The pellet cooker is a relatively recent innovation in the barbecue field. Some smart guys in the Pacific Northwest applied popular pellet stove technology to cooking. Their patent expired and a bunch of folks have since entered the fray. These units have several upsides:
- They operate unattended for long periods of time.
- They control temperature automatically.
- Pellets of a wide variety are available by mail or at specialty shops.
On the downside:
- They give the pit boss no control over the combustion process itself. In general, they produce a lighter flavor profile at higher temperatures and a heavier one at lower temperatures.
- Their system of hoppers, gearmotors, fans, augers and electronics is relatively complex.
- Fuel is comparatively expensive and must be kept dry.
- Some folks enjoy the “Playing-with-Fire” part of making barbecue, and there’s none of that going on with a pellet cooker.
Fill the hopper and push a button.