Q. How do you get an insanely great outdoor kitchen complete with kickass grill equipment…yet avoid spending boatloads of cash?
A. Do an Alfresco Artisan outdoor kitchen!
Artisan is a line of outdoor appliances by our friends at Alfresco. If you’ve followed my blog or watched any of my YouTube videos, you know that I’m a big Alfresco fan. Actually, I believe that is the best of the premium gas grills.
Artisan is what I call the “stealth Alfresco”.
For a fraction of the cost of an Alfresco, you are able to get:
– virtually the same cooking system
– the same open air plenum which cools the front of the grill, preserving it’s delicate wired innards
– the same silicone-sheathed wires and igniters which are heat resistant up to 600 degrees
– the same in-home warranty
– built and assembled ENTIRELY in the same plant in sunny California
The Artisan comes in 2 sizes for built ins – 32″ and 36″
It offers a rotisserie, optional infrared sear burner that can be installed/removed with the ease of a pin and lights on the knobs and one (very bright!) light in the hood canopy.
A few takeaways from my Memorial Day cook on the Traeger Timberline 850:
– I was finally able to do a LONG cook on it (a few racks of short ribs). Prior to this I had been doing shorter cooks – hamburgers, chicken, pizza and a variety of steaks.
The longer cook allowed me to gauge how it burns through pellets, how it maintained temperature and how it retained food moisture over a longer period of time.
– the Grill is huge. Kudos to Traeger for this ingenious design. Not only is there a tremendous amount of headroom due to fact the pill-shape which added another 5″ of vertical grilling space.
– the SuperSmoke feature is completely badass. I’ve used this quite often when making steaks…what I do is smoke my skirt steak, NY Strip, or ribeye in the Timberline 850 for about 15 mins at around 225. I then take the steaks and sear them at a very high temp on either my Alfresco sear burner or DCS sear burner. The steals come out nearly edge to edge medium rare with a very nice smoke hint. The SuperSmoke feature is great b/c I can concentrate the smoke on the food in short, focused bursts.
– Temperatures will vary inside the grill – they have made a big deal about their TRU convection system which is going to allow you to cook 20% quicker and more evenly. I did not see this in the Memorial Day cook – the ribs towards the back of the grill seemed to cook faster than the ones placed in the front. This is probably due to a big gap between the rack edge and the grill back wall which allows heat to come up the back of the grill (and I would assume eventually start to convect in a circular motion).
– the best part of using the Timberline – the initial smoke that is generated at startup. The smell is…heaven sent.
– I love the bamboo side shelf. Much more practical than the front shelf available on the Pro series grills. I’ve used it rest tools, sauces…and booze!
– the grill is very quiet. There was some concern that it would be loud considering it was now able to climb up to 500 degrees. Not an issue. It’s actually quite relaxing to listen to. When I’m in the back with the Timberline humming, a libation in hand, and something tasty on the grill…it is a moment of mindful bliss!
– I’m sorry but I have not tried the WiFire at home yet. Haven’t done any longer cooks save for the Memorial Day ribs. When I try my first brisket, WiFire will be engaged.
– I don’t see much Smoke Leak (when a smoker that isn’t well-sealed will allow smoke to creep and leak from all sides of its closed door) so that tells us the gasket and thicker door is doing its job.
– Yes the Timberline can sear but I still prefer taking my burners/steaks off at the last minute and giving them a white hot sear on my DCS or Alfresco.
– With all the talk of Smoke Science, SuperSmoke, wiFire and TRU convect, the real show-stopper are…the racks! You get three heavy, stainless grated that are more akin to what you have in your indoor wall oven rather than a bbq. They are multi-positional, slide out effortlessly and are a significant upgrade over what other grills are offering. The rack depth has rendered obsolete the front folding shelf popular with the Pro series…that would take up too much real estate).
– Startup time – I’m at 250 for smoking in less than 10 mins. I can get to 375 or 400 for grilling in a few mins more. Getting to 500 is more a lengthy climb.
I continue to kick out the jams on my Timberline 850 and have more product info to share. I also have some cool fun facts direct from the Traeger main office culled from their experience with the product, so strap yourself in…
– Do I need to keep the lid open at startup?
Unlike the Pro 22 and 34 models, you do NOT need to keep the lid open when igniting.
– Can I line the drip tray with aluminum foil?
I know that lining the drop tray makes clean up SO much easier. However (and this is direct from the mountains in Utah, ie Traeger’s office) – they highly recommend using the Aluminum Drip Tray Liners. Yes, I understand that Traeger is going to push the liners as it’s another add-on to the ticket, but they at least take the time to explain it:
“Airflow in the back of the Timberline is critical to proper smoke and convection as all the smoke rises through the back. If this area is blocked by a piece of foil the smoke will not rise and roll properly and will impede the expulsion of the old smoke.”
