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!
What sets the Alfresco ALXE grill series apart from other premium gas grills is its ability to allow you to cook with solid, natural fuel such as lump hardwood charcoal or wood.
Using wood or hardwood charcoal is a game changer as the Alfresco’s gas ignition system allows for easy lighting (usually 5 minutes unlike 15-30 for a kamado) and once the fuel it lit, you can turn the gas off and just cook with fire.
The insert is called a SFI-POD and sells for $575. It is 12″ across and 19″ deep.
My only beef is that I would have liked to have seen more headroom between the grates and the fuel source but b/c of Alfresco’s design the insert simply cannot drop down any further within the firebox.
This is a must-have for Alfresco owners. If you need one, please email or call me and I will facilitate for you!
Be on the lookout for an epic Appliance Dude video (first of 2016!) where I review its ability to
“Smoketiss”…meaning cooking with the smoker while the food is on the rotisserie spit. It is a very cool technique and resulted in a herbaceously delicious rotis chicken.
Step right up folks, it’s a video review of the new Alfresco ALXE grill series – the 42″ sear zone model ALXE42SZ in particular.
What makes this different? I now own the damn thing so this is insight gleaned from cooking on it. No reviews based on product specs or drinking the Kool-Aid from manufacturers here folks. I am here to report the good, the bad and the ugly (epic film btw), and since I paid for it, I will not hold back.
This review was based on one cook. There is much, much more to do. So many accessories to play with…this grill and I will be attached at the hip this winter. Winter is coming…and I’m ready with my Alfresco.
Here’s another pic of an Alfresco kitchen that we worked on this past summer.
You’ll see an ALX2-42SZ along with access doors and a refrigerator which I believe was a Summit. I just wrapped up chatting with a grill service tech who handles many of the leading premium gas grills and his take is that Alfresco is the best made of the bunch.
Food for thought!
Alfresco 42″ Grill with access doors and fridge in Westchester County NY.
Alfresco grill in Westchester county. Come see the largest Alfresco display at Curto’s – 914-793-5600
I used to get asked “Why do you make those Appliance Dude videos?”
And my answer was(is) always the same:
I helped this gentleman in Sonoma California with some questions on his outdoor kitchen and lo and behold, a new Alfresco 42″ ALXE and 65K BTU Versa Power Burner were on the way to him…and an invite for me and the Mrs. to visit when we are in the wine country. Gotta love it!
The new Alfresco ALXE242SZ grill and Versa Power burner on cart.
This is a great pic of an Alfresco grill outdoor kitchen. Why?
It really articulates the broad array of options that you have when piecing together an Alfresco kitchen. Warming drawer? Check. Sink package? Check? A variety of storage sources? Check.
In this kitchen the following was used, from left to right: