Undesirable smoke smell / taste in Kamado smoking - am I doing something wrong or problem with charcoal ?

  • Hi guys,


    I am new comer to the low and slow bbq scene :) and have a persistent problem I am trying to find my way out. It is explained below with a bit of text, sorry if it's too long , just trying to give as much as possible info upfront.


    Bit of a background:

    I have got an Auplex Kamado ( Char griller from Bunnings ) and joined the forum only in last April :)


    Started experimenting with controlling the temp etc using a Chargriller lump charcoal pack initially with few cooks like slow roast chicken , bread, pork belly etc. (Idea was to get familiar with Kamado cooking as I come from a Ziggy gas grill for about 4 years.)


    Also got a bag of apple wood chunk pack ( Bunnings - Fornetto brand ) to learn the basics of smoking with Port shoulder, ribs, chicken with basic seasoning.


    After the first bag of charcoal was finished I bought a Heat Beads lump charcoal 20kg pack from Bunnings and started doing more low and slow cooks.


    Smoking has been done in : 225 - 250 F range so far.


    Problem:


    In almost all of the cooks I get somewhat 'harsh' smoke notes in the meat. I am not sure if this to be described as 'Acrid' but to me it has an after taste of a burnt wood than actual smoke flavor if you get what I mean. I still can feel the smoke flavor but this strong smell is over powering that.



    I suspect that this could be creosote and scratching my head to figure out what I am doing wrong here. ( I came to this conclusion after reading many articles online and trying to relate to my problem)


    This problem is more pronounced in the Head Beads lump I got lately ( may be I am becoming more aware of this now compared to the very first few cooks in the kamado as I get to know the smoky flavor and reading articles online).


    I have done a couple of slow roast chicken with Char Griller lump with no smoke wood at 2 hours at 250 F - There is no such after taste but a nice light smoky flavor from charcoal. This tasted nice.


    I am sure the very first few cooks must have been due to it had some 'white smoke' present ( Only came to know this white smoke is undesirable about a month ago :) ).


    But during the last 5 or 6 cooks I deliberately waited around 1 hour to let the grill come to the 250 F region and white smoke disappear to a very faint smoke ( thin smoke ) before putting the meat on the grill.



    What I have tried so far:


    1) Wait till the white / thick smoke to thin out.


    2) Use a single wood chunk only - buried half way into the charcoal and waited till the thick smoke to thin out.


    3) Use a single wood chunk - introduced onto the charcoal after the grill is almost at the target temp and then waited till the new white smoke to disappear.


    4) Split a single wood chunk and put it on coals , one on the fire patch and the other away to be lit later when charcoal burns through , again waited till the white smoke to disappear.



    My observations:


    Although I wait till the smoke to thin out, after I open the dome to place the food on the grill, I sometimes see the Kamado spit out a bit of white smoke for couple of minutes , could be due to the extra oxygen supply when the lid is open and the fire is stoked again.


    I tried to place my palm above the top vent and tried to smell the palm for the smoke smell - very strong smelling at first but after couple of minutes the palm smells more like smoke than fuel .



    Could you please help with the above ? What could be the problem and what should I do to troubleshoot ?


    I am a bit worried that I may never be able to get a that perfect smoke taste everyone is after :rolleyes:



    Thanks everyone for reading, appreciate your thoughts.




    Kamado Joe - classic II, Smart Fire controller, Ziggy twin grill

    • Official Post

    Firstly, have you tried cooking at normal roasting temps ? I've got a chicken in the BGE now and I'll get it up to about 170c in fairly short time and hold it there for the whole cook. That way I can roast the spuds and pumpkin too and get them crispy. I don't think there's any value in doing a chook any other way and i have tried the slower method but even then, never below 150c (300F). Keep the 250F temps for your long cooks doing brisket and pulled pork.


    I'm using a bag of Heat Beads lump from Bunnings at the moment and would be over half way through the bag with no problem of that acrid smell you are getting. The only time I've had that was years ago when I got a bag of mangrove lump which I think came from Vietnam and it certainly gave a bad taste to the food. That was in my Auplex (Royall) kamado like you have but after getting rid of that lump, the kamado served me well for many years.


    Certainly wait until it stops smoking and gets to temp before the food goes in but you seem to have that covered. So try using the Heat Beads lump again with no added wood chunks but get it up to 170/180c and see how it goes. Same if you are doing a roast beef , lamb or pork which will mean the food isn't in the smoker for as long and that should help.


