Welcome!


This is a membership forum. As a guest, you can click around a bit. View 5 pages for free. If you would like to participate, please join.

[ Pitmaster Club Information | Join Now | Login | Contact Us ]

There are 4 page views remaining.

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Inching Closer to the Holy Grail

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Inching Closer to the Holy Grail

    I can think of no other barbecue cooker that evokes more opinion, disagreement, frustration and drama then the pellet cooker. Since Joe Traeger first introduced the pellet cooker in the mid-1980's, it was lauded as the next great cooking device the likes of which had not been seen since the indoor oven. Here was the perfect marriage of convenience and barbecue cooking all rolled up into one package. Since then it's popularity has exploded, with more brands being introduced each season.

    Folks are also passionate about their pellet cookers, with brand loyalty comparable to the automobile. But note that I continue to refer to it as a 'cooker'. Is it really on par with a stick burner or have the capabilities a charcoal kettle? Do the results warrant the claim of being all things barbecue with a set and forget attitude? Unfortunately for me anyway, the answer to that is no.

    Now you may disagree with me or you may comment that such and such a brand is the holy grail of cooking for you and yours. Fine, if your happy with the results then that's all that matters, argument over. But if you are like a lot of us who constantly chirp about the downside of these machines, there are some issues. For all it's convenience and versatility, they are not true smokers and they really are not true grillers. They do both adequately but they don't shine at either.

    Back in December I wrote a review of a device I purchased from Smoke Daddy BBQ that really helped with introducing more smoke, produced by real, smoking wood, to my pellet cooker.....

    Have I Found The Holy Grail?

    I have a rather large custom converted stick burner made into a pellet cooker by a local Houston firm called Pitts & Spitts. Smoking profiles above the 250* mark are non-existent. Since I don't do low and slow much any more (prefer 275-300* cooks), that pretty much ruled out much of a smoke profile in my food. After purchasing the Heavy D stick burner accessory, and using it a few times I am rather pleased that now at least I get a good dose of smoke for about the first 2 hours of a long cook. As I said in the review, it goes a long way to solve one of the problems with these cookers, the lack of smoke.

    That leaves the other complaint often heard, they can grill but not really very well. Most pellet cookers I've seen attempt to bring the heat from the burn pot directly to the grate surface by direct exposure through the deflector plates. Unfortunately with a fire that's only about 4" in diameter, that's a tough task. Typically you end up with a hot spot which quickly tapers off the further you move away from that spot. In other words an inconsistent heating surface which requires you to move your food around to achieve an even finish.

    The folks at Smoke Daddy (www.smokedaddyinc.com) have also taken on this challenge and introduced another rather clever accessory that I recently tested. It simply turns a pellet cooker into a dandy grilling machine. They call it the Sear Daddy Universal Pellet Grill Searing Station. We'll just refer to it as the Sear Daddy.

    The Sear Daddy is simply a large 19" by 19" square funnel shaped piece of sheet metal that tapers down 6" to a 6" wide opening at the bottom. You begin by removing your heat and grease deflector plates exposing your burn pot. The accessory then sits down on top of the burn pot holder, and depending on your cooker, it wedges up against the nearest wall or sits on the top lip. Obviously this requires a rather good sized cooker that can accommodate this large an accessory, In my case it fit almost perfectly. If I had maybe another 1/4" of height it would have been like a glove.....

    Click image for larger version  Name:	sear daddy 01.jpg Views:	7 Size:	3.51 MB ID:	807226

    Note the studs welded to either side, those hold the flavorizer bars you drop in place next.....

    Click image for larger version  Name:	sear daddy 02.jpg Views:	7 Size:	4.38 MB ID:	807227

    Those act to channel the heat and when heated themselves cause the grease drippings to vaporize back into your food as flavor, similar to the way Weber does in their cookers. They also act as holders for a bag of lava rocks they provide....

    Click image for larger version  Name:	sear daddy 03.jpg Views:	7 Size:	3.69 MB ID:	807225

    Now I made the mistake of opening the bag and just dumping the rocks onto the top of the accessory. Unfortunately there were a lot of tiny little lava rocks in the blend and those immediately found there way down into my burn pot. I had to carefully lift the whole accessory up and clean out the pot. I decided to give the whole thing a good shake over a garbage can to get rid of any further tiny ones to avoid having them fall through during cooking. Obviously if you ever owned an old style propane grill, the lava rocks are there as a heat sink helping to spread the heat load, as well as acting as grease absorbents. My biggest fear was grease making it's way directly into the burn pot. Luckily that never occurred!

    I was a little surprised they did not supply any sort of grate to finish off the build. No matter, I own a ton of grates, so I chose to use some of my Grill Grates that normally reside in my gasser for the same purpose. They ended up bridging perfectly over the top of the lava rocks....

    Click image for larger version  Name:	sear daddy 04.jpg Views:	7 Size:	4.35 MB ID:	807224

    As you can see I could have easily fit two more into the grill space. In fact this device gave me half the amount of space I normally have for cooking on my lower rack, plenty to do a family sized meal. As a test cook I grabbed a couple of Cowboy Steaks (bone-in ribeyes), some home made brats and boudain sausages. Cooked the steaks first and while they were resting I heated up the sausages....

    Click image for larger version  Name:	sear daddy 05.jpg Views:	7 Size:	781.4 KB ID:	807221

    I got out my infrared thermo gun and temp'd the middle of the grates directly above the burn pot right at about 650-680*. The perimeters fell off gradually to between 550-600*. Unfortunately when the lid was open (which was most of the time) the temps fell quite a bit. It was 40ish outside with a nippy little north wind which made matters worse.

    Regardless this thing worked and worked well, like a true searing station. With the other two grill grates mounted I could have cooked the entire meal in about 12 minutes. It took exactly 10 minutes to get the steaks up to about 125* IT and perfectly seared, with another 10 minutes to do the sausages as seen above. If you had the Sear Daddy installed in your grill, came home and fired up the pellet cooker, you could be eating a well grilled meal in about 35 minutes, not bad ! It was actually advantageous to have the hotter and cooler zones to allow for even cooking at the edges and a hot sear in the middle.

    I give the Sear Daddy high marks for turning my pellet cooker into a pellet griller. Paired with the Heavy D, which makes it a true pellet smoker, I now have the versatility of cooking just about anything from low and slow to fast and hot, with set and forget convenience.

    So what are the PROS?
    • Turns almost any large pellet cooker into a true pellet griller.
    • Achieves high heat at the grate level over the entire surface area between 600-700* in most cases.
    • Large 19" x 19" grilling surface, can accommodate a variety of grates.
    • Kept grease from running down into the burn pot through absorption and vaporizing.
    • Clean up was therefore rather easy.

    And what are the CONS?
    • Setup is simple but requires tear down of the divertor plates and the mounting of this device. I can achieve similar sear temps in my gasser with Grill Grates without all the hassle.
    • Lava rocks. They do what they say but if you remember the days when they were popular they eventually get rather nasty and have to be replaced.
    • Storing and breaking down such a large device requires some extra room. Best to leave the lava rocks in place but if that's not possible then add one more step removing and re-installing them.
    • Price. They want $99 plus tax. I did see an intro discount for first time buyers however.

    All in all I'm very pleased with both Smoke Daddy accessories and would recommend giving one or both a try if you're fed up with light smoke and don't have other options to quick sear a steak. Here are a few take away shots of the food my Sear Daddy produced in about 20 minutes of grill time....Troutman is out !!!


    Click image for larger version  Name:	sear daddy 06.jpg Views:	7 Size:	840.2 KB ID:	807222Click image for larger version  Name:	sear daddy 07.jpg Views:	7 Size:	911.0 KB ID:	807223
    Last edited by Troutman; February 23, 2020, 06:59 PM.

    #2
    That's a great write-up and if you would please pass me a steak and a sausage, I would appreciate it.

    Comment


    • ComfortablyNumb
      ComfortablyNumb commented
      Editing a comment
      He lost me at 'pellet'. But I will take a steak and a sausage.

    #3
    I had a sneaking suspicion you were trying out the Sear Daddy. Thanks for the review and great write up! As I mentioned before, I acquired the Heavy D on your review and recommendation and it does work as advertised.

    Comment


      #4
      I don't have a pellet pooper, but I still enjoyed the read.

      Comment


        #5
        I don't have the pellet pooper either but if I do get one this retro-fit would be at the top of list of up grade to-do's.
        Great work.
        By the way, those steaks look delish.

        Comment


          #6
          I like how you have found the items you need to make this a better cooker. But i did open this up figuring you put the down payment on the LSG offset!

          Comment


          • Troutman
            Troutman commented
            Editing a comment
            Interestingly enough now LSG is rolling out a pellet grill ! I’ve arranged to have a sneak preview and demo with Chris the owner in about 30 days!! Stay tuned!!

          • ofelles
            ofelles commented
            Editing a comment
            Troutman Yea and you promised to see if you could speed m cabinet along also.

          #7
          If I had the slightest interest in cooking on pellets I would listen to this guy. But I don't. 😆

          Comment


            #8
            I'm with Attjack but I'm old and set in my ways(mostly).I like my Webers and I like my stick burner and I'm willing to suffer sleep deprivation for good que! I really liked this write up,and steak and sausage look fantastic(I want some too)!

            Comment


              #9
              I cook so much crap ahead of time I doubt many a smoke particle ditch their ephemerality in order to reach someone's taste buds. I've learned a hint of smoke goes great with ample salt, rub, and bark.

