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Hunting for Dream Cooker - Advice *Hugely* Appreciated!

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    Hunting for Dream Cooker - Advice *Hugely* Appreciated!

    Hi all,
    I've been saving for a few years for as close to an 'all in one' cooker that I can find - and luckily stumbled upon ecowper's very similar ask - I'm continuing to re-read his helpful post, but I have slightly different parameters. So if y'all will bear with me and provide input I'd be sincerely grateful. For background, I caught the smoking bug when a neighbor in my building parked his (very poorly) modified COS in our backyard, I sling some great pulled pork and decent ribs - but I'm still learning (jonesing to try a brisket) plenty.

    Thank you ecowper for this great set of questions:
    - What is my budget - all in I'd like to stay below $6k - there's some wiggle room but I have other commitments this year so l need to be reasonable.

    - How long do I plan to own this
    Probably the rest of my life - unless there's some magical outdoor kitchen waiting for me somewhere in the future with a huge pizza oven and built in smoker

    - How much cooking capacity do I need
    At least room for a ~9-11 lb pork shoulder and a bunch of chicken wings (maybe ~ 5-6 lbs). Though this amount may vary quite a bit depending on what part of the country I move to after CA (just got here, unclear how many years I'll stay).

    - Is this a multi-purpose, do it all cooker? Or is it just for smoking, just for direct heat grilling, etc
    During research over the last 3 months-ish I've become pretty excited about the idea of raising/lowering heat/charcoal/wood to/from meat and yet still having the ability to get a legitimate smoke ring.
    I confess I don't much care for the look of cabinet or vertical smokers & due to the way I cook my smoked wings I really enjoy having a fair amount of real estate to play with

    - How complicated do I want things to be? Am I tending fire every 30 minutes? Or do I want to set it up and be able to leave for the day, come home and my food is done? Or something in between?
    I love playing with fire / learning to manage the fire on the COS I learned on was one of the most fun parts of the whole experience. And cooking is actually a de-stresser for me. However, I hope to have kids in a few years so something that at least holds temps well (and/or can be set up with charcoal when necessary in a less time intensive manner) is a must.

    - What flavor profile do I enjoy? True live fire smoke? Charcoal plus smoke? Light or heavy on the smoke and fire taste?
    Ideal is true fire, but the time and space requirements for a pure stick burner and maybe only a kettle (if any 2nd cooker) doesn't seem practical. Love bold smoke flavor, enjoy charcoal, not sure a pellet grill will get that awesome level of smoke or allow for a killer sear on steaks etc.

    - How much learning curve do I want?
    Happy to spend quite a lot of time learning / getting better. But would rather something that doesn't take tons of set-up time each and every cook (for example AZ Fogey mentioned how long it seems to set up the AZ BBQ for each cook - that sounds like too much fussing probably).

    - How much space do I have?
    Not a ton, but enough for the 3 I've narrowed it down to (see below).

    - What sorts of stuff do I want to cook on this? Straight forward backyard stuff like pork butt and ribs? Or am I doing brisket, hanging my own sausage, cold smoking fish, cooking pots of beans on it?
    Pork shoulders, brisket, steaks, burgers, chicken, turkey, chicken wings, ribs, lamb (bonus if there's a way to add a rotisserie).

    Current list is narrowed to:
    1. LSG Adjustable Smoker - takes charcoal & wood, has large + dual zone cooking space with ash tray, USA made, adjusts heat to meat ratio. Doesn't seem to have a rotisserie option, fireboxes seem a smidge small (can they even take whole logs?) and lead time seems to be seriously intense. (@CaptainMike would love to know what adjustments / accessories you put on yours!)
    2. Engelbrecht Braten 1000 - love how beautifully this presents, charcoal & wood - has an offset option and obviously has the Santa Maria function, and USA made. Unfortunately, this seems too small to 'last a lifetime' if we ever leave COVID and I get to throw parties again. They make a '2000' version, but that doesn't seem to come with the offset option and I can't quite envision how much bigger that is than the 1000.
    3. M-Grills MOAG or M1 ? (I'm not entirely sure I follow what the difference is - but maybe mostly size?)
    LSG 24X48 Adjustable
    [ATTACH=CONFIG]n995843[/ATTACH]

    Engelbrecht Braten 1000
    [ATTACH=CONFIG]n995844[/ATTACH]

    M36

    Click image for larger version

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    *Also, if you use an acronym would you mind explaining what it is? I'm new to the Pit and can't say I've figured out even half of them.

