Kamado Joe — Extras and Upgrades
Perhaps because I spend most of my time tinkering with pixels and bytes I love a well crafted product that you can actually touch and use.
Without doubt high in my ‘top 10 favourites things list’ is my Kamado Joe. I bought it in 2014, it lives outside all year (has a cover in winter when not being used), and gets cooked on all year (including the Christmas turkey) and today there’s barely a mark on it.
It’s a bomb-proof grill, backed up by KJ’s lifetime warranty so it’s good value. The classic was £800 when I bought it, nearly £400 cheaper than the equivalent Big Green Egg at the time, and with KJ’s split cooking system letting you run different temp /heights, direct or indirect cooking think it’s a more versatile grill, with no noticeable quality differences.
The new KJ Classic II sells for about £1250, that’s c. £450 more than the previous model but addresses some of the issues with the previous model which I own, and adds some nice new features.
So if you have the cash get the new model – why wouldn’t you? But if you want to spend a bit less, am sure will be some deals on the old stock, or just do some upgrading of an original model already owned (or won’t feel so jealous of friends with the new one) you can and without spending a fortune.
(All of these work for BGE and most other Kamado style grills too.)
The new KJ has a completely redesigned top vent which addresses a couple of things: the top vent on the old model doesn’t stay put when you open the lid, so with long cook you have to check positioning after any opening to make sure it’s not shifted and impacted the temp. Also the rain gathers in the closed daisy wheel and some corrosion occurs. It has some advantages over the BGE which needs a cap out on each time.
The stainless steel Smokeware chimney vent addresses both these issues, plus it’s really easy to fit (15 mins approx. and most of that cleaning the old gasket glue off before fitting one supplied) and it looks great. It’s also easy to clean as you can just take it off and run it through the dishwasher.
Dealing with the ash is a bit of a pain; it’s inevitably spills and needs cleaning up, and when raking out ends up down the side vent-holes meaning a periodic removal of the grate and ceramic firebox to clean it all out to restore full air flow.
Using the Kickash basket, and with the grate, removed means you can pick all the ash and remaining charcoal in one go and empty into a bucket, keeping the reusable charcoal.
Faster, cleaner and less maintenance in the long run, plus you don’t have to worry about smaller bits of charcoal blocking holes in the grate and restricting airflow.
You can buy a KJ table, but it’s not cheap – at £700 -£800 depending on current deals. But I don’t like the central position for the Joe as means the prep space is limited on either side, whereas putting it at one end, like the BGE one, gives you more room to work with.
Live in the UK? Then go onto eBay and Benchmark will build & deliver you a great table to your specs, I follow the ones in the Kamado Joe specs. I also got castors on all four legs so you can move it around as once it’s in the table you don’t want to have to take it out and even picking up one end is tricky.
The tables’ are rock solid, the only thing you need to do is treat them with some Danish Oil, or maybe deck varnish if you want the full sheen effect.
Oddly enough KJ don’t have a cover that works with their table, but if you get the table built to the specs like the ones in the KJ spec sheet then the extra large Cowley Canyon cover fits perfectly (see pic). The cover costed about £150 all in including UK customs duty (if shipping to the UK). Can find them on eBay.