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.
Took another accessory home for my Alfresco ALXE42SZ grill and I ended up making the best chicken I’ve ever produced on the Alfresco.
The indirect roasting pod is entirely legit, check it out and let me know about your results.
It’s accessories like this that separate Alfresco from the other premium gas grills.
Buy one for your Alfresco, load her up with a bird or roast of sorts, make sure the beer is cold and plays some Dead circa 1972!
Take a Bell & Evans air chilled chicken, an Alfresco ALXE42SZ grill and its various features – rotisserie, solid fuel insert (SFI-POD) and the herb/smoke infusion system….and you get one damn good bird, cooked with “Controlled Smoke”
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!
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.