Earlier this year, I broke down and bought a pellet grill / smoker. I say broke down because for several years, I thought the whole pellet cooking concept would be a fad. And when it came to slow cooking and smoking, I always thought that if you weren’t manually stoking a fire for hours on end, it was cheating, what wimps do (all that said in my best Tim The Tool Man Taylor voice). Turns out, cooking with pellets is beyond cheating, but so far, I am proud of the results.
In my technology business, my team and I focus a lot on automation, eliminating manual tasks, and reducing wasted effort. If something has to be done manually multiple times, we’re probably going to write a program to do it instead in an effort to eliminate the risk of human error… Add to that mentality the fact that I took a BBQ class many years ago and the take away that I’ve lived by since is that temperature control is everything in grilling. Temp of the grill / smoker and temp of the meat you’re cooking.
For me, cookouts, throwing BBQs, smoking fish, etc… is all about getting friends and family together to enjoy some wonderful eats. As much as I try to automate things at work and in life, you almost might say that it would be hypocritical for me not to automate smoking and BBQ. Automation allows for the more import things in life while ensuring great, consistent output every time. Shameless brag… I think the 100+ people we fed GMG smoked pulled pork to for this past 4th of July would agree..
Why I Chose GMG
I’ll start by saying that choosing what pellet grill to buy can quickly become a Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge debate. With that said, I had full intentions on buying a Traeger at the start of 2015. Following a fair amount of research and several trips to dealers, I ultimately purchased Green Mountain Grill’s Daniel Boone model in early March, 2015. The Daniel Boone with it’s 432 sq. in. of cooking is comparable to the Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite’s 424 sq. in of cooking surface. Both are amazing works of art and I don’t you can’t go wrong with either one.
So far this year, I think I’ve hit grand slams with pork shoulder, St. Louis style ribs, and brisket. But here we are in fall and it’s all about smoking fish.
Pellet Smoked Salmon
First things first, I always use alder for smoking fish, regardless of which smoker is used. Since I prefer a more mesquite smoke (GMG Texas Blend) for pork and beef, it’s important to swap out pellets before smoking fish. This can be a bit annoying but only takes a few minutes with a small scoop. So far, I’ve experimented with two smokes, one at 175 degrees and another down 25 at 150. Both with Bear Mt. Cascade Alder pellets in warmer summer temperatures with lower outside humidity.
I continue to follow the basics from last year’s Cheap Smoke article but the smoking steps are a bit different. Here is my baseline for future pellet smoked salmon experiments.
And don’t forget, smoked salmon isn’t done until it’s been smothered in Kelly’s Habanero Jelly.
They call them pellet grills but they’re really awesome smokers. My GMG kills it for beef and pork and it’s one of the two best purchases of the year (I’ll share what the other is in a future article). I’ve been able to make perfect ribs, brisket, and pulled pork with very limited experience in those areas. So happy to have that BBQ tool sitting in my backyard.
On the salmon smoking front, I am not yet ready to ditch my Little Chief smoker as I prefer the much lower temp. With that said, I am anxious to try a few salmon smokes this fall when the temperatures outside start to drop and humidity changes. I have a feeling that’s when it will do salmon the best and I’ll be able to adjust temp as needed to get everything to perfection.