Introduction: Secret Hybrid BBQ Machine
In this Instructable I'll reveal to you BBQ'ing secrets I've learned from Pit Masters of all the major sub-regions in the US, along with those from far off lands that have Millennia of experience in the extremely difficult but at the same time simple and artful craft of COOKING MEAT WITH FIRE!
My 30 year quest in acquiring this treasure trove of knowledge will now be revealed.
Actually, I'm just going to show you how to stuff a pellet smoker inside a gas grill. So, if Russian Matryoshka dolls and American BBQ'ing sound like a cool mashup, then come along.
- A gas grill (Propane or Natural Gas (NG), doesn't matter)
- Small pellet grill
Step 1: BBQ??
I KNOW, I KNOW, I KNOW!!
- True BBQ is __________!!
- It's not BBQ if you don't _________!!
- You only cooked it for 17.5, not 18.27 hours??
- Propane?? Sacrilege!!
For me, BBQ is a great meal with meat as the centerpiece. Its a meal shared with friends and family, and if its lick-your-fingers-good, who cares what method you used or sauce you applied to arrive there. The point is you're there, with those you love, enjoying well-cooked MEAT!!
With all that aside, let's get the tools out.
Step 2: WHY??
My one and only goal with this experiment was to attempt to arrive at that holy land of all BBQ'ing - CONSISTENCY.
The hardest thing to master is consistency. I can't tell you how many times I nailed the perfect ribs, only to fail miserably the very next weekend doing the exact same thing (or at least I thought.) A true master is one that can perfect a cook every single time by adjusting for differences in weather, the meat, the wood, etc.. And for most people that's just too tall of an order for the Summer Weekend Outdoor Cook.
With this setup, I at least have control over three primary ingredients in creating great BBQ:
Step 3: Gas Grill
This was the best $200 I ever spent on Craigslist. The guy bought it from an estate sale not realizing it was a Natural Gas grill. (even at the time, I didn't know you could convert it over, and neither did he.)
So I purchased it without knowing if it worked and if it did that I would need to run a line to it, which I had no experience in doing, but can say now, its fairly easy for anyone with even basic handyman skills. The hardest part is figuring out your local codes and requirements. But I figured for an almost $3000 grill it was worth the gamble.
I ran about 80 feet of line to it, but never having to buy propane again is so worth it.
Its also an absolute monster, and without a tank in the cabinet it had a large space that could fit my Davy Crockett Grill from Green Mountain Grills. And thus started the last and final BBQ/Smoker/Cooker build/project/experiment. (Much to my wife's pleasure.)
(To give you an idea of all the things I've tried, I even did a version of the "File Cabinet Smoker", seriously, Google it. But for mine I used a 200 lb fireproof file cabinet. Figured that was pretty ironic.)
Step 4: Pellet Smoker
The Davy Crockett Grill was my first entry into pellet wood cooking, so I can't really give you comparison to Traeger or any of the other variety of manufacturers. But I can say it's going on 5 years old and I haven't had a lick of trouble with it.
Step 5: Implantation
You can see how well the Davy Crockett fits. Its shifted to the left to align the firebox to the Weber.
Step 6: Davy Crockett Modifications
- Obviously, take the leg extensions off
- Remove the existing flue, and block the opening. I simply used a small pie pan and match drilled the 3 hole pattern from the flue and then used the same flue bolts to attach the pie pan back to the firebox.
- The black tote is used to house the AC/DC power brick (The Davy Crockett is 12V powered for tailgating.)
- Add two (more or less as you see fit) 1" Schedule 40 Black Steel Pipe outlets (and whichever fittings your specific grill(s) may need)
TIP: Use a step drill or greenlee hole cutters to cut the holes in the Davy Crockett firebox.
CAUTION: Do not use galvanized pipe or fittings. Its unlikely you'll reach a temperature that will leach the zinc out of the coating, but better safe than sorry.
Step 7: Weber Modifications
For the Weber, you only need to add the holes for the pipes coming from the Davy Crockett. This was probably the trickiest part as you can't screw up the location. I used some masonry twine and a plumb bob with the Davy Crocket positioned correctly and the exhaust pipe holes already cut in the Davy Crockett, but without the pipes installed. Then marked the location and drilled a small hole from below. Then finished opening the holes up from the top side.
Step 8: Test Fire
This is the startup phase on the Davy Crockett just to show the smoke flow. Once it gets to temperature it doesn't put out that much smoke.
Step 9: Airflow
I added this vent to the top of the Weber lid in the hopes of providing more control over the airflow/temperature. It was actually more difficult to add this with the contoured surface than all the other custom metalwork.
And while I'm sure its a great addition to a Big Green Egg (its intended application), for this it provided absolutely ZERO benefit. I attribute that entirely to how "leaky" the Weber is to start with. This was like adding a small window to a barn that already had the main doors open.
So, while it looks cool for sure. is serves no function and I usually leave it fully closed.
Step 10: BBQ'ing Instructions
Almost everything I cook in this setup besides pork butt, which I put on the Rotisserie these are the steps I do:
- Meat directly on the grates of the Weber, centered in the grill (Brisket & Ribs rest on a layer of fire bricks placed directly on the Weber grates)
- Weber burners: far left and far right, both set to low (all others completely off)
- Start the Davy Crockett (I pretty much only use Traeger Mesquite Pellets) and set temp to 225F-250F
- Place a large container of plain water in the Davy Crockett Firebox - this is Moisture Contributor #1
- Place small flavored water baths (bullion, onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery, rosemary, thyme, etc.) over each of the burners in the Weber (Image above on a pork belly cook) - this is Moisture Contributor #2
- For temperature control, I just use the same two burners, never anything directly under the meat
BONUS: The flavored water baths are strained and then used as dipping sauce or made into gravy at the end.
Step 11: Results
Here's just a few examples of the Secret Hybrid BBQ Machine in action.
Let me tell you, being able to cook a brisket with a perfect smoke ring and pull-apart tenderness every single time, was the ultimate goal, and this setup delivers.
Would a lot of people say this is NOT TRUE BBQ?? (Sorry, I can't answer right now, my mouth is full of delicious meat.)
Thanks for taking the time to read through my Instructable. Please send me any questions or comments you might have. I try to answer them all. Stay safe and healthy! Happy Outdoor Cooking!
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