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The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One
The Good-One Open Range is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.
The flat top does the burgers and the fryer does the fries. Use the griddle for bacon, eggs, and home fries. Or pancakes, fajitas, grilled cheese, you name it. Why stink up the house deep frying and spatter all over? Do your fried chicken and calamari outside. Blackstone's Rangetop Combo With Deep Fryer does it all!
The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers because temperature control is so much easier.
The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is considered by the pros, and our team, to be the single best instant read thermometer. The MK4 includes features that are common on high-end instruments: automatic backlight and rotating display. Don't accept cheap substitutes.
GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, kill hotspots, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily rmoved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke.
The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it's easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is beautifully designed, completely portable, and much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado.
The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period.
This is the first propane smoker with a thermostat, making this baby foolproof. Set ThermoTemp's dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin'.
The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted
Napoleon's NK22CK-C Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It's hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the NK22CK-C a viable alternative.
Green Mountain's portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it's also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.
The CyberQ Cloud is BBQ Guru's latest entry into the remote thermostatic controller market intended for use on charcoal grills or smokers. It adds a cloud connection that allows monitoring and setting most control functions from anywhere an Internet connection is available. The user interface is a web browser instead of a dedicated app that might run on a smart phone or tablet, allowing use of a home computer, as well as a smart phone, to control one's cooking session. The kit includes the control box, AC power supply, a 10 cfm fan, fan-mounting hardware, a pit probe, and a food probe. Only a phillips screwdriver is needed to assemble the fan adapter to your cooker. (My cooker is an 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain.) A quick-start guide will get most users through the setup and basic operations, but I urge you to download the manual and read it carefully. There are features that you may not find without reading the manual.
Setup is easy. The controller comes configured as a hotspot, so you can connect to it directly to perform the Wi-Fi setup or manage the unit without Internet access. This might be helpful if you're competing and there is no router available. However, you would lose the ability to use the Internet in this configuration. Normally, you would connect through the hotspot, and using the self-contained web server, tell the unit the SSID and password of your home router. This allows the unit to talk to the cloud server. You then go through a straightforward online product registration and your CyberQ Cloud will communicate with the server, giving you access from any Internet-connected computer or phone/tablet.
Once set up, the unit remembers the configuration, and you won't have to do it again unless you change routers. Now you can set a number of parameters, like pit temperature and desired food temps, either on the controller directly or via the web app. (The controller can monitor three food probes, but the kit comes with only one.) The controller will regulate airflow through your cooker to maintain the set temperature. You can also set a count-down timer. You can select from one of several actions when the timer reaches zero: no action (cooking continues at the previously set temperature), the pit temperature can shift to another settable temperature (like a keep-warm temp), it can sound an alarm (on the unit, not in the browser), or shut everything down completely. You can enable a temperature ramp-down feature that will lower the pit temperature as the food reaches its target temperature. An audible alarm (on the unit, not in the browser) can alert you when your food is done, too. You can configure the cloud app to send you a text message and/or an e-mail when food is done, as well as periodic updates on food and pit temperatures at a frequency of your choice. You can set a temperature band, say +/- 25º, around your pit temperature, and an alarm will sound on the controller if the temperature deviates from the set temp by more than the band tolerance. One irritation is the inability to silence the controller's audible alarms from the web app - you have to go outside and press a button. You can enable or disable open-lid detection, a feature that prevents temperature overshoot after peeking under the lid or jostling fuel.
To use the web app, you log into the account you created previously. Communication is automatically established when you power up your controller. You create a "cook" with the parameters you desire, and start the data recording when you're ready. The app will display a temp gauge for the pit temp and up to three food temps. The gauges self-scale so that your target temperatures are at 12 o'clock on the dial, making them easy to read. A graph of temperatures vs. time will automatically update as the cook progresses, although it sometimes seemed to stick, but a brower refresh updated the information. You can affix notes to events on the graph. The app will list the events as you create them, but it doesn't list them in order, making them a little tough to interpret. If you mouse-over the graph, additional data appears, but, alas, the time is not indicated along with the temperatures.
The graph and its associated data can be downloaded in several file formats. Here is the graph from my brisket cook. (The glitches in the graph were due to my jostling the charcoal with a poker and changing the pit temps, not faults with the equipment.) The notes are displayed, but it's up to you to keep track of what the events meant. One thing missing is a display of the pit temperature set point on the graph, and it would be nice to see the fan's output duty cycle there, as well. You do get a numerical display of the fan's percentage of output, but it's not recorded, unfortunately.
The app displays information about your cooking session, like the food type and weight, for future reference You can input environmental data like ambient temps, and they display in the app as well. You can save cooking sessions and recipes, as well as uploading photos of your food, and share them with other BBQ Guru users. The app allows you to set up or change your cook parameters, as well as manage other settings for the alarms, multiple controllers, and multiple cookers. You can upload your mug shot if you're so inclined. Unless you explicitly delete cooking sessions, everything is maintained in the cloud for future reference. Unfortunately, there is no audible alarm in the app - you'll have to rely on a text message or e-mail notifications. If you have an Amazon Alexa unit, you can set it up to monitor or control your cooking parameters.
There is a well-written instruction manual available for download. READ IT! You'll miss a lot of functionality if you don't. Trust me on this.
Overall, this is a full-featured unit that is easy to setup and use. The cloud app has a few rough edges that hopefully will be ironed out over time. The firmware can be updated automatically when connected to the Internet. I would like to see a longer tip on the food probe - 4" (10cm) is a little short. The cables are a generous 6'+ (1.8m). The product build is above average, although the wire to the fan is flimsy and would likely not survive if you tripped over it. You can run it on its AC-DC adapter (included) or from a 12VDC source. The unit does an excellent job of controlling the pit temperature. (Read the section in the manual about good fire-building practices.) Other than the few shortcomings mentioned above, there is little to complain about. It's not cheap, but nice stuff rarely is. I'll give it a Platinum Medal for its feature set, performance, and build quality.
Bill McGrath is AmazingRibs.com's Thermometer Maven. He has sophisticated equipment, an electrical engineering degree from Cornell University, and an MBA (almost) from UC Berkeley. Despite being mostly retired, he is still the person responsible for developing and updating all of ExxonMobil's electricians' training modules.
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