Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Installed a new v.3 Savannah Stoker Controller on my Traeger

I have been wanting to get one of these controllers for over a year now. Billy Merrill sells them and is a member and sponsor of Lets Talk BBQ forum.

I would highly recommend this controller for a Traeger, it is plug and play. It will work with other pellet smokers too, for any questions you can e-mail Billy at Billy also has a facebook page if you want to check that out click here.

Feb 07 2015
I changed the date above the post so it stays in the front for a while. 

We had a nice day Saturday, 43 deg. F. The ice was all melted on my patio so I could get to my smoke deck and install my new Savannah Stoker v.3 controller on my Traeger 07E pellet smoker. The SS controller is a PID device to control pellet smokers. It is a type of controller that most all manufactures are going to now. It comes with the correct plugs for the Traeger so is a simple job to change out. It is just a matter of removing the old one unplugging it and installing the new one.

It comes with a new RTD, real temperature device, you need to install and that is a matter of removing the old one, one screw holding it. That is only about a 10 minute job. I got the old controller removed and the new RTD installed. I had just a little trouble getting the new controller installed; the one plug was too short to access through the opening.  I had to reach under the pellet bin and hold the plug with one hand and reach through the opening to plug the new one in. If the 4 plugs are long enough to access through the hole it is a snap to install.

I had cleaned out my smoker and when I got the new controller installed I was ready to try it out. I had a ½ pound of smoked sausage and a pound of jowl bacon from my butchers I want to do for some bean soup Sunday. I fired it up and let get to the set temp of 225 deg. F. I had my Maverick probe placed at grill level in the middle front of the grate to double check the temps.

I did the sausage for one hour at 225 deg. then removed. I let the bacon go another hour at 325 deg. F. It worked like a charm and most of the time was within 5 deg. of the set temperature. The lowest I saw at 225 deg. was 10 under and 11 over the set temperature over an hour. I was getting some nice smoke too. When I went to set temperature of 325 deg. it was there in 15 minutes. I was getting about the same fluctuation of +- 10 deg. whenever it went over or under it didn’t stay there long and quickly corrected.

I was amazed at how close the RTD and my Maverick probe, at grill level were. With my old Traeger 180 I always ran about 25 deg. hotter at grill level. With my Ortech I was 25 to 50 deg. hotter. After I went to 325 deg. with my SS controller I did see the grill level at 15 deg. hotter.

I don’t have a nice chart to show you like Savannah Smoker did but I recorded the different temps by taking photos and the times are in the photos metadata.

RTD = real temperature                                ST= set temperature          MPT= Maverick temp grill level

               RTD        ST         MPT
6:00        224         225         223
6:15        226         225         225
6:30        225         225         226
6:45        236         225         235
7:00        215         225         217
Wen to 325 deg.
7:15        328         325         338
7:50        328         325         343

After my first cook I am more than happy with the way this controller is running. Most of the time it is running about dead on set temp. I can live with the small +- swings I got and I think you need some ups and downs to get better smoke. I left the fan set on speed 3 for this cook. I plan on some ribs for my next cook and will try fan speed 2 for the 3 hours of smoke setting at 180 deg.

New controller

Removing the old

New RTD installed

Installing the new

Ready to cook

6:00 PM meat added


7:00 removed sausage



8:00 bacon done and shut down
took about 25 minutes to cool and shut down

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Holidays to All

Dec 17 2014

Happy Holidays and may all have a great New Year coming up. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever you may celebrate and hope we all can have peace; eat some good food and just have fun with friends and family!

I just had a back operation for a ruptured disc so I will be trying to heal up in the next few weeks. Our daughter in law is fixing Christmas Eve dinner for us even though she has to work that day. I hope I am back in shape enough to make it down there to have a great time with her, our son and grandson. Our daughter from the Chicago area will not be able to make it here but she was here for Thanksgiving week end last month.

I plan to at least be able to cook my traditional New Year’s Day good luck dinner of some pork and sauerkraut. I have a batch of homemade sauerkraut ready that will make it extra good. I hope I can get photos and get it posted.

