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 Post subject: The Ultimate Wild Game
PostPosted: December 21st, 2014, 6:40 pm 
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This will be near and dear to Kevin Dill's heart. He hopefully will also add his knowledge on the subject.

Kamado grilling has just got to produce the best tasting food there is. Its been utilized by humans apparently thousands of years. These cookers come in many names. Most notably, The Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, Pimus Grill, Vision Grill and probably others. They work best with real lump charcoal and meat stays moist and depending on the type of wood used will inherit that flavor. Backstraps aren't their best until they come out of the Kamado!
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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 8:42 am 
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Nice thread Preston!

This isn't for you lightweight weekend grillboys who specialize in hotdogs, hamburgers and the occasional steak. Kamado cookers (not just a grill or smoker) are probably the finest and most versatile outdoor cooking tool ever created for those who want to go way beyond just grilling meat. I wanted one for years but just never prioritized it until last spring. My unit is a Kamado Joe and the only thing I regret is that I didn't buy one a long time ago.
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Kamado cookers typically use natural lump charcoal instead of the pressed briquettes. On one load of charcoal I can slow smoke a brisket or pork shoulder for 14+ hours and have it fork-tender straight off the grill. I've used it to sear, grill, smoke, bake, and cook...things like turkey (whole or breast), chicken, steaks, roasts, pizza, ribs, meatloaf, stuffed peppers, vegetables, mac & cheese, burgers, brats, beans and the afore-mentioned brisket and shoulder.
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Just before Thanksgiving I did some primo-sized venison burgers seared and hot-smoked to medium finish. They were almost an inch thick and just nicely pink in the center when I plated them. They were very juicy and my gang loved them.

All kamado cookers consist of a thick ceramic outer shell and then additional internal fireclay layers. This allows them to stay a consistent temp in the pit, and prevents much fluctuation in cooler weather. They work great for winter grilling. I've got a couple large backstrap roasts I plan to smoke sometime in January for a midwinter feast. All kamado units share the same concept of a gasketed seal between the upper and lower bodies. This allows them to cook very slow and very humid inside. Meat comes out loaded with juices, vegetables and casseroles are moist too. You have to try it to believe it.

There is definitely a learning curve to using a kamado cooker and producing a variety of good results. I started slow with less expensive items and then as my abilities improved I added in pricier cuts of meat. I've got a few friends (like Preston) with them and it's nice to share knowledge and recipes. My family frequently makes requests for me to cook up something on my Joe these days. For the sportsman who brings home wild game and fish, this is THE cooker for getting the finest taste and finish from those meats.

Anybody else own one?


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 9:41 am 
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Until these days get old, I'll just have to take your guy's word for it...

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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 10:07 am 
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Mike V: "Until these days get old, I'll just have to take your guy's word for it..."

I thought the official verbage up there was 'yous guys'. eh-what?


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 10:33 am 
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Kevin is 110% correct on the learning curve. My father in law bought the big green egg back in August and is just now getting comfy with how it cooks. Note he is an exceptional cook, running a restaurant and now a specialty market and catering business. After running the gamut of gas grills he is hooked on his green egg. I plan to get one next summer, unless one just happens to get delivered by Santa. In the mean time I will take lessons from pop #2. You seasoned veterans feel free to post some of your hard lessons learned as well as your secret recipes. :D

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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 10:42 am 
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Hmmmm....I'll be do for a new grill soon, I'll look into one. I grill everything all year!


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 12:39 pm 
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Kamado Joe has a nice ring to it!
I've looked at these before, but haven't taken the plunge. I sure do believe they have the ability to produce some outstanding edibles.

A couple of questions for you.
Are they suitable if you just want to throw a couple of quick burgers or brats on the grill? I understand they will produce a better product, but if they increase the time needed substantially I can see myself not messing with it for some quick meals when I don't have a lot of time. Do you still use a conventional grill for other things or faster meals?

Also, does anyone know how they compare to a Traeger wood pellet cooker? (Or something similar) I've sure been impressed by the meat that comes off of one of those types of units as well.


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 2:11 pm 
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I'm getting hungry! I have a few friends who swear by the Big Green Egg, guess I will to buy one for myself for Christmas.


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 4:32 pm 
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Joe, I am a newbie at Kamado cooking, so some observations so far. I have found regulating the fire to be better than expected. Can have burgers ready in about 20 minutes. That's including getting the fire started. Gas grills certainly quicker, but the taste is worth every penny of admission.

