Holiday gift idea for men who grill
If you are looking for a gift for the man (or woman) who likes to grill in the somewhat expensive range ($250 to $500) a good idea is one of the grill temperature controllers. This assumes that the recipient already has a charcoal grill such as one of the kamado type ceramic grills or other charcoal grill. If he doesn’t already own a charcoal grill, and you’re interested in an even more expensive gift, check out our article on the Big Green Egg.
The controllers are used to maintain temperature in tight ranges during long slow cooks (some cooks may go 16+ hours). One primary use is for cooking pork shoulders “low and slow.” When pork shoulders, also known as Boston butts, are cooked this way, the meat has time to be flavored by any wood chips that may have been added to the charcoal. These may include applewood, hickory, maple, etc. The fat will also be slowly liquified adding flavor to meat. Finally the collagen in the connective tissues will be broken down, letting the meat fall off of the bone and melt in your mouth.
The controllers work by constantly monitoring the “pit” temperature and automatically turning on or off a fan mounted in a grills air vent. When the temp goes to low, the fan comes on. Once the temperature reaches a certain set point, the fan is turned off. When grills are paired with one of these controllers and packed correctly with the right kind of charcoal (lump charcoal), the grill master can walk away without worrying that the temp will be too high or two low.
Most versions of the controllers include sensors that also measure the temperature of the meat as well. This allows the grill master to monitor the temperature of the meat without lifting the lid or otherwise opening the grill. This also helps keep the temperature constant.
Both of these controllers do a great job. The Stoker II kit for the big green egg costs $297 and comes with a 5 CFM (cubic feet per minute) fan and one probe for pit temperature and one for food. Additional probes and other accessories can also be purchased. Make sure you choose the correct kit for the recipient’s grill.
The DigiQ base package also comes with a 10 CFM fan one probe for pit temp and one for food.
We have not used the the CyberQ (made by the same company that makes the DigiQ). However it comes with the ability to send “food ready” updates via text and email. It can also be controlled via smartphones, tablets, desktops, etc. As of this writing, the CyberQ is $361.
There is also a somewhat less expensive controller at amazon. Though it does cost less ($159.50), we don’t really recommend this option. It only controls the grill temperature, it does not show the temperature of the meat inside. It is nice to be able to check the meat temp without opening the grill. There is no way to upgrade this controller later to include a food temperature read out. Also it only runs on batteries – it can’t be plugged into an outlet. Unless there is a compelling reason, such as no outlet for plugging in the other options, one of the others would likely be a better choice.
If you are looking for a gift for someone who loves to BBQ and has a charcoal grill, you won’t disappoint with one of these grill controllers.