    Any thoughts / suggestions / tips / tricks are all hugely appreciated. Also if anyone has favorite thermometers / related gadgets or could point me towards where I can find posts on those please share!

    Thank you!

    #2
    I feel like I am rather unqualified to provide a lucrative an useful answer to yer question, at present, given my present lack of cookers.

    That bein said, as a Mandatory Disclaimer kinda thingy, have ya looked at / considered th Hasty Bake 356?

    It Does It All. Most Likely my next MCS purchase, an I own a few, have experienced em, one could safely say.

    Comment


    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Mr. Bones - I was actually kind of set on a Hasty Bake before finding the 3 above. I’d love to see one in action / have heard great things & deeply respect a company that builds to last generations! Might need to put it back on the list.

    #3
    Great write up and love how you answered all the questions. Mr. Bones added the Hasty Bake to that mix and that would also be a great addition. I have owned one and did not have the time that you are willing to give to the learning curve but they are good cookers. Never seen a Lone Star but have read enough about them and heard from others here on the Pit to believe that you sure could not go wrong with one. Best of luck!

    Comment


    • DavidNorcross
      DavidNorcross commented
      Editing a comment
      Sure. I do not mind telling you I trade cookers alot though. So just be warned. Hopefully, I have settled in for a bit. The food off the Hasty Bake was fantastic. My main issues was the air leaks in trying to do long cooks. Many on this forum do not have an issue. For me it was one that I could not overcome. I have settled on a Grilla Silverbac and have moved to the pellet world. So far VERY happy. I also have a Grilla Primate that I use as a griddle and for searing. Great combination.

    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      DavidNorcross, interesting - trading around sounds fun but maybe a smidge complicated for me. How’s the smoke on your longer cooks with the Grillas?

    • DavidNorcross
      DavidNorcross commented
      Editing a comment
      You are not going to get a huge smoke profile with a pellet smoker. However, I have been more than pleased with the flavor and the results without question. I have not been disappointed at all. Great cooker and very pleased with the quality and service from Grilla.

    #4
    Any one of those three is going to serve you well, and be with you for a long time. I've never cooked on or even seen any of those three in person, so I'll leave actual recommendations to people that know more than me about each one.

    Fair warning.
    You are going to get swamped by folks that love their cooker, and think everyone should get one just like theirs. The worst offenders are the pellet heads (I'm in that camp), and the Flaming Garbage Can crowd (aka barrel smokers). They mean well, but don't let them distract you. You have narrowed it down to three solid cookers.

    Comment


    • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
      ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
      Editing a comment
      I mean she said she likes playing with fire so both those options are immediately off the table
      Last edited by ItsAllGoneToTheDogs; November 8, 2021, 11:01 AM.

    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Lol, you’re both right willxfmr and ItsAllGoneToTheDogs I was thinking if I’m ‘just supposed to be purely practical’ then I should get some sort of ceramic or barrel smoker… but part of the whole — save for a few years to get what you really want — sort of makes those options much less appealing. I mean there’s still an oven in the kitchen

    #5
    I’m not going to recommend that you get any of your three finalists, the Hasty Bake, or any other single cooker. I think you are bound to be disappointed with your choice if you go with one machine to do it all. The cooker that is best at everything hasn’t been invented yet.

    Your budget is large enough to afford a top flight grill with a rotisserie option and a top flight smoker. I don’t know what those machines should be. I know you wouldn’t like my setup of a gas grill and a pellet smoker, but I’m at the set it and forget stage of cooking.

    By the way, you can see what cookers most posters have by checking their signatures - the little pen nib looking thing below their names. That way you’ll have some idea of their biases coming in.

    Good luck and happy cooking!.

    Comment


    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      SC Grillmore the difference with griddle cooking is that I can prepare a meal on the griddle that would take multiple batches in 4 skillets on all the burners on my indoor stove, all at once. A 12 inch skillet or even a 14 inch wok has nothing on a 4 or 6 burner outdoor griddle with 600 to 900 square inches of space. And clean up is so easy. Scrape, oil, done. Go back and cover up when cooled down.

