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Unread 04-20-2013, 09:04 AM   #1
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New Grill Day

New Grill Day.

Some of you guys know I love grilling and BBQ. I got into it as a Saturday hobby about 6 years ago when my sister asked me to cook the Thanksgiving dinner. After a lot of research I decided smoked turkey was the only way to go, so I went to the local home depot and picked up an uber cheap electric smoker. Everything turned out fabulous, and since then I've been using that little smoker several times a month for all sorts of meat and veggies. I guess the heating element in it is beginning to fail, it's not holding a good temperature. So time to upgrade. 6 years is a really long time for one of these cheap smokers, so I think I got my 70 bucks worth out of it.

I always told myself I would upgrade to a Kamado type grill when the time came. I've been GASing for a BGE or a Bubba Keg for a while now. The problem being cash of course, they're pricey; looking at 800-1000 fully loaded. I've wanted one for about 3 years now but haven't been able to fund it. Came across the Char-griller Akorn in Lowes yesterday. 300 bucks. I was skeptical; surely there's a huge step down in quality from an 800 dollar kamado to this. But after looking at how pretty much everyone was raving about it on some of the BBQ forums I frequent, I pulled the trigger. Putting it together, yeah, it's a little skimpy on the features, but it has good materials and is well built.

Last night I was able to bake some potatoes on it before grilling some steaks (and bacon for the potatoes, cuz why not). Today I'll be smoking a chicken.




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Unread 04-20-2013, 02:46 PM   #2
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Nice!

I've been rocking a plain jane Weber charcoal bowl for years. Love grilling! I have never smoked, and only dabble in actual BBQ. I'm a griller.
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Unread 04-21-2013, 09:01 PM   #3
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Ooh, that's interesting!!

Let us know how it works when you do some barbecue. Chickens and turkeys are fine, but I'm more interested in some ribs, brisket, or pork shoulder. My grill is a big 2-chamber clunker from Sam's that my dad bought as a home-warming gift when we moved into our current apartment. It looks exactly like the one he bought from Sam's 10 years ago, but the materials must be different because I can't manage to get the temperature up as high as it should be for steaks and burgers. I can still cook an awesome piece of meat, but I have to cook with the lid closed, which I HATE HATE HATE. The thing I like most about it is that it's easy to do barbecue, because I can put the charcoal and wood in one chamber and put the meat in the other, and keep the temperature steady. My results are consistently better than anything I ever find in restaurants (except for the gross dives I grew up grubbing in). But it uses way more coals than it should. I go through at least 10 pounds of charcoal for a 5-6 hour smoke.

My long-term plan for when we move into a place with a yard (my grill is on the balcony) was always to get a Weber kettle for my grilling and a Masterbuilt smoker for all my barbecue, but I'm afraid that I'll lose something by switching from charcoal. The idea of a kamado style grill is interesting. Is it true that you can use fewer coals for a smoke because it keeps so much of the heat?

EDIT: I found a picture of the grill I have:



you can see it's a broad shape with 2 chambers. It would be awesome if it were made of a better material.

I'm also wondering if the Akorn would be a good solution to the MOST MADDENING PROBLEM OF ALL WHEN IT COMES TO LIVING IN CHICAGOLAND: I cannot grill or barbecue at all from November till April. It's simply too cold. I'm thinking maybe the kamado style cooker would solve the problem of ambient temperature drastically affecting the ability to cook something.
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Unread 04-22-2013, 04:50 AM   #4
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hmmmm....pretty sure I live with in driving distance of SBN. You know what would be awesome?!?!?!?! A "Buy a pedal get a free meal" deal. That would be awesome.
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Unread 04-22-2013, 01:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jthomas1600 View Post
hmmmm....pretty sure I live with in driving distance of SBN. You know what would be awesome?!?!?!?! A "Buy a pedal get a free meal" deal. That would be awesome.
You wouldn't need to buy a pedal, just bring the drinks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Logan View Post
Ooh, that's interesting!!

Let us know how it works when you do some barbecue. Chickens and turkeys are fine, but I'm more interested in some ribs, brisket, or pork shoulder.
I've got ribs and pork shoulder on the menu for this week. I make ribs quite often and have had great success on the electric smoker, but I'm excited to see how they turn out on the new grill. I've never done a shoulder before, it was just too much for the old smoker that struggled to get up to 200. It was one of the things my wife insisted I make if we invested the money on this. I need to find some something to use as a heat diffuser, char-griller sells one but it's quite pricey. For my chicken I just used the water pan from my old smoker..worked ok, but may not take much more abuse.

Will let you know how the food turns out.

Quote:
But it uses way more coals than it should. I go through at least 10 pounds of charcoal for a 5-6 hour smoke.
On Saturday I smoked that chicken and I put about 3-4 pounds of lump charcoal (you have to use lump in the kamados). That was a little more than they tell you to use for smoking, but I wanted to play around and experiment a little.

Anyway, I held it at 250 for around 4 hours. The chicken was done so I took it off and removed the water pan I had been using as a heat diffuser. Then I opened all the vents and shut the lid to see how hot I could get it. It took about 20 minutes to get to 650. I think it would have gone way past 650, but the thermometer stopped at 700 so I decided to see if I could get it to hold 650, which I did for about 20 minutes, before shutting the vents and letting the coals die.

When I went out later to check the coals I noticed that I had maybe used a third of what I started with. So...pretty efficient.

The problem I worry about is that there is no easy way to add coal if you need it without taking off the food, the grate, and whatever heat diffuser you use, but from checking out some of the videos on youtube and other forums it isn't a problem if you plan ahead. Some guys claim to have done 24 hour smokes without opening the lid.

Quote:
My long-term plan for when we move into a place with a yard (my grill is on the balcony) was always to get a Weber kettle for my grilling and a Masterbuilt smoker for all my barbecue, but I'm afraid that I'll lose something by switching from charcoal. The idea of a kamado style grill is interesting. Is it true that you can use fewer coals for a smoke because it keeps so much of the heat?
Yeah, less coals for smoking. Manual suggests <3 lbs. If you want something that can grill AND smoke, a kamado sounds just right.

There are other uses...you can also bake on it, which has my wife excited, and use it as a pizza oven.

Quote:
I'm also wondering if the Akorn would be a good solution to the MOST MADDENING PROBLEM OF ALL WHEN IT COMES TO LIVING IN CHICAGOLAND: I cannot grill or barbecue at all from November till April. It's simply too cold. I'm thinking maybe the kamado style cooker would solve the problem of ambient temperature drastically affecting the ability to cook something.
It's triple insulated, so I image that you'd have much better luck on the kamado style grill. The forums at kamadoguru.com have been a big help for me learning how to use this thing, and a bunch of those guys claim to use it in the cold weather all year-round. That said, the Akorn is the low end model you can find. A ceramic kamado would probably work perfectly all the time every time, but you're paying quite a bit extra. I won't be able to test it for myself until January comes back around.
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Last edited by S.B.Nichols; 04-22-2013 at 01:32 PM.
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