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How to Build The Lump Pile

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  • CeramicChef
    Former Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 1188
    • OKC, OK

    How to Build The Lump Pile




    Howdy again, Meathead Maniacs!

    Sorry it has been so long since the last installment of out last installment of Kamado Cooking. I've been up to my ears in alligators.

    Breadhead deserves a HUGE portion of thanks for what follows. Breadhead was gracious enough to lend his BGE and his expertise in lump piles to our efforts here. KUDOS! Thanks so much for your help! It's greatly appreciated. I"ll try and remember to point out his contributions as we progress. So, let's get started!

    Whenever I have someone ask me questions concerning about kamados that can't get up to temp, maintain temp, or fires that extinguish, invariably the answer is found in the guts of the kamado. Literally. Everything starts in the lump pile and that resides in the fire bowl of every kamado.

    Remember from our first discussion that kamados need to breathe and the vents help regulate how efficient that creating process is. Remember the various configurations of fire grates we briefly discussed? Here is a look at a basic BGE fire grate :

    Click image for larger version

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    You can see the fire grate plainly labeled. Notice the holes. in the fire grate. Those allow for good airflow into the lump pile.

    If those become blocked for whatever reason, airflow is reduced and the fire can't breathe properly. This equates to fires that can't reach temps, fires that starve and extinguish. Here is a picture of the culprits that can give you so much trouble by plugging up the fire grate. Click image for larger version

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    These are little shard of lump that in an improperly built lump pile that can fall down through the lump pile and plug the holes in the basic fire grate and lead to such problems as were mentioned above.

    Now here is a picture of a grate that Breadhead uses.

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    I want you to notice that in this picture, the fire grate has much more of an open feel to it. It facilitates more air flow than the standard fire grate above. There is also an added benefit to this fire grate ... it is MUCH less likely to be plugged up by small bit of charcoal falling down through the lump pile during a cook. I think you can see the benefit of a fire grate like this versus the standard fire grate. Don't get me wrong, I think the standard fire grate is fine ... I cooked with one for years and they work well if you build your lump pile correctly, and as we shall see, Breadhead certainly does that!

    There are two basic ways to build a lump pile. I'll cover my method first and then we'll cover the method used by our friend, Breadhead. I'm a dumper; I just dump lump into my cooker. Breadhead lays his lump in the fire bowl in a very specific way for a very specific purpose.

    First, The Lump Dump!

    Here is a look back into TheBeast, my Komodo Kamado Big Bad 32". As you can see and probably remember, TheBeast handles charcoal and airflow completely differently than any other kamado. There is no fire bowl and no fire grate.

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    Notice the bits of lump laying in the bottom. In a normal kamado cooker, those would have posed a real problem. BTW, that's all the ash accumulates after something like 10-12 cooks. That is on major reason why I use lump instead of briquettes. After every other cook in TheBEast, I'll pull the lump basket and sweep with my broom all the ash to the back of the belly of The Beast. Maybe you can see that above.

    For EVERY, and I mean EVERY low-n-slow cook, I completely empty all ash from the belly of TheBeast. I don't want anything getting in the way of great airflow to and through my lump pile. Here is TheBeast completely leaned out of ash.

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    Now here is a picture of TheBeast with his 2nd lump basket in place and ready to receive lump:

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    As you can see here, all airflow is channeled up through the lump held by the lump basket. There is no other place for air flow to go.

    Now here is a picture of lump sitting in the lump basket. Notice the white on some pieces. That lump was used in a previous cook. Click image for larger version

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    Previously used lump will work just fine. Remember the picture of the belly of TheBeast above that showed ash and some small lump pieces? Well, all I do is grab my lump basket, give it a couple or three really good shakes, and the ash falls through the lump pile into the belly of TheBeast. That's how that charcoal got there. TO reuse lump, just get the old ash off and you're good to go.

    Now here is a picture of that same lump basket with new lump just dumped on top of the old lump. Once I finish dumping in new lump, I shake the basket to insure good lump contact within the lump pile.

    Click image for larger version

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    Notice that through out both lump pile pictures above, there are interspersed pieces of large, medium, and small lump. That's what I'm looking for. There is enough space for within the pile for air to freely flow. That's what make for a good fire ... fire has access to fuel and air. Finally, here is the dumped lump pile ready to light.



