I was recently chatting about heat soaking the kamado grill with someone who was getting started. Heat soaking is an extremely important step in Kamado cooking and one that should not be overlooked.
What is heat soaking
Heat soaking is a basic process where you allow the kamado grill to come to temperature before cooking.
Although this sounds basic, there is a bit more to it. Kamado grills like the Kamado Joe have the advantage of thermal mass working behind the scenes to assist in cooking the food.
Kamado grills are typically ceramic cookers. Often weighing a couple of hundred pounds, that ceramic material takes time to heat up. But once it does, the grill operates very efficiently and with little effort.
Why heat soak the Kamado grill
When you start an old pickup truck on a snowy morning you let it warm up a bit before putting it in gear. The same goes for the Kamado grill. Like the truck, when you allow the grill to warm before you add your food, the grill itself will perform better.
Putting cold food into a grill will cause the temperature of the grill to drop. But the kamado has the ceramic advantage. Pre-heated or heat soaked ceramic grills will lose far less temperature when cold foods are introduced.
This is especially important when you are cooking large hunks of meat or poultry
If you are cooking a large hunk of meat like a brisket, pork shoulder, or even a turkey, chances are it goes onto the grill very cold. Refrigerators typically keep foods at about 40F. When you put cold meat onto a cold grill, the heat source will fight the foods cold temperature and the cold grill before it starts cooking your food. But with a grill that's properly heat soaked, the grill can actually start cooking much sooner.
What about indirect cooking
Indirect cooking puts a heat shield between the charcoal heat source and your food. Essentially this creates an ideal environment for baking or roasting foods.
But heat deflectors and baking stones also have a thermal mass which should be accounted for in the process.
When introducing a ceramic heat deflector or shield to a Kamado grill, it's always a good practice to allow it to heat slowly. Ceramic components are breakable and can shock the material, creating cracks and eventually breaking.
How long will this take
Each ceramic grill is different but in my experience, it takes about an hour to properly heat soak a Kamado grill.
What type of charcoal is best for this