No experience with the pellet cookers but I hear good things. Gas is in the past at our home. We have purchased the very best stainless steel models and can get no more than three to four years out of them. I don't mind the hassle of filling propane bottles and we grill here! We grill several times per week. The Kamado cookers will last for a lifetime, I think. The heavy ceramic is very durable and impervious to weather. I have been tempted to get one and then Kevin's wonderful reports pushed me over the edge. No looking back now!


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 4:37 pm 
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Just had a look at the XL green egg, $2,595 yea I might wait for a bit before buying one.

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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 5:22 pm 
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I'll try to put the cost into perspective: My unit runs $800-$1,000 with everything needed to get going. Mine is the 'Regular' size and there is no way I'd want an XL unless I was often feeding 5+ serious appetites. Our last gas grill was a really good stainless unit and was easy to use. It cost us $600 out the door. We thought the food tasted good from it, but found ourselves constantly favoring our $150 charcoal smoker grill for good meat. Gas grills simply don't produce the taste that charcoal or wood-fired units do...period. So our $600 shiny grill is a big gaudy porch ornament now. The ceramic Kamado has nothing to wear out or replace, except maybe a felt gasket. I'm sure it will last 20 years if I want it to, and I won't need to buy another grill in that time. In the long run the Kamado is cheaper to own and operate.

Hey Whip-Lasch...You can fire one up faster than you think with the use of a propane or butane torch. These cookers DO NOT use charcoal lighter fluid which produces petroleum vapors and odors which affect taste. I start my charcoal with an electric hot-air igniter called a Looft Lighter. It's made in Sweden I think and is the fast way to get charcoal going. Another thing is that these cookers are so near air-tight that you can close down the drafts and completely extinguish the coals. Any unburned charcoal remains and is perfectly good for the next use...just add enough new chunks to insure adequate heat and time. This way you never waste fuel and actually produce very small amounts of ash.

Anybody who wants to go blind reading about kamado cookers and cooking can simply do a web search on 'kamado' (followed by words like grill, smoker, cooker, recipe, etc) and see what develops. YouTube is loaded with how-to knowledge on them. My favorite meat-knowledge website is http://www.amazingribs.com

The majority of people who buy these units will all tell you they worried about the cost ahead of the purchase. They'll also tell you they've never regretted the purchase and they will never be without one again. But again....I say serious grill folks only. If you love to grill, smoke or cook outdoors and want to do it better than the best bbq joint around, get a kamado and start learning. You won't be sorry, but the neighbors might torment you to host some good cookouts.


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 7:26 pm 
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Okay Pork Chops and Shrimp on the spit tonight.
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These cookers come with handy accessories. I especially like the electric starter, no worry of nontasty fuels.
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The bottom vent which is important for regulating the temp.
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Something for the cook!
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Fire ready with the key ingredients.
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And like it seems as always the case, everyone is pleased saying I never tasted such good food.


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 6:54 pm 
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Have any of you cooked ducks and geese with one of these? Wild ones, not the yard birds. They need to be cooked rare, but I like to have a crispy skin on the outside.

Schuster!!! Ya got any elk to put in one of these cookers, or are you still eating ham hocks???


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PostPosted: December 24th, 2014, 6:26 am 
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Very interesting. I did quite a bit of smoking of deer meat the last few months.

My gas grill is hurting. It's one of those big stainless jobbies, but now it needs burners, deflectors, etc. I will look into the Komado.


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PostPosted: December 24th, 2014, 11:02 am 
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For Christmas this year I decided to do something different, and do it on the Kamado Joe. I'm going to do a mini follow-along for those who might be interested in how to use a kamado cooker.

This year's evening meal will be a whole beef tenderloin (filet mignon) I purchased at a local butcher. Keep in mind that this same recipe and method can be used with any larger cut of wild game meat such as deer, elk, moose, sheep or caribou backstrap or roast. I started by taking the entire tenderloin and trimming it of excess fat and silver skin. Once that was done I cut the filet in half and then tied each half securely using cotton string. The purpose of string tying is to help the meat stay together and maintain its rounded shape while roasting inside the kamado.

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Using the following recipe we created a marinade that we've used before. It is rich and flavorful, plus it is used to create a final sauce for applying at the table.

