What’s a Pellet Grill
You’ve heard about them, seen ads online about them and perhaps even noticed them in your local Ace Hardware or Costco but what’s so special about this new grill technology they call Pellet Grills and how do they differ from gas or charcoal grilling?
Pellet Grill Buying Guide:
What Is a Pellet Grill?
Pellet grills are wood-fired outdoor cookers that combines the ease of use of a gas grill and kitchen oven with the flavor many long for from a charcoal smoker. Pellet grills utilize the latest innovations in a long line of great decisions for barbecuing perfection which has experienced a massive surge in popularity since their creation over 30 years ago.
Smokin’ Meat Is In!
Historians aren’t exactly sure when the process of smoking meat got started, but most believe it was soon after people figured out how to create fire. Salting, smoking, and meat are a natural combination, so it’s no surprise that amazing flavors didn’t take long to catch on. Fast forward several millennia and you now have an enormous variety of mouthwatering smoked items, from flavorful dry rubs and sauces to tender-tangy slow-cooked meat, along with countless ways to bring that beautiful smoke flavor to life.
By marrying modern-digital perfection with traditional smoking methods, pellet grills pull off a marvelous mix of science, technology and culinary passion. All the magic, from blower uptime to the correct stream of pellets for maximum flavor, depends on state-of-the-art computer processors and sensors that monitor smoking levels and interior temperatures constantly that produce some of the best meats, deserts and pizza’s you’ve ever eaten.
Pellet grills look similar in design to a sleek offset barrel smoker; however, they differ significantly in functionality. Where the firebox would normally appear, a large hopper holds compressed wood pellets that are the secret to this grill’s fame. A rotating auger delivers the precise number of pellets needed to a fire pot in the center of the grill. A strategically placed heat shield ensures even heat distribution underneath your meats of choice and metal drip tray collects any fat drippings and routed to a metal bucket.
Wood pellets, the star of that delicious smoke flavor, are made from real hardwood that’s been ground and formed into small cylinders. Pellet grills use high-quality food-grade pellets, free of additives, flavoring oils and chemicals and the best pellets are 100% natural hardwood. Whether you want that apple or fruit flavor for pulled pork or hickory and mesquite for that juicy brisket, the hardwood pellets make it all possible. One of the many beauties of a pellet grill is that you can easily load, mix and change flavors easily and you don’t have to babysit coals or wood during cooks.
Why Buy a Pellet Grill?
There’s something about the moist, fall-off-the-bone goodness of wood-fired barbecue that we find absolutely irresistible. Smoking brisket, pork, ribs and steaks imparts unique flavors and locks in seasoning for the long haul.
If the idea of slaving over charcoal, making sure flames don’t die out or flare up, you’re not alone! With a pellet grill, all controls are intuitive. Igniting the pellets and adjusting cooking temperatures are practically automatic and very similar to that of an oven. Smart technology keeps heat within 5° – 10° of your target temp at all times without the babysitting. Some pellet smokers have built-in WiFi, enabling you to control everything from a smart device.
One of the biggest advantages of pellet grills is their ability to adapt effortlessly to whatever you’re itching to grill. Being able to switch hardwood types (pellets) on the fly is amazing, letting you pair the perfect smoke with each recipe. Whether it’s enhancing the sweetness of your special-recipe barbecue sauce with cherry wood or taking advantage of a touch of mesquite for your signature ribs, you can create a grilled masterpiece without having to plan ahead.
Pellet grills don’t disappoint when it comes to their promise of ‘set it and go’ functionality. People who don’t have a lot of time on their hands like this because they can have fun with other things while waiting for meats to smoke to perfection. Grill masters with decades of experience also value this grill’s even heat distribution and precise temperature control; having trustworthy flames that respond instantly and don’t depend on the whims of outside weather or user error is a huge advantage.
Forget about waiting an eternity for charcoal briquettes to smoke. The speed of a pellet grill’s push-button starter lets you focus more on your meats and less on fighting with your fire.
Because of the huge range of temperatures possible, typically 150° to 500°, a pellet grill can provide slow heat for all-day smoking, or enough fire to grill burgers and hotdogs for a feast with family and friends. You can also tackle wildly different meat thicknesses, such as dry-rubbed strips of steak for amazing carnitas, sweet pork shoulder or a turkey roasted to perfection. Don’t forget about those cakes, pies, cheeses and pizza’s as these are all deliciously possible on a pellet grill. Pellet grills can grill, smoke, bake, roaste, barbecue, boil, broil and sear!
Pellet grills offer several advantages in the flavor department. First, pellets provide consistent smoke with little ash allowing that smoke flavor to penetrate whatever it is you are smoking. Second, the central positioning of the fire pot infuses every part of your choice meats with the hardwood’s distinct flavors and ensures balanced temperatures (i.e. fewer hot zones). Last, because temperature control is so easy, you can let flavors penetrate longer and then ramp up the heat at the perfect moment for an amazing exterior.
It seems we’ve spoken to this a few times already but the reality is true: if you’re looking to cook flavorful, tender, and juicy barbecue that truly has that wow-factor, without the inconvenience factor, buy a pellet smoker. Furthermore, buy a pellet smoker with WiFi capabilities! I know it sounds silly but the single best feature on my pellet smoker is the ability to monitor the internal temperature of my meats, monitor the consumption of my pellets and control the temperature of the smoker—all wirelessly from my iPhone or iPad. With a Smart Pellet Grill, you can truly start a cook in the morning, monitor and control throughout the day from your phone and come home to a delicious meal.
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