Traeger’s final take: If you insist on foiling the drip tray then make sure your folded tightly on sides front and back.
Where is the hottest part of the Timberline?
Very back corners on bottom grill position
Why is the front shelf so small?
The lower rack is so heavy and deep that it can be pulled out like an oven rack
You have 2 huge side shelves which are at higher positions and more accessible than the front folding shelf on the Pro series
The shallower shelf allows the cover to slip on easier
Why is the meat probe giving me a different reading than my Thermapen?]
This is a great question!
I have always received odd readings with grill meat probes (mostly with the Memphis grill) which prodded me to drop the dough on a Thermapen (arguably my most important grilling tool other than the grill!). According to Traeger, the more durable a meat probe is, the less accurate it is. So…
delicacy (a fold-up Thermapen) = accuracy
The Traeger meat probe is designed to get you into the general range of desired temp…and at that point it would be wise to use an instant read to nail that exact temp you need.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a….Hestan grill.
Built like an amphibious assault ship, the Hestan grill is the newest entry in the premium gas grill category.
It’s heavy, both in weight and looks, and feature-laden to say the least.
Watch the Señor Smoke video below and visit us to see in person or order one on phone or online.
We Ship Hestan Grills Nationwide. Call Us at 1-800-966-2878
My Traeger Timberline 850 has quickly eclipsed my other 6 grills, becoming my go-to piece for both grilling and smoking.
Yes, you read that correctly, I AM grilling on this new Traeger. The days of using the Traeger solely for smoke cooks is over, as the Timberline has manned
up with more muscle under the hood to provide consistent, hot temps that will provide a nice char.
I decided to use the reverse sear method to cook the tri tip. This technique usually guarantees me edge to edge pink which is what I am aiming for. I prepped the steak with extra virgin olive oil and a dusting of Jake’s Grillin beef rub.
With the hopper full of cherry pellets, I set the Timberline at 250F and kicked back with a Heady Topper. Within minutes, the Timberline was hovering around my temp and releasing a light smoke perfume from the back of the grill…intoxicating!
I waited about 12 mins all told ( I wanted the grate to warm up as much as possible) and then I laid the tri tip on the lower grate. I smoked it for about about 45 mins and when the temp reached around 110F, I pulled it. I already had a bed made for it where it rested for about 10 mins while I cranked up the heat on the Timberline. As it started to climb, I happily noted that the Timberline did not make a tremendous amount of noise while it fed the hopper (some of these pellet gills sound they are playing Flight of the Valkyrie when attempting to climb in temp.
After we had pulled north of 450 on the digital temp gauge and the Thermoworks pen (crucial piece of equipment!) I placed the tri tip back inside the Timberline, stuck in the meat probe, and loaded it back on for 10 mins. I was very sensitive to over-cooking and that made it all the better when the tri tip was sliced by my Victorinox knife. The sanguine, lush interior was juxtaposed by a charred, almost-crunchy exterior. The sear was legit, and made all the better by a nice dash of cherry smoke which took the flavor to another level.
Here are pics of the cook. Much more to come with the Timberline 850!
Please join “Big Wave” Berg from Traeger and Senor Smoke from Curtos this Sunday, April 2, in the Curto’s “smoke lot” as we take the Timberline 850 out for its launch party. We’ll be beating on it from 12-4 EST. Please call in advance to RSVP. 1-800-966-2878 and get ready to pre-order this amazing grill!
1966 Central Park Ave
Yonkers NY 10710
The Traeger Timberline grill is now available for pre-order and considering the volume of calls coming in re: this mind-bending product, I thought it made sense to cobble together a review based on my experience with it.
The Timberline came across my radar screen about 9 mos ago. My Traeger rep (“Big Wave”), knew that I was preaching the gospel of the Memphis wood-fire grill (what a piece!) and would tell me, “Dude, I know you love that Memphis, but I may have something for you in a few months.”
What he was alluding to was the Timberline, and if I remember correctly, it was supposed to be released last Fall. Big Wave actually had a prototype he was cooking on and the initial reviews, apart from some balky wifi, were stellar. Fast forward to late 2016, and Big Wave informed me that the Timberline was definitely going to hit its new release date of March ’17, and he now had a demo model which had improved from the prototype. He was cooking consistently with his Timberline and raving about the results, boasting about his:
Out of this world ribs
Best ever Thanksgiving Turkey
Flawless Leg of Lamb
I kept hearing the same message – temperatures held great, plenty of room for the food with the increased headroom on the pit, nice tasteful smoke flavor which didn’t overpower food, and an appreciable uptick in construction / design integrity compared to the Pro series. It became apparent that I needed to get in front of this grill myself and take this for a spin.
