All posts by Electric Smoker Center Team

Camp Chef PG24

Camp Chef PG24 Review, Features And More

Pellet grills are becoming a bigger deal every passing year – more and more companies are making them and creating new designs for grills that don’t use gas or charcoal at all.

Camp Chef has their own design, and today we will be looking at their grill design, the PG24. We will be reviewing the design of the product, taking a look at the pricing, unique features, customer reviews, comparisons to other grills, and more.

It is also important to keep in mind how many people this product can feed and the amount of food you need to cook at once. We will be reviewing the size to ensure that it will work for you and your family – no matter how big or small.

What is the Camp Chef PG24 and How Does it Work?

The Camp Chef PG24 is a grill and smoker that provides you with a reliable, easy smoke every time you use it. Everything about it is simply and easy to use – it has a practical digital temperature readout, and a simple temperature setting system.

Because the grill uses pellets to fuel the heat rather than charcoal or gas, your food comes out with a hardwood, smoky flavor every time.

The product has a cooking area of 429 square inches, a second cooking rack with an extra 141 square inches, and a hopper capacity of 18 pounds. You can cook between 160 and 500 degrees, which is about one hundred degrees higher than a lot of competitor grills like Traeger.

Their system also includes an ash cleanout system for the pellet hopper, pellet purge system, grease management system, an electronic auto ignition, and a shutdown mode. We will get more into these individual features in the next section of the review.

What Makes the Camp Chef PG24 Unique?

Here are some of the key features that Camp Chef offers for this particular grill.

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX PG24 Pellet Grill With Grill Cover - Bundle...
  • Camp Chef SmokePro DLX PG24 (Full-Length Cover, $55 Value) - Manly Bow Not Included
  • Best Value Full-Feature Pellet Grill and Smoker in the Industry 2018
  • Patented Ash Clean-out System, Pellet Purge, and Grease Management System

Ash Cleanout System

The first aspect of the Camp Chef PG24 that you don’t see on a lot of competitor’s designs is their Ash Cleanout system. This system allows you to simply pull a lever to empty all of the ash from the fire box instead of having to vacuum out the grill every time you cook on it.

This is a fantastic feature to have for your grill – it is a common complaint of grill owners that their grills are incredibly difficult to clean out after using them.

Automatic Pellet Auger and Electronic Auto Start Ignition

Grilling is a much more pleasant experience when you don’t have to continually light them up repeatedly or constantly refill the fuel throughout the process. The company added an automatic pellet auger that fuels the fire pot with pellets automatically when needed. They also added the auto start ignition, which sets fire to the pellets consistently whenever necessary. The temperature control unit directs the entire process – when more heat is needed, the automatic auger pushes more pellets into the fire pot and the auto ignition continuously lights them.

Large Capacity Pellet Hopper

Having a larger pellet hopper is a good idea, simply because it stops you from having to refill it multiple times while grilling or smoking.

The Camp Chef PG24 offers a massive pellet storage space in the big hopper. Once you have loaded it up once, you will not have to do so again for at least a whole session of cooking on the grill.

Digital Control System and Dual LED Temperature Readout

The design of this grill gives you extremely effective control over the temperature. You are able to set the perfect temperature no matter what you are grilling, and then walk away and let it cook on its own. Then you also have the dual LED readout for the temperature that will help you monitor the temperature accurately, no matter what. This is perfect if you want to keep the lid closed for a long period of time for smoking meat.

Durable Meat Probe 

The grill also comes with a convenient, nicely built in meat probe for you to check the temperature inside the meat. When you stick the probe into the meat, the other end of it goes into an input socket. This allows you to check the digital LED output monitor to see the temperature inside the meat to make sure it is cooked properly.

Portability

Camp Chef also made this design extremely durable, making it easier to transport than some of its competitors. The product has two very durable castors with added firmness – this makes the smoker a lot more stable and less prone to breaking if it is being moved around.

Pricing

This grill is known for being fairly affordable, and one of the best options for a pellet grill. Brand new, the PG24 is cheaper from retailers like Amazon.

Other retailers offer similar products that will cost you a lot more, even by hundreds of dollars. REC TEC has a comparable model, and it costs $1598.00 brand new on their site. A lot of Traeger’s similar models are also slightly more or much more than the Camp Chef PG24.

Public Perception (Other Camp Chef PG24 Reviews)

Let’s take a look at what other customers thought of this product. We will divide the positive reviews and the negative ones in order to see all the pros and cons of owning a Camp Chef PG24.

Positive


The first aspect we noticed in the customer reviews online were how pleased they were with the temperature control. A lot of the reviews specifically mentioned how wonderful it was to be able to set the temperature, place the meat in the smoker, and have the ability to walk away for several hours without worrying about how the food will turn out.


Another quality that buyers really enjoyed was Camp Chef’s customer service. If there were any issues with shipping, products, or anything else, the company went out of their way to fix the problems and make the customer happy.


The price was also a huge upside for reviewers. Having such a high quality product that provides the buyer with so many different features at such a low price is rare and an exciting aspect for the customer. Those who mentioned trying bigger, more well-known brands said that they spent a lot more and got a lot less than when they tried the Camp Chef PG24.


Something else that customers raved about was how easy the product was to clean. As we talked about before, this grill offers Camp Chef’s Ash Cleanout System, which makes sure all the ash and other debris is blown out after every single grilling or smoking session. Not having to bend over and scrub out the grill or use a vacuum on it is a huge plus side to this particular product.


One thing that is mentioned as a plus side for this grill is how efficiently it uses pellets. Buying pellets constantly for your grill, while not as expensive as gas or charcoal, will still add up and cost you a decent amount over time. Having a grill that uses them carefully will save you money and time in the long run. Customers really liked how they had to buy pellets less frequently with this product.


Lastly, users really loved the fact that the design came with its own very easy to use meat probe. This allowed them to easily, quickly, and safely take the temperature of the meat to make sure it is being cooked correctly.

pellet grill

Negative


While the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, there are a few negative aspects customers noticed that we will list as well.


The first downside that was brought up frequently was the Camp Chef warranty. A lot of designs will offer a 2 year, 3 year, or even longer warranty for their products. However, for this particular grill, it only lasts one year. Many customers complained that this simply wasn’t long enough, especially by the industry standards. It also did not allow for any issues that popped up over a longer term to be covered by the company.


Another negative that was mentioned frequently was the way the grills were shipped if ordered online. Whether customers ordered them from the actual Camp Chef website or other online merchants, a decent amount of them complained that the products were handled badly and showed up damaged. Not all of them had serious issues when they showed up, but often there was enough damage to warrant a call to customer service or a complete return altogether.


While a lot of the buyers did love the fact that Camp Chef provides a meat probe to safely measure the temperature of the meat, there were a few reviews that mentioned a need to return theirs after just a few months of using them. Luckily as long as it was replaced within a year it was covered under the warranty, however, it is still an inconvenience and should be kept in mind if you plan on purchasing a grill from them.


