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Charcoal Question

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    Charcoal Question

    I bought a Jumbo Joe to get familiar with grilling/Q'ing with charcoal again. I have not had a charcoal grill for almost 20 years, so my personal knowledge base has evaporated. I bought a bag of KBB, a chimney and Weber starter cubes. I also bought the Weber coal baskets which just fit under the JJ's grate.

    I've grilled 2 steaks so far as a lunch for myself to dip my toes into this. Both steak were choice, 1" thick. The first time I filled the Kingsford chimney 1/2 full. Once they were fully lit, piled onto the charcoal grate in the center - sort of a flat pyramid. Let them sit for 10 minutes to heat the grate then put the steak on. Not very satisfactory - the sear was mediocre and I had to grill too long to get even a brownish sear.

    Second time I filled the chimney full, then when ashed over, piled them into the baskets - 1 filled to the top and the surplus filed about 1/4 of the other. The cooking grate touches the tops of the baskets, so the meat was practically on the coals. But it took a lot of coals to to get a decent, not great, sear on the steak. I flipped the steak very frequently as it was so thin, and was satisfied with the sear. Still cooked a bot more to medium then I wanted.

    So, the question: is there a better coal option? Would lump get hotter? Which brand would be you recommend? Okay, 3 questions.

    I'm not sure lump would fit very well in these Weber baskets, but should be fine right on the grate.

    #2
    KBB Professional, I get at Costco, supposed to cook hotter with less ash. I use for poultry and steaks.

    Comment


    • HawkerXP
      HawkerXP commented
      Editing a comment
      I have some lumps. My dermatologist cuts them off. That's all I can say about lump.

    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      My experience is that Kingsford Pro runs about 25-30 hotter in my Hasty-Bake than KBB does.

    • Reds Fan 5
      Reds Fan 5 commented
      Editing a comment
      KBB Professional does burn hotter. My experience is lump burns hotter and much faster. I found it difficult to control even for a fast, hot cook like steak. I alternate between KBB and KBB professional, depending on what I find on sale. KBB ash is driving me nuts, though. I'd like to try Weber briquettes but I can't bring myself to pay $21 for a bag of charcoal.
      Last edited by Reds Fan 5; September 23, 2020, 03:54 PM.

    #3
    You might try cooking with the reverse sear method and maybe an add on like SlowNSear or a Vortex. I have both and the work pretty well on my Jumbo Joe. The Vortex is great for doing wings.

    Comment


    • GolfGeezer
      GolfGeezer commented
      Editing a comment
      LA Pork Butt the Weber baskets seem comparable to the slo n sear, at least in allowing almost a full chimney stacking the coals. I think my issue is the fuel source. Or I am expecting too much. Still experimenting.

    • LA Pork Butt
      LA Pork Butt commented
      Editing a comment
      GolfGeezer I use KBB on my Jumbo Joe and the Weber small chimney, and when I fill the SlowNSear it gets screaming hit. I do not wait for it to fully ash over before dumping. Do you let it burn for 5-10 minutes before grilling. I use lump in my other cookers and IMO it burns hotter and faster, but you will need to put large pieces in the bottom of the chimney. Small pieces will fall through.

    #4
    LA Pork Butt is right. You should try the reverse sear method with your steaks. Which is basically cooking off the heat side, low, for 10-30 minutes depending on thickness of your steak. I have used the baskets for the same thing, but fill both baskets full of charcoal. Put them long side to long side for a larger sear zone. When the steak is ready to sear, and not as done as you want it, open the bottom vent all the way and remove the lid. Wait till your coals have gotten red hot again, then place the steak directly over the coals, flipping every minute or so. I don’t use lump myself, but the charcoal should get plenty hot to put on a good sear. Then get you the Slow n Sear accessory, Pork Butt recommended.
    Last edited by Panhead John; September 22, 2020, 05:58 PM.

    Comment


    • JGo37
      JGo37 commented
      Editing a comment
      Yep, +1

    #5
    Do a front sear over the charcoal chimney then if you have a thick steak And need to finish it just dump the charcoal to one side of the kettle and finish them indirect.

