Engelbrecht Grills and Cookers is a small manufacturer in Paxton, IL. They make small portable campfire and fireplace grills, the Braten 1000, and a larger Stahlkammer 2000. Braten and Stahlkammer are heavy duty, over engineered cookers with very unique features. They use Argentine V-shaped grates that capture drippings and direct them toward a front drip pan for sauces and basting. These grates are typically used on vertical lift or Santa Maria style, open fire cookers. By design, these cookers cannot have a lid. But Englebrecht uses a large frame for the lift mechanism that extends above and to the left and right of the lid, allowing it to swing open and shut. The 1000 Series Braten also has an offset firebox.
In March 2012, President Barack Obama gave the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his wife, a very cool gift, a $2,000 wood and charcoal-burning grill and smoker combo, made, where else, in Obama's home state, Illinois. These are hand made cookers. Production is limited. All sales are direct.
The Stahlkammer 2000 is as solid and beautiful as the smaller Braten 1000. It has almost 8 square feet of cooking space, but it lacks the offset firebox of the Braten. To cook indirect you can build a fire and push it all against one side and get a similar effect. These are not kept in stock and are built to order.
These big Engelbrecht cookers have some unusual, nifty features. Chief among them is a cooking grate that can be raised or lowered by turning a wheel that is attached to an axle above the grill. It has two heavy duty stainless steel cables, one on each side of the grill, that allow the cook to raise and lower the food in order to control the heat. The closer the food is to the coals, the faster it cooks. This arrangement is common on large grills in and around Southern California, and they are often called Santa Maria grills, named after the town where they are most popular. The design is also common in Argentina.
But there are some innovations in the Englebrecht over the typical Santa Maria and Argentine grills. The traditional models are open on top so the heat can be applied only to one side of the food at a time. This is fine for steaks, burgers, chicken parts, asparagus, and other thin foods, but it makes them a pain when it comes to large thick meats, like roasts or whole turkeys. Engelbrecht's unique vertical lift design facilitates use of a heavy heat absorbing lid which allows you get high radiant heat from below, reflected heat from above, and convection heat from all around as the air circulates. The lid makes it an oven.
The unit is over engineered and built to last. It is heavy duty steel with expertly welded seams. The body is powder coated and baked on at 1500F, according to Englebrecht. This is necessary because when cooking over wood the high heat will warp thin metals.
The main cooking grate is approximately two feet by four feet, large enough for a lamb or small pig roast. The standard cooking surface is 3/8" stainless steel rod for beautiful grill marks, but they offer a most unusual option, V-shaped grates, which gather juices and melting fats and drain them away. This type of grate is common in Argentina. Some say it give meat a cleaner taste by keeping most of the drippings out of the coals, others say the drippings add flavor.
There is an aluminum workshelf in front with stainless tool hooks. The hinges have brass pins that will not rust. The handles are oak to protect you hand from burns. There are 4 cast iron wheels to support this 750 pound grand-daddy. Although they have mounted one of the better bi-metal dial thermometers on the market, we don't trust them and strongly recommend replacement with a modern digital probe like the Maverick ET-732.
Cooking with wood is tricky, and many rookies end up serving black cinders or meat that tastes like an ash tray. But this baby does just fine with charcoal. When cooking with wood, you never use soft woods like pine because the resins are noxious. You can use hardwood, nutwood, or fruitwood like oak, hickory, or apple. Starter fluid is never used, only kindling, newspaper, or parafin cubes. You then burn them down to glowing embers. You don't want to cook over the roaring flames. The heat is too great and the combustion gases too strong. You need to wait until flames are gone and the logs burn down to coals.
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.