    Breadhead was gracious enough to help me out with everything that follows. Any errors are mine and unintended.

    This is a much more meticulous way of building a lump pile. It is meant to facilitate airflow through the lump pile and works well for most people. I'll do my best to talk about this as we go through and any questions can be quite ably be answered by Breadhead.

    Here again, everything starts with a clean kamado. Notice that no ash is seen and the kamado is spotless (a clean kamado is a safe kamado ... more on that in future posts.). The grate is cleaned of all charcoal chards, and the bottom is clean and unobstructed. This is where air enters the kamado. For every low-n-slow use this technique or use this technique if it has been a few cooks since you cleaned out the ash in your cooker.

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    Now Breadhead purposely lays in a good number of the bigger pieces he's found in his lump bag. Ye indeed! Our Friend, and others, sort through their lump and and separate their lump into large, medium, and small pieces. They want that separation because they lay small pieces on the bottom, then medium, and finally small on top when creating their lump piles.

    Here is the large laid in first.

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    Next Breadhead lays in a good layer of medium and some small sized pieces on top of that to create a lump pile that will support a fire for hours.

    Click image for larger version

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    Here is picture of his method for starting his fires ... an electric loop lighter.

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    So what we have seen here is that there are a couple of different ways to get to the same point. Our Friend, Breadhead, uses a very deliberate methodology to lay in his lump pile. I, on the other hand, dump the lump and shake it. So why the different methods? Well, it's quite simple. Different cookers call for different methods. The BGE that Breadhead uses is an entirely different cooker with its own idiosyncrasies than my KK.

    Breadhead has found, though experience what works best for him and the types of cooks that he does. So too, with myself and TheBeast. You also need to factor in the brand of lump charcoal you use. If I remember correctly, Breadhead uses Royal Oak, a good middle of the road brand of lump. Conversely, I use FOGO, a premium brand. RO generally has a good assortment of sizes in each bag. FOGO tends to be about 75% XXL and XL sized pieces with about 20% M and 5% S and fines.

    Again, big time THANKS! to my Friend, Breadhead for all his help in putting this together.

    Questions, Comments, Discussions?
    Last edited by CeramicChef; June 6th, 2016, 11:04 AM.
  • Jerod Broussard
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    • Jun 2014
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    #2
    I like the how different parts are speaking what they are.....groovy.

    Comment

    • CeramicChef
      Former Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 1188
      • OKC, OK

      #3
      One last thing. was kind enough to include a link to his method of lump pile construction that details it in much more detail than I did above. That link takes you to the Naked Whiz which is a real tour-de-force on all things charcoal!

      Comment

      • martybartram
        Former Member
        • Apr 2016
        • 462
        • Vass, NC

        #4
        Excellent explanation! Keep pumping out the information!

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks! The feedback is appreciated.
      • LA Pork Butt
        Charter Member
        • Dec 2014
        • 5071
        • Grew up in New Orleans, lived in Texas for 20 years, lived in Mandeville, LA for 22 years. I now liv

        #5
        CeramicChef As usual you did a great job explaining. The pics help. Far too often directions are give in words only and sometimes with pictures and a inadequate number of words. I think I would dump if I was paying for premium priced Fogo, but I use Royal Oak which usually has an adequate number of large and medium pieces for a couple of 12 hour cooks. I follow the large, medium, small stacking method for long cooks. For 6 hour or less cooks I dump.

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          LA Pork Butt - our friend, Breadhead follows your calculus. For low-n-slow cooks, he's a stacker. For everything else, he dumps, or so he tells me.

          Whatever puts good BBQ on the table that family and friends rave about, keep doing it!

        • Breadhead
          Breadhead commented
          Editing a comment
          I only use the detailed stacking method for LONG low and slow cooks like pork butts & briskets. Those cooks are usually 14 to 16 hour cooks and I'm going to sleep through much of the first 10 hours of the cook. Making sure my I's are dotted and T's are crossed allows me to sleep without worrying.😎
      • 5698k
        Charter Member
        • Oct 2014
        • 6
        • New Orleans

        #6
        Airflow is everything. I'm a dumper like CC, and once, even while using a cyberq, I had a fire go out! I stopped using that particular coal btw. So now I'm still a dumper, but I simply pay close attention to the coal as I dump. I also clean more than necessary, I use a shop vac with a drywall filter, works like a champ.

