You see them at almost every competition and many BBQ'ers also have them in his garden. The Pellet smoker.
This smoker gives you the convenience of a gas BBQ or an oven and the taste of a regular BBQ.
I am very happy with it!
You can deduce the fuel that you will be using with this smoker from its name: Pellets. These small pellets are made from compressed wood. Since each pellet is the same size, this ensures a constant combustion of your wood and therefore a constant smoke. This makes this smoker very suitable for low & slow sessions.
As you can see in the picture next to this, you have pellets from different types of wood. Each type of wood has its own specific taste and smell, so not every type of wood is suitable for every dish that you are going to make. You can easily make a choice via the table on the right.
Of course there are also different blends on the market, they combine different types of wood and therefore give a completely different taste to your dish!
Be careful when you buy pellets, not every pellet is suitable for consumption. The pellets used in pellet stoves are usually mixed with some accelerator and chemicals, which makes them extremely dangerous!
When buying pellets, stick to the pellets from your pellet smoker's brand or from another reliable source.
How does a pellet smoker work?
To understand how to properly use a pellet smoker, we must first understand how it works. A pellet smoker contains a lot of electronics and it is quite complicated. Through the image below I will try to clearly explain the operation of a pellet smoker.
1. Under the hopper, where you put your pellets, is a motor that feeds a worm screw. This worm screw feeds the pellets to the burner.
2. In the burner, a glow plug automatically ignites the pellets and a small fan under the burner provides enough oxygen to keep them burning.
3. There are a number of ventilation openings on the inside of the burner, which create a round air flow.
4. A fan in the pellet hopper creates a kind of overpressure that ensures that the pellets in the worm screw do not catch fire and thus set your whole hopper on fire.
5. When the air flows from both fans come together, you get a very nice fire and a nice circulation of smoke in your pellet smoker.
6. There is usually a heat shield above the burner . This ensures that the heat is distributed to both sides of the smoker.
7. There is a temperature sensor in the top of the grill chamber. This constantly measures the temperature in your smoker and sends it to a built-in computer. The computer in turn controls a controller that adjusts the air flow and pellet supply to the set temperature.
Starting a pellet smoker is not just pushing a button. If you set the wrong temperature too quickly, your burner can fill up quickly or your worm screw can jam.
To start up your pellet smoker properly, you have to go through the following 4 steps.
Before you can set the temperature, pellets must first be supplied. Your pellet smoker does this automatically.
The pellet smoker will light the supplied starting amount and the fan will start to run to keep the fire going.
Get up to temperature
Now that the fire is on, the pellet smoker will increase the temperature to approximately 60 ° C. Do NOT set the temperature higher and wait for the display to indicate it has reached its temperature.
Now that the pellet smoker has reached its temperature, you can set your desired temperature. I do this myself by increasing the temperature in steps of about 20 ° C. This way you prevent the pellet smoker from supplying too many pellets at once.
Like any BBQ, you also have to maintain a pellet smoker. The best way to do this is to follow the user manual and to give the smoker a try every few months.
The most important steps are listed below.
For the first time, you treat the outside of your pellet smoker with some linseed oil, this provides a waterproof layer and a beautiful black color.
After a few months you will notice that your smoker is starting to discolour. This is an indication that he needs another turn.
A pellet smoker uses its pellets with a very high efficiency. This means that almost no ash remains. Still, I would take a look at the burner every few sessions, if a lot of ashes remain, they can start to accumulate and the ignition will suffer.
The easiest way to empty the burner is with an ash vacuum cleaner.
The heat shield most often comes into contact with the heat from the burner. This ensures that any spilled liquids immediately dry up and start to cake when they fall on the shield. You can clean the shield by scraping off the caked-on residue with a paint scraper, after which you can put it in soapy water if necessary.
But prevention is better than cure! I usually put a sheet of aluminum foil over my heat shield, so nothing falls on the shield and I have a layer that I can just peel off and throw in the trash.
You are going to treat the grid like any other BBQ.
Cleaning your grill is very easy, you take a stainless steel brush and go over the grill surface thoroughly. This way you ensure that all coarser pieces are off your grid. Make sure you use a good quality wire brush, otherwise you run the risk of steel hairs coming off your brush and sticking to your grid. In this way, these hairs can end up in your food and thus also in your body with all its consequences.
Then you remove the grid from the BBQ and put them in a soaking bath to dissolve the smaller impurities.