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“Size doesn't matter..” The Kamado Joe: Joe Jr.

Hello, Burton Living fans and followers, it’s me.

I’m back, again with yet another exciting Kamado Joe blog.

In our first instalment, we ventured forth into the world of Kamado Joe’s and explored the humble origins of those true statement pieces of culinary magic.

Taking a good, hard look over at the Classic Joe’s, series I to III and the Big Joe’s, series I through to III, however in this blog, we shall continue with our exploration into the world of Kamado Joe and by doing so, we will take a look at the miniature powerhouse: The Kamado Joe, Joe Jr.

This lilliputian grill is a great accompaniment piece for those who already own a larger Kamado Joe or for those who wish for a much more portable, easily transportable option, or even for those who wish to enjoy the benefits of taste and flavour from a ceramic grill but do not have the available space as most often would.

Standing at a rather modest height of 69CM (when sat within it’s original and basic, cast aluminium framed base) and a rather humble width of 50CM, this portable beauty knows how to make a statement all for itself and with an internal depth of 53CM and a noteworthy cooking space of 34CM (That’s 377 Sq CM in total!) such really is an impressive piece of kit!

If you find yourself impressed by size when it comes to the Kamado Joe, Joe Jr, you are going to find yourself blown away by the fact that this fantastic piece of barbecuing magic weighs an easy to manage and easy to transport: 31KG.

Now I know what you are thinking.. 31Kilograms?! Is that really all this premium, ceramic Kamado grill weighs? Dear reader, the answer is a resounding Yes! After all, I wouldn’t lie to you.. I know better than to do that!

But before we divulge ourselves down a path that needs no further travel, let’s take heed of these crossroads and continue with our exploration into the small and vastly practical world of the Joe Jr.

The Kamado Joe, Joe Jr has kept a majority of original features that you would have found on the Kamado Joe, Classic Joe, series I but if you have for whatever reason been unable to read my previous Kamado Joe blog entry, do not fret, as I shall cover those particular features which would be found on the Joe Jr to save you from having to leave this page. (You’re welcome!)

When it comes to those regular features found on the Joe Jr itself, you should expect to find the very first, spring loaded, hinge system which was fitted on the original and very first Kamado Joe models (such as ALL Series I grills, both Big Joe and Classic Joe ) and whilst such does not take advantage of (as of writing this in 2024) or make benefit of the Counterbalance Hinge system found on much later, upgraded models (Series II onwards), I strongly advise that you are extremely careful when it comes to opening and closing the lid of your Joe Jr as if you are unfortunate to close such without being careful or if you find such slips prematurely from your hand, you will find that the dome may come crashing down and whilst the ceramic dome may be tough and durable and marginally smaller in size than it’s counterparts, it still remains quite a heavy unit and this is partly due to yet another original feature found on earlier Kamado Joe models (We’re talking ALL series I models again) and that is the original daisy wheeled, vented opening.

This practical yet oddly attractive feature crowns the head of this NASA quality, ceramic, red dome but that is not the only way in which air flow and temperature control are maintained, as at the bottom of said ceramic dome there lies a stainless steel, slide access vent, which helps regulate air flow as well as temperature control but this is also where you will use the ash tool (supplied) for cleaning any or protruding spent ash that has gotten in the way of air flow.

(Each vented opening allows you to control air flow, in and out of the dome structure, which in turn, assists in the controlling of the internal temperature within said dome, this is especially important as this is the temperature you will find yourself barbecuing at.)

The Kamado Joe, Joe Jr retains the original felt gasket that would previously be found on the all of series I grills but such will still continue to lock in that all important moisture and flavourful smoke that is a huge sticking point for those barbecue purists amongst you who rely on such for that mouthwatering taste and texture found only when you get to use a true charcoal grill and smoker.