There were also a few complaints of the grill shutting off randomly in the middle of a cook. While there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of complaints that mentioned this, and may just be a fluke, it is an important aspect to remember while buying a grill.

How it Compares

This design definitely has a lot of fantastic qualities going for it.

When it comes to getting the grill clean after a cooking session, we did not see a model that could beat the Camp Chef PG 24. Having a whole system that cleans out the ash and debris for you is a huge plus side in the company’s favor.

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX PG24 Pellet Grill With Grill Cover - Bundle...

Quality

Price

Rating

$$$

Pricing was definitely a big upside as well. Getting so many fantastic features within the grill for such a reasonable price cannot be overstated – if you are on a budget and looking for a high-quality smoker, this is definitely one worth considering.

One aspect that doesn’t hold up when compared to other models is definitely the warranty. Like we discussed before, having only a one-year warranty for a grill like this is below the standard for the grill industry and does not allow for any long-term issues that may occur with the smoker.

The only other thing we would advise you look out for if you are considering purchasing one of these grills is having it shipped to your house. Because there were some complaints of parts coming in completely broken or bent, it is important to note if you are shopping online for this grill.

What We Think

This product and company is definitely worth your time and money. It’s affordable, a fantastic design, and has wonderful customer service to back it up if any problems arise.

If you have bought a Camp Chef PG 24 before, what are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with the review?

smoking meat

The Carnivore’s Ultimate Guide to Smoking Meats for Delicious Eats

There is something instinctually about humans and the smell of smoking meat.

That's right, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

I'm drooling, just thinking about it.

Maybe it harkens back to our human ancestors, as the smell let them know that cooked food that would sustain them was near.

Or, maybe it's just the fact that smoked meat just tastes really, really good.

Personally, I think it's both.

Whether you just want to make something delicious at home or want to try tapping into your primal instincts, smoking meat is a great way to go about it.

Smoking Meat for Tasty Treats

Since time immemorial, humanity has been smoking meat for two reasons:

  • Smoking meat makes it last longer.
  • Smoking makes it taste delicious!

Though refrigeration made smoking less necessary as a food preservation technique, smoked foods are ingrained in the culinary DNA of many cultures.

Smoked meats from around the world

North American Indians: Jerky and pemmican
Eastern Europe: Smoked fish
China: Sichuan style smoked meats
Southeastern United States: Whole smoked hog
Texas: Smoked beef brisket


Source: Mountain America Jerky

History of Smoking Meat

No one can be entirely sure how or when humanity began smoking meats.

But it’s a good bet that our cave-dwelling, cooked-meat eating caveman ancestors laid the groundwork to do so!

Here are some examples:

BACON

Bacon is undoubtedly one of the kings of smoked meat.

It is salty, smokey, and the perfect accompaniment to fried eggs.

Mmmmmmm....

In the United States, bacon starts as a nice, fatty side of pork belly, cured and smoked to perfection.

salmon bagel on wooden plank

Image: CC by 2.0 by https://www.pexels.com/@postiglioni, via Pexels

Image: CC by 2.0 by Abdallah Maqboul , via Pexels

HAM

A smoked country ham is a dinner centerpiece for many families around the holidays.

The ham refers both to the cut and the meat product.

The ham cut comes from the rear leg of the pig.

smoked ham in front of a fire

CC by 2.0, by Pixabay, via Pexels

 Smoked fish

Smoked fish has a long, proud history in the United States from both native and immigrant settlers.

 In fact:

The indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest have a long-standing tradition with smoking salmon to preserve it for later consumption.

Watch the video below for more information:

Diaspora Ashkenazi Jews brought their knowledge of smoking fish from Eastern Europe. Today, smoked fish is still a staple in any good Jewish appetizing shop.

hamburger sandwich on a wooden plank

CC by 2.0 by Abdallah Maqboul , via Pexels

CHOOSE YOUR METHOD

Logic dictates that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

So what?

Well, where’s there’s fire, there’s heat.

Of course, when you’re smoking meats, it’s not always that simple.

 Cold smoke

Cold smoking flavors and preserves meat for later consumption. Cold smoked meats can be kept for months at room temperature.

So how does it work?

For cold smoking, the meat is always cured with salt and sodium nitrate.

This process smokes meat for a few hours, and up to a few days, at a relatively low temperature.

The smoke is produced in a separate firebox. The smoke is then pumped into an unheated antechamber where the meat is.

 Hot smoking

Hot smoking is a cooking technique. It uses heat and smoke to make food that is ready to eat.

Most hot smoked foods are treated with brine, marinade, or dry rub. These treatments flavor and keep the meat moist during the cooking process.

 Safety risks

Here's what you should know:

While cold smoking can produce some seriously delicious meat, if you’re a newbie, listen up.

I have some bad news for you.

Cold smoking is pretty dangerous to do at home.

Modern food production techniques mean that there are lots of pathogens present in meat and other products.

To counteract this, the FDA has a lot of guidelines to help keep food safe.

One of these guidelines is cooking temperatures.

FDA Minimum Internal Temperatures for Meats

  • Seafood - 145-degrees F
  • Red Meat / Pork - 145-degrees F
  • Ground Meat - 160-degrees F
  • Ground Poultry - 165-degrees F
  • Poultry - 165-degrees F

Cold smoking holds the meat at around 90-degrees Fahrenheit. This is far lower than the recommended 145-degree Fahrenheit recommendations.

So, what should you do?

While can make safe cold-smoked meat at home, it requires precise temperature control and a thorough understanding of the curing process.

In contrast, hot smoking produces temperatures between 145-degrees and 300-degrees Fahrenheit.

That is well above the FDA danger zone.

Our recommendation:

Stick with hot smoking when smoking meats at home.

Botulism

Let me tell you a little bit about Clostridium botulinum.

It makes you sick with a disease known as botulism.

That's not all:

A common source of botulism is improperly prepared and stored processed food.

Still not convinced?

This bacteria produces some of the most lethal substances known to humanity. These toxins block nerve function.

Symptoms of botulism

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble breathing
  • Paralysis

A botulism infection can lead to death.

Furthermore, you can't always tell when food is tainted.

In fact: some botulinum tainted food will not taste or smell off at all!

Bottom line: 

Leave cold smoking meat to the experts.

CHOOSE YOUR PROTEIN

So you might be wondering to yourself: what can I smoke?

Well, I’ve got some answers for you!

In short:

If you can cook it, you can smoke it.

Choosing your protein to smoke is less about rules and more about guidelines.

Follow these guidelines, and you will be well on your way to some delicious smoked meals.

What cut to smoke?

This is important to remember:

Smoking is a method well suited mostly for the cheaper, tougher cuts of meat.

Why?

Smoking meat is typically a long, slow cooking process. To take advantage of this, you need cuts of meat that have a lot of connective tissue and fat.

When cooked for a short amount of time, connective tissue gets tough and chewy.