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The two roasts are placed in a large zip-lock bag and the marinade is poured in. They'll remain in the bag for about 24 hours, and should be turned every 4 hours to insure all parts of the meat are evenly marinated.

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That's it for now. Later I'll get the kamado ready to go and tomorrow I'll show you how I do it.


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PostPosted: December 24th, 2014, 11:57 am 
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Looking good Kevin! I think of the comparison between gas and charcoal grills like wheel bows and stick bows. The results are far more satisfying with charcoal, as with a stick bow. As with a bow and a grill "the journey is the destination" comes to mind.


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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 4:23 pm 
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Isn't it about time to fire up the grill?


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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 5:07 pm 
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The roasts have marinated over a full day now. I've dried them off and then given them a light coat of olive oil. Next I applied a rub we prefer on our filet mignon, working it firmly into the surfaces of the meat. It sets while I get the Kamado Joe fired up.

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I'm figuring on a cooking time of less than 3 hours, so this won't require a full load of charcoal. Notice the dark, smoky interior of my kamado...just the way you want it. Like any good grill, getting them seasoned is part of the process. Every time you cook on it the ceramic heats up internally and the accumulated byproducts impart some smoke and flavorings that add instant magic to your meat. You don't get that on sheet metal grills or gas. Natural lump charcoal goes in the bottom of the bowl and is ignited. The larger lumps burn slowly and hold heat for longer periods. When actively smoking meat I add a couple chunks of wood like apple, oak or hickory. I add those chunks just before placing the meat in the cooker, and that way I get all the smoke possible. I'm not adding any wood today however, as I want the tenderloin to be very mild in flavor. Besides, the charcoal will impart a bit of grill character to the final taste....unique to natural charcoal.

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Btw: Charcoal briquettes are pressed sawdust held together with a starch binder. The starch is what gives off most of the smoke, but that smoke is really nothing like true hardwood smoke. Natural lump charcoal doesn't produce much smoke on its own, which is why it works great for a variety of foods like vegetables, casseroles, pizza etc.


I'm cooking over indirect heat today. I've got a ceramic divider (plate) between the heat and the meat. This keeps the temp steady around the tenderloin but prevents hotspots and over-cooking. The meat will cook slowly on the grill surface, and I'll collect some of the juicy drippings in a foil pan placed beneath. Those drippings will be added to the (saved) marinade and all is used to create a rich sauce cooked down with some spicy red wine added.

I want to keep the internal pit temperature a constant 250 degrees. For that I'm using an optional device called the BBQ Guru. The Guru lets me add temp probes to the meat and the pit, then I can program the Guru for the desired temperatures I want. Via the probes, the Guru monitors the temperatures and controls air flow to the fire automatically. When set up correctly, the BBQ Guru allows me to cook or smoke meats without constantly tending and checking them. A glance at the led readout and I know what's happening. That's particularly helpful during cold weather like today.

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The tenderloin is on the grill and cooking. I'll watch the temperature from inside today while enjoying some holiday spirits and fun with famly. I'm going for an internal temperature of 130-135 on the meat. Once it's at that temperature it's coming off the cooker regardless of outer appearance...but I'm confident it will look appetizing.

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Meanwhile, Marilyn has been busy crafting a fine peach & raspberry cobbler. I'm drooling over this one.

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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 7:47 pm 
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My iPhone has an app to receive temperature reads from a probe:

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Double Mushroom Ragout finished and waiting in the pan:

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Internal pit temperature at 250F currently:

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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 8:00 pm 
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Bingo! The finished tenderloin halves as they arrived off the cooker:

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The outside of the meat is still soft and tender, a bit smokier than I intended, and oozing medium-rare juices.

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Everybody was oohing and ahhing over the appearance and smell of the meat. I covered it with foil to let it rest for 15 minutes before cutting. We were so eager to dive in that I omitted any pictures of the slices as they came off, but here is what the cut meat looks like. Quite rare, but easily tempered a bit in a microwave if needed.

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Everyone was amazed at how buttery tender the meat was...literally the most tender red meat any of us has ever eaten in our lives. The flavor was delicious and bold enough not to be clouded by the ragout or marsala sauce. We served it with cheddar mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, the Double Mushroom Ragout, and a frozen cranberry salad made primarily with fruit. The unanimous glass for this meal was a good red wine, a bold California zinfandel with plenty of peppery spiciness. We ate ourselves into oblivion!

