Product Review – Kamado Joe Series II

ABA Co-Founder Adam Roberts road-tests the Kamado Joe Series II.

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In a recent update to the Kamado Joe Classic, the KJ Classic Series II comes with some pretty solid and class-leading upgrades, well worth taking a closer look at.

The fundamental elements of the Kamado Joe Classic are the trademark red finish on the heavy duty ceramic shell which is second to none when it comes to heat retention. Using minimal fuel, this rig can get up to temp super-quick and then hold that temp for hours on end with minimal fuss.

There’s an ash catching tray that’s super easy to empty and then there’s the clever top and bottom vent system that is a sinch to use.

The new Series II model comes with an upgraded top vent that has multiple settings to increase or decrease airflow and the new air-lift hinge system allows the lid to be open and closed or adjusted with not more than a finger touch required.

To keep the lid closed and the two halves of the ceramic egg sealed like a boss, the Series II has a brand new fibreglass mesh gasket which is a sharp improvement on the previous models’ cloth/fabric gasket which was somewhat a consumable part. The brand new stainless steel latch locks the unit in place and seals the unit incredibly well.

With the use of cooking grade stainless steel on the grill plates this unit is extra heavy duty, ultra-flexible in functionality, what looks to be rust proof in all the right places and very easy to keep clean and tidy.

The Divide and Conquer grill rack system allows multi-level cooking and the half-moon grill racks allow for easy access to the firebox to add fuel or smoking wood during the cook if required.

The half-moon deflector plates sit just under the grill racks to allow for indirect cooking and then there’s loads of cool accessories available like the Soapstone cooking plate that is great for reverse searing or frying up some tasty bacon & eggs on the side.

This unit can easily get up to temperatures hot enough to cook up your favourite pizzas like a pro and with the right configuration, you can low and slow with barbecue-competition-quality results.

I’ve used the Kamado Joe Classic for nearly two years with some excellent results at home as well as in competitions and have also used the upgraded Series II model for nearly 9 months. The cooking results between the units are somewhat identical but the upgrades just make life so much easier, safer and well worth considering.

Some Kamado Joe purists would have a proper dig at me for suggesting this, but I prefer to use briquets in the Kamado for my lower temperature cooking as they provide a very stable heat and long enough burn time. These briquets can produce a decent amount of ash but if I’m going to spend 6-8 hours cooking up some beef shorties, taking 5 minutes to clean out the ash isn’t a hideous trade-off for a great flavour, light smokey flavour and an easy overall cook up.

For cook temps over about 275F like reverse searing, open lid grilling, hot n fast cooking or for pizza cooking, I’m going to use lump charcoal pieces which can burn hotter than briquets and can also produce a decent flame. The lump charcoal is also better suited for use with the JoeTisserie, just one of a range of cool accessories available and specifically designed for this unit.

I find that with the Kamado Joe being being well insulated, you don’t need to use too much smoking wood. I rarely use more than one or two small chunks or handfuls of smoking wood or smoking chips for the entire cook. I’d only use all-natural fuels in this rig because it is super-insulated and any fuels with binders or fillers are likely to adversely influence the flavours of your food, particularly if they’re not already ashed over before using.

Using a mix of briquets and lump charcoal can help keep your indirect cooks up over 300F if you want to cook just a bit hotter but still not be at grill temps.

I cook up low n slow cuts with the top and bottom vents set to fully open and this is to ensure a decent airflow which I believe helps create a better bark on the outside of the meat as well as a decent smoke ring.

Irrespective of the fact that Barbeques Galore are Gold Partners of the ABA, I use the Kamado Joe more than any of my barbecues due to it’s versatility and efficiency for smaller cook-ups and with the new 6 piece firebox, the new Kamado Joe Series II travels really well and is a go-to unit for when I compete.

Weighing in at more than 100kg this unit very solid but is still very portable with a standard-issue rolling frame but for those that want to make more of a feature of the unit in their outdoor kitchen, there’s a range of purpose-built benches and frames that the Joe can be placed in for maximum visual appeal.

For more product info, simply visit Kamado Joe Series II