But when cooked long and slow, the collagen in the tissue breaks down. This makes for a tender, juicy piece of smoked meat when done.

Here are some examples of great cuts to try:

PORK

  • Pork shoulder (Boston butt)
  • Pork ribs
  • Pork belly
  • Sausages

BEEF

  • Beef brisket
  • Beef ribs
  • Oxtails

Image: CC0, by Pixabay, via Pexels

POULTRY

Image: CC 2.0, by gyanbasnet, via Pixabay

FISH

  • SALMON
  • TROUT

Image: CC 2.0, by wow_pho, via Pixabay

Are there meats that you shouldn’t smoke?

Super-lean cuts, like pork tenderloin, are typically ill-suited for smoking. The long, slow cooking process will yield a tough, dry, rubbery piece of meat.

Beyond just smoking meat

While smoking meats is the most popular item to smoke, you don’t have to limit yourself to just animal protein.

Yes, you can smoke more than just meat!

Try smoking some vegetarian-friendly foods! Try throwing some of your favorite vegetables and alternative proteins in the smoker. (Yum, smoked tofu!)

Feeling more adventurous? Smoke is a great flavoring, but not everything will smoke well.

To get around this, try smoking some condiments!

Smoked salt to bring just a touch of smokey goodness to your dishes.

Love hot sauce?

Try smoking Sriracha for the ultimate in smokey, spicy goodness.

But wait, there's more!

If you want to get super adventurous, here’s something to try:
Smoked. Ice. Cream.

(Oh yes, it’s a thing.)

You know what else is a thing?

Smoked chocolate chips.

Want some vegan smoked ham?

Here’s something that’s sure to blow your mind.

Share the joy of delicious smoked ham with your vegan friends and family with a smoked watermelon ham!

Wait, what?

In 2018, Ducks Eatery in New York City turned took a watermelon, brined it, and smoked it.

The result?

A smokey, fully vegetarian “ham” like dish that tastes unlike anything you have ever tried before.

Check out the video below:

Let’s face it:

When it comes to a truly unique smoked “meat,” this is as unique as they come!

The Smoke Train

to Flavor City

Smoking brings plenty of flavor to the party, but it’s by no means the only flavor to think about when you are smoking meats.

 Brining

Brining is a process that uses salt to enhance the flavor, texture, and moisture content in food.

Wet brines dissolve the salt in water before the meat is placed in it to soak for some time.

Dry brines are mixtures of salt, and other flavorings, which is then rubbed directly onto the meat. The meat is then allowed to sit for a period of time before cooking.

So what kind of ingredients can you find in a brine?

The main ingredient you will find in every brine recipe is salt.

Bottle of Salt and other condiments

Image: CC0 ,by Kaboompics, via Pexels

In fact, in some recipes, salt may be the ONLY ingredient.

But really, you can add anything to a brine.

Smoked salmon and pork recipes may include a sweetener like brown sugar or honey to help balance the flavors.

Peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic, and onion are great additions to any brine.

 Marinades

Like a wet brine, a marinade is a flavorful liquid that you soak the meat in to impart flavor and moisture. Some marinades may also help to tenderize the meat.

Is there anything you shouldn’t put in a marinade?

Pretty much any flavor combination you can imagine, you can put in a marinade for smoking meat.

For a fantastic Korean-inspired beef rib, try a soy-based marinade with some sesame oil, garlic, green onion, ginger, and sugar.

Want to go to the Mediterranean? Experiment with a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. You just can't go wrong with this one!

Marinades in glass bottles

Image: CC0, by MikeGoad, via Pixabay

 Dry Rubs

Like other flavoring methods, a dry rub imparts flavor. Like a dry brine, a dry rub often includes salt but can also contain other ingredients.

The main difference with a dry rub is that most, if not all, the ingredients are dry.

Dry spices and salts

Image: CC0, by Pixabay via Pexels

The most basic of dry rub recipes can be just salt and pepper. Another basic dry rub is salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.

But don’t be afraid to expand on this!

For a Mexican-inspired dry rub for your ribs, try salt, powdered ancho chili, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.

Want to take a trip around the world with your smoker? This recipe from Bobby Flay that uses salt, turmeric, cardamom, fennel, and other common curry spices to create an out of this world smoked chicken thigh!

Choose Your Wood

The wood you use to smoke over is going to have a fundamental effect on the flavor of your food.

Remember:

Not all wood is suitable for smoking.

And more importantly:

Not all smoking wood is suitable for all foods.

Knowing what look for as well as what kinds of woods to use is essential for creating the flavor you want.

What to look for

Wood for smoking meats generally comes in a few forms:

 Logs

Logs are generally large; think about the size you would use in a fireplace. These are good for large smokers that need to burn for a long time.

pile of wood logs

Image: CC 2.0, by LUM3N, via Pixabay

 Chunks

Chunks are smaller pieces of wood, around the size of a fist. These can last for hours in a smoker.

Wood chunks and charcoal

Image: CC SA 4.0, by EricKilby, via Flickr

 Chips

Chips are smaller scraps of wood. They ignite easily but may burn out quickly.

pile of wood chips

Image: CC by 2.0, by internalizer, via Pixabay

They are easy to find at your average big box store as well as specialty barbeque stores. These are good for smaller smokers or quick smoking jobs.

Popular woods for smoking meats

Woods for smoking can be broken down into three main categories:

  • Mild
  • Medium
  • Strong

Fruit woods are very popular to smoke with. These woods are on the mild side with sweet smoke and tend to pair well with more delicate, white meat proteins.

Medium flavored woods like hickory, maple, pecan, and oak produce a good smoke that pairs well with just about any meat.

Strong woods like mesquite impart a lot of flavors but need to be used carefully.

Woods & Flavor Profiles

Wood

Flavor Profile

Use With

Alder 
Sweet, light
Fish (Salmon)
Apple 
Sweet, mild
Chicken, pork
Cherry 
Sweet, mild
Pork, beef
Hickory 
Strong, sweet
Ribs, bacon
Pecan 
Very sweet, nutty 
Roasts, ribs
Walnut 
Strong, nutty
Red meat, game meat
Mesquite 
Strong, unique
Red meats

Woods you should never use

Not all woods are created equal when it comes to smoking meats.

In fact:

There are some woods that you should ALWAYS stay away from when smoking meats!

Chemically treated wood and scraps

Manufacturers often chemically treat woods to make them last longer in construction or furniture.

These chemicals are toxic! You don’t want them ANYWHERE near your food!

Likewise, don’t use lumber scraps, either.

While these may be dirt cheap, you have no way of knowing what kind of wood they are from. Never use these for smoking meats!

Softwoods

Softwoods like cedar and pine contain a lot of sap. When ignited, this creates a harsh, sooty smoke that tastes bad. What’s worse? It can also be harmful!

While you can cook on cedar planks, smoking with cedar is a no go.

