Appliances

The Smart Grill (or Smoker!): A Brilliant Way to Cook

The tech-savvy invention lets you use your mobile devices to have your steak and eat it, too

by Nancy Mattia

Remember when grilling a steak meant throwing some charcoal into a no-frills barbecue, splashing lighter fluid on top, and not taking your eyes off the food and the flames for fear of incinerating the T-bone? Then gas grills came along and made the job easier but someone still had to figure out cooking times and keep vigil. Now there are smart grills, freestanding outdoor appliances that rely on the manufacturer’s app and Wi-Fi to do much of the work for you, from indicating where exactly to place food on the grill to texting you when it’s ready. Think you might like to get smart about grilling too?

Here’s what you need to know.

1. It syncs to your smart device.

Using a Wi-Fi connection and Bluetooth, the grill communicates with the app on your iOS or Android device, like a smartphone or tablet.

2. The grill listens to you.

So you like your burger rare (or medium or well done)? Great, just let the grill know on the app and it will follow your instructions. (Some high-end models offer voice-activation to let you communicate.) Once the food is ready, you’ll get a text or alert. 

3. It helps you cook food evenly.

Though a smart grill can’t turn the chicken legs on its own—yet—it lets you know when to do it yourself. Monitoring cooking temperatures is a big part of its job.

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CharBroil’s SmartChef Digital Electric Smoker easily operates with electricity and comes with pre-loaded roasting or cooking modes. Smokers can monitor food temperatures in real-time using the corresponding app.

4. The recipes are key.

Based on one of the many recipes you choose from the manufacturer’s app (see “Beer Can BBQ Chicken” recipe below), the grill figures out the optimal cooking time and instructs you where exactly to place each food item on the grill. You can choose from a menu of appetizers, entrees, side dishes, and desserts.

5. Smart grills can be pricey.

Be prepared to shell out big bucks for this technological marvel, from about $599 for Char-Broil’s SmartChef to almost $10,000 for Lynx’s SmartGrill. Like other appliances, the higher the quality of the components, the higher the price; for example, the Lynx model comes with stainless steel grilling grates while the Char-Broil’s grates are made of porcelain-coated cast iron.

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The Lynx Smart Grill is Wi-Fi enabled. It asks cooks what’s for dinner, and then uses an online database to determine the right cooking time and technique for that food. It even tells users where to place items on the grill for the best results, and sends notifications via audio, visual alerts and an app.

6. It won’t let you run out of gas.

Some models give you a heads up when your propane tank is running low.

7. You get to stay cool.

Sit in the shade and monitor the food’s progress remotely. No need to sweat it out by the hot grill!

home_grills_sidebarBeer Can BBQ Chicken

Recipe courtesy of Char-Broil

Ingredients

FOR THE BRINE

1 cup of water

1/3 cup of salt

1/3 cup of brown sugar

4 cans of beer, 12 ounces each

Directions

8-24 Hours for brine, 25 minutes for prep, 1 hour and 15 minutes for cooking, 10 minutes for additional rest

FOR THE DRY RUB

2 ½ tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons Ancho chili powder

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons celery salt

2 tablespoons dry mustard

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder

1 tablespoon granulated onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon cinnamon

FOR THE CHICKEN

1 whole chicken

½ can of beer
 Olive oil

1 Make the brine: Add water, salt and brown sugar in a 6-8 quart container. Wait for the salt and sugar to completely dissolve. Then add four cans of beer. Place the chicken in the brine container. Cover and let it marinate for 8-24 hours.

2 Rinse the chicken completely with cold water. Then pat it dry. Put it back in the refrigerator for another hour.

3 In the meantime, make the dry rub. We recommend combining the ingredients in a food processor.

4 Preheat the grill to medium, between 300 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll want to set it up for indirect grilling with one side of the grill off and cool.

5 Take the chicken out of the fridge and drizzle it with olive oil. Make sure to drizzle inside the chicken too. Then coat it with the dry rub. Don’t be shy! Let the chicken sit for 20 minutes before cooking.

6  Using 1/2 can of beer, slide the chicken over the beer can. You may have to reposition the legs for it to stand up properly. Place it on the cool side of the grill.

7 Cook the chicken for an hour and 15 minutes with the lid closed. Only open the lid to baste with olive oil every 20-30 minutes.

8 Check the chicken breasts and thighs with a digital thermometer. The breasts should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and the thighs should be at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

9 Carefully remove the chicken from the grill. Let rest for 10 minutes before removing the beer can and serving.

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