Vortex for Kamado Joe
The Vortex is an insert meant to add versatile and collated heat control to charcoal grills like the Kamado Joe.
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When placed with the wide end facing up the heat inside the vortex lets you cook using indirect heat for things like bone-in cuts of chicken, where the fat rendered out of the skin would normally cause flare ups.
Yet since the charcoal is exposed it still contributes smoke to the cooking process with more robustness than if you were using your Kamado Joe with the heat deflectors installed.
Of course, this centralized flame is also intense enough to do things like sear steaks and chops.
You can even hybrid grill things like a bone-in leg of lamb on the indirect outer ring of your Kamado Joe.
Then when it’s 90% cooked through on the inside, you move the lamb directly over the heat of the Vortex flame to sear a flavorful exterior crust.
The temperature at the edge of the Vortex fire ring can get over 500-degrees.
The best tool for checking the temperature anywhere on the Kamado Joe’s grill grates is an instant-read infrared thermometer.
Can You Use The Vortex on a Kamado?
A Vortex will work on most Kamado Joe models, though it might not seat fully under the grates of a Kamado Joe Jr.
Once the Vortex is placed, you won’t be able to use your heat deflectors, and you may have to adjust your lower damper differently to make sure the charcoal has enough oxygen to burn hot.
Depending on your Kamado Joe model, you might not be able to use the Vortex with certain accessories. A lot of accessories like soapstone or Joetisserie might need to be removed to use a Vortex. Especially on smaller models.
What Does Vortex Do on a Kamado Joe?
A Vortex lets you create dual cooking techniques for direct or indirect heating, all without having to install or remove your Kamado Joe’s heat deflectors. It’s a great solution for outdoor chefs who want to hybrid grill bone-in, skin-on cuts of meat, like chicken or a leg of lamb.
When Should You Use a Vortex on a Kamado Joe?
If you want to use a Vortex in your Kamado Joe, you need to set it in the firebox before loading it with charcoal.
You might need to check to make sure your grill grates lay flat before lighting the fire in a smaller model like the Kamado Joe Jr.
What Can I Cook with a Vortex?
One of the best ways to use a Vortex for a Kamado Joe is to hybrid grill bone-in, skin-on cuts of meat like chicken wings or a leg of lamb.
You can slow roast them with indirect heat, and more smoke than you would get with the heat deflectors installed by placing them outside the diameter of the Vortex.
Then move them over the direct flame to mark the skin and finish them with a nice sear.
You can also use the Vortex in a Kamado Joe for direct heat searing a steak or chops.
If you have a pizza stone, the Vortex will rapidly heat the stone faster than if you used the unconcentrated flame of the Kamado Joe without the heat deflectors.
How Hot Does a Vortex Get?
A Vortex is rated to get up to 400 to 500-degrees at the edges of the flame ring. Though you could potentially get it hotter than that with the airflow dialed in just right.
The best tool to accurately monitor the temperature of a Vortex on your Kamado Joe is an infrared thermometer. You can point it at any hard surface, and it will instantly tell you the temperature where you see the little red dot.
A Vortex can be a versatile addition to your arsenal of Kamado Joe accessories.
It’s great for hybrid grilling where you want to cook skin-on or bone-in cuts of meat with indirect heat and a rich amount of smoke, before crisping the skin over direct flame.
At the same time, the direct heat column of flame is great for searing off steaks and chops as well as rapidly preheating a pizza stone.
You build the fire directly inside the Vortex chamber, with the widest part facing up.
This will work with the airflow that comes through the damper and lower firebox of your Kamado Joe.
When dialed in just right, a burning batch of jumbo lump charcoal can get the temperature of a Vortex fire ring up to 500-degrees or more.
This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of bbqdropout.com. Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.
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