Smoked meat adds a fantastic dimension to any dish and, using the right woods, you can compliment just about anything. However, if your Kamado is your first smoker, the learning curve is pretty steep. While some of it will be a little trial and error (after all, we all have different preferences for taste), there are some simple beginner mistakes that you can easily avoid.
Here are eight of the most common mistakes that I see people making over and over again:
1. Using lighter fluid
You really shouldn’t be using lighter fluid at all in your Kamado, but this is especially true when you’re smoking meat. That nasty chemical taste can permeate your meat and absolutely ruin it. Instead, put the lighter fluid down and give your grill a little extra time to heat up. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you.
2. Not expecting it to stall
If you’ve ever experienced the absolute panic of a stall when you have guests arriving, then you probably understand all too well how terrible this can be. While there are some things you can do to try and prevent this, like employing a Texas crutch, in the middle of the crutch, most important thing is to just let it do its thing. You can’t rush a good barbecue, after all, and that same theory goes for smoking your meat.
3. Opening the grill lid too often
It’s important for the grill to stay at a consistent temperature which means that you need to leave the lid down as much as possible. Also, every time you open the lid, you let some smoke out. Be patient, check the thermometer, and leave that lid down!
4. Not allowing enough time
The thing about grilling and smoking is that it’s going to take as long as it’s going to take. You really don’t want to rush it or you’ll run the risk of ruining the taste or making even more mistakes. Instead, leave yourself plenty of time; a good rule of thumb is an hour to hour and a half per pound of meat. If you’re really worried about timing, cook it the day before and then heat it up again before serving.
5. Too much smoke
You really can have too much of a good thing when it comes to smoking barbecue. A lot of beginners will just pile on a ton of wood and end up with almost inedible meat. Be cautious with how much wood you’re using, and make sure that you leave the vents a little open so you don’t overdo it.
6. Using the wrong type of wood
There are several different kinds of woods that you can use when smoking, and some of them pair excellently with specific cuts of meat. Using the wrong kind of wood can absolutely ruin an otherwise perfectly good cut of meat. While experimentation is one of the best parts of barbecue, some flavors are just not meant to be blended. Check out our ultimate wood chip guide for tips on what flavors to combine.
7. Not monitoring temperature
To smoke meat, the grill itself needs to be kept at a steady temperature for a good period of time. A lot of beginners fall into the trap of setting the temperature and then just walking away. And while, yes, you do want to leave it and avoid opening the lid, you still need to check on the meat frequently. Invest in a good meat thermometer and make sure you check on it every once in a while.
8. Using a cheap cut of meat
If you want to make the most amazing dish that your guests have ever eaten, then you’re going to have to start with a good cut of meat. Get the best quality that you can afford and make it worth the time! Trust me, you’ll be be able to tell the difference.