See you all next year! Don

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Asian Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs

Dec 12 2014

Today was my last cook before I go under the knife Monday, my back operation. I was glad I could get out and cook it on my Traeger. It was a bright sunny day but the 38 deg. F felt cold to me.

I had a rack of baby backs from Kah Meats, my butcher. Rather than doing my usual way I saw these Asian dry rubbed ones from Food52 I thought looked good. They were done hot and fast in the oven but thought I could do them on my smoker. I hoped they would be good since my usual way of doing ribs on the smoker is low and slow and instead of 40 minutes take 4 to 6 hours. I was a little leery of the ginger in the rub mix; the wife and I are not big ginger fans. It said 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons so I just used 1 Tbs. and it went well with the other spices.

I cut up the ribs and rubbed well with the dry rub; they went into a plastic bag and in the fridge overnight. I had the ribs half cut before I realized I forgot to pull off the membrane so I pulled it off the half slab that was left.

To go along with the ribs I had some Carolina rice I did in my rice cooker and fried some stir fry veggies for on top of the rice. I did up two frozen Taipei veggie egg rolls for us and I had some Mae Ploy’s chili sauce on mine.

The ribs were great, the wife liked them too. The blend of spices in the dry rub went well together and none stood out, tasted like one flavor. I thought they were like eating Baby Back Bark!

The DIL and grandson stopped in just after we were done. The grandson sat down and ate some rice and veggies and cleaned two of the ribs to the bone! He said those were good!

Note: I showed my wife's plate so you all would know I do feed her too when I cook!

Click here for printable recipe

The rack of ribs

The rub

Cut, seasoned and ready for the fridge

After a half hour of smoke

After one hour

Cooking the veggies

Serving the ribs

My wife's supper

My supper

With my beer

Those were good!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Beef and Cheese Casserole

Dec 10 2014

A casserole is an easy meal to fix and makes for comforting food on a cool winter day. Just have a salad or some veggies and some bread and butter and it’s an easy meal to fix. I had some shredded cheese that needed used so I bought a pound of ground chuck at my butchers; all I needed was a recipe. I found this one for Beef and cheddar at Food Network by the Food Network Kitchen.  It also used some wide egg noodles I had on hand and sounded good to me.

I had a loaf of good take home and bake bread so I baked that before starting the casserole. I like to bake my own bread but when I can get a loaf already made and just bake it for about 10 minutes and it’s as good as I can do from scratch it’s just too easy!

I got my noodles boiling and cooked them about 4:45 and by 6:10 I had this on the table. While the casserole was baking my wife made up a mixed Romaine salad for us. Our son had to work so we had the grandson for supper and the DIL ate when she got here from work.

The shredded cheese I had was two different Mexican mixes and a little cheddar. After eating it I think about any kind of cheese would work with this. Since I was using ground chuck 80-20 mix I removed some of the grease but left some for flavor. I am beginning to love the Penzey’s 4S salt but I use it sparingly since it is heavy in salt. I sprinkled some on top and the red from the smoked paprika in it gave it a nice color. I had blue cheese dressing and French fried onions on my salad.

We all liked this and think it is among the best casseroles I have made. I think what really adds a great flavor to this dish is the sour cream and parmesan cheese added to the noodles.

Click here for link to recipe

All but the sour cream and ground beef

 Cooking the noodles

Noodles, sour cream and parmesan added

Beef browned and peppers and onions added

Tomato paste and diced tomatoes added
plus Italian seasoning

Beef mix over the noodles

Shredded cheese and 4S salt added

Some good crusty bread

Casserole done

My supper

My Lodge Carbon Steel Skillets

Dec 10 2014

We had some discussion about carbon steel skillets on the LTBBQ forum and I wrote this about my Lodge Carbon steel skillets. I don’t usually do product reviews in here but I love the Lodge cast iron and carbon steel to cook with.

I wanted a carbon steel skillet to use, I remember my Mom used to have one and can remember her using it for bacon and eggs. I bought a cheap imported 9 inch skillet and used it. Within a few months it warped and would not set level on my glass top range.