To Sear or Not to Sear
I did not doubt the Timberline’s ability to deliver the goods when it came to smoking. There are competitive BBQ teams that use Traeger pits, plus we’ve seen first hand what the results are when you smoke on a Pro series model. However I did have my doubts on whether it was going to be able to sear appropriately, particularly b/c it did not have a direct flame area like the Memphis and the Yoder pellet grills. So I issued Big Wave a challenge – bring the pit up to Yonkers and let’s give it a go, focusing on the sear.
He brought the grill up on cold day in February (ah. another nice challenge. could it maintain temp in the cold?) and to say I was impressed by the fit and finish would be an understatement. The grill hood and some heft without being a kettlebell, and as I opened and closed it I did not detect any wobble (which I still see in some of the better gas grill hoods). The casters were an improvement over the ones on the Pro series and I liked the increased headroom in the pill-shaped body which is providing an additional 5″ of grill space. Then there was the lid gasket and the double-walled stainless. As I’ve waxed poetic about the Memphis grill for several years, I’m always asked how the stainless Memphis can provide the moisture retention akin to a ceramic kamado grill. Answer is simple – the gasket (similar to a kitchen oven) provides a tight seal, and the double-walled stainless makes a strong barrier so smoke and heat have to stay where they belong…around your food.
Big Wave and set the grate at its lowest level (for searing) and after about 10-15 mins, the Timberline was hovering around 400, give or take a few degrees. The steaks were rubbed up with Jacobsens salt, olive oil and pepper and on to the Timberline they went. I kept them on for a total of about 8 mins as they were not monster size in thickness, probably about 1″ (too thin, but what can I say, I didn’t buy them). We did 4 mins per side with a 45 deg turn every two mins for our cross hatch marks. Steak registered 130 on the probe so we had nailed our medium rare. Taste was very nice, with a nice hint of the Mesquite (our pellet choice). Did not have very large or deep sear marks, but the steak was caramelized with a slight bark on it…and juicy as can be.
Does the WiFire Work?
This is the area that is going to need some work, at least from what I saw that day.
While we were able to get the Wifi synced to Big Wave’s app pretty easily, the connection to monitor the cook was very spotty. There are external circumstances that could be involved – maybe the wifi signal was not robust outside – but if my experience with the Memphis wifi app (which over 1 year after release is still giving some of my customers headaches) is to be lesson, then the WiFire app is going to need some kinks worked out. While it would be a nice convenience to monitor the cook remotely, it’s not a deal breaker for me and most of my customers who are looking for grills are not putting wifi monitoring at the top of their wish list bc they know there is a good chance it’s going to be spotty.
I’d let the kinks (which will undoubtedly arise, it’s technology folks!) and then just roll with it until it is a stable platform.
Wood vs Gas…Let the Revolution Begin
We’ll be doing more testing on Saturday at our launch event but between Big Wave’s plethora of cooks dating back to last summer and our cook in February, I can tell this grill is going to be a home run. Considering that you now have the ability to properly sear (which you will def get if you use a cast iron skillet in the Timberline, another test that will need to be done) I will really try to steer grill shoppers to this category now and away from many of the gas grills that inhabit its price point. The argument that a gas grill works bc of the convenience is well taken, but what can be easier than a pellet grill? It maintains nearly exact temps and can now be monitored remotely via the WiFire app. And oh, it actually imparts flavor to your food and takes you back to the start of our species when cooking with fire was the norm.
So come visit us this Saturday to see it in person, or call us with a pre-order…the demand is overwhelming and they simply don’t have enough grills made to meet that demand right now!
Visit Curto’s on Sunday April 2 from 12-4 as Senor Smoke and Traeger’s “Big Wave” Berg will be hosting a Timberline launch event from the Curto’s lot. We will have a Timberline 850 live and smoking for your viewing and testing pleasure. Please call us at 1-800-966-2878 or email email@example.com to RSVP. Bring your questions and PLEASE get ready to place pre-orders as the Timberline is in limited quantity and distribution. Once we sell out of our allotment, that’s all folks!
Traeger Timberline Release April 1
After a long, LONG wait of one year+, the Traeger Timberline is (almost) here.
Within the next week Traeger will release their best grill ever, a Wifi-enabled, robustly-constructed beast that will smoke, grill and legitimately sear.
Curto’s will be one of the few retailers authorized to carry the Timberline series for Traeger. I am anticipating our first batch will be rolling in around March 30-April 1.
Never one to succumb to the hype, I did cook on one about one month ago. This was not a prototype model. No, no, no..it was actually a production model, one of the first to roll off the line after extensive multi-year testing. My early verdict was the grill is absolutely legit. While we did not do a long smoke due to time constraints, we did sear a steak. This was actually a more important test for me b/c the Traeger Pro series that costs $799 and $999 can smoke. So I never doubted that the Timberline could handle that. My question was whether it would be able to grill and sear at higher temperatures, and with better results than the Pro series which maxes out at around 400 degrees. We tested a ribeye (about 1.5″ thick) and some broccoli di rabe sausage and it handled both with smoke, grace and aplomb. Construction definitely shamed the Pro series. The wifi was…mixed. My rep had some difficulty running it off of his phone but eventually got it to work. Wifi capability really isn’t a pressing issue for me. I’ve seen the Memphis grill’s wifi ability hiccup for the better part of a year but that doesn’t detract from the complete studliness of the grill.