    Then report back and let us know the result.

    Big Green Egg - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Weber Kettle - Maximus Pizza Oven - Dragon Hibachi - Ziggy Portable - baby kamado - Grillz 2 burner - Cobb BBQ - Converted Gas Bottle Spit - Charbroil Grill2go - Anova sous vide - Digi Q controller - plus Tip Top Temp - Smokeware cap - Grill Grates

  • It takes some time to get that smoke right on a Kamado. It took me Probably 6 months of continuous trial and error to get it right.


    Now I start the Primo and wait 30 minutes when at temp before adding meat. I mix the wood as per below.



    Believe it or not the two on the right hand side did not get burnt after a 6 hour cook for beef ribs.


    Smoke taste is not for everybody. It's something I enjoy but my kids struggle a little with it.


    You will know when you get it as you will go that's outstanding in terms of flavour.


    I still struggle on the Akorn Jr with it but the Primo I seem to have mastered.


    Some people mix the wood in with the charcoal some place it at the bottom of a load of charcoal. It is whatever works for you.


    Trial and error you will get there.

    Enjoy your "Q"
    James


    Primo XL, Primo Jr, GMG Davy Crockett, Char-Broil Grill2go and Ziggy Portable.


    • Official Post

    Mostly in a Kamado, you do not need to use wood chunks. The charcoal provides enough Wood Smoke flavour for a Low N Slow cook.


    Use wood chunks when you want to actually smoke something.


    Too many people use the terminology "Smoke" to describe what is normal normal low N Slow.

    • Official Post

    Another thought I had is do you have a foil tray under the food so it doesn't drip on the the deflector. Sometimes I've thought that when it does, it burns and gives off a bad tasting smoke.

    Big Green Egg - Asmoke Pellet Grill - Weber Kettle - Maximus Pizza Oven - Dragon Hibachi - Ziggy Portable - baby kamado - Grillz 2 burner - Cobb BBQ - Converted Gas Bottle Spit - Charbroil Grill2go - Anova sous vide - Digi Q controller - plus Tip Top Temp - Smokeware cap - Grill Grates

  • Gumb great Point. This is something I always do in ny event. Except for the Jr so that may answer why I struggle with that.

    Enjoy your "Q"
    James


    Primo XL, Primo Jr, GMG Davy Crockett, Char-Broil Grill2go and Ziggy Portable.


  • How have you got your vents set to control the temperature? My thoughts (and they will probably be contradicted by others) are that the top vents should be more open than the bottom. I see it as if you are letting more air in than can get out, you will be trapping stale smoke.

    Just my thoughts, and happy to be corrected if I am wrong.

    Very effin UDS, GMG Daniel Boone Prime

    • Official Post

    Not sure if this any help........


    I've found that cooking say a brikset low ansd slow can have the rendering fat drip down onto unlit charcoal ( unless you have a drip pan in) Then next time you fire it up you strat to burn the **fattified ** charcoal which can smoke like buggery. I've tried burning it off at high temp but unless the contaminated charcoal is alight then I dont believe you get rid of it all.


    Also the fat in a drip pan can burn in there and give off crap smoke.


    Cheers, Wayne

  • Thanks so much everyone for jumping into help.


    Gumb : Yes , I will give it a start over . This time I will get it to 170 C and without any smoke chunks.

    I too didn't want to blame the Heat Beads as I noted in another thread it is well received. So it must be my process.


    Urban Griller : Thanks,I think yes, I am one of those who have misunderstood the normal low n slow with smoking. I will slow down and go back to the basics again.


    Jimmy70 : thanks for the image. this looks like how I lay the chunks ( I used lesser number though ) but good to know this when I get back on actual smoking.


    cjbfisher : I have tried multiple combinations, last attempt was the botton vent at 1/2 inch and daisy wheel top at around 70% mark.



    btw, I use a drip pan ( one of the old cake bake pans of my wife :) ) on the heat deflector so I am somewhat sure the taste is not from there. It's either from the smoke chunk or the charcoal.

    Although I wait till the white smoke to go away , may be I should wait another 15 mins to let it cruise at the target temp before adding food.


    At the time of this writing, I am lighting a small fire without any food or deflector to watch the exhaust smoke and smell of the exhaust.