Choose Your Smoker

The great thing about smoking meats at home is that you have a lot of different options when it comes to equipment.

There's a good chance that you have meat smoking equipment right now, even if you do not have a back yard.

Before you smoke


Whatever you choose to use, you do need some equipment on hand for safety: for you and your food!

Thermometer


By far the most challenging thing to do when smoking food is to control the temperature.

Glowing hot charcoals

Image: CC0, by ​Skitterphoto, via Pexels

No matter what meat smoking method you decide to go with, you need to accurately control your temperature.

Here’s the most important takeaway:

Buy a good thermometer.

Digital, instant-read probe thermometers like the ThermoPop are what you are looking for. You want something easy to read that takes temperature fast and continuously.

Heat protection


To produce smoke, you need fire.

And whenever working with fire, you need to stay safe.

Always use fire-resistant gloves when dealing with your smoke set up.

Have a fire extinguisher near by just in case anything catches fire that shouldn't.

Smoke abatement


The smoke that will eventually make your food taste incredible is still an irritant to your lungs.

Always be sure to smoke your foods in a well-ventilated area. Smoking meat outside is always recommended.

If you must smoke indoors on the stove, be sure to use your cooking vents and to open windows, as necessary.

Charcoal kettle


A mainstay of suburban backyards all across America, the charcoal kettle grill makes a great home smoker.

Charcoal kettle grill

Image: CC by 2.0, by Lukas, via Pexels

To use a charcoal kettle grill for smoking, all you need to do is change how you build and maintain your heat.

When grilling with a charcoal kettle grill, you usually want to build your fire to be nice and hot.

But when you’re smoking with it, you want to build a slow burning, low fire and use wood chips or chunks for smoke.

There are many ways to do this.

If you don’t want to buy anything fancy, use a disposable pan for water in your kettle to help keep the heat low, and then lay wood chips on top of your coals.

Watch the video below:

But if you want to try some fancy smoking equipment, you can do that, too!

This video from White Thunder BBQ shows seven different methods to help you cook super low and slow on your kettle grill.

Gas grill


For would-be backyard cooks that do not want to (or cannot) use charcoal, gas grills are a popular alternative.

Sticks of food cooking on a gas grill

Image: CC0 by 2.0, by ​rawpixel.com, via Pexels

When it comes to smoking on a gas grill, it can be a little bit trickier than on a charcoal grill, but it is possible.

You can smoke meats on a gas grill without special equipment.

As Alaskagranny on YouTube points out, it’s all a matter of temperature control and knowing your grill.

If you love smoking meats, you can also invest in gas grills that have dedicated burners and equipment specifically for smoking.

Electric smoker


If you love smoking meats at home, you may want to invest in an electric smoker!

Unlike charcoal and gas grills, which are more versatile, an electric smoker is purpose-built to be a great smoker.

Most electric smokers include lots of surface area for your meat to cook and sturdy construction to keep the smoke close to your meat.

But wait, that’s not all!

Temperature control is also a lot easier with electric smokers as most have a thermostat built right in.

Overall, electric smokers take less work to set up and monitor than charcoal or gas grills.

If you love your smoked meats, an electric smoker is a worthwhile investment.

DIY smokers


If you want to smoke meat but don’t want to invest in huge smoking equipment, you still have options!

Just DIY your smokers with these simple hacks.

Ready?

Let's get to it!

Wok

You know that wok you have laying around in the cupboard?

Put it to use by turning it into a DIY indoor smoker!

Check out the following video:

Be advised: you won’t be smoking large pieces of meat.

However, fish fillets, smaller poultry, and smaller racks of ribs will do great smoking on a wok!

(Just be sure to turn on your indoor vents!)

Cardboard box


How’s that saying go?

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Also:

“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

When you want to smoke meat, and all you have is a cardboard box, you can believe you can find a way!

Woman carrying a large cardboard box

Image: CC by 2.0, ​brucemars, via Pexels

Yes, you can make a meat smoker out of a simple cardboard box!

This is the ultimate, low-cost way to try out smoking without a substantial financial commitment.

Watch:

Recipes to Try

Now that you’re armed and ready to get smoking, here are some recipes that are sure to whet your appetite!

Cherry-smoked duck


Ingredients

  • 5 to 6-pound duck (giblets removed)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • Olive oil
  • Small shallot (halved)
  • Cherry wood (chunks or chips), for smoking

Preparation

  • 1
    To prepare the duck, dry it thoroughly.
  • 2
    Trim any excess fat as well as the neck skin.
  • 3
    Prick the skin with a fork, taking care not to prick the meat beneath.
  • 4
    If you have the time, let the duck air dry for 24 hours on a wire rack in your refrigerator. This dries out the skin for crisp skin later!
  • 5
    Mix your sugar, salt, ground spices, and pepper.
  • 6
    Season the cavity with some of the spice rub before stuffing with the shallot and cinnamon stick.
  • 7
    Rub the remaining spice mixture all over the duck.
  • 8
    Rub the duck down with some olive oil and place on a rack in your smoker.
  • 9
    Place a pan under the duck to catch the fat drippings.
  • 10
    Smoke in your smoker, aiming for a temperature of 250-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 11
    Smoke until the duck reaches an internal temperature of 145-degrees Fahrenheit, about two to 2.5 hours.
  • 12
    Raise the temperature of the smoker to 350-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 13
    Cook for 1.5 hours, until the internal temperature of the thigh meat registers 175-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 14
    Remove the duck from the smoker and let rest 5 minutes before carving and serving.

Maple Espresso Bacon


Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 pounds of pork belly (skinless)
  • 1/4 cup each of dark brown sugar, maple sugar, salt, espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons Insta-Cure Salt #1 (Curing Salt #1, Prague Powder #1)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
  • Water
  • Hickory or applewood chunks or chips, for smoking

Directions

  • 1
    Mix the brown sugar, maple sugar, salt, espresso powder, pepper, and curing salt, adding just enough water to make it into a paste.
  • 2
    Spread the paste evenly on your pork belly and wrap tightly in a resealable plastic bag.
  • 3
    Place the bag in the refrigerator for a week. Be sure to flip the bag and massage it at least once daily to ensure even distribution.
  • 4
    After a week, remove from the refrigerator, discarding any accumulated liquid.
  • 5
    Rinse the pork belly with fresh water and pat dry. Set up your smoking rig with applewood or hickory, aiming for 200-degrees Fahrenheit inside the smoker.
  • 6
    Smoke the pork belly until it reaches 150-degrees internally, about 3 to 4 hours.

Once smoked, you can cook the bacon as desired. Wrapped tightly, this bacon will last up to one week in the refrigerator or two months in the freezer.

But let’s be honest: you’ll probably eat it WAY before then. (I know I would!)

About curing salt

Curing salt, also known as pink salt, is an essential ingredient for this dish. Be sure to use curing salt #1 as this is meant for cured meats that will be cooked.

