“It’s smooth—maybe a little too easy,” I instructed the group of Barbecue University college students amassed around the first timber pellet grill many had visible. People nodded—we had information, proper? Smoking and barbecuing are speculated to be hard work. If no longer cutting wooden, then at the least breathing in charcoal dust and smoke and laboring to keep a constant temperature throughout a barbecue consultation that might last the higher a part of an afternoon or night time. Certainly, no self-respecting pitmaster might enroll in a “set it and forget it” philosophy. The best pellet smoker is fad, I thought to myself so that it will flame out rapid.
That was five years ago.
Today, the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) reports that wooden pellet grills are one of the hottest trends inside the enterprise, offering purchasers the primal flavor of wood smoke coupled with the flip-of-a-knob comfort of gasoline. Roughly three hundred,000 gadgets have been offered remaining yr—less than 2 percent of total grill sales—however, the recognition of pellet grills is surging.
It looks as if I’m pressured to consume crow—which, who knows, might even come out palatable if smoke-roasted on a pellet grill.
What are pellet grills? Picture a traditional offset barrel smoker with a facet-installed hopper changing the firebox. Or what looks like a stainless-steel super grill with the hopper inside the back.
Steaks on pellet grill you gas it with cylindrical food-grade timber pellets—every approximately an inch long and 1/four-inch wide—composed of compressed hardwood sawdust. The sawdust is subjected to high pressure and warmth, which turns on lignin—a natural glue in wooden. With the exception of vegetable oils to resource the extrusion technique or bring flavor, the pellets incorporate no additives. They burn cleanly, leaving remarkably little ash.
Pellet grills run on the fashionable household electrical present day. When you plug the grill in and switch on the digital controller, a rotating auger offers pellets from the hopper to a cylindrical fire pot housing an igniter rod. The rod glows pink hot for several minutes, igniting the pellets. Heat and smoke from the combusting pellets are subtle by using a constantly-running blower fan in addition to steel plates beneath the grill grate. One version, the upscale Memphis Wood Fire Grill, helps you to each smoke and direct grill over a wood pellet fire.
As currently as 2008, simplest corporations synthetic pellet grills (Traeger and its rival, MAK, additionally primarily based in Oregon). But the expiration of Traeger’s unique patents opened the floodgates to competition. Today, pellet grills have entered the mainstream: greater than 20 brands of pellet grills are available in North America. Even competition barbecuers have begun to include this innovative smoker and are triumphing, causing some antique faculty pit masters to whinge. Why? Because of their words, smoking on a pellet grill is “too darn smooth.” (Sound familiar?)
So is a pellet grill proper for you? Here are their advantages and downsides:
Pellet grills are versatile. You can fish fry, smoke, roast, grill (sort of—extra on that under), and even bake or braise in a pellet grill. At BBQ University, we’ve used them to cook dinner the whole thing from crisp bird wings to braised brief ribs to smoked beef chile Verde and crème Brulee.
Like gas grills, pellet grills preheat fast (10 to fifteen minutes). The layout discourages flare-ups.
Some pellet grills allow you to regulate temperatures in five-diploma increments, supplying you with pinpoint heat manipulate. A thermostat in the cooking chamber sends unique indicators to the controller and regulates pellet delivery.
Because a pellet grill works like a convection oven, you can load up the cooking chamber without worry of choppy cooking.
You don’t typically over-smoke meals on a pellet grill. The smoke flavor is greater subtle than the every now and then acrid smoke generated by way of an instantly wood or charcoal fire. The grills are to be had in a number of sizes from small to massive, as well as industrial-size devices that may accommodate an entire hog or pulled pork for a crowd. For extra wood smoke flavor, you can position hardwood chunks or pouches of soaked wood chips directly on the heat diffuser plate.
Pellets are available in a spread of flavors—hickory, pecan, alder, mesquite, cherry, apple, maple, bourbon, and many others., and may be mixed or changed in minutes. One 20-pound bag is sufficient for several chefs, even though users will rely on the temperature setting and climate conditions (wind and bloodless will growth pellet intake). Under normal occasions, the best pellet smoker will use approximately half a pound of pellets in line with an hour on the smoke setting and a couple of-1/2 pounds on excessive.