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          Rob - I tried to lay lump in the BGE I had years ago. A buddy told me how to do it. I couldn't see any appreciable difference to the dump method taught to me by my kamado mentor. I went back to dumping. Laying in was too dirty and too much effort, at least for me!

        • 5698k
          5698k commented
          Editing a comment
          I find that the dump method works with any decent charcoal.

        • Breadhead
          Breadhead commented
          Editing a comment
          Guys... For new BGE owners that didn't have a Kamado mentor, like me, and most of us that buy them not knowing anything about airflow, fires going out and the inability to get 1 load of lump to burn long enough to finish a 16 hour cook, is a very common problem.
      • Breadhead
        Banned Former Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 1

        #7
        Great job on this topic CeramicChef ...

        I actually use the ABSOLUTE cheapest lump I can find😆 I buy it at Smart & Final. It's called the "Best in the West". It's made in Mexico and it is 100% mesquite. It sells for $18 for a 40lb bag. That's $0.45 per pound.👌 1 firebox full of that lump will cook for more than 24 hours at 225° degrees.

        In the 5 years I've been cooking on/in my large BGE I've had 1 fire go out while I was sleeping. That was one of my first low and slow cooks. When I got up in the morning excited to check on my BGE I was completely perplexed about what happened. That was before I understood the importance of air flow in a ceramic cooker. I got my fire restarted and then went online to research exactly why that happened. I ended up on the Nakedwhiz and found an article written by a highly experienced BGE Pit Master, Elder Ward.

        Here is a direct link to that article. It's a better link than you posted above. http://www.nakedwhiz.com/elder.htm

        Scroll down to: Part 1- The Fire.

        Scroll down some more to his Hush Puppy recipe too. It's very good.😎
        Last edited by Breadhead; June 6th, 2016, 12:29 PM.

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          This is a really good article for those who like to lay a lump pile with precision. Thanks, Buddy!

        • Breadhead
          Breadhead commented
          Editing a comment
          LOL... All I needed to motivate me to do it properly was to wake up one morning with a fire that had gone out...😡

          It's never happened again and I can cook for at least 24 hours at 225° using that method.👌

        • Spinaker
          Spinaker commented
          Editing a comment
          Do you guys use digi que or BBQ GURU to keep your fire rolling on those long cooks? I find that I cant go that long with one load of lump. I feel like my fire gets snuffed out. Thanks Breadhead CeramicChef
      • Pequod
        Club Member
        • Apr 2016
        • 475
        • Crozet, VA
        • Gear
          • Komodo Kamado 23" Ultimate
          • Komodo Kamado 32" Big Bad
          • Medium Konro

        #8
        CeramicChef, Breadhead. Great post as always. Can you comment on the Kickash basket that many seem to be fond of? Is it worth it? How would you use it in the "lumping" process?

        Comment


        • Breadhead
          Breadhead commented
          Editing a comment
          See my post below this one. I'm all in on the Kick ash basket as of today.

        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          Pequod - anything that improves airflow I'm all for. I know a lot of folks use them and like them, really like them. Talk to Breadhead. He just got one.

        • Pequod
          Pequod commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks, I've ordered a Kickash as well. All of my cookers past and present use fireboxes that promote excellent airflow, so found it odd that my new KJ -- being highly sensitive to airflow -- was so limited.
      • Breadhead
        Banned Former Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 1

        #9
        I've made another decision about gadgets to improve and simplify my method of filling and dumping my firebox too. I'm now using the FishBone grate over the bottom opening of the firebox. That inexpensive grate made a noticable improvement in airflow.

        However today I ordered an ash basket. That will eliminate a need for the FishBone grate all together. It might be another slight improvement in airflow, I'm not sure yet. What really attracted me to it was the ability to remove the basket after a cook and shake it over my trash can to get rid of the ash on the unused lump.