Do not substitute another type of curing salt or other salts like Himalayan pink salt, as these are not the same.

Smoked watermelon

We couldn’t say good-bye without sharing the recipe for the mind-bending smoked watermelon ham!

If you don’t have the time to fly over to New York City to try it, don’t worry!

Intrepid Internet chefs have broken down the intricacies of this vegan “meat” for all to try.

This recipe is adapted from YouTube food channel 2 Guys & A Cooler who painstakingly recreated Ducks Eatery’s smoked watermelon ham.

Like the bacon, this recipe takes some time. Allow at least four days for bringing and drying time before smoking.

Smoked Watermelon Recipe


Ingredients

1 large watermelon

Brine Ingredients

  • 2.5-percent salt (by watermelon weight)
  • 1.5-percent brown sugar (by watermelon weight)
  • 2 each juniper berries, cinnamon sticks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves
  • Water
  • 1 tablespoon oak ash (optional)
  • Applewood chunks or chips (for smoking)

Directions

  • 1
    Start by peeling your watermelon and weigh in.
  • 2
    Take your watermelon weight to calculate the amount of salt and sugar you will need, according to the percentages given.
  • 3
    Dissolve the salt and sugar in a cup of boiling water.
  • 4
    Add cold water, enough to soak the watermelon, along with the other flavorings.
  • 5
    Soak your watermelon in the cooled brine for 3 days.
  • 6
    Remove from brine, rinse off, and then set in your refrigerator for another 12 hours to dry.
  • 7
    Set up your smoker with applewood to smoke. Smoke for 4 hours at 130-degrees to 150-degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 4 hours.
  • 8
    Then, raise the heat to 190-degrees Fahrenheit for another 4 hours.
  • 9
    Remove from heat the smoker. Cut into large slices to serve.

Saving Some for Later

Like humanity, smoked meat has transcended its primal origins to become something far more than cave dwellers could have ever imagined.

Smoked meat can be as simple as salted meat, cooked low and slow over a dying fire. The result is a delicious, tasty piece of meat that becomes so much more than the tough muscle it once was.

But it can also be as innovative as a watermelon "ham", brined and smoked. It becomes something completely unrecognizable and yet somehow familiar.

What are your favorite types of smoked meat?

What kind of meat do you think you want to try smoking at home?

Are you brave enough to try the smoked watermelon ham?

Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image CC0 Marcus Hendrich via Pixabay

traeger century 22

Traeger Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill Review – Professional-Grade Grill

​You have decided to invest in a high-quality, professional-grade grill before the summer barbecue season gets underway. A top-rated grill is a great investment for any size family because it allows you to cook food in a more energy efficient way while you get to spend more time with each other outdoors.

Now that you have decided to buy a grill, it is time to look at the different types and figure out which is best for you.

Barbecue grills are available in many different sizes and can include a host of features that make the buying process very overwhelming. There are gas, charcoal, electric, and wood-fired grills which all have their advantages and disadvantages to consider.

One of the most versatile types of grills would have to be the wood pellet grill. These professional-grade cookers are capable of slow-cooking your favorite poultry, fish, steaks, burgers and more at a consistent temperature. Most pellet grills are not capable of going above 500 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore you can be assured that your meat will not overcook or be dried out.

The wood pellets that are used to fuel the grill and give the food its smoky flavor are made from various hardwood species. These small capsule-shaped pellets may be derived from Mesquite, Hickory, or Cherry wood varieties and will give any meat you prepare an intense flavor.

About the Traeger Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill

traeger century 22

Traeger is a popular grill manufacturing company headquartered in Oregon that specializes in creating wood pellet grills. The owner of the company invented the first pellet grill in the early 1980s and began selling them to the public by 1988. Traeger has set the bar for making high-quality professional-grade grills at a price that anyone can afford.

The Traeger Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill is a 6-in-1 cooker that can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, or barbecue all types of meat. It features a large cooking space that allows you to prepare plenty of food for a family get-together. It includes many modernized features like the Digital Elite Controller LED Display for accurately setting the internal temperature.

The Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill is capable of cooking meat either low and slow or hot and fast. And you get to enjoy delicious, consistent results every time you use it.

The Benefits of Owning a Traeger Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill

The Century 22 Grill is made by the original wood pellet grill company. You get a great value for the price and only need one unit to grill, smoke, braise, bake, or roast your favorite meats. This spacious backyard grill provides you with plenty of cooking space so that you can entertain as many guests as you please.

Top features for this grill include the dual meat thermometers that let you check the internal temperature without even lifting the lid, and the convenient grease management system that helps you keep the unit clean and prolong its use.

The Antique Barrel Design

unique barrel design

There are many things to love about this convenient and versatile grill. It features a traditional design that is reminiscent of old wood smokers, and it will make a great addition to your patio or deck regardless of your current décor. Everything from the smoke stack to the classic barrel design gives this grill an old-fashioned, antique look that grilling experts are sure to appreciate.

The barrel on this 22-inch grill does more than add aesthetic value to the product. The design which has been used for many years helps to maximize the cooking space inside giving you the option to prepare large amounts of food at once.

The New Warming Rack

There are several features that are universal all throughout the Traeger brand, while others are only offered through a specific line. The Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill includes a brand-new feature which is the removable warming rack. This rack will help keep hamburger and hot dog buns, fresh rolls, and side dishes warm while you wait for the main course to finish cooking. Now you can serve the entire meal at once without worrying about some dishes being too cold.

The Dual Probe Thermometers

The best feature that is available on most of Traeger’s higher-end grill is the dual probe meat thermometers. These built-in thermometers allow you to check the internal temperature of the grill at any time, all without lifting the lid of the grill. This helps you keep track of the heat and monitor it closely without letting any of it escape. And since there are two meat thermometers, you can check the temperature of two types of meat at once.

Heat-Controlling Technology

Inside the grill, the heat temperature is constantly controlled using Traeger’s most advanced controller to date. It keeps the cooking temperature at the desired level and it remains within +/- 15 degrees of the set temperature at all times.

Two Color Options

While it may not be a deciding factor for some customers, it’s nice to have a grill that actually looks good on your patio, deck, or in your backyard. The Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill is available in either Blue or Bronze colors, and they both feature the company’s logo stamped on the lid.

Accessories to Enjoy

There are several great accessories offered by Traeger that will work well with this and other grills from the brand. These accessories help you customize your grill and make it even more versatile than before. Some of the most popular include folding front shelves and bottom cart shelves to store your frequently used necessities.

Other favorites include a cold smoker, digital thermometers, chicken thrones, pizza kits, and extra grill racks. The brand also sells their own line of wooden pellets, rubs and other types of seasoning that you can use with your favorite recipes. Each of these accessories mentioned is all sold separately unless they are a part of Traeger’s official grill package deals.

Extras for the Serious Grill Master

The Traeger Century 22 Grill features an easy-to-use thermostat that is similar to your conventional oven. It has an auto start switch to ensure that your grill heats up every time you want to use it. There is also a bold LED display that is easy to read and allows you to monitor the cooking process.