I already had some Lodge’s cast iron ware and saw they now make some carbon steel skillets. I bought a 10 inch one over a year ago. After using it I ordered the 12 inch too. I have used both over a year now and they are my everyday skillets and get weekly use. They show no warping yet. They are a little thicker than most carbon steel ware but still a lot lighter to handle than the cast iron.

They come pre-seasoned and have held up well. I think they cook as well as cast iron and cleanup is the same.  They are only about 1 ½ inches deep so if I need deeper I use my cast iron.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pork Chops, Fried Potatoes and Applasauce

Dec 09 2014

I was thinking about what to have for supper. It would be one of our favorites, pork chops, fried potatoes and applesauce. I like chops on my smoker but when I do fried potatoes I like doing them inside in my steel skillet then fry the potatoes in the pork chop grease for added flavor.

About an hour before cooking I seasoned the chops with a little Adolf’s tenderizer, Penzey’s 4S salt, and fresh ground pepper; covered and in the fridge. Adolf’s is a natural tenderizer made from ground papaya. The 4S salt is a mix of sea salt, smoked paprika, sugar, black pepper, turmeric, onion, garlic, celery, rosemary and thyme.

Before starting the chops I baked some take home and bake garlic knots. I fried the chops in my Lodge steel skillet with a tablespoon of bacon grease 4 minutes per side. They went in a covered casserole dish with just enough water to cover the bottom and in a 325 deg. oven. I then fried the golden yellow potatoes, with some sliced onion, about 10 minutes and then turned for another 10 minutes. The 20 minutes was time enough for the thin chops to get done in the oven.

Supper hit the spot, the chops were as tender and moist as they get. Now the potatoes were not crispy enough, they were done and well browned but not very crispy as we like. I should have let this meal go for my wife to do next week; she can do crispy fried potatoes a lot better than me!

The chops seasoned

Potatoes and onions with a little olive oil

Browning the chops

The potatoes

My supper

Monday, December 8, 2014

Brats, Beans and Greens

Dec 07 2014

I knew Saturday the wife would be gone most of the day Sunday. I decided to cook some stuff I like that she doesn’t care for. I had a package of my butchers Cajun brats in the freezer so got them out to thaw.

Beans and greens would go with the brats. I had wanted to try some New England style baked beans for a long time. This was a good time to fix them. Most recipes for New England style beans are similar and share the ingredients of molasses, sugar, dry mustard and water as the syrup and made with salt pork and onions. They are cooked low and slow and may vary a little from state to state, Vermont adds some maple syrup.

I had a pound of yellow eyed beans that are a favorite in Maine. I found a recipe for some Maine baked yellow eyed beans. I started before noon since these had to bake about six hours. My beans had soaked overnight so I rinsed them and boiled them in water and ½ tsp. of baking soda. I used some bacon in mine; I have never liked to use salt pork. I mixed up the syrup and got them in the oven at 275 deg. at 12:00.

I checked the beans three times and added some cooking liquid and syrup mix. I took the lid off the last 45 minutes and added what was left of the syrup mix.

For my brats I wrapped 3 of the 4 in some hot capicola and did them on my Traeger at 200 deg. grill level for 45 minutes and then went to 325 deg. for 45 minutes.  For the greens I just used some canned mixed southern style. I browned up some bacon and then added some chopped onions and added hot sauce to perk them up a little.

I had some Dijon mustard for my brat and a Deschutes black butte porter to wash all down. The capicola was not great on the brat, dried too much but was crispy and tasted good. The beans were good, tender and very sweet. After a few bites I added hot sauce that went well with the sweet. If I fix them again I think I would double up on the dry mustard. The greens were so so but they worked, a good supper!

I had a piece of my buttermilk pie after all settled. That topped it off!

Click here for the bean recipe

Bacon and onion in the bottom

Beans in for a 15 min. boil

The syrup

Beans and cooking liquid added

Syrup and butter added

The brats

Some bacon and onions for the greens

Greens added to simmer

Brats on the smoker

Beans browned

After stirring

My supper