Jan Spielhagen: Pellet grilling has some of the advantages offered by both gas and charcoal barbecues. With gas, it’s possible to change the temperature quickly and accurately, and to get a lot of heat. With charcoal, you can do a technique called smoking, where you put wood chips into the grill and the smoke flavours the food. A pellet grill can do both of these.
What are pellets?
JS: Pellets are produced using pressed-wood sawdust from only one type of wood, like hickory, apple or apricot. A pellet grill feels natural; it has the feeling of making a real fire and the smell of burning wood.
JS: Pellet grilling always had one concern: the pellet feeder. You put pellets into the pellet holder on one side, they move through the feeder and fall down into a chamber to be burned. But the flame needs to stay away from the pellet feeder, otherwise “burn back” can happen, where the pellets inside the feeder ignite and cause errors, or even make the grill catch fire. Plus, if you don’t use it for a few days and the pellets stay inside the feeder, they can get moist and hard, which means they are likely to cause errors the next time you use it. Those were always the sticking points of pellet grills, but the new Weber grill has unique engineering that ensures the pellets are always exactly where you want them to be.
What meat do you think works particularly well on a pellet grill?
JS: Pork ribs are the best if you have continuous heat and smoke. And you can do that in the pellet grill much more simply than with gas. It’s not as straightforward as a proper smoker, but those are 500 kilos and look like locomotives! Although it does require electricity to run the motor, a pellet grill is a very good alternative for something like pork ribs. It can also cook other things like fish and vegetables just as well as in a gas barbecue, because of the possibility to change temperature quite quickly, and have different heat zones.