SEATTLE, November, 6th, 2015 — True barbecue is all about low and slow. While many may try to replicate this process using an indirect grilling method with a charcoal or gas grill, there’s really no substitute for smoking. It’s a process that’s been around for millennia, and it has gotten easier thanks to products like this Digital Smoker from Char Broil. Think of this smoker as one that caters to both tech-geeks and others who simply want an easier way to enjoy smoked meat goodness.
The low and slow method is what real barbeque is about. It’s not about the sauce or rub, although those can enhance flavors. It’s about heat control and length of time. When you take a tough piece of meat like a beef brisket and cook it fast, the connective tissue inside won’t break down and you’ll end-up with a tough piece of meat that’s also tough to eat. Low heat, over time, breaks down this connective tissue and really helps any fat inside to render properly and unleash its full flavor and texture potential.
Smoking meats provides such amazing depth of flavor that there’s really nothing like it. You can add to that complexity by trying different wood such as alder, cedar, mesquite, hickory among others. You can even mix them together for a unique flavor profile.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of this Char Broil smoker is its wireless remote, which operates on radio frequency so you can control the smoker from inside the house. This remote allows users to have full control over what’s happening outside. You can set the temperature, start the preheat process, adjust the meat temperature (using the included meat probe) and set the timer. Additionally, the remote provides real-time data as the smoking process happens. Another added bonus: it has an easy-to- read display and can even control the smoker’s built-in LED lighting.
Using the Digital Smoker is rather straightforward. It comes with its own wood chip box (you can also use pellets if that’s your preference), a drip pan with water reservoir that’s situated above the wood chip box and several racks above them both.
You can adjust the temperature from 180 degrees up to 275 – ideal for smoking almost anything. That temperature range enables you to easily smoke anything from fish to chicken to a beef tri-tip. One of my personal favorites is smoking pulled pork. Sure, ribs are great, too. But give me pulled pork all day long.
While using the smoker is rather easy, the drawback to its design is that you need to open the door to change out the wood chips. This lets the smoke escape and drops the temperature a bit as well. It’d be great if they had a way to slide the wood chip box in and out of the side of the unit rather than the front door.
Another nice touch Char Broil could include in future models would be to redesign the drip pan area with a non-stick surface. We lined our pan with foil to help ease the inevitable cleaning process.
The remote control has a good range as long as you’re using reasonably fresh batteries. We noticed, however, that after weeks of use, the batteries started to fade a bit, gradually reducing the remote’s useful range.
Overall, Char Broil did an admirable job designing an easy-to-use smoker that’s priced very competitively. It worked great with any protein we threw at it, and definitely elevated our meat experience above the ordinary. Once you get a taste of the finished product, you’ll be hard pressed to go back to standard grilling again.