Why I'm About to Weigh 400 lbs. And Reek Of Hickory Smoke
I blame Terry Bradshaw. Him, and my buddy Dana. And my wife. Yeah. Her too.
They are all the reason that I'm about to put on massive amounts of weight AND end up smelling like burned hickory chips by the end of summer.
All had a hand in turning me on to the wonders of the Traeger grill. Bradshaw is their celebrity spokesperson...
...my friend Dana is a Treager devotee and the closest thing to Bobby Flay I know, while my wife pretty much had the thing bought before she "invited" me to a hardware store cooking demonstration where I was allowed to "decide" if we were going to jump in.
We're coming up on our first week with the pellet-burning wonder, and so far, so good. After some initial questions about just how hot the little bugger gets (the built-in thermometer at the top of the rig was showing that we were cooking at lower temps than promised) we are now assured that our Traeger is burning as warm as it should, delivering quality grub without mess or flare-up.
I've gone full-circle from being a man a week ago who was more than content with his Weber charcoal grill to being a complete Traeger convert. I have no Weber hate, and will probably unlimber my old set-up a few times this summer, but for now my Traeger will get the first call when raw meat is in play.
The Traeger premise is pretty simple: there's a kettle (the big black thing on the right) where the cooking magic happens, and a control unit (the square thing on the left) which contains a bin for the pellets and an auger that feeds them into the fire chamber. There's also a blower fan, and a three-setting switch for "smoke", "medium" and "high" heat.
The heat inside is even, and there are no flare ups since there is no flame near the food. The evenness of the heat makes baking a breeze (our Papa Murphy's pizza Tuesday night was incredible), and the "smoke" setting allows you to infuse your grub with as much hickory, mesquite and other flavoring as you want.
Traeger grills aren't cheap--my wife and I bought a smaller version on sale, and a full-sized unit runs over $600. The pellets are $15 or so a bag. You can buy accessories and Traeger-endorsed grill seasonings if you want, although I understand there is a whole web universe of Traeger-philes who have recipes and tips all their own.
I don't offer this up as a commercial--we paid full price for our rig and there is no quid-pro-quo--but I know how much we like to grill in these parts. I've seen people practically come to blows arguing the merits of gas versus charcoal, so I figure a new-ish technology like the Traeger is in play with those of us who like to burn a slab in the great outdoors.
I invite your comments, your warnings, and your questions, not to mention any road-tested Traeger recipes/websites you'd like to pass on.