The grill sits firmly on a sawhorse style frame that is strong and durable enough to hold it up. There is also a set of all-terrain wheels on the frame that allows you to transport the grill to tailgate parties, campsites, lakeside fishing holes, and more.

The Top Features of the Traeger Century 22 Grill

There are many exceptional features available on the Century 22 Grill by Traeger, including:

  • 572 square inches of cooking space
  • A Digital Elite Controller with LED display that allows you to maintain a precise temperature while cooking, similar to a conventional oven.
  • This grill is fueled by pure hardwood pellets.
  • It features the brand-new Traeger warming drawer that is perfect for buns or rolls.
  • The wood pellet hopper clean-out feature makes this grill low-maintenance.
  • This Century 22 grill includes an extra grill rack if needed for even more grilling capacity.
  • There is a bottom storage shelf where you can place all your necessities like seasoning and utensils.
  • The electronic auto-start ignition ensures a fast and efficient start every time you use it.
  • You have the option to grill, bake, roast, smoke, BBQ, and braise with this versatile grill. 

What Customers Love About This Grill

Traeger is an industry-leading brand for a reason. Their products receive countless 5-star reviews from satisfied customers. There are plenty of things that people love about the Century 22 grill. Here are a few excerpts from positive reviews.

Owners love that they can use the smoker all year round thanks to how well it is insulated. Even colder temperatures outdoors don’t seem to have a bad effect on the internal temperature of the grill. The pellet grill is very easy to use, even for a beginner. And it provides you with a nice, slow cook when needed, or a faster cook for those times when you’re in a hurry.

There are some who compare the Century 22 to an outdoor oven because of how precise the internal temperature can be. One reviewer mentioned that they even used the grill to prepare their turkey for Christmas dinner.

Another reviewer gave the Century 22 grill excellent reviews because you don’t have to babysit the smoker to enjoy amazing, tender and juicy meat afterward. You can set it and forget it like many of today’s modern kitchen appliances.

And if you must check the temperature just to see if it's working correctly, you can do so without disturbing the internal temperature thanks to the dual meat thermometer probes that are built in.

One review stated that the Century 22 wood pellet grill is the best Traeger product yet. They said that this product was the top of the line because it was built in a traditional manner yet is still meets today’s standards for quality and performance.

They liked that it was the only unit to come with a warmer rack and appreciated that there was a storage area at the bottom perfect for spices and tools.

Overall, there are very few complaints about this versatile wood pellet grill. Owners seem to be very pleased with the results of grilling, smoking, and roasting their favorite meats and side dishes.

Some have even mentioned that they stopped using their indoor oven for several months after they purchased their Traeger grill. Owners also appreciate the modernized extras that are included and like the old-fashioned design as well

The Disadvantages of the Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill

Century 22 Pellet Grill

There are very few things that consumers dislike about the Traeger Century 22 Grill. Aside from being one of the more expensive backyard grills on the market, most feel that it is a great investment.

The Century 22 grill is capable of taking on practically any grilling job that you have in mind. However, the grill’s maximum temperature is 450 degrees. While that heat level is sufficient for most grillers, some experts may prefer a grill that can provide them with more heat if needed.

There are several other Traeger pellet grills that are capable of reaching temperatures as high as 700 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the grill is portable thanks to the all-terrain wheels, it is not lightweight. It weighs 103 lbs. and measures 49” x 41” x 27”. Some users may need assistance moving the grill around or transporting to another location.

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage if you are hoping to buy a new Century 22 grill is that they are no longer available on the official website and can also be difficult to find from major online or offline retailers like Amazon, Target or Walmart.

While you can still find plenty of other Traeger wood pellet grills on the market, this particular model appears to have either been a limited edition or has been discontinued. Therefore, your best option for buying a Century 22 Grill is to check out local listings or auction sites such as eBay for a used grill.

Since they are a Traeger product, you can be assured that a used grill will work as expected as long as it has been cleaned and maintained well over the years.

Is the Traeger Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill the Best Choice for You?

Traeger Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill
  • Grill, Smoke, Bake, Roast, Braise and BBQ
  • 572 sq. in. of Cooking Surface
  • Digital Elite Controller LED Display and Warming Drawer

​​There are many reasons why you should consider buying the Traeger Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill. It is designed and manufactured by the same company that invented pellet grills more than 30 years ago. It is strong, durable, built to last, and provides you with enough space to grill up a multitude of burgers or steaks for your family and friends.

If you are looking for a dependable grill to invest in that is versatile enough to handle a variety of cooking styles, the Traeger Century 22 Wood Pellet Grill is the perfect choice for you.

smoked duck served in the plate

Smoking A Duck: Instructions On How To Make It Simple At Home

It’s grilling season. And you’re tired of making the same old thing every time you crank up the flames. Something new is needed. Something delicious is demanded. And trying duck is definitely an option. With this how-to, you’ll find that smoking a duck is easy, fast, and results in one of the most delicious meals you’ve had in a while.

Tips and Tricks for Smoking a Duck

Before you get started with smoking that delicious fowl, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

  • 1
    Smoking a whole duck is actually a little easier than smoking a chicken or turkey. A duck is entirely dark meat, meaning that you don’t have to balance the doneness of the duck, whereas you would with other fowl.
  • 2
    Dark meat may still look pink even when it’s fully cooked. Because of this, it’s important to take the temperature and determine readiness by this instead of appearance.
  • 3
    Duck fat is amazing for other things, like roasted potatoes. If you prepare the pan properly, you can catch the duck fat and use it for other meal preparations after your duck is done smoking.

How to Smoke a Duck

1. Give Yourself 24-Hour Lead Time

To best prepare your duck for smoking, you’ll want to get the duck into the refrigerator about 24 hours before you start the smoking process. Leave the duck uncovered, though, as this will help to dry the skin properly, while not allowing the meat to spoil.

If you don’t have an extra 24 hours, you can use a blow dryer on the duck to completely dry it before getting started.

2. Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need to get together the following items before you get started.

  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves – crushed
  • 2 shallots – quartered
  • 2 sticks of lemongrass – sliced into small pieces
  • 1 lime
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A whole duck
  • Cutting board
  • Knives
  • Grill/smoker
  • Fuel for smoker
  • Cherry wood
  • Water
  • Pan with wire rack
  • Thermometer

McCormick Gourmet Organic Red Peppers & Cumin Everyday Basics Variety...
  • McCormick Gourmet Organic Ground Cumin, Cayenne Red Pepper, Smoked Paprika and Crushed Red Pepper together in one set
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  • Perfect starter set for a new kitchen or addition to your current spice collection

3. Prepare the Ingredients

condiments in a the jars

Once you’ve gathered and prepared the fresh ingredients, you’ll roll the lime around on the cutting board to help release the juices. You’ll also cut a couple of holes into the sides of the lime. 