    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      Griddles (cast iron or steel) can be had to go on gas or charcoal grills, as an option to dediated griddles. Planchas are popular too. It's just an entirely different kind of cooking.

    • DavidNorcross
      DavidNorcross commented
      Editing a comment
      A griddle is by far my most used cooker. Would not live without.

    #6
    All three of these are phenomenal. In my research for an offset I looked at the LSG and M1 but they didn’t make the final cut because I was looking for something more traditional. Regardless both appear to be well made and likely will last a lifetime if not longer. Dry excited for whatever you decide and to see where you end up.

    Comment


    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Baltimorelger- what did you end up going with? More of a stick burner ?

    • Baltimorelger
      Baltimorelger commented
      Editing a comment
      Yep! I went with a Meadow Creek TS70P (there is a local dealer near me). I also have a few others though (Pit Barrel Cooker, Grilla OG, PKGo, and a Blackstone, so my bases are pretty covered on fuel type and methods)

    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Baltimorelger - that MC looks pretty nice! I’m starting to think maybe the two cooker approach is the way to go - though work has been crazy so I’m still trying to get through everyone’s comments. *Also just saw someone’s made a Santa Maria option for a Webber (🤯), not sure I need that but it’s a good reminder that kettles have alllll the possible mods.

    #7
    I have a LSG Adjustable, Pull Handle, Large Wheels, SS Grates, RH Shelf, 2 Temp Gauges, and Temp Controller Ports. I've had it since April of 2021 and used it a few times per week. Would I buy again...Yes definitely. I've cooked all kinds of food on it and really like the size because it gives me several heat zones with it's size, top shelf, and adjustable charcoal grates. There's just my Wife and me to cook for most of the time but when we have Family home or Company come over it fills all my needs. Even though I usually use B&B Lump charcoal, I wish I would have gotten the Fire Management Basket as I want to try it as a Stick Burner. My small Oak wood Splits come from a neighbor. Hope this helps SC Grillmore . Good luck with your decision. I'm not familiar enough with the other cookers you mentioned to comment on them.
    Last edited by Skip; November 8, 2021, 06:35 AM.

    Comment


    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Skip! Do you mind sharing what SS Grates and an RH shelf are?

    • Panhead John
      Panhead John commented
      Editing a comment
      SS is short for stainless steel and RH is for right hand….shelf.

    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you Skip! Do you use it much for low and slow? I’m starting to think that if I keep a Webber grill then is the bigger cooker more of a smoker option? (Thank you again for your thoughts!!)

    #8
    Take a look at AZ BBQ Outfitters Scottsdale Grill. Ticks off all you boxes. Check out the Boothill as well.

    http://www.azbbqgrills.com/page-1/



    Also the Klose Grill Chef

    https://bbqpits.com/wp-content/uploa...Grill_2016.pdf

    All your choices are good just giving you more options.
    Last edited by Old Glory; November 8, 2021, 07:13 AM.

    Comment


    #9
    I am biased, since I am sold on Kamado cookers. I would recommend the Slow and Sear Sear Kamado which I believe would meet all your needs. The Slow and Sear solves the weakest point of most Kamados which is grilling. They smoke well, and really shine in in the 325-375 cooking range. Add a controller and you are set to go for inside of 2K. In addition, it should last a lifetime. Big Green Egg offers a lifetime warranty, but the meter will be ticking on add ons which you still should be able to get in for 2K. If grilling is more your think you could add a Slow and Sear Kettle to the mix.
    Last edited by LA Pork Butt; November 8, 2021, 06:58 AM.

    Comment


    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      I will also say that if you build a fire in the bottom, you end up with 3 levels for direct/indirect grilling, giving you some of that Santa Maria type cooking experience. I've enjoyed that on my SNSK.

    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you LA Pork Butt & jfmorris - I might need to go find an SNS to look at in person, space always seems to be tricky on Kamados to me, but honestly it’s probably more that I just don’t think of cooking vertically just yet / maybe an area of growth on my end.

    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      SC Grillmore the SNS Kamado is 22" in diameter, but you end up with more usable space than on a kettle grill, if smoking in kamado mode, due to being able to use the entire grate as well as elevated grate. Most standard kamados in the store seem to be the 18" models, and its a big jump in capacity and price going to most of the 24" models. The SNS version is 22" to be compatible with kettle accessories.