    Comment


      #6
      I was like you. No charcoal for about 25 years. Then I bought a used 22” Weber Performer to jump back in this spring. I used Kingsford original back in the day so I started with that on the comeback. My first couple of cooks were a little rough much in the ways you describe. But practice makes perfect. And my cooks improved each time. I have a Vortex and a slow n sear along with the Weber baskets. I use all three depending on the situation. And all with Kingsford original. Stay with it. Lot of good advice here that helped me a lot.
      Last edited by Jfrosty27; September 22, 2020, 05:51 PM.

      Comment


        #7
        Thanks all! Definitely a new learning curve, which is half the fun. The other half being good food of course.

        Comment


          #8
          The baskets aren't the same as two-zone cooking with the slow-n-sear, but below is a pic to show you how to do it on the cheap as you learn your kettle.

          Click image for larger version

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          Comment


          • GolfGeezer
            GolfGeezer commented
            Editing a comment
            JGo37 Neat trick. Did you cut the stock 18" JJ grate to make that gap? I just ordered the Slow-N-Sear basket. I'll probably get the Vortex after a few more "practice" runs with steaks or chops and 1-zone grilling. I'm sure my first 2-zone will be a tri-tip as I really know that cut well and do it on my gasser a lot.

          • JGo37
            JGo37 commented
            Editing a comment
            GolfGeezer I cut the pan, not the grate. When you get a vortex, you're going to want the gourmet cooking system grate too. Also get a pizza pan, and cut the center out to fit the vortex, that will give you a drip tray and force all the incoming air into the vortex. If you need a pic of that let me know.

          • GolfGeezer
            GolfGeezer commented
            Editing a comment
            JGo37 Turns out there is not split grate for the portable JJ. There some after-market ones that have hinged edges allowing replenishing the basket without removing the grate. It also turns out that the Vortex, even the mini size, is just a bit too tall. So, the grate would end up sitting on just the vortex, not the raised lip of the JJ's grate level. Not worth it to me to figure that out right now, but definitely something for down the road.

          #9
          I believe you're overthinking things. No need for front sear or reverse sear with a 1" thick steak. Skip the charcoal baskets and just dump a full chimney starter of coals right on the grate. Or as much as it takes to get the heat you need. Keep flipping those steaks until you have the crust you want and you should be good. Starting out with really cold meat helps when they are thin.

          Comment


          • GolfGeezer
            GolfGeezer commented
            Editing a comment
            Steve R. Busted!! I totally over-think everything! I think I caught that in the 60's after reading my astrological sign "characteristics" (maybe a little stoned while I did that!).

          #10
          KBB Pro is what I always used in my WSJ until it became unavailable at BJ's Club. After doing some research I found Royal Oak/Embers were well regarded as hot and long-burning so that's what I've been using.

          I bought a bag of lump by mistake since I was unfamiliar with the brand. I did one cook with it and was not happy with the inconsistency. Never been a fan. Maybe I'll try a lump cook in the PBC since that is the new recommended fuel for it.

          I'd highly recommend a set of GrillGrates. They work great upside down for doing a sear. The grate side is amazing with chicken and fish.

          Comment


          • GolfGeezer
            GolfGeezer commented
            Editing a comment
            N227GB thanks. I’ll take a look next time I’m at the hardware store. I do have a set of GGs on my gasser and love them, particularly using the flat side. If The Boss relents and I’m able to, it’s a Slow n Sear or WSCG in my future to supplant the JJ. Then maybe some GGs for that.

          • gilbertpilz
            gilbertpilz commented
            Editing a comment
            Not all lump is the same. I tried lump every so often for years on my Weber and was never happy until I finally figured out that the brand I had been trying ("Cowboy" as that was what was available at Safeway) was crap. I got a KJ and did some research into different lump brands (http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lump.htm) and have settled on B&B Hickory as my current favorite.

          #11
          I use B&B charcoal on my PK Orginal ,with grill grates for steaks,hot as i can get it,never had a bad meal that way....in my green egg,barrell house,and masterbuilt gravity i use only fogo lump now...thin steaks i can not imagine cooking more than 1 1/2 minutes per side tops...u relly need a darn good temp probe...never go wrong that way...i salt and pepper my steaks overnite in fridge...thats it...prick it the next day before i put them on the pit ...at very end..i do brush heavy with infused gree butter....serve with grilled onions and mushrooms..

          Comment

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