              I've pondered a wood chunk holder to put on my diffuser plate. If and when I get a welding machine I'll start fabricating.

              You are one cookin' son-of-a-gun!!

              Comment


              • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
                ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
                Editing a comment
                I mentioned it on another post, but there is a guy on the MAK FB page who totally chopped up his first gen unit. One of the coolest things they did was cut a hole in the front of the cooker and installed a square stock tube with an external door that lets you drop wood chunks in to smolder using the burn pots heat. I can't bring myself to cut up a $$$ grill, but the idea is pretty simple for people with more faith in their skills to attempt.

              • Troutman
                Troutman commented
                Editing a comment
                Just curious, where exactly do the wood chunks go? That actually sounds like an ingenious solution. I've been toying with the idea of expanding my Heavy D device and making it twice as big to hold twice the amount of wood. But having a way to feed it a little at a time would be ideal.

              • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
                ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
                Editing a comment
                Troutman they had it (I think) so square stock went inside square stock (for removal/cleaning) but you open the drawer and drop a few chunks in which slide down next to the burn pot. It was perforated on top and I think the exterior from pot side. If I can find their picture and share it here I will in this post. *Edit* I was wrong about top holes, but I would have them
                Last edited by ItsAllGoneToTheDogs; February 24, 2020, 03:41 PM.

              #10
              Nice, informative write up. Might be a useful adjunct for the person who lacks the space, or desire, to have 8 or 10 various cooking devices on the patio/deck (don't ask me why).

              It reminds me of the bottom half of a pizza oven attachment that GMG offered (appears it might be off the market now?). Less the flavor bars and rocks gig of course. In a less direct way, it vaguely resembles the rocket stove Alphonse posted up recently.

              Comment


                #11
                Another great example of the value of AR. I am not the least interested in acquiring a pellet pooper as they are called. Don’t have the time or space or patience to get involved in this type of cooking. But, my hats off to this write-up Trout. The initiative & knowledge espoused made this most interesting. I can always read about some of the stuff some members “get into” & enjoy it. Cool!

                Oh , mouthwatering pics!
                Last edited by FireMan; February 24, 2020, 03:15 PM.

                Comment


                • Henrik
                  Henrik commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Well said.

                #12
                Good write up @Troutman!

                I like this. Innovation with sheet metal to solve a common issue, and I think it is probably well worth the $99 price point. Of course, if I end up with a pellet cooker I'll not be getting rid of a charcoal or gas grill that can be used for searing, but this would be great if I had to consolidate to one cooker, and it was a pellet rig.

                Comment


                  #13
                  Great and interesting write up, thank you Troutman!

                  Comment


                    #14
                    Great info and write up.
                    MY Yoder has the firebox on the far left side so neither of these would work. But being an old sheet metal guy it would not be a problem to fabricate an offset transition that would fit. Maybe a future project?

                    Comment


                      #15
                      Other than the briquettes and "flavorizer" bars, that's what the newer MAKs have built in (or available as an upgrade for 1 star) for the entire cooker chamber. I wonder if a simple drop in modification of "flavorizer bars" would benefit them... Though I would ask that you retest without sear grates. Most pellet "cookers" can sear at least over the burn pot pretty good with help from sear grates. Also, is there any affect to the burn rate of pellets since airflow is partially restricted?

                      I love aftermarket add-ons. The pellet world needs this. No reason for the other popular fuel grills to hog ALL the love of the add on market

                      Comment


                      • Troutman
                        Troutman commented
                        Editing a comment
                        One thing to remember about the flavorizer bars, as well as the lava rocks, is that it's not only providing vapor but catching the grease that falls off the food being grilled. I would not dare grill directly over my burn pot, it would potentially create a fire that might do some damage or at the very least be a nasty mess to have to cleanup.

                        I think without the sear grates you would lose at least 50* of sear temperature, maybe more. But directly over the burn pot you would still have 550-575*.

                      • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
                        ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Troutman yeah got that, just saying that even the pellet units that produce a lot of heat over a wide area still benefit from sear grates, which is why I'd be interested to see how that setup performs as is except with stock like grates. I assume the lava rock helps greatly for the quick flip and lid reclose where a lot of units would plummet in grate temps and flavorizer bar type devices help reflect the heat? Which is why I really like this design if it amplifies even stock grate grilling

                    Announcement

                    Collapse
                    No announcement yet.
                    Working...
                    X
                    false
                    0
                    Guest
                    500
                    ["pitmaster-my-membership","login","join-pitmaster","lostpw","reset-password","special-offers","help","nojs","meat-ups","gifts","authaau-alpha","ebooklogin-start","alpha","start"]
                    false
                    false
                    {"count":0,"link":"/forum/announcements/","debug":""}
                    Yes
                    Rubs Promo
                    Meat-Up in Memphis