Mar 21, 2016,this review has been updated after several months of use. See the updated review at:
I saved my nickels and dimes, was very nice to She Who Must Be Obeyed, and treated myself to a new smoker. The Bradley had done 3 years of yeomen service and had made much great food. However, its inability to get to higher temperatures finally got to me and I bought a Louisiana Grills LG900 pellet smoker.
The unit come boxed up and is heavy so take help when you go to pick it up and unload it. I purchased the grill, a cover and a bag of pellets and it came to just over $1,000. She Who Must Be Obeyed is still shaking her head.
You cut the straps and open the top of the box where the instructions are. You pull the box up and all the parts are relatively easy to get to. I went to the parts list in the instructions and I had everything plus one extra part. I really hate that.
I started putting it together per the instructions. Each section of the instructions tells you the part you need to complete that section. Two of the sections describe screws you don’t have and aren’t in the parts list. Not wanting to take a chance, I called the toll free support line. I had the right parts, the screws supplied are different from the parts list but perform the necessary functions. The extra part was a handle that hooks onto the hopper without any mention in the instructions or part list. Sigh.
Once I knew what everything was for, it went together quite easily. However, I really wish they put an update page in the box or at least have an updated instruction on their site.
For those of you who don’t know, a pellet smoker uses small hardwood pellets as the fuel to produce both the heat and the smoke. The pellets are loaded into a hopper and an auger feeds the pellets to a box where they burn to produce the heat and smoke. The hopper on this smoker is only of medium size and will need refilling if you do a really long smoke. You can by an attachment that lets it hold more pellets.
The smoker has a start up procedure that ignites the pellets for you and it worked perfectly. It has a controller that you can set to a temperature and the smoker maintains that temperature like your oven. I have done a low smoke of a ham and had difficulty maintaining temperature. However, I did not follow the instructions in the manual.
They recommend you heat to 450 F for every smoke and then back off on the temperature. I didn’t do this with my first low smoke. I thought I would just set it the temperature to 180 F and go. It just didn’t hold temperature. When I followed the instructions on the second low smoke, it held temperature very well. Lesson learned, follow the instructions.
I have done a couple of higher heat smokes and the temperature control and results were perfect. I was even able to bake cornbread in it like an oven.
The unit also has a temperature probe you can use to track the temperature of meat you are taking and it will automatically reduce the heat when it gets to a desired temperature. It worked as advertised but I am a control freak. I want to control the temperature of my unit not a probe. I just set the temperature higher and use it as a temperature display. If you want to use the keep warm feature, it works.
The only other downside I had was some grease dripping if I put anything that splatters too close to the lid. Move it back an inch and it is fine.
As for the food, this unit produces less smoke than my old Bradley. However, it gives a nice mild smoke flavour that She Who Must Be Obeyed likes. A big plus when the missus likes it!
There is more smoke generated at lower temperatures which made for great tasting ribs when cooked around 200 F.
This unit does require some work. It burns wood pellets so it generates ash. I did not notice a lot of ash build up but you will want to clear the burn box of ash every few smokes. This requires removing a large plate. It isn’t a major job but I would recommend doing it regularly.
Now that I have gotten used to it, I love this method of cooking. Great control, nice smoke and good food.
The final verdict is that this smoker does everything I want well and I am looking forward to making many great dishes in it. I would recommend it and I am happy I bought it. I will post the first smoke soon.
The Old Fat Guy