Cooking On The Kamado Joe
Ok, enough technical stuff. Enough details and features and specifications. Let's talk about cooking. We have found that cooking on the BigJoe is much the same as cooking on the Classic Joe, except bigger. Other owners have pretty much confirmed our impression, so first we'll show you some cooks we did on the Classic Joe. First up: ribs. Low and slow. 250°F using the heat deflector:
Temperature control was easy, no surprises. It was just like on any other ceramic cooker we have used. Having used the heat deflector for the ribs, we then tried using the grill expander for another of our favorite cooks, spatchcock chicken cooked direct on a raised grid at 400°F:
Having done some basic cooks, it was time to try a few more exotic dishes. Here we have maple-planked baked brie. We cooked this for 15 minutes at 400°F on a soaked maple plank, sitting on the grill expander:
Again, nothing remarkable to report regarding how the cook went. It went pretty much like every other cook we've done on a ceramic cooker. By the way here is our recipe for Maple Planked Baked Brie for those of you who would like to try it.
On to another wonderful dish, stuffed boneless whole chicken. Again we will be posting recipe for this dish a little later, but if you go to YouTube and search on "Pepin debone chicken" you will find a wonderful video in which Jaques Pepin shows you how to debone a chicken. We stuffed it with feta, spinach and toasted pine nuts and cooked it at 350°F on the grill expander until we reached an internal temperature of 160°F:
Another cook we'll tell you about was steaks. Nothing special. No photos. But just a basic steak cook like we all like to do. We chose to use the Trex steak method where you sear the steak at high temperatures, let the meat rest for 20 minutes, and then finish roasting the steaks at 400°F. So, if nothing special, why mention it? Kamado Joe has stated on their website and other locations that "If you cook a steak on any ceramic grills and all things being equal–it will taste the same." They then go on to state what the real reasons are that you should buy their cooker versus other brands. We agree. We've pretty much said the same thing ourselves. The steaks we did sure enough came out pretty much just like any other steaks we have cooked on our kamado-style cookers (very good). More about the subject of why you would buy one brand over another in our summary section later.
So now for a cook that takes advantage of the BigJoe's larger size, a large paella. First of all, for a complete primer on making paella on a kamado-style cooker, you might wish to visit our web page on making paella. There you will find information on making it, building your fire, buying pans, recipes and more. The reason that kamado-style cookers are so well suited to cooking paella is two-fold. First, you can create a large even fire that will provide adequate and even heat for the cooking. Second, you can close the lid on your cooker to help cook the rice and to allow the use of smoke to simulate the cooking of paella over a wood fire. The Kamado Joe BigJoe's performance for making paella was stellar. The heat was even and controllable, and the BigJoe's enormous size allows you to cook large paella's for up to 12 to 14 people. (We used a 17" paellera for this cooker, but a 19" paellera would also just fit.)
As is our wont, we repeated a test that we had previously conducted on a Big Green Egg large cooker and a Kamado Joe Classic cooker. We let the Kamado Joe BigJoe cooker sit at 400°F for four hours, We then measured the surface temperature of the dome at various locations to see how much heat was being kept inside the cooker and how much was being allowed to radiate away by the dome. The numbers were surprisingly comparable with the Big Green Egg large and Kamado Joe Classic cookers, so we would expect the fuel usage of a BGE XL and the BigJoe to be comparable.
As we observed in our review of the Kamado Joe Classic cooker, we often receive emails from readers asking us what they should buy, whether it be charcoal or temperature controllers or whatever. Obviously we can't tell you what to buy and we aren't going to start now. When we respond to all these requests, we recommend that you look at price, features, customer service, etc. and line that up with what your wants and needs are and make a decision.
That said, we thought to ourselves, suppose we were at a dealer and there were a Big Green Egg and a Kamado Joe sitting side by side. What would go through our minds? The Big Green Egg is certainly the biggest name in the industry, and probably buying an Egg isn't a mistake. But why not buy the Kamado Joe cooker and save a fair chunk of change? Is there a reason why we shouldn't buy the Kamado Joe?
Well the answer to that question is easy and hasn't changed. There is no reason not to buy a Kamado Joe. Again, you need to look at price, features, customer service. A comparably equipped Kamado Joe BigJoe is about $200-$250 less than the Big Green Egg XL cooker. From what we have seen, Kamado Joe customer service is outstanding, as is Big Green Egg customer service. As far as features go, they can both be shipped to you unassembled, in which case, the Kamado Joe is much easier and faster to get assembled. But they can both be assembled and delivered by your dealer. They both have heat deflectors and raised grids and other accessories. You just need to go down the list and compare all the features and accessories to see what is important to you so you can make your decision.
But bottom line, how do we like this cooker regardless of what other companies may have to offer? Well, we started off this review saying we didn't really want or need another ceramic charcoal cooker, just like when we were offered the Classic Joe cooker. But we must say we are again absolutely delighted to be able to add a Kamado Joe BigJoe to our collection. We will certainly use it as often as our other cookers and enjoy it just as much. So, do your homework. If you come to the conclusion that you would like a Kamado Joe, go for it. You won't be disappointed.
Kamado Joe Company
2865 North Berkeley Lake Road NW
Duluth, Georgia 30096
Phone Ordering, Customer Support or General Questions:
Phone: (Toll-Free): (877) 215-6299
Phone: (Metro Atlanta): (678) 866-0642
Fax: (678) 866-0643
Customer support and general questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
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