Cameron Stovetop Smoker (We Like It)
Product Description: We purchased the Cameron Stovetop Smoker (3 1/2" tall x 11" deep x 15" wide) for approximately $45 online plus shipping. Our stovetop smoker came with a drip tray, rack, a printed cooking guide, and four (4) one ounce plastic containers of smoking chips (i.e., cherry, oak, hickory, and alder woods). We wanted to see if these products would deliver on adding natural smoke flavoring while cooking indoors in your home oven.
Preparation/Instructions: The Capitol BBQ team scheduled our test kitchen and purchased a fresh 1.9 pound honey-brined, bone-in turkey breast. We cleaned the stovetop smoker and carefully followed the product use instructions. The instructions suggest you open the stovetop smoker and remove the rack and drip pan within. Then select your preferred Cameron smoking chips flavor (we chose Hickory) and put up to 1.5 tablespoons of these small wood chips in a small pile in the center of the stovetop smoker base. We then coated our drip pan with foil (you can also use cooking spray if you prefer) and placed it on top of the small wood chips. Once we placed the wire rack into the drip pan we completed our preparation by placing our seasoned turkey breast onto the rack before closing the stainless steel slide on lid - leaving a small opening. The instructions suggested you leave a small opening in the lid and place the stovetop smoker over a single burner set to medium heat. We did so and at the first sign of smoke we closed the lid fully and began to time the suggested 35 minutes to cook.
Results: Our experience in using this product was very satisfactory. Within ~3 minutes we observed the first smoke and closed our lid. Throughout the 35 minutes of initial cooking time, we had to use our exhaust fans set to low to ensure we did not set off any smoke detector. The smoke exited the stovetop smoker near the corners of the lid however was never heavy or made us worry that we were using this product indoors. Any smoke that escaped was easily vented outside using a standard kitchen exhaust fan. We checked temperature of the turkey breast at 35 minutes and needed to return the stovetop smoker to the burner for an additional 10 minutes to achieve our desired temperature of 170 degrees F. The difference in suggested cooking time and actual cooking time is mostly likely due to variations in stovetop settings. We used a GE Monogram natural gas cooktop with telescoping down draft vent during this evaluation. We rested the turkey breast and before slicing it for taste testing. We were very impressed with the taste, texture, and appearance of the smoked turkey breast. Despite our relatively fast cooking time, the meat was moist and flavorful. We think this is a nice piece of kitchen equipment to have that will accommodate larger turkeys and other meats like briskett and pork shoulder by substituting the stainless steel lid with foil.
Orion Cooker (We Like It)
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When a friend of mine told us about a cooker he had received as a gift and had been using for almost a year, as total BBQ "Geeks" we were immediately intrigued. Assuming this was some sort of "new fangled" smoker, we peppered our friend with questions. When it comes down to it, it's not really a grill or a smoker - or is it?
Describing what The Orion Cooker is may be the most difficult thing about it. Basically this is a charcoal fired roasting oven. The completely enclosed cooking chamber completely separates the flame from the food. This does not mean that you can not add smoke flavor and it does not mean that this is no better than your oven at cooking everything from racks of ribs (8 at a time) to whole turkeys. This is a great "cooker" for large meals, tailgating and for getting foods cooked quickly (a 20 pound turkey in 2 1/2 hours). So while not a grill or a smoker, it is definitely a decent cooker and at a very low price we can definitely see a place in the market.
Product Description: Orion Cookers can be found online at several sites ranging from $120- 150. They come already equipped with options like rib racks, a poultry stand and multiple shelves and even special handles for moving the racks. The unit is stainless steel (a fairly thick gauge) and stands about 30" tall at the top. The design essentially creates a convection roaster by having a charcoal "moat" around the base and a smaller charcoal area on top creasting a convection affect that allows the cooking times to be much quicker than normal but still allows for a very moist end result.
Preparation/ Instructions: As BBQ "purists" we had a hard time being told that I HAD to read the instruction manual and follow the cooking times exactly WITHOUT ever lifting the top- that was a huge challenge but I did and the result was solid. We scheduled our test kitchen and decided on poultry for this round of cooking. We prepped 2 chickens with differing styles. One we did with a traditional BBQ Rub, Capitol BBQ's American Classic and the 2nd we put together a sort of southwestern/tex-mex style rub starting with Capitol BBQ's Cayenne Craze rub and tweking it with Cumin, Chili Powder and some other spices.
Results: We added a bit of wood chips inside the cooking chamber (as advised) but as few as we used, it actually made the cooked chicken a little too smoky (which came as a shock to our team). Other than this one shortcoming- the chicken was excellent and next time, we'll use less chips but do everything else the same.