Flavor Intensifier - RV Enthusiast Magazine

Flavor Intensifier

by | Sep 15, 2022 | Cool Gear, RVEXPERT

If you want a different — and tastier — food experience, a portable pellet smoker will make you the most popular chef in camp
We all know that food that’s cooked outdoors just tastes better. That’s why so many RVers pack along a barbeque. It’s always fun to take in the aroma that permeates the adjacent sites, encouraging others to cook outdoors — or come looking. Portable gas grills and griddles are probably the most popular among RVers — heck, the Blackstone has developed a cult following, and products offered by companies such as Way Interglobal’s Greystone line are a hit with outdoor enthusiasts, as well.

That said, RVers are always looking for something different — and the proliferation of pellet grills on the market is spurring big interest from RVers looking to do something a bit off the beaten path. In fact, some companies are targeting RVers with new, compact models, and even RV manufacturers have noticed. KZ RV, for one, will be including a pellet smoker on certain of its Durango fifth wheels for the 2023 model year.

And they work wonderfully. I know. Sometime back I purchased one. The product I settled on is the Green Mountain Grill Davy Crockett model ($349), which was designed for RVs. This model runs on 120-volt AC or 12-volt DC power, making it suitable for boondocking and tailgating. The legs fold up into a handle for convenient lifting and loading. The grill is not lightweight, but I can lift it high enough to put it into the storage compartment in my fifth wheel (where it doesn’t require a huge amount of space, which is a deal-breaker for RVers short on storage area).

an RV technician removes a Green Mountain Davy Crockett model grill from storage on the outside of an RV
The Green Mountain Davy Crockett model grill has a large cooking surface and pellet hopper. This model was designed for RVers; the legs fold up and become a carry handle. Storing requires just a little more space (footprint) than common portable gas grills.
close view of the Davy Crockett model grill and its vent, releasing smoke

Although the pellet grill has a smoking phase, it can also serve as barbecue for cooking your favorite foods.

close view of the grill controls and temperature screen
Controls built into the grill allow the user to light the pellets and set cooking temperature. It will automatically maintain the set temperature throughout the cooking process.
The wood pellets are readily available at home improvement and hardware stores and online, but my choice is the Traeger brand sold at Costco ($19.95 for a 30-pound bag). These pellets go a long way, depending on how high you turn up the heat; the grill will run from 150 to 550 degrees, depending on the type of meat that you wish to cook/smoke. The grill starts with a push of the Power button and, once the temperature comes up, you simply push the Up or Down arrows to select the desired temperature. It doesn’t get any easier than this.

This grill comes with a built-in meat thermometer that’s Wi-Fi capable (via an app) and allows you to monitor what’s going on from your patio chair. Unfortunately, the thermometer sensor on my unit quit working after a few years so I purchased an external thermometer, the ThermoWorks TX-1400 (thethermoworks.com) for $69. Models with multiple sensor probes come in handy if you’re cooking two or three different types of meat at the same time that require various internal temperatures.

top view of the hooper mounted to the side of the grill and filled with pellets
The hooper mounted to the side holds 9 pounds of pellets, which is a sizeable amount for such a compact grill — enough to cook/smoke for at least a half a day. I found the best deal on pellets is at Costco, where you can purchase 30-pound bags for about $20.
a silicon mat sits in the grill

Placing a silicone mat on the grill makes it much easier to clean up after cooking, especially when boondocking and water is limited. The mat does not affect flavor.

a hand holds a ThermoWorks TX-1400 to monitor that reads the temperature of food cooking on the silicon mat in the grill
After the factory sensor that’s paired to a Wi-Fi app failed on my smoker, I purchased a ThermoWorks TX-1400 to monitor internal meat temperature (this brand is popular with serious chefs). Models with multiple sensors can add versatility when cooking multiple meats that require different temperatures.

Over the years I followed a few maintenance and cooking habits that improve function and cooking efficiency. The flame box needs vacuuming periodically as the ash builds up over time; ignore this step and the ignition will fail and the box will not cook accurately. The pellet hopper holds more than enough for at least a half-day of smoking and when I cook salmon or a greasy meat, for example, I use a silicone barbecue mat to prevent the meat from sticking to the grill. This promotes easy cleanup afterward without compromising flavor.

The nice feature of the Davy Crockett model is that it’s small enough to be considered a portable but still has a large cooking surface. One more tip: If you are going to leave it outside, invest in a cover.

It won’t take long to get addicted to cooking on a pellet grill while on the road — and you’re certain to make new friends.

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