Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Weber Jumbo Joe (History, Options, Modifications, Upgrades, Mini-Review)
I am always interested in any type of charcoal grills / cookers and especially the so-called tailgaters, camping, portable, picnic, beach, and grills suitable for RV and travel.
I studied up on these grills, read some reviews, and found that many of the top 10 lists for the best of the above types of grills would have the “newer” version of the Weber Jumbo Joe listed.
As a long time satisfied Weber owner of several of their grills and smokers, I decided to get one and see what I could do with it.
I purchased my Weber Jumbo Joe in November of 2014 from Amazon at a price of 59.95 with the Prime shipping.
Weber introduced the 18-1/2 inch Smokey Joe Platinum or as sometimes called the Jumbo Joe or Outrider in 1990 and discontinued it in 2006. It was a little larger than the “newer version which was introduced in 2013 and just called the Jumbo Joe. There were a few problems with the earlier version and most of these were corrected on the newer kettle.
The history and description along with some comparisons of these two models can be found at this site: http://weberkettleclub.com/grills/weber-smokey-joe-history/ It’s about half way down the web page.
There is also a Weber Jumbo Joe Fan Site with a lot of great information on this newer Weber kettle. This site can be found here: http://www.weberjumbojoe.com/ Be sure to click on the highlighted items for additional information.
Last but not least, there is a gentleman on You Tube who goes by the name of the TosTinMan Easy Cooking who has about 30 videos showing cooks using the new Weber Jumbo Joe.
He shows some pretty unique cooks with this kettle.
Ok, that takes care of some acknowledgements.
As with most Weber products, the grill came well packaged and just took a few minutes to put it together.
Very nice sized cooker.
Quite a bit larger than my Weber Smokey Joe kettle.
Options and Upgrades
I also purchased the Weber Hinged cooking grate at about $15.00. I think this grate is a must for all kettles especially for longer cooks which require the addition of charcoal or smoke chunks during the cook.
This will give me a two grate setup by using the standard grate inverted on top of the hinged grate in the kettle for items like ribs, chicken wings, other chicken parts and thin items.
Another great option is the Weber Charcoal Baskets. Using two of them with a large 5 pound loaf pan will be the setup I use for my rotisserie cooking.
Using one charcoal basket with a standard aluminum half pan with a couple of corners bent to give me room along with the hinged grate is one way to do the low and slow type of cooking in the kettle.
Using the two charcoal baskets pushed close together and a Char-Broil cast iron cooking grate (about $30-35 dollars) is a great way to do your hight temp grilling. The Char-Broil cast iron grate is less than half the price of the other cast iron options out there and fits both the 18-1/2 and 22-1/2 kettles along with the WSM’s. Good value!
A pair of standard sized Grill Grates with fit this kettle just fine. With the very short distance to the fire below, this grilling setup is great.
The Weber charcoal fence or rails will also fit the kettle. This gives you a little more room over the one charcoal basket setup and I use this setup for most low and slow type of cooking.
I found a problem on my very first cook...the tabs used for adjusting the intake and exhaust vents are very hot and difficult to use. I purchased a large black plastic knob from a grill replacement company and installed in on the lower intake vent. This worked out great and is very easy to use. I also purchased a molded black “Weber handle for lid damper” from Weber and installed it on the top adjusting tab. This tab comes standard on several of the more expensive Weber products.
For a thermometer, I needed something with a very short stem and would need to mount it on the side of the lid as there is not enough room to mount it anywhere in the top of the lid due to the already short distance from the cooking grid to the top of the lid. I decided to go with a standard Weber grill thermometer and to dress it up a little, I also ordered the Weber Bezel to go with my new thermometer. This is a nice looking setup and works great as it is very close to the cooking grid level in the cooker.
I do love rotisseries and install them on many of my cookers. I just feel they cook better than most other methods for many different meats. Not very many options here as there is really not enough height in the kettle to add a rotisserie without purchasing a wider rotisserie ring and these are kinda pricey. After some thought, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase the Cajun Bandit rotisserie setup for the Weber 18-1/2’” kettle. This unit will also fit my standard 18-1/2” WSM as well so it’s a two for one deal.
The rotisserie ring from this setup can also be used to add additional height in the kettle for beer butt chickens or large pieces of meat like maybe a chuck roll or shoulder clod. Nice for turkeys as well.
I wanted a rotisserie basket to fit the grill and about all of them are too wide at about 16-18 inches. I did find a shorter one at 14” but it was designed to fit the very large spit rods. I purchased it anyway and made up two shims for my smaller spit rod and that works great. I am now happy with my rotisserie setups for the grill and use them often.
