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Frequently asked questions
What’s the difference between a BBQ and a Kamado oven?
Metal BBQs are getting more sophisticated in order to attempt to give you more versatility. You can cook and smoke over longer periods if set up correctly but due to their lack of insulation and controllability, they tend to burn fuel quickly. If you want to sizzle a sausage or sear a steak, we suggest you buy a normal metal BBQ. If you really love your outdoor cooking, and you want to have complete versatility, you should seriously consider a kamado.
A kamado on the other hand is a grill, a smoker and an oven all in one. Thanks to their thermal properties (ceramic construction), they’re the best for slow meat cooking, particularly slabs/joints of meat or whole birds like chicken. A single batch of coal can last well over 10 hours (depending on what temperature you set it at). Kamados are great at holding heat and smoke inside which has an incredible impact on the food’s flavour and the traditional egg shape encourages heat and smoke circulation around the meat. And a kamado is so versatile that you can use it for baking pizzas.
A kamado will also allow you to perform indirect cooking with a range of ceramic and cast iron accessories (see direct vs indirect cooking below and the accessories in the shop) without convoluted coal set up routines. This not only allows you to roast like an oven, it means you can put and potted dish in to cook, like a stew or a curry. Hey, they OVO will also hold a wok!
What can I cook on the OVO?
We’ve yet to find anything that can’t be cooked on the OVO. Sunday roast, Christmas turkey, paella, low & slow pulled pork or brisket, pizzas, vegetables…the list is endless. You can even cook desserts!
What fuel does the OVO run on?
The OVO is a charcoal oven. Most experts will recommend lump wood charcoal over briquettes. Lumpwood, they say, provides a superior flavour due to the fact it doesn’t contain any chemicals or binders; it is, after all, just gently burnt wood. However, lumpwood charcoal usually burns quickly and more fiercely and by the time it’s at optimum temperature, it starts to burn down quite quickly. This is not an issue in a kamado oven as its incredibly thermally and fuel efficient. Briquettes, on the other hand, take longer to reach optimum temperature but stay hot for much longer. Like meat, buy the best you can afford and look for national sustainable sources.
For smoking, we recommend placing a couple of small chunks of hardwood on the charcoal: oak, cherry, apple, beech, etc. Each will produce its own distinctive flavour so just have a play and see what you prefer.
You can cook on wood alone which will empart better flavour but it will burn quickly and loose heat.
How do I regulate the temperature on my OVO?
The temperature is regulated by air flow. This is controlled by the vents at the top and bottom of your OVO. Check ou the manual to see how we recommend you use these vents. Whilst getting to know your OVO, adjust the vents very slightly and allow time for the temperature to adjust; it is easier to increase the temperature than to decrease because of the thermal insulation the ceramics provide.
When will my OVO be ready to cook on?
This will depend on what temperature you’re after, set the vents to achiece the right temparture (see 'How do I regulate the temperature on my OVO' above). The OVO is fitted with a temperature guage so refer to your receipe if you are using the OVO as a smioker or an oven. It may take 10-15 minutes for the temperature to stop fluctuating. When the temperature has stabilised your OVO will be ready to cook.
To really get n accurate picture on temperature, we recommend out dual probe blue tooth digital thermometer (see shop).
How do I clean my cooking surfaces?
If you have a lot of grease or food on cooking surfaces, just turn up the temperature, leave it for half an hour or so and it will burn off like a self cleaning oven. For carbonised food residue you can always use a mesh scrubber or ash tool. Ceramic or cast iron parts should NOT be immersed in water.
I can't get my OVO really hot?
Ensure that all of the ash has been removed from (i) the base of the OVO, (ii) between the ceramic fire bowl and ceramic body, and (iii) that the holes in the fire bowl are free of ash.
Get your OVO hot without any of the accessories in place (VCS, ceramic deflector, etc. as these will restrict airflow when bring the OVO up in temperature).
Smaller bits of charcoal can choked airflow by creating an almost solid mat. Conversely, large bits alone will not necessarily create a hotter fire. You need a mix of reasonably sized pieces.
Partially spent charcoal is good to use for low and slow but it will not light as easy or get as hot as fresh charcoal. If you are looking to get your OVO hot, e.g. to cook a pizza, always use fresh charcoal.
The amount of charcoal is important when cooking for longer or hotter. When doing so, we’d recommend you load charcoal up to the top of the fire bowl.
The choice of charcoal is important. We tend to use British (imported charcoal tends to have a fire supressing chemical on it plus you are never sure what kind of fuel has been used). We have a British charcoal map here - https://www.theovo.co.uk/inspiration.
Try using a charcoal basket. A metal basket allows smaller bits of charcoal to fall through and create better airflow under and around the fire. It’s also great for shaking the ash off of residual charcoal.