Starting 20 years ago, my parents gave me a Weber kettle grill as a present. Not sure if I should thank them for starting my obsession or hold it against them.
Fortunately, our first house didn’t have much room for me to experiment much. About 8 years ago we moved into our current house. While I really like the flavor from charcoal, my wife refused to cook on it. That lead me to craigslist where I found an amazing deal on a Weber Summit 6 burner natural gas grill. It works great, but I was really longing for that “smokey” flavor I had grown used to with the old kettle grill.
Talking to some friends, about 4 years ago I decided to buy my first smoker. I did a ton of research and took a lot of advice from “amazing ribs.com” (a fantastic site if you’ve never been there). I purchased a Camp Chef “24” vertical smoker. I converted it to run off of natural gas so I didn’t have to bother with tanks.
Over the years, I grew frustrated with the Camp Chef; it’s not their fault, it’s a limitation of the design and the price point. Large changes with ambient air temperature or high winds would have my cooking temps all over the place. I ended up installing a mechanical thermostat from an old RV that was setup to run off of natural gas. After getting all of the gas plumbing and sensors setup the difference was night and day. I later added a larger smoke stack and some insulation. These mods really helped the smoker.
The problem became that I wanted to be able to cook when I wasn’t home and my wife wasn’t very keen on adding wood to the smoker or dealing with the small adjustments that were necessary every few hours. So I began reading again. For another 2 years I read everything I could about “automated” smokers. This lead me down the path of a pellet grill. I realize it’s not as authentic as a traditional pit/log grill, however it was a compromise that would give me what I wanted. Between a dozen forums, professional griller reviews, and again amazingribs.com I came to decide that I needed a Yoder in my life; specifically a YS640. Somehow I convinced my wife that this was a good idea and she told me to go for it.
I freaking love this grill. Fill the hopper up, put meat on & GO! Holds temps like a champ. The quality of food coming off of this thing is amazing. I’ve cooked quite a bit on this thing since I got it. Pork Butts, Ribs, Brisket, Chicken, Salmon, etc. As I type this, I have a brisket smoking.
While it’s not the same as a good lump wood grill, it does a great job and allows me to focus on other things in life while the grill does most of the work.
I hate to say it, but my weber kettle grill doesn’t get much use anymore. I just can’t bring myself to get rid of it. Between the Yoder, the Weber gas grill and the Camp Chef camp grill setup (Camp Chef Pro 60x) I feel like I have all of my needs covered. I’m trying to find a new home for my old cabinet smoker, at some point it’ll serve the next owner well.