Now, you’ll need to prepare the duck by removing it from the fridge. If the skin isn’t totally dry, engage a blow dryer and get the skin dry.

To help release the fat in the duck, you’re going to poke some holes into the skin.

4. Stuff the Duck

stuffing a duck in clear cover

Put half of the shallots, garlic, and lemongrass into the cavity of the duck.

Next, put the lime in as a mid-point within the duck.

Now, put the rest of the fresh ingredients into the duck cavity.

5. Prepare the Pan

putting oil in the pan

Now that the duck is stuffed, you’re ready to get the pan and grill or smoker set.

Fill the bottom of the pan with water, close to, but not over the wire rack. This water will help to keep the duck from drying out while you smoke the meat. It will also prevent the duck fat from burning.

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Once the pan is full of water, you’ll place the duck on the wire rack.

Once the duck is placed into the pan, you can add salt and pepper to lightly flavor the skin.

6. Prepare the Smoker

clean mess free smoker

Light your chimney of charcoal or other fuel source. Prepare the grill or smoker for indirect cooking.

Add in your cherry wood for that delicious sweet smoke.

Get the temperature up to about 325 degree Fahrenheit. This is higher than usual smoking temperatures. Duck needs this higher temperature to render the fat properly.

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  • Super versatile! Grill, smoke, roast, braise, barbecue and even bake

Then, you’ll put the duck opposite the charcoal. Position the duck in the pan as far away from the direct heat as possible. You may need to rearrange the pan altogether.

7. Cook for 1 Hour 20 Minutes

smoking a duck inside the big casserole

Leave the duck on the smoker or grill for about one hour and 20 minutes. This will enable the duck to cook thoroughly. 

Once the internal temperature of the duck hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the duck is done and ready to eat.

8. Make Some Barbecue Sauce

As your duck smokes on the grill, we’d highly recommend making one of these amazing barbecue sauce recipes to try out. They’re delicious, fairly simple, and perfect for your new favorite dinner fowl.

9. Carve and Serve

slicing cooked duck

Let the duck sit for about 20 minutes before you carve and serve.

Something New, Something Delicious

For the best smoked fowl this summer, try making duck, then slathering it with one of these amazing barbecue sauces. You won’t regret trying something new, and neither will your family.

Pit Boss 820 Review

Pit Boss 820 Pellet Grill Review

As grilling season hits in full swing, you might be wondering what kind of grill you’ll need for your cooking endeavors this year.

We’ve collected together information to help you understand which kind of grill or smoker you might need, and the types of wood to use for the food you’re cooking. We’ve also pulled together a review based on real life users of the Pit Boss 820, a pellet grill and smoker.

What Types of Grills Are There?

Knowing the types of grills available can help you determine the type of grill that will most effectively meet your needs.

Propane or Gas Grills

Weber 44010001 Spirit II E-210 Black LP Outdoor Gas Grill
  • Boasts the Gs4 grilling system with improved infinity ignition, burners, porcelain-enameled Flavorizer Bars, grease...
  • Porcelain-enameled, cast iron cooking grates. Left table down width : 38 Inches
  • 26, 500 BTU-per-hour input main burners with fuel gauge. Dimensions - Lid Open (inches)57 H x 48 W x 26 D

One of the easiest types of grills to use and clean, a propane, or natural gas grill is great for those in a hurry.

Gas grills often have smoker boxes, but smoky flavor isn’t a strong feature.

Charcoal Grills

Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black
  • 250 square inches of cooking space, cast iron cooking grates, side drawer
  • Ideal for small decks or patios
  • Features Stay Cool wood handle, side shelf, double steel bottom and side air vent

The classic grilled flavor that most of us grew up with comes from a charcoal grill. Many hard-core grillers and meat smokers won’t use anything but a charcoal grill. They love the smoky flavors and deep sear marks given from charcoal grills than just about any other type of grill.

Smaller, portable charcoal grills usually don’t cost as much, though, and are perfect for taking camping, for picnics and other outings.

Electric Grills

Electric grills are one of the easiest grills to use because they don’t involve actual flames. They’re great for people who have stricter housing restrictions. Patios or porches and decks attached to buildings often do not permit charcoal, gas, or pellet grills, but electric grills are acceptable.

Electric grills may also come in both indoor and outdoor options.

The main disadvantage to an electric grill, however, is that they really don’t offer much of a smoky flavor, unless you purchase one that’s specifically a smoker that uses wood chunks.

Pellet Grills

Pit Boss Grills 72820 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill
  • Deluxe features include copper finished lids, a flame broiler, and a bottle opener
  • Dial-In digital control with led read-out
  • 100% all natural hardwood pellets

Pellet grills, or pellet smokers, are great grills that offer a lot of versatility. They sort of combine the elements of a charcoal smoker, kitchen oven, and gas grill.

Pellet smokers or grills are only appropriate for open air, outdoor spaces.

Brand to brand will vary, but pellet grills function in a variety of ways:

  • Baking
  • Smoking
  • Grilling
  • Barbecuing
  • Char-grilling
  • Roasting
  • Braising
  • Searing

Like charcoal grills, pellet grills offer some of the best flavor to your food as it cooks. You’ll need to choose the right wood pellets for the right taste, though.

Pellet grills quickly grill or smoke food, and automatically feed the pellets for you, meaning you don’t have to deal with and pay as close attention to long-term smoking projects as you would with other types of smokers.

Pellet grills feature electronic controls which helps you regulate the grill’s airflow, and maintain and regulate cooking temperatures. 

The fuel for pellet grills come from a variety of wood sources, all of which give distinctive flavors to your foods. For specific suggestions of wood types for particular foods, see the list below.

Pellets give a much cleaner burn than charcoal does, which makes some feel safer using them for cooking. Food grade pellets, however, must be what’s used, or you could risk health problems from ingesting potentially toxic smoke from non-food grade pellets.

What is Smoking Meat?

Smoking meat is a process of flavoring and preserving meat by allowing it to be exposed to smoke. This is a process that dates back to prehistoric times and has been used all throughout history for preserving the meat for times long after the death of the animal.

There are four basic meat smoking methods used.

Hot Smoking

hot smoking

Hot smoking is the most common process of smoking. When most people think of smoking meat, this is the process you’ll think of.

The hot smoking process uses an enclosed environment, such as a smokehouse or oven, in the process of smoking the meat. When meat is placed in the smokers the temperatures range from 126 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

Warm Smoking

kebab

Warm smoking is a process similar to that of hot smoking, except it takes place at a lower temperature. This smoking places the food at temperatures of 77 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the lower temperatures used, warm smoking takes longer than hot smoking.

Cold Smoking

tuna barbeque

Cold smoking is the process of preserving meat in which the meat remains raw throughout the process. Because the smoking process does not cook the meat, it is cured beforehand.

