Magic of the Traeger (hint: great gift idea for your favorite grill master)

Wondering what to get dad for Father's Day or his birthday this year?
We strongly recommend a
Traeger wood pellet grill. 

From Tom

If you appreciate meat, the quest to find the ultimate grilling experience is never ending.  This is particularly true when you seek to reconcile the need for convenience with the essential elements of heat and smoke.  My dream grilling experience is a riverside campfire, with a deep bed of smoldering coals and the gentle approach of twilight on a warm Montana summer evening.  A close runner up is tending the Traeger in my driveway at home.  It’s that good.

How can that be, you ask?  The primary reason is the meat you prepare on the Traeger will have the wonderful smoky complexity of a live fire grill and a delicious moist texture that isn’t achievable on a gas grill.  In my opinion, “classic” grilling leads to meat that is too dry and a somewhat acrid flavor from the excessively high heat that sears the meat and the smoke from the fat that drips off the meat.  The Traeger generates indirect heat  by burning wood pellets that retain the wood smoke (and if you set the temperature low enough, you can use it as a smoker) yet the computer controlled combustion system produces a wide range of temperatures simply by adjusting the dial.  It couldn’t be easier.

What I particularly love is the way you can use different types of wood pellets to create different flavor profiles depending on the meat you are cooking.  My favorites are hickory for pork, mesquite for beef, apple for chicken, and alder for salmon.  Recently I have been experimenting with putting the meat on for 20-30 minutes on smoke, taking it off and turning the heat up, and then putting the meat back on to cook it to the temperature you want.  This approach also helps ensure the meat isn’t too cold when you put it on the grill, which can lead to the outside cooking too fast relative to the internal temperature.  The Traeger allows you to experiment and develop “grilling wisdom” that satisfies some deeper genetic programming from our ancestors on the plains.

An important tool to have handy with the Traeger is an instant read digital thermometer.  You need this to monitor the meat as it cooks, because your habitual read of the meat based on “it looks done” just won’t cut it with the Traeger.  You won’t see the sizzling fat and moisture as it leaves the meat like a gas grill or a high temperature charcoal grill.  It is more of a roast than a sear, and as such it is exceptionally useful to be able to monitor the temperature a time or two as it cooks.  You time estimates that Traeger provides are reliable, but cooking the meat to just the temperature and then letting it rest will produce amazing results. 

If I could find someone willing to cart off our Dacor gas grill, I would be very happy to switch over 100% to the Traeger.  I should have known I bought the wrong grill when I realized I had to keep a fire extinguisher handy whenever I was cooking.  Why do I want to produce 20,000 BTUs?  I have nicknamed that gas grill “the incinerator”, and if it wasn’t made of stainless steel it would be rusting into oblivion.  What I want from a grill is awesome tasting meat and the challenge of trying to make it a little better every time.  And you put those together (plus some Hay Mama grass-fed beef) with an incredibly easy to use machine and you have the makings of some great meals.

For more reviews and ideas on smokers and grills check out