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  • Writer's pictureMarvin the Paranoid Biological Android

Kamado Joe Opex Update

Kettle Joe waiting patiently for me at Lowes

A year on from getting my Kettle Joe for $159 at Lowes and a Kamado Joe Classic series II for $999 on Amazon, I have now had a ton of BBQ experiences with both of these Kamado Joe and Kettle Joe BBQ thangs.

Walmart online by the way is currently doing free shipping on Kettle Joe's for $324 which is a pretty sweet deal IMHO.

The Kettle Joe and Classic Joe Series II each have their pros and cons and I had drifted to using the Classic Joe Series 2 a lot more than the Kettle Joe for a couple of reasons.

The first one is time related.

There is no question the Kettle Joe infuses the best flavor in the meat if you use the built in SloRoller for a smoke but it is also the worst to manage for long smokes as it burns charcoal at one hella fast rate (al cruda, sans any additional half basket gizmos).

And I did seal mine from new per James from Smoking BBQ video suggestion by the way, so I can only cringe in horror at the notion of how much it would burn in it's stock state.

I had found that I had to take everything off the rack when I needed to pop more charcoals in and let it carry on after a refueling cool down, whereas with the Series II, I just use one side of the basket and it will burn for 5 hours before more fuel is required.

If I need a longer cook in the Classic Joe II, I just arm the other half of my charcoal basket and I am set for 9 hours plus on a smoke.

With the Kettle Joe, I had to first vacate the proteins I was Grill-smoking from the grill grid, then lift the entire SloRoller with suitable gloves and carefully place it on the ground, chuck more charcoals into the basket and reassemble the whole thang in a substantial rigamarole of an effort.

If you are using both deflector plates they also need to come out which adds more time as they are stinking hot.

The cooling of the meat while doing this adding charcoal gubbins is not ideal and I did not rush when doing that as that gets you burnt badly (yes, I did!).

As I have progressed with Pork and Lamb ribs on the Series II, I have found that I can cook baby backs in around 4 hours flat using both deflector stones to mimic the SloRoller the Kettle Joe has and the meat is softer and more tender even though the smoke is at a higher 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

No moisture pan or such apart from the standard mopping antics every 35 minutes or so but the new S2B5 Kettle Joe charcoal basket I just bought does have a water reservoir and this thang is making a huge impact to the meats I smoke in it now.

It is also now very efficient in burning charcoal as well and is much quicker to clean which has suddenly made it my default go to device as the charcoals seem to take far quicker in the S2B5 basket than what the out of the box default arrangement offered.

I guess I should also get a basket that sits in the center of the original for the brisket smokes.

Lamb ribs on either KJ BBQ thingamabob are pretty quick BTW and done in about 55 minutes or an hour 15, if burnt offerings is what makes your boat float.

The secret with baby backs, after many failures, is they are ready when the meat starts shrinking and pulling from the bone which temperature wise is when it is at an even 205 degrees F.

Do not smoke pork ribs at 225 F unless you have one of those big massive wheeled smoker rigs and 18 hours to give up for a rib cook as it takes forever in anything smaller.

I dunno who came up with smoking the darn things at that temp (225 F) in a Kamodo or Kettle BBQ thang. A stupid and expensive idea IMHO.

I tried 25 times and failed 25 times on various Kamodos of all different sizes and types.

I could never get em over 196 F at 225 F pit temp, mainly because I can't go for 16 or 17 hours with any Kamado or Kettle device as I find I have already eaten something else by then and lost interest.

You have to wake up at oh dark hundred (3AM) if you wanna even eat in the late evening on such a mission.

The first decent pork ribs I ever cooked were on the Kettle Joe at 300 degrees F, since then using the Classic Joe Series 2 with full deflector plates and @325 degrees F, is a glorious success every single time.

I don't wrap em by the way I just drop and mop.

Pure Apple Juice mop session over em every 35 minutes or so and me ensuring the temp is not runway care of my Thermoworks or Meater probes is all the attention I pay it.

I finally found a valid use for the useless Covid Masks! (BBQ)

Of course I dry brine overnight with Kosher salt (I told my Rabbi that this makes them Kosher) and in the AM I mustard them, sprinkle with my pepper cannon and then my Secret Pork BBQ powder from North Carolina gets sprinkled on top of the mustard with another light dusting of Kosher salt and in they go......

At about 3 hours into the cook Rabbi Rabbinowitz usually makes an unannounced house call....That's when I know they're gonna be real good.

