Two years ago, I pitted a Traeger pellet grill against a Big Green Egg charcoal grill. My conclusion: While the former delivered more consistent results, it was the Egg that was capable of truly elevating your cooking, if you were prepared to put in the effort to learn how to use it.
Well, now I take that back.
Three and a half months ago, my fiancée and I loaded all our worldly belongings into a trailer and drove that stuff to our new house in Montana. As one of my most-loved things, the Egg was in there, carefully packed inside and out to make sure no part of it would break. Worrying about it riding back there was one of the reasons my average speed on that drive was just 47 miles per hour.
But, along with some shelves we don’t need, a headboard that won’t fit our new bed, and a gigantic chest freezer I haven’t yet filled, the Egg has languished in the back corner of the garage since then. That’s because a brand new Traeger Timberline 850 was sitting here waiting for us when we arrived and it’s performed so well and become such an essential part of my cooking that now I can’t imagine using anything else.
Our first visitor at the the house was my future mother-in-law. She’s a vegetarian, so I cooked vegetable-based meals during her visit. I’m a meat guy, so beyond side dishes, I don’t really have a repertoire of veggie dinners. I'd see what the local co-op had in stock that day, then Google the ingredient, plus the word Traeger, to find a recipe. And voila: perfect grilled portobello mushrooms and stuffed peppers.
Soon after, our friends Ty and Matt drove up from Colorado. I wanted to make a splash, so I Googled rib roast along with Traeger. A beautiful medium-rare prime rib was waiting for them when they pulled into the driveway. Never mind that we still barely had enough chairs for everyone to eat at once.
I didn’t actually learn to cook—at all—until after college. So my parents, who I now see only once a year or so because they live in France, have never really gotten a chance to try my food. One of the first nights after they flew over to see our home, I cooked them perfect lobster tails on the grill. When a long-lost cousin showed up one day during their visit, I ran to the store, bought two chickens, threw them on the Traeger, and we had a feast. Everyone agreed that those chickens were the moistest and most evenly-cooked they’d ever had.
My fiancée's family has never really understood me. They see my safe full of guns, the knives I gift her on birthdays, and my preference for the company of dogs over humans, and despite her assurances to the contrary, they see a hick. So, one night while her sister and her husband were visiting from L.A., I cooked them venison backstrap for dinner. They were extremely hesitant, but as good sports, gave it a try and were absolutely delighted. And you know how I made it? I Googled venison backstrap, plus Traeger, and followed the instructions.
Detecting a theme here? With little to no effort or preparation, I’ve been cooking the best meals I’ve ever been able to make, doing so without even the slightest mistake, and impressing the pants off everyone who’s come over for dinner. And it's all thanks to the Traeger, which has made perfection simple.
If you’ve used a pellet grill in the past, you’ll be familiar with its combination of wood smoke flavor and easy, digital temperature control. What the Timberline 850 adds are higher temperatures—up to 500 degrees—the ability to lower the main grill rack closer to the fire for better searing, double-walled construction that better insulates the grill from outside temperatures, and wireless connectivity that allows you to monitor grill and probe temperatures from your smartphone. Those might sound like small changes, but together they make for a sleeker grill with an appreciable increase in capability and convenience. Being able to watch the internal temperature of a piece of meat remotely is particularly useful and has helped ensure that not a single thing I’ve cooked on the Timberline has been overdone.
For me, grilling is a way to communicate to the people in my life that I love them and to easily involve others in my passions and hobbies. So, to be able to guarantee perfection in every meal isn’t just about eating well, it’s about reliably being able to put my best foot forward with these people who matter. And the remarkable thing about the Traeger is that you can expect to be able to do the same from the very first time you use it.
This is more than a grill: it’s the best food you’ll ever make.