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How to Use a Kamado (Beginners Guide to Kamado Cooking)
Whether you are upgrading from an oven, gas BBQ or maybe even charcoal, you’ve made the decision to switch things up to a Kamado. Now that your new kamado has arrived (or is on its way) what do you do next? If you’re ready to take the plunge, read on to learn how kamado cooking is done.
What is Kamado Cooking?
A Kamado is a dome-shaped grill and smoker that allows you to grill, smoke, and bake in a slow or fast technique. You can as well put in some flavored wood pellets to give your meat a nice tangy taste.
Most people like to use hickory, pecan, and apple tastes to flavor your food. With a kamado grill, you’ll be able to adjust the temperatures, unlike the charcoal grills we’re used to. Kamados come with more than 1 tier of cooking allowing you to cook more food in a short duration of time.
Setting Up a Kamado
Almost all Kamado grills have to be set up before being used and they also come with instruction manuals. Make sure you’ve followed the instructions well to the end while setting up the grill.
Ceramic versions of Kamados are heavy to lift therefore ensure you have someone else to help you when putting it on the cart. Other versions don’t require a cart as they are free-standing. A free-standing Kamado should not be placed on top of a wooden or plastic surface as it can be damaged by the high heat that a kamado produces. Also keep them at least several feet from the exterior of your home to be on the safe side.
Lighting a Kamado
Kamado grills run on charcoal and you have to light it every time you want to grill, bake, or smoke meat. Lighting a Kamado used to be a time-consuming and dirty business but not anymore. There are various ways of lighting a Kamado all of which are fast, efficient, and free of toxicity. Below are three methods you can use to light a Kamado.
This is a pricier but very effective method of lighting a Kamado as you don’t need to have paper or tinder to light the charcoal. The only downside is that you have need access to electricity for it to work. You only need to leave the grill lid open, place the electric lighter on the charcoal and wait for it to light. Take it out once the charcoal becomes hot and has a gray coating on top, then close the lid. Close the air vent, but leave the bottom open to allow oxygen in.
This is an inexpensive one-time investment that allows you to manually light the charcoal without spending much time. You only need to put old newspapers at the chimney’s bottom, add charcoal, add more old newspapers then light it up with a matchbox. You can also use natural lighter cubes instead of newspapers. Once the charcoal is hot with a gray coating on top, remove the chimney, close the lid and adjust the air vents to reach desired temperatures.
Using lighter cubes to light the Kamado is an easy process. You only need to put the correct amount of charcoal in the grill, then add one or two lighter cubes on top and light them. This should be done while the lid is open then close the lid 15 minutes later after enough charcoal has a gray coating. Ensure the air vent at the bottom is open to allow the charcoal to reach the right temperature.
How to control the temperature in a Kamado
Once you’ve lit the grill, you need to control the temperature for it to be at the level you want for it to cook your briskets. It may sound like a hard task but it becomes easier as you continue doing it. To avoid constant heat loss from the grill, make sure the lid always remains closed. Only open the Kamado’s lid when it’s needed.
To control the temperature, you must have the right amount of charcoal and regulate the amount of oxygen flowing through. The more charcoal in the firebox the higher the temperature you get as long as the air vents are open to allow it in. Less air makes the charcoal burn longer and at low temperatures which is perfect for smoking.
What to Do When Smoking Meat
When you want to smoke meat, start with a small amount of charcoal and wait for the grill to warm up. Once it’s hot, the kamado easily maintains the temperature for long hours. You don’t need to use a lot of charcoal for long cooking.
Controlling air vents is also very important because the more oxygen you let in the more charcoal burns. The heat will also raise if more charcoal is burning and to lower it means giving the Kamado time to cool on its own. Always start with less charcoal, then add more when the need arises.
Cooking pizza on your Kamado is among the most fulfilling things you can do especially when family and friends are around. This is where high-temperature cooking is needed and you need to use a lot of charcoal to reach there. Most Kamado grills don’t come standard with a pizza stone, therefore, you most probably have to accessorize with one.
When cooking Pizza on a normal grill, it mostly gets cooked from the bottom. However, because of the roundness of a Kamado, it gets cooked on both sides. Kamado grills feature heat deflectors that smooth the flow of heat allowing temperatures to even in the Kamado. You can do this for all other types of baking, not only pizza.
Having Multiple Heating Zones
This is another excellent way of controlling heat inside your Kamado grill. The trick is to pile different amounts of charcoal on two different sides. One side to have a small amount of charcoal and double the amount on the other side. Food cooking on the side with less charcoal burns slower than that on the side with more. This means that you can simultaneously cook foods that need more time on the heat together with those that need less. This can be a good experiment with your kamado grill.
Cleaning Your Kamado
The way you clean the Kamado’s exterior is not the same as how you do it on the interior. Use a mild cleaning agent with water to clean the side tables, cart, and the Kamado’s exterior. Never use water to clean the inside of a Kamado. Instead use high temperatures but ensure all stainless steel parts are removed before raising the temperatures.
Ensure the bottom and top vents are open and that the firebox has enough charcoal. Let the temperature rise to 400⁰C not more, and then leave it for 10 minutes. Exceeding that temperature can cause damage to your gasket. Use a wire brush to clean the grill grates and brush off any ash on the ceramic parts of the grill.
Have Fun Grilling
It is guaranteed that you’ll get more and more comfortable grilling and smoking with time and practice. There are plenty of videos online you can watch or even online forums to ask specific questions. Be sure to explore different recipes, you might be surprised what you can cook in your kamado!