Saturday, July 9, 2011

Smoke Hollow Smoker-Grill-Sear Combo Unit

I got a new cooker this week – a Smoke Hollow combo unit.

It's going out on the deck as soon as I get a cover for it.

I know, I know, like I need another grill. But look at it this way – I'm consolidating. This is replacing the two Brinkmann units that have been living in my garage for 2 years. So I am actually going from 6 grills to 5.

Rod from Florida asked me last week, if I have two Big Green Eggs, the “world's best smoker/grill/oven” why do I need anything else? It's a great question. I don't NEED anything else. But here's why I like using other grills at times:

  • Nostalgia – I learned to smoke on a cantankerous offset smoker and it's fun to revisit that.
  • Challenge – I like the skills test of handling fire management on other cookers.
  • Readers – I don't want people thinking, “I can't cook that, I don't have a Big Green Egg.”

Why the Smoke Hollow?
I looked at other gas/charcoal smoker units such as the Char-griller and Brinkmann models but chose the Smoke Hollow for quality and design reasons. I liked the larger size of the Smoke Hollow's fire box (which came included, not an add on purchase like the other two). The charcoal tray in the grill is adjustable, giving another level of heat control besides just the vents.

I have to give major kudos to the folks at Outdoor Leisure Products because despite having a lot of parts, this was one of the easiest assembly jobs I have done. The screws/bolts/nuts were in a blister pack and plainly identified. Everything was labeled to avoid confusion.  They designed it to be easy to put together by doing little things like using one size/type of bolt 90% of the time. The instructions are clearly written, easy to understand and get real English. I put this together by myself in 2 hours at a leisurely pace and with minimal inadvertent swear words.

First Run
You have to season new cookers by coating the interior with a coat of oil and burning a medium hot fire for an hour.
The fire box is much more spacious than the SnP.  Using peach logs and coal here.

I had 4 almost empty bags of different types of Kingsford.  Used them all! 

About halfway through the burn in, I couldn't bear to let it waste all that heat for nothing so I threw on some Italian sausage, onion, and peppers for a quick, tasty dinner. 

Initial Impressions
I like the quality of the unit and how it cooked the first time.  The charcoal grill runs like I expected. I think the fire box is going to handle small logs and split wood easily.  The sear burner gets HOT almost instantly. It gives me plenty of options for cooking for a crowd. This is an upgrade from my two Brinkmann units that it replaced.

There are two modifications I will make.
  1. I plan to install a Rutland or similar gasket around the lid of the grill/smoker chamber to close the air gap between the base and lid. It doesn't matter while grilling so much but would be an issue when smoking.
  2. Seal the two 1/4” openings at the base of the grill/smoker chamber on the left side where it meets the gas unit. I'm just going to put a small ball of JB Weld there.
I'm happy with our purchase and know I will enjoy using the Smoke Hollow cooker. 

[Standard Disclaimer] We bought ours at Sam's Club for full price.  I kept waiting for them to lower the price later in the season but they got down to two units so I pulled the trigger.