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  1. J

    OK, I’m a convert!

    I'm really liking the brats around the outside of the Vortex with a bit of fruit smoke wood. They get pretty evenly brown and take on a wonderful smoke flavor. For some reason I didn't like the way they came out when I smoked them on the WSM, but on the kettle with the Vortex they're excellent...
  2. J

    Two-stage burgers

    I've seen this advice many times before and I've always wondered, who besides the people who do cooking shows on TV have enough room in their freezer for a sheet pan full of 1" meat cubes? I've got a separate upright freezer and I still couldn't get a pan of meat in there or the freezer on the...
  3. J

    Temp control: adjust top or bottom vents?

    I'm sure it would do much better, but now you've spent another $100 to turn the kettle into a somewhat better smoker that still has issues with controlling air flow. To my mind it's just another version of fixing the offset smoker. You're trying to force an excellent grill into doing something...
  4. J

    Proud new owner...

    Or cut to the chase and go right for the Vortex.
  5. J

    Jacques Pepin makes me feel...

    Let me start by saying Jacques Pepin makes about 99.99999% of the world feel incompetent. I think Gordon Ramsey feels just slight inferior in comparison. As to knives, I gave up on my Chef's Choice many years ago. No matter what I did I could never get a decent edge with that thing. I went...
  6. J

    Pork butt overload on WSM

    I have to agree with the time on the counter. It's like putting the meat in an oven set at 75F and expecting something significant to happen in an hour. I wouldn't say it was time wasted as long as you weren't waiting on the hour to end before putting it on the smoker, but it likely did next to...
  7. J

    Temp control: adjust top or bottom vents?

    I'm familiar with that. I thought I'd be saving money when I bought an offset Brinkmann smoker/grill for $100. Turned out to be a complete POS that I spent at least another $200 and dozens of hours of labor on trying to turn it into something worth the trouble of using. I eventually couldn't get...
  8. J

    Temp control: adjust top or bottom vents?

    I tend to go with the conventional wisdom about leaving the top vent open and using only the bottom vents, but I'm not a purist about it. On rare occasion when I've let the fire get too hot I'll partially or completely close the top vent to get things back under control. Or there's the flip side...
  9. J

    Proud new owner...

    Congrats! I fear a new kettle may be in my near future as well. Mine is starting to develop a number of rust spots and my recent acquisition of a Vortex has made the lack of a heat deflector on the handle of my older model very problematic. I think next time I may go for one of the slightly...
  10. J

    OK, I’m a convert!

    It perhaps depends on exactly what it is you're cooking, but I most definitely can taste the smoke from short, hot cooks. I've done a tenderloin pork roast that was done in under an hour and the two small pieces of peach I used were very obvious, smoke ring and all. The Kirkland brats are...
  11. J

    Vortex and cast iron grate

    I have the low end 22" Weber kettle and got the medium Vortex. So far it appear the porcelain coated cast iron is holding up, though I've mostly used it without the center insert of the grate in place. That's where the most intense heat would be. I'm happy with both the Vortex and the cast...
  12. J

    How to grill a perfect steak?

    Not sure I'd put much weight into blanket statements like, "Poking a hole in the meat will cause all the juices to come pouring out." This is so obviously not a true statement it hardly justifies comment. ALL the juices aren't going to come pouring out of one thermometer hole. That steak isn't a...
  13. J

    Vortex and cast iron grate

    So far I've only used it with the apex (if it actually had one) upward, wide end downward. I've done burgers, spatchcocked, halved chicken, chicken thighs, bratwurst, and pork roast. In retrospect, the pork roast probably would have been easier with the apex down and charcoal around the outside...
  14. J

    How to grill a perfect steak?

    I've not tried this with steak so it may not work, but with a beef roast I've done a reverse sear, taking it off the heat entirely for about 30 minutes before putting it back on to sear. That gets the resting out of the way and stops the heat pressure working toward the middle of the roast. Then...
  15. J

    Vortex and cast iron grate

    The thing I was trying to get at was setting the chimney partially inside the Vortex when lighting the charcoal. The chimney slides into the Vortex but the handle on the chimney stops it from sliding all the way in. It ends up with the slots near the bottom of the chimney inside the Vortex and...
  16. J

    Vortex and cast iron grate

    The Vortex arrived and I've used it several times already. It may be just that the primary cooking method with it is indirect and that's pushed me in that direction for more things, but the results have been very good. Even the bratwurst seem to come out better, and the longer time on the heat...
  17. J

    Two-stage burgers

    And do you know the state of all the meat that went through the grinder since it was last cleaned? Just because you only have them put good stuff through for your package doesn't mean they didn't just run a big batch from whatever scraps they cut while trimming up everything else sold that day...
  18. J

    Two-stage burgers

    You'll have to excuse me but this sounds a lot like my mother, who has an absolutely appalling lack of awareness concerning any food safety issues save cooking pork until it's tough as shoe leather, whenever I catch her doing something unsafe. She always says, "Well, I haven't killed anyone...
  19. J

    Two-stage burgers

    So I tried the two-stage, reverse sear cook with the burgers using the Vortex and the new cast iron grate. I put eleven 5 oz. burgers around the Vortex. I gave them five minutes, then flipped and gave them about five more minutes. Then I starting moving them to directly over the Vortex. I could...
  20. J

    Two-stage burgers

    That's a good point about time at temperature, Dustin. Just did a bit of searching and found a graph that shows bacteria begin to die at 130F. 112 minutes at 130F will hit the "safe" level for remaining bacteria. About 10 minutes at 140F will do the same job. But it's cumulative, so the time it...
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