The Summit takes all the best features of a smoker and a grill and it puts it into one unit. So, you can grill a backstrap or steak to perfection or turn your Summit into a smoker and cook up a delicious pork butt like I did this past weekend – it’s the best of both worlds. Knowing that there is usually a learning curve for virtually any grill or smoker you purchase, I was prepared for that and figured I’d have to babysit my Summit all day and learn all its little nuances. However, I was wrong. Kevin explains that the Summit is designed to be user friendly and easy to dial in right out of the box thanks to its design. The double wall insulation is much like that in the popular coolers and coffee tumblers today, it is designed to retain heat for a long time. The heat retention makes it easier to get your Summit to the desired temperature and maintain it. Ultimately, that makes your job as the head barbeque honcho much easier, because you can focus more on the food rather than adjusting air dampers and trying to control the temperature. Kevin notes that he has cooked 27 hours on his Summit without ever adding any charcoal and furthermore has had snow accumulate on top of his Summit while cooking, just proving how good the Summit is at keeping the heat in.
With 24-inches of grill space, the Summit can handle a lot of food. Speaking to its size and capacity, Kevin notes that he has cooked five pork shoulders at once on a Summit. Even more impressive is the fact that with that much meat on its grates it still cooks efficiently. Kevin talks about the adjustable damper on top that obviously helps control the heat, however he also notes that the Rapidfire lid damper is able to swing up and open completely to allow your grill to achieve really high temperatures. In addition, the bottom damper is designed with a smoke setting, a range in which you can dial in perfectly the amount of oxygen needed to keep the fire at 225 to 250 degrees.
Since we’re talking about heat retention, it’s important to acknowledge the source. The heart of any cook is the fuel you use – the charcoal. Kevin says if you want to get better at barbequing, the fuel source is a good place to focus your attention. The more consistent your fuel source is, the more consistent your barbeque will be. I have always used Kingsford in the past. However, when cooking my pork butt I enlisted the help of Weber Briquettes to get the job done. Honestly, I didn’t expect to really be able to tell a difference. Open mouth and insert foot! I’ll admit it, I was wrong y’all. So, what sets these briquettes apart? As Kevin explains they are real hardwood briquettes with no binder, they’re almost two times larger than the average briquette and they last double to triple the time and are way more consistent in the way they burn. What this gives you is a longer cook time with less fuel and more even cook temperatures. I was able to cook all day, nine hours, and not have to stoke my fire once. Not having to stoke the fire means you can leave the lid on and almost forget it, almost.
There are so many factors that can contribute to a perfect cook: a good grill/smoker, proper fuel source, consistent heat and more. However, what it ultimately comes down to is pulling your meat off at the right time based on the desired internal temperature. Letting it go too long can result in over cooking, drying out and even adding an unpleasant flavor to your food. Not cooking it long enough might be the ultimate sin, nobody wants to walk away with salmonella from your weekend barbeque. A good meat thermometer is the answer to this problem. There are a lot of different meat thermometers out there but the iGrill from Weber is in a league of its own. There are several different iGrill offerings: iGrill Mini, iGrill 2 ( I have this one) and iGrill 3. The base unit powers on and has enough ports to accept up to four different probes, depending on the model you choose. So, you put your probe into the cut of meat you want to monitor and leave it there, and you can watch the internal temperature on the base unit. (Yes, you leave the probe can be left in the meat while it cooks.) However, what makes this so handy is the app that accompanies it. If you have a smart phone or tablet you simply go to the app store and download the free app which takes about 10 seconds. When the app launches you can immediately see the four different probes and the temperatures of each, if they are in use. Furthermore, within the app you can select the cut(s) of meat you are cooking and find the proper temperature it needs to reach. From there you can watch the progress and set alarms accordingly to alert you if your grill is getting too hot or cool, or if your cook is getting close to be completed. You can also set custom timers to remind you to wrap, baste and more. When it comes to wild game, one of the biggest challenges of cooking it is that it lacks fat which inevitably, when cooked too long, leads to a dry rubbery piece of meat. The iGrill will have your back in this case, making sure you pull your meat off before it enters the danger zone.
Now with Thanksgiving on the brain, let’s talk turkey! Kevin says that dry meat is a problem that many people have when cooking a whole bird. To combat that, he starts with a brine, an equilibrium brine, one that he says is a more methodical approach than a typical 24 brine. While those work, Kevin says that you have to be careful not to add to much salt, which can ultimately dry your meat out. After brining his bird, Kevin likes to put butter and seasoning under the skin which allows more flavor to reach the white meat. When smoking a turkey Kevin cooks at 300 degrees using smoke as a flavor ingredient, not as a low and slow process. For the wood selection, it is a personal one, however a combination of hickory and either apple or cherry is what Kevin prefers. He’ll talk about oak, mesquite and pecan and highlight the pros and cons of each, as well. With your grill hot and ready to go, it’s time to put the bird on. If you cook at 300 to 325 degrees Kevin says to plan to cook for 15-18 minutes per pound. If you cook at 350 to 400 degrees you can anticipate 12-15 minutes per pound. This is yet again where the iGrill comes in so handy. Insert your probe in the turkey, set your final temperature to 155 degrees and monitor the temperature from your smart phone – you won’t under or over do your meat and you don’t have to sit by the smoker all day, you can still be a part of the festivities. Upon completion, letting your meat rest is a very important step of the process. Kevin says that the meat needs to rest 20-30% of the time that it cooked to allow the juices to run back in and keep it from drying out. Taking it off at the right time and letting it rest are both key to having a nice juicy turkey.
Start thinking about Thanksgiving now and if you have any questions on how to smoke a bird or deliver on an awesome grilled or smoked meal, hit up Kevin on social media. He is a master of his craft and always willing to share his knowledge with you!
Happy Smoking Friends