It’s not always about size, it’s what you do with it, that counts and in the case of the Kamado Joe, Joe Jr, you’ll be happy to hear that this small grill is able to produce an impressive 105 - 400°C of pure, unfiltered heat, which means enables you to cook, grill, smoke, sear and bake a whole array of varying and unique dishes, and thanks to the magic of portability, you will be able to do such, all from the comfort of the beach, balcony, back garden or even in the back of a pick up truck.

The options are truly endless, you’ll be showing off and telling anyone and everyone who will listen (or can’t get away.)

As we go on to continue our adventure within the Lilliputian world of the Kamado Joe, Joe Jr, we are to come face to face with something that is unusual to find in most other Kamado Joe models but if you’re familiar, as many are, with the brands well known competitor: The Big Green Egg, I have a feeling you may already know what I am about to say.

Down within the ceramic belly of the Kamado Joe, Joe Jr there lies a simple yet practical firebox but unlike other Kamado Joe models where the firebox has been split into five or six different pieces known as ‘leaves’ (held in place via a lightweight, steel ring) however the Joe Jr does not take advantage of this upgraded and wholly improved technology but relies heavily on designs of old: A single piece firebox and whilst I am often heavily against this idea, deeming such to be a major step away from progress.

In spite of this, whilst I stand here and present the case of the Joe Jr to the grand barbecue Jury, I am surprisingly accepting of what I would normally see to be no more than an unnecessary and easily avoided design flaw.

In this situation, I will have to eat my hat and admit that I am wrong.

Yes, I can already hear the cries and demands for answers, even with lit torches and pitchforks at the ready as you sat read this blog but before you find yourselves getting carried away and bay for my blood, dear reader, I aim to explain all and (hopefully) put your minds at ease.

If you have read my previous blog entry on Kamado Joe’s, you will have noticed I spoke quite highly of the multi piece firebox which is made of a high quality, NASA approved ceramic, much like the ceramic dome of your Kamado grill itself.

Above I mentioned how regular Kamado Joe firebox’s have been split into ‘leaves’ which slot together and are held firmly in place thanks to the aid of a lightweight steel ring and whilst they may rely on this simplified technology, the ‘leaf’ based firebox is able to withstand much fiercer temperatures and able to withstand greater levels of ongoing stress, which most regular Kamado style smokers and grills would buckle under the strain of.

However, when it comes to the Kamado Joe, Joe Jr, the firebox has not been split into a multitude of pieces but is a single piece.

That’s right, the firebox is now a single piece of high grade ceramic and as I said previously, it’s not always about size, it’s what you do with it that matters and in this case, such rings to be true as by having a far smaller firebox than any of its Kamado siblings, the decrease in size has helped to increase the overall strength and efficiency of this rather compact unit and in turn, this adding to it’s structural integrity.

Unlike it’s much larger and bolder siblings, the accessory range for the Kamado Joe, Joe Jr is equally as small as itself at present but I have no doubt that such is going to be a continuing area of development for the boffins over at Kamado Joe but if you are curious (which I assume you must be by the fact you are continuing to read..) as of writing this blog in early May 2024, you will have a few options open to you and the first is an easy to place and remove, charcoal basket, which has been meticulously designed and built from a high quality grade, 304 stainless steel.

The nest based design of the charcoal basket allows for greater based practicability when in use, especially when it comes to helping to make the whole cleaning process all the easier, especially when it comes to those smaller, more awkward lumps of charcoal that just sit without much purpose but please do remember that you can leave these lumps of charcoal in the bottom of your Kamado and reassuringly, they can be reused again and again until they become nothing more than spent and waste ash.

If you are one of these folks who don’t find cleaning to be a tedious task, there are other options available to you and in the case of creating culinary creations on your Kamado Joe, Joe Jr, you have the option to purchase a Heat Deflector stone, this is a piece of high quality, food grade porcelain which means you’ll be able to cook with an indirect flame, relying solely on the heat produced by the Joe Jr itself rather than a naked flame but if you are looking to cook much more delicate cuts of meat and fish, as well as vegetables, using their own juices to cook in, keeping that all important moisture and flavour locked in, as well as those ever important proteins that are often lost when using a grill based top, you have the option to purchase a Soapstone.

