Mrs Shack's guide to outdoor cooking machinery and why it matters.
It's not really a secret that we love Traeger here at the shack. Let's not overlook the obvious. We talk about it all the time, we blog about it, we take pictures of us next to it and plaster them all over Instagram. Jack is also about to embark on the world of Traeger masterclasses, something he is very excited about to share his love of outdoor cooking for like minded outdoor enthusiasts. So let's set the record straight. Why, when there are so many products available to cook outside on do we keep bleeting on about the bloody Traeger?
So, let's start from the beginning. It was only this year when Jacks Meat Shack started to take off when my loving husband announces, "I'm going to but a Traeger this weekend from the Riverside Garden Centre" so naturally I looked online. For the price. As us women do.
And I just laughed in his face.This thing costs more than my kitchen oven and he wants to buy it for the garden? Has he gone and lost his mind?! But being the wonderful adoring wife that I am I did some research.
I started by (calmly) asking Jack how he got to know about Traeger and why it appealed to him. Having spent some time in California over the years on and off, he tells me he has often seen this almost cult like appeal to wood pellet grilling but didn't really know much about it and originally thought it was a grill fired by wood, not an engineered machine run via electricity. He had reached out to the infamous Russell at Riverside to ask for a run down and was instantly in love with the concept.
The story goes back to 1985 in Mount Angel, Oregon. The Traeger family were enjoying an Independence Day BBQ in the garden, hoping for some of Papa Joe's grilled chicken.
Joe returned to his deck after popping back into the house for literally a few minutes and discovered the gas grill engulfed in flames. Frustrated, he kicked the grill and ruined chicken off the deck. The next morning Joe walked into his business determined to build a better barbecue - one using wood pellets.
If you are anything like me who LITERALLY got caught by her husband SMASHING UP a ruined cornbread in the kitchen with a wooden spoon out of pure frustration I very much understand Joe's frustration that day. The first Traeger grill was alas produced in 1988 revolutionising outdoor cooking to a whole new level.
Ok Traeger you're winning me already; you have family values, a commitment to betterment and turn into the Hulk when you don't get your own way.
Still, I wasn't convinced yet to hand over my credit card. I needed more proof about how this was going to make my life better and looked at my own experience of previous BBQ'ing which was very limited. I might every now and then grill up some veggies on the gas grill but other than that I truly thought that the meat was the man's domain.
What had always put me off of outdoor grilling was 1. the belief that Jack could do it better and 2. I honestly couldn't be doing with all the faff of lighting coals, consistently checking the grill and playing roulette with fuel addition to keep a constant temperature. I have far too many other things going on especially during a busy working week and I know that this is something that all across the country we can relate to. Especially if like us you live in London and spend the majority of your life fighting traffic like a pool of hungry zombies praying to get home to shovel some dinner in your face so that you can do it all again tomorrow. Or worse still, order a takeaway.
Welcome Traeger and your beautiful ignition switch. All models, regardless of your budget from the Bronson to the Timberline has one button which turns the grill on. It. Really. Is. That. Simple. There is a 123 on my previous blog BBQS AREN'T JUST FOR BOYS which shows you just how simple it is. Let me put it even simpler. It is switching your oven on, you're just doing it in the garden. So you can enjoy the last few hours of those English summer rays.
During these wonderful summer months we are enjoying, I will switch the grill on, wait for it to heat up, add the meats and veggies (and sometimes a pie) to be cooked and then unroll my yoga mat and as Traeger quite eloquently puts it "SET IT AND FORGET IT".
So going back to point 1. Jack could do it better, this has now turned into a foodie fest of a competition in the household, fighting over who is going to cook, who can invent the better dish and teaching each other about our culinary expertise, Jack with low and slows cooks and me with how to add elegance and even how we can use this bad boy to bake cakes and other side dish goodies such as my infamous cornbread (when I'm not smashing it to pieces of course). I learnt... BBQing is fun and now I'm all over it trying to get women across the country involved and this is the easiest and most perfect way to start.
My most recent slow cook lesson from Jack - Jacobs Ladder or Shortrib and my infamous Cornbread.
I can hear handbags all across the country unzipping as you contemplate giving permission for your husbands to make a purchase!!! But before you do, let me just tell you two more reasons why I love using the Traeger. First of all there is the variety of different tastes you can add to your food simply by changing the type of wood pellets which you use. My personal favourites are Cherry for a light fruity taste and Mesquite if I'm feeling something stronger and want that really sharp Americana flavouring. The pellets contain no additives except vegetable oil which is used as a lubricant during production.
The second is my well known commitment to health and wellbeing. Using the Traeger is like having a massive George Foreman grill, even for fattier cuts of meat all of the fat runs off into a small bucket. It gives me versatility to be good all through the week and being able to be a bit naughtier on the weekend when we can do bigger, longer, slower cooks slathered in Traeger's collection of marinades and sauces, like the apricot which is just truly addictive!! burnt sugary mess you say? Isn't that a nightmare to clean? Hell no the Traeger has a replaceable tray which you just throw away once used and replace with a new one. After all, life is too short to spend your whole time washing up.
So, yes, the Traeger IS a hefty investment. They are not cheap by any means but hopefully you know a little more now to see if you're ready to jump in. Our friends at Riverside even offer financing options and next day delivery. If you do want a bit more advice or even a demo if you're in the area, just hit up the Shack we're always willing to help! We'll always give you honest advice and at the very least some good food!
DISCLAIMER: For all you potential trolls out there I appreciate that there are some references within this blog which vaguely resemble sexism. Let me just be straight up here, at the Shack everything is 50/50 and anything vaguely sexist is said completely in jest. There's no room for "isms" when it comes to good food.