        I think it was probably a copy of what CeramicChef & 5698k have in their Komodo Kamado's. In my mind it will improve airflow, certainly over the BGE supplied grate and it makes things much simpler.

        This is the link to the "Kick Ash Basket" I ordered.👍
        http://www.amazon.com/Kick-Ash-Baske...7SW415C3E3XVYV
        Last edited by Breadhead; June 6th, 2016, 01:32 PM.

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          Breadhead - everyone I know loves the KAB for the ability to shake out the ash from the previous cook. It's only after a few cooks that they understand how much airflow has improved.
      • fuzzydaddy
        Charter Member
        • Nov 2014
        • 4949
        • Winchester TN
        • Hardware
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        #10
        Great write up and photos CeramicChef and thank you Breadhead for your contributions. For long cooks on my XL Egg I also place the lump - large / medium / small. The KickAsh basket is on my list for one of these days purchases. Here's a photo of my XL after my last 14 hour pork butt cook. There's a lot of Fogo lump left.

        Click image for larger version

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        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          fuzzydaddy - Thanks for the feedback When we get to discussing what makes for good charcoal, I'd like you, if you would, to give us your take on FOGO. I'm a little biased as I've been using it in TheBeast to great effect for some time. Your comments would be appreciated.

        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          I once had a FOGO fire in TheBeast that went over 50 hours at a temp of 350F +/- about 10 degrees before the fired died out. Nothing but ashes in the belly of TheBeast. There are reports of a KK that went 80 hours at 225 on a load of lump.
      • Breadhead
        Banned Former Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 1

        #11
        CeramicChef ... How did you make out on that bet in the waiting room waiting for the baby to be born? Was it the over or the under?

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          Well, I won. I am donating the winnings ($5) to Bellamy, the baby, for the first few bucks in his College Fund.

        • Breadhead
          Breadhead commented
          Editing a comment
          You're a good man CeramicChef ...👍
      • Sanjosedale
        Former Member
        • Apr 2016
        • 11

        #12
        What about adding smoking wood, if any. What is your technique?

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          Sanjosedale - that is one very fine question. I'm thinking of doing an entire post on just smoke woods ... how and when to place smoke wood, various types of smoke wood, what to do with partially burnt smoke wood, an alternative method of employing smoke wood, etc.

        • Sanjosedale
          Sanjosedale commented
          Editing a comment
          That would be great. For the longest time, I just put a chuck or two on top of my fire, and was fairly disappointed in the results.

          A stupid question, you all start your reply with Sanjosedale in red font....how do you create that? Must be a short cut?

        • Sanjosedale
          Sanjosedale commented
          Editing a comment
          Never mind...LOL I see I just did it!!
      • Breadhead
        Banned Former Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 1

        #13
        Sanjosedale ... Now that is a great question.

        That one stumped me for a long time. I kept trying various methods if and when I thought I needed to add wood chunks. If you place your wood chunks in properly before you install your plate setter you will RARELY need to add wood chunks though.

        Here's how I solved that problem. For all of my long low and slow cooks I use the Weber double hinged grate, instead of my BGE grate, over the plate setter, legs up. So if I want to add wood chunks I make sure they will fit between the gap between plate setter and the fire ring, that's about an inch and a half. I drop the wood chunks in and then use my wiggle stick to move them on to the fire where I want them.

        Be sure when you place your meat on the grate that you have access to at least one of those hinges if not both.

        Problem solved.👍😎
        Last edited by Breadhead; June 6th, 2016, 04:22 PM.

        Comment


        • Sanjosedale
          Sanjosedale commented
          Editing a comment
          What about the initial pile, do you distribute chunks throughout the lump, so you get new ones starting at various times?

        • 5698k
          5698k commented
          Editing a comment
          Not really, it's surprising how little lump is used in a given cook, you'll likely not but half your chunks if you spread them out.
      • Breadhead
        Banned Former Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 1

        #14
        Sanjosedale ...

        Yes... I put the biggest chunk right over the very small fire right after I pull out my electric starter. I want it to catch on fire for a few minutes before I put the plate setter in and put on the grate. I don't want it to burn more than 2 or 3 minutes but by letting it burn a little before you starve it of airflow to put the flames out, you will get thin blue smoke faster.

