal baskets or any of the KJ Classic Joe accessories I was looking for but they did have a Series I classic Joe for $799 which I looked at and decided was not worth the effort or cost.
Maybe for $299...
On the way out I walked past the charcoal Weber Kettle stuff they had in a charcoal grill section and there stood three fire engine red Kamado Joe Kettle Joe's on clearance for $199 each!
I looked at all three closely to determine what was missing and my sole surviving synapse was now oscillating at a higher level of real excited about the prospect.
This was because the one accessory I did want for my ceramic series II was the SloRoller for $249 and here was a whole Kettle Joe with the SloRoller for the Kettle Joe built right in for the bargain price of $199!
My gut response was just to buy them all on the spot but I went home and churned it over instead and weighed the pragmatic pros and cons.
I had the cash from my BGE sale that would have covered the cost and then some.
In the meantime, the new Series II had arrived a week earlier than expected and the install guy was more than a week away from arriving to put it together.
The accessories I did buy online from Amazon had also arrived and I was now thinking hard about those Kettle Joe's for $199 apiece.
Saturday (9/10) I went to go look at them again and found their number was now just 2 and one was not so good so I wheeled the good one straight to the checkout and just did it.
I also bought a Kamado Joe Kettle cover for $59 and as I had a $25 and a $15 voucher that was still valid used those as well.
I ended up getting my Kettle Joe for $159.99!!
I then wheeled it over to my Chevrolet Bolt and realized I had a challenge to get it into the darn thing.
I folded down the rear seats and measured with a tape measure I had brought with me and started to remove the heavy internal ceramics and the SloRoller ring in the thing so I could pick it up and maneuver it in the back of the Bolty.
Once lightened, I picked it up by the handy side handles and rotated it 90 degrees and stuffed it in the back of the Bolty and very carefully drove home on the back roads like I was transporting 400 fresh laid chikken eggs.
Then I had to hide it from she who must be obeyed so I quickly reassembled it all and put the cover on it in the garage hoping she who must be obeyed would not notice it.
Kettle Joe lid after I sealed it
I waited 2 days until she who must be obeyed was in the shower solo and I pelted downstairs and moved it to where the BGE had stood and put the cover over it el rapido.
She who must be obeyed did not notice anything was amiss as she had been used to seeing something there with a cover on it these past 5 odd years.
In the meantime I ordered two 10 ft rolls of dome seal smoker tape and some food friendly high temp silicon sealant for the job of fixing the gaps and other setups I had seen on various videos on YouTube.
I started this work on Tuesday 9/13 when she who must be obeyed went into her office to start her day.
I was 90% complete with the job when she came down to see what I was up to and I got busted big time!
I just told her that the clearance deal was too good to pass up and that the SloRoller accessory for the Ceramic Joe was more than the whole Kettle Joe was.
She immediately asked why we needed the ceramic one sitting in it's box awaiting assembly.
At this point I did not know what the Kettle Joe was like to cook on, so just pitched the SloRoller smoke story.
I am not a pellet smoker fan by the way and she had bought me a Camp Chef with the add on grill and sear attachment.
She seems bitter I do not use it much for some reason.
Kettle Joe bottom air vent after sealing
On the Kettle Joe I had sealed the Dome, the SloRoller bottom, the ash vent and the dome vent.
I also put Silicon sealant on the leg assembly, dome underside, temperature gauge and some other suggested spots.
I then had to let it cure for a day.
The day after it was cured, I went to Raleys and got some Pork Shoulder, lamb and chicken drums, armed the thang with charcoal and ignited it for the first cook with the Pork Shoulder I had bought for the first cook.
I immediately noticed I had done an excellent job of sealing it as it was not leaking smoke and temperature control was pretty darn good.
Much better in fact than on the BGE.
This highlighted how bad the crack in the BGE had in fact been!
Kettle Joe first burn in cook
While the Pork Butt was cooking I decided I was gonna cook the chicken drums on it at the end without the SloRoller with two potatoes as the charcoal was doing real well.
I removed the pork butt and the SloRoller and dropped the dome to the normal BBQ level, put the grates on with all the BBQ stuff on it and began to process the experience and the results it gave me.
I am thinking it was a pity we bought the Series II because honestly, this Kettle Joe thang kicks ass!
Actually my view on this has changed as the KJ Classic II is also more awesome than the Kettle Joe but without the SloRoller.
Kettle Joe also has 22" of cooking surface and the ceramic Joe is just 18".
However, I am happy to have them both as I will use the Kettle Joe for the long slow smoke stuff and the Ceramic one for every day cooking for just me and she who must be obeyed.
If I ever have a BBQ with invited guests I now have plenty of options and I can press both the KJ devices into service and the Weber Summit gas grill is there as well.
The Camp Chef is also an option for a pellet smoke but I ain't doing ribs on that thing again unless we need to do a lot of them all at once at any rate.
Fast ribs on the Kettle Joe is just gonna be the way it is for Pork and lamb ribs!
If I had to get just one device though, the Kettle Joe would the clear winner with the fixes I did thrown into the equation.
It will be interesting to see how long it will last vs the Ceramic one as well!
All I can say is if you see your Lowes offering these on clearance for $199, grab them, it R a serious bargain!
One thing I noted by the way is the bad review of the metal side shelves the Kettle Joe comes with as the Smoking DAD BBQ guy was showing his off with wooden shelves.
However, my one pet peeve with my XL BGE was the fact my Thermoworks Temperature gadgets are magnetic and the BGE wooden shelves were as useful as tits on a bull in this regard so I love the fact my magnetic temperature stuff clamp on to these metal shelves.
My new meater probe also clamped on to these metal shelves so I put the kibosh on these add on shelves faster than a leprechaun hides the gold at the end of a rainbow!
Even Kettle Joe has a serious Hinge!
The Pork Shoulder and Drums as well as the baked potatoes were seriously awesome by the way.
The second cook was T-Bone steak for Moi, Pork chop stuffed with Almond cream for she who must be obeyed, Lamb ribs for moi with baked potatoes and assorted Asian veggies brushed with Habanero Mango sauce between the two of us!!
Cooked the Port Butt to 160..