Mention the word BBQ, and Kiwis usually think of a hotplate, a gas burner, or charcoal. Green Mountain Grills takes a different tact, going with an electric grill that burns wood pellets to smoke and Grill food. If that wasn't enough, their Grill also sports a Wi-Fi access point and is iPhone controlled. It's an improbable combo, but in use it worked well.
Look and feel
Wood pellet smoker grills may be a new thing for New Zealanders but will be familiar to anyone in the USA.
The Green Mountain Daniel Boone Grill is a big beast. At roughly the size as a 3 burner BBQ, The Daniel Boone grill also has a wood pellet hopper which incorporates a Wi-Fi access point.
The grill mounted is on a trolley with casters which means it's able to move closer to a power outlet.
Done out in an industrial black finish, it also looks like a serious piece of culinary apparatus. Dare I say it, but it reminds me of the sort of BBQ Darth Vader would have at his holiday crib for chilling (grilling?) with his stormtrooper homies.
Once assembled, the grill was more solid than a brick you-know-what house. Provided it's looked after, a solid build means that it'll most likely outlast its owners. This said, a cover is a must if you really want to keep it out of the weather.
The grill arrived in a huge box in kitset form. Thanks to idiot proof instructions, a crescent wrench and a liberal dose of patience. I managed to assemble it first time round. Total build time was just shy of 20 minutes.
A testament to the ease with which I was able to put it together was the fact that the most difficult part involved figuring out what to do with leftover packaging.
Being an electric BBQ, The Daniel Boone needs to be close to a mains outlet. Testing it out during a particularly damp Wellington autumn, I plugged it into a residual current device that'd power it off if anything untoward electricity-wise happened.
It turns out that my worries were completely unfounded and the Grill didn't miss a beat. Before firing it up, I also engaged in a rare spot of RTFM (reading the flipping manual!), to figure out how it works.
First things first, I downloaded the IOS Green Mountain Grills app to my iPhone. As crazy as using an iPhone App to drive a BBQ sounds, in use it proved invaluable.
After connecting to the grills Wi-Fi network and entering in the BBQs network password I fired up the app. I then had control over temperature, as well as cooking programmes for different foods.
This is about as high tech as you can get with a BBQ. It's a clever design that works using an enclosed cooking chamber with an electric element. Plus wood pellets
On the BBQs left hand side is a hopper that is top loading and can hold up to 9Kg of wood pellets. An auger feeds wood pellets into element where they're heated. A fan also boosts combustion and controls temperature. The Grill can crank out heat ranging from just shy of 80 to 260 degrees Celsius. Using the app (or manual controls on the side of the wood pellet hopper) temperatures are also tweakable in 5 degree increments.
The hopper also includes an alarm that goes off when the supply of wood pellets gets low. Firing it up on a tropical (for penguins) wellington autumn evening I also discovered that it also sports a cold weather turbo-boost function which brings the temperature up more quickly in cold weather.
The iphone app controls the grill temperature. Add to this a timer and the ability to add multiple cooking steps and temperatures. As handy as the app was, it was sometimes finicky in that it'd disconnect if my phone went to sleep.
As it warms up to temperature, the grill belches smoke. This lessens once the grill hits the right temperature. I'd marinated some chicken drum sticks and to cook them in the Grill. Marinating helps keep meat moist. This is a must as the grill uses indirect heat to cook. This also means that cooking times are longer than with a traditional BBQ. The smell of wood smoke and cooking is however mouth-watering.
It may have taken longer, but the wait was well worth it.
Longer cook times at lower temperatures meant that the drumsticks were tender - meat was practically falling off the bone. Where chicken is often a bland alternative to other meats, the combination of marinades, basting and smoke imparted it with a subtle and satisfying smoky favour.
A recipe booklet is also bundled with the grill and there's a huge online community based around wood pellet grills. Using the recipe book, I was able to source recipes ranging from basic grilled cuts through to more dishes including chipotle sauce and pizzas.
Add to this the many flavours possible using different wood pellet varieties (which range from hickory, fruit tree blends and others) and there's scope for experimentation.
The Daniel Boone grill will definitely appeal to those with both a techie and foodie bent. Having used the grill, I can say this. Once you've BBQ cooked with smoke and indirect heat, there is no going back. The taste really is that good.