    #10
    I'll chime in with another vote for the Lone Star Adjustable. I don't have one yet, but it's at the top of my list for the dream outdoor kitchen (likely with a big pizza oven, too!) I hope to start putting together this summer. Lone Star makes it in a built-in version, so that's what I'll get. I haven't looked to see if you can convert the standard model to built-in, but that would be something to consider asking them when ordering if you get one and then decide to build it in later.

    As I was reading your description of what you want on features and how you like to cook, I was quickly getting to the point of the adjustable as your choice. The fuel versatility (charcoal, lump and sticks in just about any combo), ability to raise and lower the fire and ability to run direct or offset with minimal effort in changing between them seems to fit all the different things you want to do in one cooker.

    Although it is heavy, I suspect that it could be moved, especially by professionals, without much risk of damage due to how sturdy it is.

    It will be fun to follow along and see where you wind up. Enjoy the journey!

    Comment


    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      All good points Jim White - I’m sort of leaning towards the LSG… if I lived somewhere I knew I’d be staying for a long time or had the space to have two more specialized units (or gasp, 3!) this whole calculus would be thrown a different direction. I largely prefer to smoke things, but feel it’s too impractical to get a dedicated smoker. Le sigh. But hey! That’s what this journey is partly about figuring out

    #11
    Curve ball coming.

    1) The closer a cooker comes to being “all-in-one”, the less likely it is that it will be the best at any one thing.

    2) It is generally accepted that the strong point of kamado style cookers is that they are good at most things, great at some things, but not the best at anything.

    3) Within any style of cooker, there is a range of quality: for example, there are poor kettles (Aussie walkarounds) and excellent kettles (S&S, Weber). The higher the quality, the closer a cooker gets to satisfying all your needs.

    4) All that leads to: the Komodo Kamado Big Bad 32. Here’s a link to Meathead ‘s review: https://amazingribs.com/grill-smoker...bad-32-review/

    I’m too old now to dump that kind of gold on a cooker, I couldn’t justify the return. But if I were younger, that’s what I’d get. It will smoke, bake, grill, cold smoke, anything you want, while looking like nothing else you’ve ever seen. It will be a striking addition to any patio.

    Comment


    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Wow Mosca - talk about a curve ball! Super interesting idea … this may take some more research. I guess I’d need to learn not to overdo it / overshoot on temps - but that goes for any ceramic. Thank you for the inspiration!!

    #12
    I feel your pain on all the abbreviations used here. I’ve been here almost a year and a half and some of them I still don’t know, and have to look them up. Here’s a helpful post to refer to. It lists a lot of the abbreviations used here, keep it handy.
    https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...found-in-posts

    I also do not own any of the smokers you’re looking at, but I’m a big LSG fan. I’ve seen and read enough about them here that I know anyone who’s bought one is fanatical about it. The construction build and attention to detail is second to none. The one you’re looking at will check most of your boxes too. For what it’s worth, they’re also just plain bad ass looking!

    One more thing, I’d guess that probably 80%-90% of us own a kettle, in addition to other cookers or smokers. I’d recommend getting one in addition to whichever smoker you decide on. There will be times when you want to do some quick and easy cooks and might not feel like messing with the big monster. And a Weber kettle, 22”, will also accommodate a rotisserie. If you like crispy chicken wings, it’s hard to beat them done on a kettle with a Vortex. Also, CaptainMike will be along soon I’m sure.

    Regarding your thermometer recommendations from us, a lot of us are fans of ThermoWorks and Fireboard. On the free side you can find a LOT of product reviews, most of them done by our own Max Good , as well as Meathead and others here at AR. Here’s a link to the thermometer reviews.

    https://amazingribs.com/ratings-reviews/thermometers/
    Last edited by Panhead John; November 8, 2021, 08:20 AM.

    Comment


    • Panhead John
      Panhead John commented
      Editing a comment
      SC Grillmore Thanks! One more thing you might want to do. We have a great resource here to read comments and reviews from owners of a lot of different cookers. At the top left of the page, “Go To The Channels Page”. Click on that and you’ll see a variety of topics you can read and post about. Scroll down to “Grills, Smokers, Other Cookers, Outdoor Kitchens. Click on that and then scroll down to “Log Burners, Stickburners, Offsets. Scroll down till you see the brand you want to read about,CONT.