        I use more wood than Meathead suggest in my BGE but not a lot more. I place all the other wood chunks an inch and no more than 2 inches from the smoldering lump. That way as your fire spreads new smoke activates. Remember what Meathead taught us though... After your meat reaches 160° it's not going to accept more smoke.

        As soon as I get thin blue smoke hopefully by the time my cooking temperature at the grate level is not over 200° I put my pork butts and briskets on right out of the refrigerator. I try to cook at about 200° for the first hour and then I tell my DigiQ Dx2 to take it up to 225°, which is what I always cook at for big clods of meat.

        Comment


        • Sanjosedale
          Sanjosedale commented
          Editing a comment
          great, pretty much how I been doin it!

        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          Sanjosedale - Breadhead pretty much hits it square on the head. First, I NEVER use chips. They're a pain and burn up much to quickly. I put chunks in concentric circles around the single source fire much as Breadhead. I've stumbled on a better method. That's upcoming.
      • Danjohnston949
        Former Member
        • Dec 2014
        • 4436
        • 1410 9th. St. N, Fargo ND

        #15
        CeramicChef, Breadhead, Grrrraaaaa8888888 Post Fellers! 👍👍👍👍👍. This Old Buck even learned a few things! I have never been arround a Ceramic in Use with the exception of Store Demo's!
        THANKS! Eat Well and Prosper! From Fargo ND, Dan

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          Danjohnston949 - Buddy, you're more than welcome What we're trying to accomplish here is show the versatility of the kamado style cooker and give everyone an idea of what we have found works for us, kind of a Best Practices kind of thing if you will!

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      Click here to read our detailed review and to order


      Pit Barrel Cooker Smoker

      The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy

      The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier. Best of all, it is only $299 delivered to your door!

      Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them


      The Undisputed Champion!

      thermapen

      The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is considered by the pros, and our team, to be the single best instant read thermometer. Don't accept cheap substitutes.  Click here to read our test results and comprehensive review and why it won our Platinum Medal .


      Compact Powerful Sear Machine For Your Next Tailgater

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      Char-Broil's Grill2Go x200 is a super-portable, fun little sizzler made of heavy, rust-proof cast aluminum. The lid snaps shut. Grab the handle and you're off to the party! Char-Broil's TRU-Infrared design produces searing heat while reducing fuel consumption. A 16 ounce LP gas canister is enough to keep you flipping burgers for hours.

      Click here to read our detailed review and to order


      The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted

      NK-22-Ck Grill

      Their NK22CK-C Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It's hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the NK22CK-C a viable alternative.

      Click here for more about what makes this grill special


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      G&F Suede Welder's Gloves

      Heat Resistant Gloves With Extra Long Sleeves Hold The Hot Stuff

      If you're using oven mitts at the grill, it's time to trade up. Say hello to these suede welder's gloves. They're heat resistant enough to handle hot grill grates, and flexible enough to handle tongs. The extra long sleeves even let you reach deep into the firebox to move hot logs without getting burned. Our Fave.

      Click here to read our detailed review

      Click here to order from Amazon


      GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone

      grill grates

      GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill needs them.

      Click here for more about what makes these grates so special


      PK 360 grill

      Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?

      The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it's easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado. Beautifully designed and completely portable. Meathead says it is his preferrred grill.

      Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360

      Click here to order it direct from PK and get a special deal for AmazingRibs.com readers only


      kareubequ bbq smoker

      Our Favorite Backyard Smoker

      The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period.

      Click here for our review of this superb smoker


      Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker

      masterbuilt gas smoker

      The First Propane Smoker With A Thermostat Makes This Baby Foolproof

      Set ThermoTemp's dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin'.

      Click here to read our detailed review


      Fireboard: The Ultimate Top Of The Line BBQ Thermometer

      fireboard bbq thermometer

      With the ability to monitor up to six temperatures simultaneously with either Bluetooth or Wifi on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer, Fireboard is the best digital thermometer we’ve tested.

      Click here to read our detailed review


      Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker

      Green Mountain Davey Crockett Grill

      Green Mountain's portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it's also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

      Click here to read our detailed review and to order