I have no idea how to find room for the cobbler...but I will try!

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Thanks for following.


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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 8:01 pm 
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What is double mushroom ragout? Looks GOOD!


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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 8:03 pm 
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Steve Osminski wrote:
What is double mushroom ragout? Looks GOOD!


1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt
1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
1/3 cup dry Marsala
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup heavy cream; more for reheating
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley


Soak the porcini in 1-1/2 cups very hot water, stirring occasionally, until they're rehydrated, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a cutting board and chop coarsely. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter into a small bowl and set aside.

In a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan, heat 2 Tbs. of the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cremini and 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have softened and released their liquid, 5 to 8 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring more frequently, until the mushrooms are shrunken and very well browned, 8 to 10 minutes more.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallots and the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and cook, stirring, until the shallots are softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Marsala, thyme, porcini, and 1/4 cup porcini-soaking liquid (reserve the remaining soaking liquid if making ahead). Cook and stir until most of the liquid evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream and cook until reduced to a saucy consistency, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.


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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 8:07 pm 
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I stuffed myself for the past two days and now I'm reading this and getting hungry again!

Kevin, it looks like you use your cooker on a wood deck. Is there any chance of hot coals or sparks dropping out of the vents on the cooker? I now that regular charcoal grills and decks are a bad combo.


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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 9:47 pm 
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All the ashes and any sparks (few) drop straight through an internal cast iron grate and then down into the bottom of the lower ceramic kettle. None of them ever gets outside the cooker when in use.


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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 9:58 pm 
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Now that looks good.

I use a Tall Webber and love it but its hard to regulate the heat with the thin walls cracks at every seam. Now its rusting after 6 years.

I'll have to find one of them grills after my next bug move.


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PostPosted: December 25th, 2014, 11:19 pm 
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Kevin Dill wrote:
Steve Osminski wrote:
What is double mushroom ragout? Looks GOOD!


1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt
1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
1/3 cup dry Marsala
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup heavy cream; more for reheating
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley


Soak the porcini in 1-1/2 cups very hot water, stirring occasionally, until they're rehydrated, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a cutting board and chop coarsely. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter into a small bowl and set aside.

In a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan, heat 2 Tbs. of the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cremini and 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have softened and released their liquid, 5 to 8 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring more frequently, until the mushrooms are shrunken and very well browned, 8 to 10 minutes more.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallots and the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and cook, stirring, until the shallots are softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Marsala, thyme, porcini, and 1/4 cup porcini-soaking liquid (reserve the remaining soaking liquid if making ahead). Cook and stir until most of the liquid evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream and cook until reduced to a saucy consistency, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Oh my. Thanks I am saving that...maybe throw in a few morels! Looks awesome.


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PostPosted: December 26th, 2014, 8:39 pm 
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Anybody smoked salmon in one if these ? And can you add racks for more space ?

Any problems with the ceramic if you fire it up at below zero temps ?


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PostPosted: December 27th, 2014, 9:22 am 
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Salmon will smoke perfectly in them. The key is being able to keep the heat extremely low and steady. That's where the optional BBQ Guru shines. You can essentially shut down the drafts and then allow the Guru to control the temperature. You can also do it manually but it takes more checking.

There are optional racks available to hold more food. Do keep in mind that a kamado isn't going to handle the quantities of meat or fish that a dedicated smoker-box will take. If you want to smoke several sockeyes you likely won't want a kamado for that.

The ceramic is fine at any temperature. The key is to not let it get wet internally. If water gets inside (rain, washing, etc) you must let it dry out completely before using.


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PostPosted: December 27th, 2014, 12:05 pm 
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Kevin that looks fantastic. I don't have the type of cooker you are using but I have a Treager type smoker. Do you think that recepie would work on a pellet burner type smoker?


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PostPosted: December 27th, 2014, 12:16 pm 
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Jon,

I haven't used a Traeger pellet burner, but I'm sure it would work fine. The main concepts for the meal I just did are to cook at fairly low indirect heat and not much smoke. This whole tenderloin is supposed to be mildly flavorful, and not extremely smoky like a brisket or pork butt. I used my kamado more like a charcoal oven than a smoker-grill on this recipe. If the Traeger is one of those units that always creates a lot of smoke, I would still use it with the understanding that the tl would taste different. Some people might not want a big smoky meat-thing on the Christmas table. :D


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