Readers, there is a new love in my life. And, no, I haven't binned off Mrs Shack, there is still use in the old bird yet. I do in fact mean I am the proud owner of a Kamado Joe Classic 2.
the red beast
I had long heard about ceramic grills and looked at them quizzically as I dragged her indoors on our regular haunts to the barbecue centre. It was normally the death gaze that I got that had me retaining the credit card in the pocket, after all what can a ceramic grill do that my Summit, Traegar 850 Timberline and Genesis 2 can't?
As it turns out, a hell of a bloody lot.
The creators of Kamado Joe have really climbed to the top of the barbecue tree with their design. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing (Mrs Shack telling me many times how much she loves the fire engine red and how similar it is to her Chanel lipstick!), but on a serious man level, a boat load of energy and thought has gone into the design, construction and engineering of their product.
But before we get into the nitty gritty of my love affair with the Kamado Joe, let us go on a bit of a history lesson of Kamado cooking in general. You see, it's not just a fancy name, there's deep history involved in the design of this grilling bad boy.
Kamado is in fact the Japanese word for "stove" or "cooking range". It literally means a "place for the cauldron". Us humans have been cooking in earthenware pots for thousands of years which have been adapted in different ways through the introduction of new innovations and technology depending on where in the world you find yourself to be. For example, the tandoor oven became the cooking vessel of choice in India whilst the mushikamado was adopted by the Japanese.
It's general purpose of steaming rice, the original mushikamado consisted of a round earthen pot with a dome shaped lid fitted out with ventilation openings to control the temperature and fueled by charcoal. At the end of the Second World War the Americans bought the cooking technique back home and began to develop the ceramic style grill that many of us are falling in love with by the day.
Now we have taken our short detour, let's get back to me gushing about the Joe, shall we...
Honestly, those words just give me goosebumps. The in built patented Divide & Conquer® Flexible Cooking System isn't the only amazing part about this bit of kit, but possibly my favourite. The system allows multi tier cooking so you can get your entire meal on at the same time. I'm talking meat, veggies and sides without even adjusting the temperature.
For example, if you want to reverse sear a nice bit of rib eye you could opt for the traditional barbecue method of slow cooking the meat, removing it and increasing the temperature significantly to get that last blast. ORRRRR with the divide and conquer system, after initially smoking the meat you simply move it on down to the grill grates opposite the heat deflector and get searing. All while those veggies are roasting away at their own pace on the higher grill grates. Bloody genius.
juicy tri tip getting some reverse sear action
The ceramic walls of the Kamado create a 360 degree cooking environment holding the smoke close to your food to allow the smokey flavours to penetrate creating a grill, a smoker and an oven all in one reaching temperatures of up to 500C. And, if this simply isn't enough smoke for you, it just gets better. The patented sloroller hyperbolic smoke chamber not only sounds like something from out of space, it behaves like one too. The sloroller attachment sits on top of the charcoal basket and distributes smoke and heat in rolling, recirculating waves creating even more smoke and evenly distributing heat.
pork loin being cooked on the sloroller
Pork loin done... and smokey AF
But it's not just the big ticket items which makes the Kamado my new best friend, it's all the fine tuning to the design which simply makes a barbecue enthusiast like me so excited to get outside and get cooking.
Take for example it's air lift hinge design. This thing is made of ceramic and is bloody heavy which even simple physics determines that the dome should fall or slam during lifting or closing. The hinge on the Kamado Joe reduces the dome weight by 96%—so you can lift it with a finger and stop it wherever you want.
It's also fitted with an ash pan connected directly to the firebox allowing the ash to gather into a neat little pile ready to be removed and emptied. In fact, in general the whole thing is a breeze to clean down after using. The grill grates are designed into half moon shapes which are easily removed and would even fit in the dishwasher!
There are several extras which you can pimp your Kamado Joe ride with too. First there's Kamado Joe's XL Lump Charcoal. A lot of people have asked me if I think it is worth buying priced between £25 - £30 a bag. I was sceptical myself too at first as I have a pretty decent source of Big K charcoal and I have tried both and can honestly say that it is worth spending the extra. A couple of lumps will last hours and I have done demo events where I have used six Kamado Joes going all day not topping the charcoal up once and using less than half a bag. It's great stuff.
Then there's the Joetisserie. Apart from the fact that it has a rather spiffing name, it is a rotisserie which does what all good rotisseries do. I had a little test run with a gigantic turkey crown dressed in our soon to be released Ranch Multi Purpose rub and was delighted by the juicy tender outcome. It was like all the joys of Christmas on a hot summers day.
turkey going on
So gushing aside, I am very happy with my new investment and if you're in two minds about buying a Kamado Joe I highly recommend it. Stay tuned for lots more Kamado recipes which will hit the website soon and if you've got any questions send it through via the Contact Us page or any of my social media sites.
Happy cooking y'all.