    • Panhead John
      Panhead John commented
      Editing a comment
      Click on Lone Star Grillz. Once there, you’ll be able to read a lot of comments and or reviews from our members who actually own them! I used this extensively when I bought my Oklahoma Joe Bronco and it helped me a lot.

    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you very much GolfGeezer & Panhead John! Will do !

    #13
    Your well structured list of considerations is impressive in the amount of thought you've given the process. Beats heck out of the typical "what's the best..............." type of thing. That said, when you say "...neighbor in my building......" it makes me think you're in a condo/townhouse arrangement. That makes me wonder about storage and maneuverability considerations. I like your list of choices in general, but each are fairly heavy/bulky to varying degrees, and, depending on how protective your storage is, may be sensitive to corrosion.

    Another thought for you is your concern about the movable fuel bins being too small for splits of wood. Depending on your situation, I would just say use splits sized for the fuel bin format. They don't have to be the same size as a large offset might use to be effective. Smaller splits might also make temp management easier in the units you're considering.

    And just for grins and giggles I'll add another model for your consideration, though they are listed as out of stock currently. A contact with the manufacturer might be worth your time. I toss this into the mix because it's U.S. made, entirely 304 stainless which is good for corrosion resistance and no need for periodic refinish maintenance, and has a rotisserie option that you noted. It's the Cajun Grill Preaux: Cajun Preaux Complete (Cart included) - The Cajun Grill It functions very similarly to the LSG, with differences that could be either pros or cons. While not an offset, it can emulate the offset process reasonably well.

    Click image for larger version

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    Comment


    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Omgsh Uncle Bob, are those rabbits? They look amazing! Thank you for responding. I now live in a single family home, but the backyard isn't huge - though I'm confident future backyards will only get bigger . I've seen the Cajun Preaux but haven't done much research on it, will look more closely!

    • Uncle Bob
      Uncle Bob commented
      Editing a comment
      SC Grillmore it was a wild boar piglet, roughly 22 lb. pre-cook.

    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Uncle Bob, hope he turned out as well as he looks, very cool!

    #14
    I hate to admit this, ( ), but I agree with Panhead John on having a Kettle in addition to whatever else you wind up with. You can get a rotisserie for the 22" and if you add a Vortex and an SnS, you can cook just about anything. Size is it's limitation, but then you will have a larger cooker for larger cooks anyway.

    The Pit is always helpful when it comes to spending your $$.

    Comment


    • Mosca
      Mosca commented
      Editing a comment
      SC Grillmore I actually have both the original and the 2.0. I can’t remember the last time I used the original. By removing the water channel, the 2.0 becomes useful as a divider to create a smaller grilling area for those times you only need to cook a couple hot dogs or burgers. In fact, that setup has relegated the Smoky Joe to “non-active at game time.”
      Last edited by Mosca; November 12, 2021, 06:46 AM.

    • SC Grillmore
      SC Grillmore commented
      Editing a comment
      Mosca, sweet! Ordering one now. Can’t believe I hadn’t heard of the vortex either - feels almost blasphemous (though I have found a way to do crispy skins on the smoker) - getting both now!! Thank you.

    • Murdy
      Murdy commented
      Editing a comment
      I just boughta 2.0 but haven't had a chance to use it yet.

    #15
    I highly recommend a pellet grill. Traeger Timberline or the Pro series (there are others too). Now with WIFI you may be away and monitor and control the cook. Fuel is easy to obtain and store, keep the pellets dry.

    Comment


    • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
      ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
      Editing a comment
      She said she likes to manage fire, so no pellets... even if pellets were an option, that is not a model I would suggest for someone looking to buy a lifetime cooker

    • Panhead John
      Panhead John commented
      Editing a comment
      And she also mentioned liking a higher smoke profile and better searing abilities than a pellet grill can deliver.
      Last edited by Panhead John; November 8, 2021, 11:09 AM.

    • bbqLuv
      bbqLuv commented
      Editing a comment
      ItsAllGoneToTheDogs, Panhead John
      Too bad so sad.

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