By Dan Kidder
I have been loving the Smoke Pro Pellet Grills from Camp Chef. In all, I have reviewed more than 10 of them and I use the Woodwind once or twice a week. Once you discover the ease of use and maintenance of these grills, you won’t really have any use for any other kind of grill. I haven’t lit up my trusty charcoal Weber or my propane gas grill in years. Everything I could want to do, I can accomplish with my pellet grill, except for one thing. If I want to hang long strips of ribs or links of sausage, I had to fire up the propane Camp Chef Smoke Vault, soak wood chips, keep feeding it damp chips, and frequently check it and manage it.
Well, new for this year is the Camp Chef Smoke Pro XXL Vertical Pellet Grill. Now I get the larger cooking chamber of the Smoke Vault with the exceptional ease of use of a pellet grill. It has 1,950 square inches of cooking surfaces with four smoking grates, three jerky trays, and hanging sausage hooks. We fired this bad boy up at a local BBQ joint and we were able to smoke 4 full-sized pork butts and two full beef briskets, all at once. Special thanks to Pork Belly’s Eatery and Catering in St. George, UT.
The temperature range on the XXL is smaller than on Camp Chef’s other pellet grills, in part because of the larger surface area of the larger cooking chamber. This allows it to cool more rapidly from outside ambient air. But also, it makes it ideal for smoking at lower temperatures. This so-called “cold smoking” allows you to impart more smoke flavor to meat over a longer smoking time, without actually cooking the meat. It has a range from 150 up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another benefit of “cold smoking” is that it slowly renders out the fat, for succulent and tender meat. It also allows you to smoke things that would melt under higher heat, such as hard cheeses. Adding cubes of sharp cheddar to your brats will blow away your guests.
The ease of use from the Smoke Pro pellet grills is in the control unit. A computer uses sensors to measure the temperature of the main cooking compartment and automatically adds pellets via its large auger to maintain the preset temperature. The firebox holds the pellets and a heating element ignites them and maintains a constant heat and smoke. The vertical shape of the cabinet allows the smoke to waft upwards and a vent in the side allows a controlled amount of smoke to escape and fresh air to circulate for a nice convection current that perfectly coats everything with just right amount smoke and heat for perfectly smoked meat.
The XXl also features n 18-pound pellet hopper, and dual temperature probes, so you can load the hopper with pellets and walk away and prepare a salad for those people who like such things. We all have those strange relatives who would rather eat food’s food than real food. Pop back out on the deck and push the big green button to see the internal temperature of one of your pieces of meat. Press it again and see the internal temperature of your other probe. A third press gives you the cooking chamber temperature. Additionally, you can clean the ash out with the pull of a lever.
This ease of use means that I can set the grill temperature and go take a nap, watch the football game, or even run to the store, and I know that my smoker is going to keep on running without any issue as long as the hopper is full and feeding pellets.
Once I have achieved the level of smoke that I desire, a simple turn of the knob to the desired cooking temperature will finish cooking my meat and provide a perfect crust on the outside with a beautiful smoke ring on the inside.
This perfect combination of cooking and smoking was once the sole domain of very patient pit masters who could tease their charcoal or wood fires with just the right amount of heat and air and required constant attention. Now, with the Smoke Pro Pellet Grill, you can set it, walk away, and come back to perfectly smoked food.
The ability to smoke large quantities of meat at once, or to smoke and cook longer foods like full racks of ribs or sausages, make the XXL the go-to choice for those who cater events, cook for a large family, restaurants who may not have room for a large industrial smoker, or those who like to make large batches of jerky or sausage.
For Christmas this year, we will be cooking hams and a beautiful smoked turkey on this baby. If you are considering this as a Christmas gift, make sure that it is an early one, because Christmas dinner can be cooking on the patio and everyone can enjoy more time with the family and less time futzing over the goose. And I have cooked a goose on my pellet grill, and it was amazing.
The large size, ease of use, perfect smoke flavor, and versatility, all make the Camp Chef Smoke Pro XXL our Pro’s Pick. If you love good meat as much as the crew at Sportsman’s News, you will want to check it out too. Look for it at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse.