It is a real treat in a disposable world to see products this well built. Especially at these prices.
All Meadow Creek grills, smokers, and grill/smoker combos are made by Amish craftsmen in New Holland, PA, as they have been since the company was founded in 1980. As you might expect, their designs are simple, well thought out, their build is solid and the products are long lasting.
Most metal is seriously heavy 13 gauge steel, In 2012 they switched from stainless steel expanded metal grates to heavy wire mesh grates which we commonly refer to as stainless steel rod grates. This change reduced waste because the expanded metal grates were stamped out of stainless steel sheets resulting in tons of small diamond shaped leftovers. Stamping also created sharp edges which nicked some fingers before they smoothed out from usage. Finally switching to metal rods decreased the volume of metal surface on the grates, reducing conduction cooking and exposing meat to more smoke. Handles are stainless steel coils that never get too hot and are easy on the hands. Meadow Creeks are favorites among the competition crowd for quality as well as price. That metal will stand up to nature's fury, and as long as you have them covered and keep them clean, you should be handing these down to your kids. If they've been good.
Although it can handle a small hog, Meadow Creek's PR36 does much more. This is one versatile cooker. There is a deep trough and a tall lid with a solid strong hinge. A tray for charcoal hangs inside the trough 6" below the grate. Load it up and you can bring coal very close to the food for a quick hot sear. Or, if you wish, coals can be placed right on the bottom of the trough. You can then place the empty coal tray above coals for indirect cooking, or even fill the tray with water for steaming. Push the coals to one side and you have a fine 2-zone setup and put wood on the coals and you can smoke as well as any offset smoker. The coal tray lifts out easily so ash disposal is a snap.
There is an inverted V shape bar that runs the length of the bottom of the coal tray and it has large holes in it. It can be used to divide the charcoal bed and improve airflow to the embers. One can even lay unlit coals in a C or U shape and put hot coals on one end and it will burn slowly around the bend like a fuse, ideal for low and slow cooking.
The cooking grate is 15 x 35" for a whopping 525 square inches of primary cooking surface. It comes with a duplicate second grate that can be placed above the main grate, doubling you cooking capacity.
There are six simple flap covered vent holes, two on each side of the bottom, and one on each side of the lid. They don't seal perfectly nor does the lid, but a perfect seal is overrated. Temp control and airflow are more important. The large inflatable tires make it fairly easy to roll it on uneven surfaces such as grass, dirt, and even sand. It is painted with heat resistant black enamel. Powder coated would have been better. The seriously large dial thermometer in the hood is one of the few we've seen that actually works well.
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.