    I am very much interested in the charcoal flavored bbq as I definitely can I tell it apart gas cooked food. So I will work hard to get this right :)


    I think the best way is now for me to start over and only use charcoal with a familiar cook like a chichen roast and then go step by step.


    Thanks everyone again ..


    I will retry with the above advises and come back with some notes of what I tried, may be in one weeks time.


    I really appreciate your help !!!

    Thanks and kind regards

    Kamado Joe - classic II, Smart Fire controller, Ziggy twin grill

  • Jimmy70 : sure will do. Will post my feedback next time with photos for sure.


    Luckily I took following pics in my last few cooks.


    1) Tandoori Chicken I did last week.

    Setup : no smoking wood , temp at 450 F steady with moderate heat bead lump load

    (Kamdo: bottom vent 40% , whole daisy wheel block - 20% open moon) , no heat deflector ( I wanted to try simulating the convection and radiant heat in the Kamado as an experiment )



    Chicken placed on an baking rack on the cooking grate.


    Cooking time : 50 mins


    Outcome : taste was good ( no acrid taste ) , smell and finish was good. Inside was nice and juicy.


    2) Roast beef

    Setup : 1 smoking chunk , temp at 250 F , bottom vent : 1.5 out of 5 , top vent small homes 40% .

    Heat deflector on.



    Cooking time : approx 4 hrs ( internal temp 147 F )


    Outcome : tasted ok but the outer edges had some acrid taste , had a bit chewy texture too.


    3) Pork ribs (cooked with the above beef roast) :

    Setup : 1 smoking chunk , temp at 250 F , bottom vent : 1.5 out of 5 , top vent small homes 40% .

    Heat deflector on.



    Cooking time : approx 6 hrs ( followed the 3,2,1 method saw online )


    Outcome : taste was ok but the outer edges had some acrid taste , but also had a mild favorable smoke taste


    4) Pork sausages


    Setup : 1 smoking chunk split into couple of pieces, temp at 250 F , bottom vent : 1 out of 5 , top vent small homes 60-70% .

    Heat deflector on.



    Cooking time : approx 2 hrs


    Outcome : taste was ok inside , but the outer edges had an acrid / somewhat bitter taste ( I put these on as soon as the white smoke disappeared so could be a reason )


    [Edit by Gumb] - I've added the pics in here for you so you can see how they can be placed throughout the post rather than just in a bunch underneath. Check the video of how to post pics in our Tips and tricks section.

    Kamado Joe - classic II, Smart Fire controller, Ziggy twin grill

  • Thanks Wayne, re: Drip pan:


    Did you mean that even during the cook, it gets dripped to the pan and then burnt ?

    Kamado Joe - classic II, Smart Fire controller, Ziggy twin grill

    • Official Post

    Thanks Wayne, re: Drip pan:


    Did you mean that even during the cook, it gets dripped to the pan and then burnt ?

    Yes. If the drip pan is sitting over the coals or on the deflector plate it can get hot enough to burn the fat ot catches. Spacers holding it up off the deflector help.


    In the cooks you posted above 2 and 3 was the drippings going down onto the heat deflector? That moght be a cause?


    Cheeers, Wayne

  • For me I would have done the Roast Beef at 350f no smoke. Sausages I do at the same again with no smoke.


    Not enough Fat content in the Beef to do Low n Slow IMO.


    If I do smoke on both of them it's only for 30 mins to give it a light flavour and only a fruit wood smoke.


    Both cooks until correct internal temp.


    Did you wrap Pork ribs ? Maybe less time in smoke next time.


    This will give you same outcome as chicken. I would even do chicken at the same pit temp.


    That's the way I cook these options.


    Try that and see how you go as Urban Griller said the flavour of the charcoal should be enough for these cuts.

    Enjoy your "Q"
    James


    Primo XL, Primo Jr, GMG Davy Crockett, Char-Broil Grill2go and Ziggy Portable.


  • Thanks again guys, I am getting a bit more comfortable hearing the above. Looks like I have rushed in some sections and had wrong options :). I will try doing a few cooks this week and report back.


    I would like to know a few take away points for a long lowNslow cook with smoke but I will keep that for later as surely it looks like I need to be strong with the fundamentals first :).


    Jimmy70 : yes, I wrapped it, but as I remember after initial 3 hours under smoke at 250 F. too long do you think ?

    Kamado Joe - classic II, Smart Fire controller, Ziggy twin grill

Participate now!

Don’t have an account yet? Register yourself now and be a part of our community!