Rabbi R is a Kabbalah deviant, which is how he knows whats happening inside any of my KJ BBQ devices (either that or he is a well trained, remote viewing NSA agent).

My Chicken Drums and wings are now world class as well but I was always good at Braai time with those items, just a whole lot better now with those items on either KJ BBQ gizmo.

Of late I am using Nando's Peri Peri Mild overnight in a marinade bag and Clucker Duster powder from Texas before the wings and drums go on the grill grid.

Now, if I happen to be in a weekday hurry to BBQ a steak or Chicken, the Kettle Joe, if already clean and ready to go, produces a result far quicker than the classic Joe but I used to have to take the SloRoller piece out before I was ready to light the thang and drop the dome height so the lid closed properly.

The new S2B5 charcoal basket ujit has ensured it will now be the go to quick grill device with the Weber Summit Gas Grill of course.

The Kettle Joe result is much like a normal Braai experience I grew up with, just with a hood over the fire vs just BBQ on an open flame with red hot charcoal and it does infuse the charcoal and associated wood flavors in the meats better than what the traditional braai experience does.

I just wish I knew a local Utah butcher that could make boerewors properly to better contrast the two in my mind.

I have also been experimenting with different types of wood chunks to flavor the meat and this works much better in the Series II than in the Kettle Joe for some reason.

The Lamb Chop Yummathon...

I now do a 3-4 lbs Tri Tip every Saturday with Hickory or Mesquite wood chunks on the Classic Joe and the woofs and I snack on the Tri Tip thang till the next Friday.

You gotta see my one woof's face when he realizes I am smoking a Tri-Tip!

Tucker wondering whats taking his lamb chop so darn long to grill

The Classic Joe meat flavor with the wood chunks is too overpowering for she who must be obeyed, so I just go with plain old charcoal for those cooks for both her piece of meat and mine.

On that note by the way, use smaller chunks of wood or the flavor in the meat will be too overpowering for your family members to deal with.

The thing that used to prevent more Kettle Joe cooks was that cleaning and prepping the KJ Kettle used to be a pain in the proverbial ass compared to the Classic Joe Series II.

To aid and abet my cleaning a grill grate after every cook ambitions, I have bought a large plastic box like container with lid clips either side from ACE hardware after she who must be obeyed started bitching about the dirt it was bringing to her kitchen sink.

She who must be obeyed thinks this cleaning the grill grates after every cook is crazy but I have seen data on BBQ grills and cancer correlations and cleaning them after every cook is the key to happiness here.

I know several folks who also do this and one of them is about to turn 100 and the other one is 98. Both are fastidious with grate cleaning antics. (One is Korean and the other is Japanese).

We all munch seaweed and eat brown vinegar washed sushi (kills any parasites), so that might also be a factor.

So what I do after each cook is wire brush both sides of each grate half for around 10 minutes while still in the BBQ device to get rid of the big pieces stuck to the grill grates and then I place both grill grate halves in the plastic container.

I then walk the plastic box into the kitchen - soak both grates in our sink by spraying them on both sides before I pop em back into the now rinsed clean plastic container again, chuck one dishwasher tab into the container and fill it with hot water until the grates are covered, put the lid back on with the clips fastened and then I take it outside to marinate while sitting on my Summit Gas grill shelf for a day or two before hauling out my new PowRyte electric pressure washer for a no 15 spray nozzle wash from the pressure gun.

Sparkly clean every time!

I do spray the clean grids with BGE Grill Grate Oil before every cook by the way, this does ensure baby back rib smokes and the smoke debris stuck to the Grill Grids come off easier.

Cleaning out the ashes from both the KJ Kettle and Classic Joe Series II after a cook is a pain in the ass and was a bigger job on the Kettle Joe as it is 22" and a lot heavier of a charcoal basket to lift out of the bottom piece than the charcoal basket assembly on the Classic Joe which is a smaller 18".

Since the arrival of the S2B5 basket though, cleaning is a relative cinch and breeze.

I used to rip everything out and brush the ashes and after-burn debris out the air hole but I only do that after long cooks or every three normal fast BBQ sessions now as the S2B5 is very quick and easy to lift out and re-arm nowadays.

I pressure washed the smoke seals on the Kettle Joe SloRoller insert piece off the other day and was pondering if it was worth doing the sealing piece again.

