My colleague Jason Rees competes on the summer barbecue circuit with the Pork Ninjas. Keeping me abreast of all things 'cue, he recently popped his head into my office and asked, "Have you ever cooked on a Traeger?" I sheepishly admitted that I had no clue what he was talking about.
A Traeger is a unique cooking apparatus that's a smoker, grill and wood-burning oven all wrapped into one.
The good folks at Traeger Canada lent me the Lil' Texas Elite model for a month, and I had a blast using it.
Traegers run on natural wood pellets that come in eight "flavours" including alder, apple and hickory. The pellets are fed through a hopper into a firepot and ignited with a hot rod. An electric fan then diffuses the heat evenly. While the heat is indirect, you can still grill traditional barbecue fare like burgers and franks when you crank it to the highest setting (and keep the lid closed), which gets it up to around 450°F.
I had the best results starting off food on the smoker setting then raising the temperature to finish the cooking process. This two-step method worked especially well with fish.
First, I brushed a whole fish fillet (above is rainbow trout) with maple syrup, seasoned it with salt and pepper then let it come to room temperature.
I put the fish on to smoke for 30 minutes then turned up the grill to 350°F to cook it through. Lightly smoked and unbelievably moist, it put most grilled fish to shame.
See more fish and seafood grilling recipes in our Grilling Guide.