If you find yourself looking to upgrade on the rather primitive and basic looking, cast iron frame stand that is readily supplied with the Joe Jr and whilst this may include easy to use handles for ease of transportation and portability, it lets itself down by having the Joe Jr sit at an uncomfortable height and unless you decide to place the Kamado Joe, Joe Jr on a higher, easy to reach surface, you’ll find that you are constantly having to bend down to use such and to grill your chosen culinary creations and whilst the earlier frame does help with portability as well as ensuring a consistent, regular air flow towards the bottom vent as well as preventing the Junior from causing any unnecessary surface burns, if placed without a stand or feet.

But if you find yourself lost in a Kamado nightmare, don’t worry for I am here to wake you gently and show you that everything will be Okay.

Kamado Joe have clearly learned from their mistakes and in doing so, vastly improved in the process, going from almost primitive to an almost futuristic design, this is a huge upgrade on their basic stand.

Those Kamado boffins have put their heads together and came up with a strong and imposing steel cart which is rather reminiscent of the cart you’d expect to find on that of a Kamado Joe, Big and Classic Joes, Series III.

However if you find yourself to be unaware of the features found on the carts above or you simply find you cannot remember, fret not, for I will be covering exactly what you’d expect to find on the new cart/stand for the Kamado Joe, Joe Jr.

The new, powder coated cart includes four swivel castor wheels (two of which are lockable), meaning you’ll now be able to move your Joe Jr with even more simplicity than ever before but if that’s not enough to get you excited, get ready to say goodbye to the days of unnecessary and painful back problems, as the remodelled cart sits at a far more comfortable and easy to manage height of almost 79CM!

The attractive looking grill cart has benefitted from the inclusion of two folding side shelves with side hooks, where you’ll be able to hang your barbecue utensils, perfect for reaching out to at a moments need, this will allow you to use the shelves as they have been designed and that is as extra prep space (which is especially, essential if you find yourself on the Go with your Kamado Joe.. Who knew I could be such a poet? Wasted talent here, folks..) but perhaps that’s not your thing, maybe you’re just in need of somewhere to keep that all important, cool, liquid refreshment?

Meanwhile as you continue to show off your newly discovered barbecue skills, creating a whole range of different dishes with the accessories above, you’ll be eager to find somewhere to store those Joe Jr cooking surfaces and heat deflectors once they’ve been used without having to leave your baby red behind.

Who can blame you, we’ve all been there and you’ll be pleased to know that featured within the state of the art cart, just beneath the Joe, there lies a fixed plate with holes within it and this wonderfully simple yet effective idea will mean you no longer have to find yourself in a desperate panic, searching for a quick and suitable surface in which to put those hot plates without causing any unnecessary (and easily avoided) heat damage to other surfaces.

You’ll simply be able to lie those hot plates and cooking surfaces on the cart plate and leave such to cool without any further interaction from yourself but with these great features fresh in our minds, I do hope you’ll join me in saying so, that whilst the original stand may serve a great purpose in the ease of portability (all whilst making those impromptu visits to the beach, when you go camping or simply when you wish to use such from the back of a pick up truck, when you’re on the go, the innovative and modern, powder coated cart is far superior to it’s basic predecessor and as we draw to a close, I hope you can agree that such is a small leap for Man but a giant leap for Kamado Joe kind.

There we have it dear reader, we have explored and gotten lost within the small world of the Kamado Joe, Joe Jr and from it, I hope we have learned the age old lesson, that size does NOT matter, it’s all about what you do with it that counts.

As we say our farewells, I want to make it clear that our adventure is far from over and in our next (and sadly, final) Kamado Joe instalment, we will finish on an outer worldly, stratospheric heigh and explore the future of Kamado style cooking and take a look at the Kamado Joe: Konnected, A digitalised grill and smoker.

See you soon!

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