In my never ending quest to bend, warp, re-shape and squeeze every bit of functionality out of my various bbq grills, I’m here to report on my latest project – turning my Alfresco 42″ ALXE grill into an offset smoker.
Yes you ready that correctly.
It’s not enough that I have a Kamado Joe and Memphis wood-fired pellet grill for smoking. And it’s not enough that Alfresco grills already offer a smoking chamber in the grill. Nope. I needed to push things further. Influenced and inspired by the great Steve Raichlen and his show/book “Projcet Smoke”, smoking has become my passion over the last year. So let me explain why I decided to do this and what the initial results were.
I’ve been using the Alfresco SFI-POD (solid fuel insert) since last winter. This is the insert which allows you to cook with lump charcoal and/or wood.
While using it the other week, I noticed that the wood wasn’t burning with flame atop the charcoal, but was instead releasing a lazy, fragrant plume of smoke around the grill.
Pop. Lightbulb went off.
If I had the SFI-POD lit on the side, what if I turned off the other 2 gas burners, and elevated the meat (in this case a spatchcock chicken) on the multi-position cooking rack. Powered by the smoke from the wood and lump coal, could I then emulate the performance of a stick-burner smoker on my Alfresco?
After one night of testing, the answer is no.
The first and biggest problem is that the chicken did not cook evenly as it does on a kamado or pellet grill. The side closest to the SFI-POD (which was on the right) was cooking far quicker than the left side of the bird. I was hoping to see a type of convection process happen withing the cooking chamber which would allow a more even cook, but alas it was not to be. I eventually shifted the bird around with cooking tongs in order to evenly cook each side, and I also turned on the middle burner on the grill on LOW, so as to create some heat from the bottom. This eventually caused some of the fat and seasoning from the bird to drip down on the hot ceramic briquettes, creating lovely little smoke-kisses of flavor.
I’m going to try this again with some modification and will report findings here. Oh, and one other thing – the cooking rack on the Alfresco opens up more possibilities from the griller/smoker b/c of its flexibility. Note how I didn’t call it a warming rack – this device does far more than warm hot dog buns folks. More to come!
Take a look at this outdoor kitchen we just worked on in Larchmont NY.
What this photo says to me is “THIS IS A PLACE WHERE YOU WILL EAT WELL”.
The owner took a very unique angle to the design of the kitchen. He knew he had a straight 9 ft run which doesn’t add up to much product after factoring in the necessary space between products. So what to do?
Instead of running with power burners and side burners and Versa power cookers etc, he took a simple approach.
He wanted the convenience of a gas grill as well as the ability to smoke with a natural fuel source like wood.
The solution: an Alfresco 42″ ALXE gas grill for all of the ease that a gas grill brings and a built-in Memphis Pro Wood-Fired Pellet grill for all of his smoking
and wood-fired grilling needs. After splurging on the grills he opted to keep costs down by using Blaze undercounter doors and drawers as well as their 5.2 cu ft refrigerator. This created a considerable savings as opposed to using all Alfresco for the undercounter portion (the Alfresco refrigerator is $3600 which was more than all of the Blaze components).
All in all, a well though-out design and a sanctuary where many fine meals will be created!
We just delivered our first 3 of the new Memphis Wood-Fired Grills, one of which ended up in Manhattan.
Within 48 hours after delivery this new Memphis owner not only smoked a chicken directly on the grates but dove right in the deep end and cooked a 9-hour brisket.
Take a look at this pic:
This is the brisket cooked on a new Memphis wood-fired pellet grill. Check out that smoke ring – competition worthy!
That smoke ring is crazy! According to the owner the approach was very simple:
“I applied a rub with some olive oil and let it sit overnight in the fridge.
It took around 9 hours at 225 to get the (meat) probe to 190. Then I left it for another 2 hours at 185f. Delicious!”
The only criticism our NYC Memphis owner had was that the new Wifi app seemed to quit at around the 8th hour of cooking. I’m wondering if this was related to the wifi signal at the point where the grill was located. Perhaps it was weak? I’ve already contacted my liasion at MemphWe will continue to monitor this situation.
The Memphis Grill may be my favorite grill out of the plethora of grills and smokers that we sell. Remember, calling a Memphis a grill is really a disservice.
This product can smoke, sear, bake, roast and do anything else you want it to.
One of my favorite dishes to make on my Kamado Joe is spatchcocked (butterflied) chicken.
This delicious dish couldn’t be more straightforward and simple to make.
1. Start with a grass fed, preferably organic chicken. I typically use Bell & Evans. They simply taste better than normal fare at supermarkets.
2. I have my chicken spatchcocked at my butcher. It’s an easy technique (just do a YouTube search and you’ll see countless examples of it being performed) but I’d rather have him do the cutting as I don’t have proper shears at my house.
3. Clean the bird thoroughly with cold water then pat dry
4. Hit the bird with seasoning. I’ve been using Pixie Dust as well as a smattering of coarse sea salt and pepper. I’ll also give the bird a good massage with extra virgin olive oil, prior to seasoning with the rub.
5. The kamado is fired up and the bird gets placed ribs down. We want this so the ribs will insulate the breasts from getting overcooked.
6. I cook the bird at around 375 degrees F. When the KJ gets to temp then I’ll toss a wood chunk or two in there. At this point I’ve only used Hickory but will be trying Pecan and Apple soon.
7. Cooking time should be around 1 hr…maybe a little bit longer. Breasts should be 155F, thighs and legs should be 170F.
At this point you should have a bird with a lovely, crunchy tan on her. Let her sit for about 10 mins then it’s time to start cutting into pure succulence!
The Blaze sales inferno continue to rage. It’s incendiary.
New products are now rolling out. Check out the Blaze 32″ Charcoal grill.
Not into the listless and tasteless aspects of gas powered grills?
THen run with a Blaze charcoal.
Here’s what I like:
1 – the build. Blaze grills are built better than most stainless grills out there. I’d even argue that the Blaze stainless cart (made in the USA) are nicer than the cart produced by one of the top premium grill lines who I will leave unnamed!
2 – the ability to cook with wood or charcoal – I hate grilling with gas. Even on my Alfresco I use the solid fuel insert more than I use the normal grates with gas.
I just love the taste and smell of lump hardwood charcoal and/or wood. Huge difference.
3 – easy cleanup with the pull out ash tray. Tell me, how easy is it to clean up your Big Green Egg?
4 – Great price – $1499 for the charcoal head for built-in applications.