As much as I convinced myself I would be waiting until November to make a purchase, I found myself browsing the Outdoor Cooking section of Sportsman's Warehouse after running out of charcoal, and the presence of the SW 24 was too alluring.
I intended to pick up some more charcoal, some hickory wood chunks, and some flies for the October hatch(really, to replace what I have been losing to fly casting practice in the field). I walked out with the SW 24, Traeger Hickory pellets, 2 knotless 4X nylon leaders and a cup of mixed flies.
I owe my neighbor some serious gratitude for helping get the box up my steps and into my living room. Afterwards, I spent the evening working on assembly, which I completed just around midnight. The manual recommends assembling with two persons present in order to minimize risk of damage to the unit, but I found adequate use of boxing tape to keep the various compartments fixed during assembly, adequate cushioning and some dexterity were sufficient for getting the job done with one person.
To anyone else attempting to assemble alone, I would say pay very careful attention to the instructions provided, keep the tools of assembly well organized and carefully tape down anything that tends to open or close while you are working on some part of the unit. For example, definitely tape the main lid and the hopper lid shut when assembling the legs.
Break-in Cook: Reverse Seared Chicken Breast with Hickory Pellets
My charcoal smoked chicken on the Weber Jumbo Joe turned out to be pretty juicy internally and golden brown externally, but it definitely lacked the sear I was initially aiming at for a number of reasons (probably more than I realize). Having just started the carnivore elimination diet, wanting to focus on method over ingredients, and having a thawed tray of chicken breasts in the refrigerator, I decided to give reverse-seared chicken breast another go.
The final result could definitely have been improved upon, as only one of six breasts achieved the sear I was going for, and that was owing to some butter than dripped down onto the direct flame which triggered a minor, isolated flare up. Although I stopped eating butter for the time being, it made for a very nice addition to the texture and flavor of the chicken.
Country Style Pork Ribs and Whole Chicken (Carnivore)
I wrapped a whole chicken in aluminum foil and placed over a drip pan filled with apple juice. I placed a few packs of country style ribs over a tray containing beef fat.
The result was a well cooked and juicy whole chicken, pork ribs that "looked like candy" and cooked but largely unrendered beef fat with a strong hickory flavor.
Salted Chuck Roast (Carnivore)
Last weekend I decided to try a chuck roast, which I received as part of an economy bundle, on the Camp Chef.
Despite my appreciation of animal fats, I am not the largest fan of the chewy and fatty "shell" associated with preparing beef roast in this manner. Still, the meat was moist and tender and the flavor was excellent, given all that was added in the way of seasoning was salt.
The direct-heat mechanism and various other features of this grill will give me plenty to experiment with going forward. I will try to capture some of my more interesting experiences here, and will post a first-impressions review of the Camp Chef SW in the near future.