I was mulling over these options as I was thinking bare metal may actually be AOK but then my Hebrew genetics took over and concluded that the air leaks = burn till charcoal is fine white ash = Not very efficient = $$..! (whut wuz I thinking!).

I was actually thinking I am gonna remove the dome and pressure wash all of the sealer tape and go with bare metal to bare metal to see how that goes till my Hebrew genes took control and fiscal sense radiated all through my core being.

All shiny and clean again after I pressure washed inside and out

Anyways, I abandoned that no seals at all idea and just power washed the old seals on the dome piece off on my lunch break on (8/18) after close inspection revealed they were shot and I ordered new fireproof gasket tape and bought me a half coal basket for the Kettle Joe, but not the SnS Deluxe everyone was suggesting, as stated earlier, I bought the CmanZhi S2B5 for $65 as I balked at the $104+ taxes price Amazon is asking for the SnS Deluxe charcoal basket thingamabob.

I fitted the new S2B5 Kettle Joe charcoal basket on the evening of 08/19 as it arrived via USPS special service while we were off to mind our Grandson Chuckles in Hayward for a few hours.

Some of my pals have the SnS Deluxe basket and when they have seen my new S2B5 and heard the price I paid for it they have all gone rather silent and sulky.

I also made a modification to the Classic Joe Series II after 4 cooks from new by the way as it had a metal piece that houses the slide in tray at the bottom of the AMP box which I found to be a total hindrance when cleaning ashes out of it (the tray got immovably stuck).

I watched that Canadian bloke on Smoking Dad BBQ who has some videos for KJ newbies and James did the same thing I was thinking so I tore it apart and rebuilt the fire-pit without it just like he did.

So the ash tray goes back in to the gaping hole solo, sans the tray guide gizmo.

The tray itself is now just a wood chunk burning ujit now on the Classic Joe, although ash tray wood chunk smoldering schemes are far better in the Kettle Joe than the Classic Joe, it must be said.

It is much better and faster to clean is the Classic Joe with this mod now though!

I unbolted the four side mounted lid screws on the Kettle Joe at the hinge to get the lid off so I could get the dome's gasket seal off far quicker with the help of my power washer gizmo.

I flipped the dome upside down and placed it in the SloRoller that had my new never used before Commvault swim towel I got in 2012 to pad the dome surface from scratches and stop it rocking when the Power Washer water jet does it's thang on these seal remnants and their glue base.

I also took the seals off each side of the dome air slider thingamabob chimney thang while I was at it and this proved far more difficult than what I was expecting. After doing it 5 times and inadvertently hitting 2 fingers, I am now scheming how I will better clean this infuriating thang.

I tried to power wash the black carbon affixed to the red paint off of the inside of the Dome but it looks like it has measles now, so I am going with the if it is stuck that fast it ain't coming off in a hurry Modus Operandi.

I will use the pressure washer every year when I replace the seals to dislodge what carbon deposits I can.

I soaked it all (Dome and Chimney air flow ujit) in white vinegar and let is soak in for 10 minutes before blasting it again and not much more carbon came off so I kinda polished it with the pressure washer and let it be.

I suspect that with the half charcoal basket for the Kettle Joe, which arrived on 8/19, is in and active, that I will find a better option, cost and cleaning wise, that will result in more cooks on the thang and ecstatic Hebrew genes vis a vis the cost of the cook.

New Charcoal Basket & Deflector plate

Because I am a true conservative Jew (fiscally and politically), the cost of the charcoal the Kettle Joe used to burn did not sit that well with me at all.

I was also scheming on getting a Classic Joe Series III Deflector plate for it so I could do a sear on one side and cool zone on the other and cook me some delishus porterhouse steaks but said deflector plates come in pairs for $89 and I only wanted one half......I actually just (08/19) fought off my Heeb Genes and ordered the kit for $89 including shipping, so I have a spare.

By the way that deflector plate barely fits the Kettle Joe but when looking at it yesterday, just before I welded two flat bars for it to sit on I pushed the two upright wires inward and now it is a perfect fit with an 1/8th of an inch on each side holding space so welding was not needed.

It fits OK now but previously a hard knock would displace its precarious perch and with pushing it inwards slightly it is very solid now.

Kettle Joe sporting new goodies

Such is the state of my four BBQ devices and their schemes in my back yard at this point of BBQ proceedings...

I am dreaming of the Pellet Joe Kamado but the $1799 price tag makes my Hebrew blood seethe and roil like a mortally wounded Kraken....

Oi Vey!

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