So, if you want to see the Timberline and want to take advantage of early season deals, please call or visit Curto’s this week!
Outdoor icemakers are gaining in popularity and Perlick is perched at the top
Whenever I have a question on outdoor product, I call this guy who I call “the Encyclopedia”. I would be hard-pressed to think there is another human being who has more knowledge on outdoor product than him.
SO when I asked him who makes the best outdoor icemaker, the answer was immediate and decisive.
“Perlick. And I don’t even sell them”.
For a sales rep to say that a direct competitor was not only a better product, but the BEST product, that speaks volumes.
By nature, icemakers are troublesome creatures. They have a lot of moving parts. They are noisy. They are doing something that is incredibly taxing on a machine made by man. So with all of these things working against icemakers, my advice would be as follows:
Buy a Perlick. Because they are the best.
Perlick has one icemaker (make that two if you want to add the ADA compliant model) – the H50IMS
In 24 hours it creates up to 55 lbs.
It has storage capacity of 22 lbs.
The ice is clear, top hat. This is important because people take the shape of their ice seriously!
Perlick likes to call their top hat shaped ice the “perfect ice”. It prevents clumping, is tasteless and odorless and will maintain its shape longer than crescent ice, so your expensive ice won’t water dowm
The shape of your ice has something to say about its ability to hold form and not melt in your Hendricks and tonic. If it melts quickly, your cocktail takes on more water and then said drink is ruined.
So happy to announce that we are now carrying Yoder smokers.
We will be focusing on the YS480 and YS640 pellet smokers, but you can also order any Yoder “stick burner” pit through us as well.
I am absolutely stoked about this addition to our portfolio. The inclusion of Yoder alongside our current pellet grill offerings from Memphis and Traeger gives us a broad selection of price points for customers interested in grilling with wood…which I have learned through experience is the BEST way to cook food!
Why go with a Yoder? Easy enough…you can spend over $6000 on a gas premium grill on a cart that will provide hot burners but nothing in the way of flavor enhancement nor the ability to smoke with any semblance of legitimacy. Or you can spend a tick below/above $2000 and get product that is built like an M1A1 tank, will allow you to smoke your best Louie Mueller impersonation in your backyard, or will also give you the option to grill over open fire with the purchase of the direct grill grate accessory. The versatility is simply unmatched.
Using two cooking zones on Alfresco’s SFI-POD Steak, Senor Smoke attains near steak perfection
March 1 2017
Two years ago I sold an Alfresco grill to a cat we will call “Steve from Scarsdale”. This was a special sale. Why?
The sales cycle took over one year. Talk about a considered purchase.
Steve took his dear, sweet time to order b/c he had a ton of research to do. He has an engineering background so he was paying close attention to the grill’s design integrity and details such as thickness, soldering, and overall product construct.
His final decision – an Alfresco.
Steve also purchased a few accessories including the solid fuel insert. Am few months after delivery I dropped him a note to see how he was enjoying the grill.
We got to talking about the solid fuel insert and he mentioned that he was doing dual zone cooking on it. I didn’t understand how he was able to pull that off considering the insert is not immense. He told me that the key was to bank your lump charcoal in the back of the insert and then leave the entire front of the insert empty. He said that there would be ample space with a “split” grate so that the dual zone method would not inhibit you with limited real estate.
So I tested Steve’s idea with a very thick strip steak that I knew could use some indirect heat as well as an intense sear.
I banked my Kamado Joe lump charcoal in the back of the solid fuel insert and lit it with the Alfresco burner. After 7 minutes the charcoal was fully ignited and ready to go. The steak, which had been massaged with olive oil, Jacobsens sea salt and cracked pepper was placed at the front of the insert as I wanted to reverse-sear this – cooking at a lower temperature and then searing at the end of the cook.
As you can see by the below photos, I had a significant spread in temperature at the grill grate – I was seeing a 500 degree difference which I could not believe.
I let the thick steak sit on the front of the solid fuel insert for about 7 – 8 minutes total, turning every 3 mins to get the cross hatch marks.
After the 8 minutes were up I move the steak the back portion of the solid fuel insert and immediately noticed that the steak was undergoing a sear – audibly the sizzle started to pick up and the smoke and flame started to kick in as well. Things were hot back there!
After about 2-3 minutes per side I pulled the steak and let it temp under loosely tented foil for about 10 minutes. The result – incredibly delicious medium rare and quite a tasty bark on it from the sear.