Here is another option that may work for a rotisserie setup for far less money than the Cajun Bandit option. It is a 18” in diameter Stainless Steel “Steamer Ring” from the Thunder Group. It’s about 5” wide and can also be used with a second grid to add capacity to the cooker. It doesn’t fit absolutely perfect but there are several people out there using them. I have seen this ring for as low as $21.00 with free shipping to a high of about $45.00 dollars. Still less than 1/4th the cost of the Cajun Bandit.
Other Nice Options
These are some other options that will work on this smaller Weber kettle.
Kettle Pizza basic 18-1/2” Pizza Oven.
Weber Portable Charcoal Table. A nice table to mount the kettle on and made for the smaller portable kettles.
Craycort Cast Iron Grate Setup... Pricey but nice.
Cajun Bandit Stacker Option...turns the kettle into a smoker.
Options that Won’t Work on the Jumbo Joe
Smokenator 180 for the Weber Kettles will not fit the newer Jumbo Joe. I did hear that this company might make one in the future.
Vortex for Weber kettles....I contacted this company and asked if their unit would fit this smaller kettle and they said they wouldn’t fit as it is too wide for this smaller kettle. I hope they make one in the future.
Examples of the Weber Jumbo Joe in Use
This cook was eight of my 1/3 pound homemade pork burgers and four of my homemade 60/40 fat burgers.
The kettle is setup with two Weber charcoal baskets pushed together under the grilling grid. The Char-Broil cast iron cooking grid is used in place of the standard grid for this cook. This places the fire very close to meat and makes for a great grilling experience.
Cooks a great pork burger and does a great job with about any type of high temp grilling.
Low and slow cooks
This cook consists of a slab of St. Louis cut spare ribs, a pan of pit beans, and some potato wedges.
I set the kettle up with one Weber charcoal basket and a couple of firebricks and then added my pit beans in a loaf pan.
I added the Weber hinged grate and then my slab of ribs over the top of my pit beans.
Later into the cook and after my ribs were wrapped, I added my potato wedges.
The ribs were sauced just before they came off the cooker.
The Jumbo Joe handled this type of cook just fine and it made for a nice meal.
This next cook is a 10-1/2 pound ham.
To prep the Jumbo Joe, I used a charcoal fence and installed it on the charcoal grate so that I had about 2/3rd of the grate left for my meat and then 1/3 of the grate will be used for charcoal. I have to cook the ham on the charcoal grate as the newer Jumbo Joe only has about 4” of space from the cooking grate to the top of the lid. This little trick will allow me to cook items like the ham, larger pork butts, whole turkeys, turkey breasts, beer butt chickens, and other items that are over about 3-1/2 inches in height.
I added a firebrick and then wrapped my cooking area with foil.
This setup has enough room to cook a 14 pound turkey.
I added the ham and the cook was ready to go.
The Weber Jumbo Joe doing it’s thing!
The ham just before it came off of the cooker.
Added some yams, green beans, tossed salad, and a biscuit and had one wonderful lunch.
This first cook is a Hot Chicken Wing cook and my setup was two Weber charcoal baskets with a large tin foil loaf pan in the center. I will be using my Cajun Bandit rotisserie setup.
Next step was to add my rotisserie ring, my rotisserie motor, and then my rotisserie basket with my hot wings.
I planned to run the temperature in a range of about 350 to about 400 degrees for this cook to insure I get crispy wings.
I applied the sauce a couple of times and then pulled the wings.
Gotta love Hot Wings
Next rotisserie cook is a large 6-1/2 pound whole chicken.
Added the extension ring and my chicken and got the cook started.
This chicken was basted several times during the cook.
Came out of the cooker looking very good.
Sure made a nice plate of meat.
My setup was a 12” hearth stone on a raised grid (tin foil balls) over a 12-1/2 inch metal pan. I used about 1/3 of a Weber chimney of raw lump charcoal on the bottom of my kettle and then poured a full chimney of hot lump over the top of the unlit coals.
Made up a plate of pizza fixings to go with my two herbed pizza dough balls.
Formed the first pizza on my home made peel and added the veggies, sauce, cheese, and meat.
Brought the cooker up to about 400 degrees and after a warmup of about 15 minutes, I loaded the first pizza.
A cold morning but nice sunshine for this bake.
First pizza took about 13 minutes.
Loaded the second pizza and it took about 17 minutes to bake.
The Jumbo Joe did a fine job with a couple of homemade pizzas.
I feel that this Weber Jumbo Joe kettle is a wonderful starter cooker that can be setup for many types of cooking and baking. It is an inexpensive and very easy to learn kettle and has a boatload of options for the more advanced cook. At just 18 pounds and with the “Tuck & Carry System” makes it just great for any type of tailgating, camping, the beach, picnics, RV and travel. It is well made and will just do it all!!