By utilizing temperatures between 68 degrees to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the food is smoked to help give it a richer taste. Some of the different kinds of meat that are used in this process include salmon, scallops, steak, and beef.

After the cold smoking process, a lot of these are grilled, steamed, baked or roasted before consumption.

Liquid Smoking

grilling meat

Liquid smoking is the application of a product to meat that replicates the taste of smoked meat flavor. This is applied to meat by either dipping or spraying.

This liquid smoke product is often added to things like barbecue sauce as well, to add that rich, smoky taste.

A Brief History of Pellet Grills

Pellet grills came about a few decades after the advent of pellet heaters in the early 1930s. Pellet heaters became exceptionally useful in the 1970s, during the shortage of oil during the crisis.

A decade after the oil crisis, Joe Traeger, the owner of a family-based heating business, started exploring the possibilities of using pellets for grills, not just heating a house or other building. In 1985, he produced his first grill, and received his patent for the grill one year later.

Before You Get to Grilling and Smoking

One of the most important aspects of successfully cooking and smoking delicious food with your pellet grill is selecting the right wood pellets.

It can get confusing, knowing which pellets to try, so we’ve pulled together the best types of wood for the types of food you’re likely to cook and smoke on your pellet grill.

Wood Types for Cooking and Smoking Pork

  • Birch
  • Cherry
  • Pear
  • Oak
  • Citrus
  • Alder
  • Almond
  • Plum
  • Pecan
  • Apricot
  • Hickory
  • Maple
  • Peach
  • Nectarine

Woods Types for Cooking and Smoking Beef

  • Pecan
  • Walnut
  • Hickory
  • Cherry
  • Mesquite
  • Oak
  • Almond
  • Ash
  • Citrus

Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black

Wood Types for Cooking and Smoking Poultry

  • Alder
  • Apricot
  • Plum
  • Almond
  • Pear
  • Pecan
  • Maple
  • Mesquite
  • Birch
  • Cherry
  • Citrus
  • Peach
  • Nectarine

Wood Types for Cooking and Smoking Cheese

  • Walnut
  • Maple
  • Alder
  • Almond
  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Hickory – for a harder smoke flavor Orange
  • Corn cob
  • Pecan
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Cherry
  • Oak

Indoor Electric Grill Indoor Electric Grill

Wood Types for Cooking and Smoking Fish

  • Ash
  • Citrus
  • Alder
  • Almond
  • Peach
  • Apricot
  • Lilac
  • Nectarine
  • Mesquite
  • Oak
  • Plum

How to Cook and Smoke with Wood Pellets

1. Get Your Pellets and Hopper Ready

After you’ve gotten your pellet grill set up and seasoned, you’re ready to go.

You’ll need to open the pellet hopper. These are on the back or the side of a pellet grill.

You’ll need to fill the hopper with the pellets of your choice, as discussed above. 

Don’t forget to close the hopper lid.

2. Ready Your Grill and​​​​ Turn it On

Just like with all other types of grills, you have a little bit of preparation work. Thankfully, pellet grills are fairly easy to understand, since they have those handy electronic control panels. 

Find the cooking mode and turn it to “Cook.” 

Next, you’ll need to set the control to “Ignite,” and the press the “Start” button.

3. Make Adjustments According to the Plans

Once you notice smoke coming out during the start-up cycle, you’ll need to close the lid.

Wait for the smoke to clear and look for the flame in the burn pot. Once you see that, your grill is ready for use.

4. Preheat Your Grill

Now that your grill is ready to use, you’ll need to pre-heat it according to the food you’re planning to cook. Turn the control to the “Pre-heat” mode, and let it run for about 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Use Your Recipes and Plans

Your recipes or plans will give specific instructions for the temperatures you’re going to need to set your grill to for preparing the kind of food you’re making. A basic guideline is:

  • 500-550 degrees Fahrenheit for lamb chops, steak, and hamburgers.
  • 350 degrees Fahrenheit is standard for cooking ham, pork, and chicken.
  • 310 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for cooking turkey or doing slow cooking for things like ribs.

You’ll need to flip veggies and meats throughout the process of cooking, so make you sure you keep an eye on the clock to help avoid burning one side or the other.

6. Clean that Grill

After you’ve removed all of your food when it’s been cooked, it’s important to clean the grill to both maintain its quality, prolong its life, and make your grill easier to use in future.

Turn the heat to high to burn off the food residue. If you were smoking with the grill, remember to re-set the control back to “Cook.” This should take about ten minutes.

After the grill is clean, turn off the heat and let the grill cool before using brushes or cleansers to clean up the fallen residue or ash.

What is the Pit Boss 820?

Pit Boss Grills 72820 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill

The Pit Boss 820 is a pellet smoker marketed by Dansons. The Pit Boss line offers different models which include the Small 340, Medium 440 Deluxe, Large 820, and 820 Deluxe. The number in the name indicates the number of square inches of space usable for cooking/smoking surface. This number also includes the warmer space. So, the Pit Boss 820 has 820 square inches of cooking and warming space.

The Pit Boss has a 16-gauge black coated steel cast iron grate and has a secondary removable cooking rack and wire lower shelf. The Pit Boss 820 includes a handle on the left side of the grill to aid moving the smoker more easily across cement aprons, grassy yards, or even gravel.

What Do the Reviews Say About the Pit Boss 820 Grill?

Positive Reviews

While the Pit Boss 820 is similar to a variety of models from Traeger, the Pit Boss models are significantly less expensive than Traegers. If you’re on a tighter budget, that’s definitely a positive worth noting. Professional reviewers have noted that the Pit Boss 820 is quite similar to these more expensive models, so worth purchasing instead of their counterparts.

Some positive reviews state that the grill is easy to use. They’re so easy to use that brand new grillers feel great about the new found interest, and the Pit Boss helps to perpetuate their interest in grilling when other models might not have had the same effect. 

The Pit Boss also has a great built-in safety feature that’s handy for newbies. The screen cover on the hopper helps prevent you from burning your fingers. If you’re at all clumsy, that’s definitely a feature you’ll want to keep in mind as you look at pellet grills.

Negative Reviews

One thing that professional reviewers noted is that the warranties for the Pit Boss are for one year, while other brands, like Traeger, may be for longer, like three years. The machines are quality, but longer warranties are always better.

Another negative aspect mentioned is the electronics in the control panel make the Pit Boss require a steady electrical connection, unlike non-electric models.

One of the specific negatives about the Pit Boss is that it apparently requires a lot of pellets to keep the temperatures high enough. If pellet use efficiency is a big factor for you, you should compare the Pit Boss with reviews on other models to see how well they rank comparatively.

What Do We Say About the Pit Boss 820?

Overall, the Pit Boss 820 is a great model that compares with higher end models for a lot less money. You won’t be getting the top of the line, but you’ll be getting a sturdy machine that can handle being used quite a bit.

The Pit Boss offers a one-year warranty, safety features, and other positives that earn it our recommendation for one of the best lower-budget pellet grills.

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