By: Gary Elliott

                After going nearly, a year and half without a grill, I began looking around trying to decide what did I want, a grill or smoker maybe both? Pricing seemed to be a bit on the higher end for pellet grills, so I began reading up on them. My concerns were not only can they be pricey but am I going to spend a lot on pellets alone.  Also, what are pellets and why use them?  So much to think about.

          Let’s begin with pellets and what  a pellet grill is? A pellet grill has a pellet hopper that requires you to dump pellets into it and then it is powered by electric to auger the wooden pellets out to a fire pot where an ignitor lights the pellets. Some hoppers will have an electronic temperature control and one or two meat probes. So, when using a pellet grill, you will need a power source nearby. Pellets are very versatile and allow you to smoke and grill, but you can also roast and grill.  Depending on the grill you purchase. Pellet usage is not bad and I compare it to using charcoal. It all depends on how much you smoke or grill and how long it takes. But, overall it isn’t bad. Pellets usually come in 20# bags and I have used my grill to smoke 4 times and grill 3 times and I still had a little over a third of a bag left.

          After some research I settled on the new CampChef Woodwind SG grill. This is a versatile grill in that it will smoke, grill and roast. I also bought the searing grill and will explain more in a bit on this. I will advise you I did receive a discount in return for an honest review after using it for some time. I received the grill, searing box and optional shelf in less than a week. It all came in three boxes and assembly was cut and dry and within about 45 minutes I had the grill assembled and ready for a test run. Which they do recommend to burn any oils off the grill. So, when you initially light your grill it will smoke for a bit. Afterwards, I went to the store to purchase pellets. When I got to the store I was overwhelmed by the choices. Mesquite, cherry, apple, charcoal, Jack Daniels and the list goes on. So, I chose the competition blend and have not been disappointed. There is a lot of information on the web on pellets and I suggest spending a bit of time reading up on them as well.

          We know the Woodwind SG smokes, but you ask, how does it grill?  Well the new SG model has the new Slide & Grill Technology. This means you pull a lever to slide the plate off the fire pot and now you are using direct flame and that is what grilling is. Also, setting your temp at 300 or above on the grill will allow for this. The temp range on this grill is from 160 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to low and high smoke, grill and even bake. Yes, you can even bake a pie in your Camp Chef Woodwind SG Pellet grill. Smoking does not occur at high temps, so you do not get a smoke flavor. Smoking occurs at 250 and below. You can learn more about this on their website. I tested the temps with a good oven temp gauge and found that if you set the grill to 300 it will hold pretty good right at 300. Take note though, that opening the grill cover and colder temps will make the grill work harder to hold temps. Camp Chef does offer a blanket for the smoker/grill for cold temps.

          Now you ask, what about clean up that must be a mess?  It isn’t and Camp Chef has made it very easy. When you are done simply pull the lever to dump the ash into a small bucket that is supplied and occasionally dump it into your garden or flower pot. Then after a few cooks simply vacuum the grill out. Cleaning the grease slide and racks are recommended and turning the grill up high to bake it is off works as well occasionally.

          The SG has two large wheels and two casters which makes moving the grill very easy. The cover is optional and is a very heavy-duty cover and helps protect your grill from the elements helping to keep your grill in great shape for many years since this is not a cheap grill. Retailing at $999.00 on the website. With that said they currently give you free shipping, cover and bonus pellets. The grill comes in all black or with a stainless-steel grill door and handle. Below I will list the features and specifications. I find the 24” grill to be perfect size for family and guests. If you a large family and host larger parties than the 36” may be a better choice for you.

FEATURES

  • Includes 2 meat probes
  • Includes removable 2-piece enameled steel lower rack
  • Includes removable 2-piece nickel plated upper rack
  • Smart Smoke Technology
  • Pellet Hopper Cleanout/Purge
  • Slide and Grill Technology
  • Ash Cleanout System
  • Cord Management System
  • Grease Management System
  • Large capacity hopper
  • Electronic auto-start ignition
  • Dual LED temperature display: internal cooking temps and internal food temps
  • Simple temperature selection system
  • 160º F up to 500º F temperature range for slow smoking to grilling
  • Automatic auger dispenses pellets as needed for improved smoker efficiency
  • Bottle opener
  • Clear hopper window
  • High temperature paint with matte finish

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Upper Rack Area: 382 sq. in.
  • Lower Rack Area: 429 sq. in.
  • Total Rack Surface Area: 811 sq. in.
  • Chamber Capacity: 4,850 cubic in.
  • Hopper Capacity: 22 lbs. of pellets
  • Overall Height: 42 in.
  • Overall Weight: 150 lbs.

Now to review the searing box. I decided to add this on for three reasons. To begin with, not only was I receiving a discount, but mainly because it allows me to still grill when there isn’t any power. Then, I can use propane to still cook and the last reason is, to reverse sear any meat I cook locking in juices and making those great grill marks. The searing box is a 16,000 BTU stainless steel burner and reaches a temp of 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This unit works great, and you can use your old propane tank. The tank hangs on a hook that mounts to the back of the grill. When assembling I was concerned about hanging a large propane tank on the back but once I hung mine on the back I realized how secure it was. The cover does accommodate the tank also. The searing box was very easy to install and weighs 34 lbs. The total surface area is 184 square inches.

Overall, I feel I made a great choice and have enjoyed smoking and grilling more than ever. I did have an electric smoker and it required so much of my time to put in wood chips. Now with the auger it dispenses pellets as needed and makes my smoking more effective. I haven’t baked in it yet, but I have bought a pork loin and will be giving it a try soon. While comparing to Camp Chef ’s closes competitors I found they ran close on hoppers and that but sometimes the little things give you the edge such as, wheels on all four legs, can opener, two meat probes, customer service is awesome, website and the plethora of information for the beginner and competitor just made them my overall choice.

*Note: One thing I do want to bring to your attention!  This goes for ANY pellet grill. Do not keep your pellets in the hopper for extended periods of time. I found that if the pellets are moist the ignitor may not light the pellets and will feed more in and soon you have a potential issue on hand as I did. The pot filled up began to smoke big time and when I opened the grill cover moments later a flame shot out once oxygen hit the smoking pellets. So, it is recommended to dump the pellets out and that is very easy with the Woodwind by pulling the hopper lever it auto dumps the pellets into your bucket. Also, store the pellets in a dry place. Humidity/moisture is your worst enemy. Otherwise, grilling and smoking on a pellet grill is fun.

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For more please go to: Gary Elliott

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