Technology is ever advancing. Every year we get faster computers and phones. Our houses are run with just the sounds of our voices. But is technology what we need for in the BBQ world? People often sling around the term “Pitmaster” but does the technology diminish the meaning of this term? How much tech is to much tech when does it go from BBQing to setting a microwave?
Now some tech I am all for, things like thermometers. The new ones that are out are faster and more accurate than ever before. This leads to better and safer food for everyone. Equipment like the Thermoworks signal or the Meater make it so you can monitor your pit and meat from a greater distance away allowing you to not have to sit with your pit. This type of tech I think is highly valuable and works fantastic for both backyard and competition cooks.
So now onto the biggest piece of tech that has battle lines being drawn, pellet smokers.
This type of cookers use compressed wood pellets for there heat and smoke. With this system they use automatic feeders that are temp controlled in order to keep the cooker at the set temperature. These cookers are basically set it and forget it. The computer basically does all the work. So the million dollar question is it a smoke filled oven or is it a true BBQ Pit? And does cooking with one make you a “pitmaster”
Yourdictionary.com defines “pitmaster” as “One who operates a barbecue pit. Sometimes a term of respect for someone who is skilled at barbecuing.” So is a pellet cooker a pit and is someone who uses it skilled in the art of BBQ? There are many out there who would say know that they are not pitmasters because these units take away the fire management aspect of BBQ. For many of us the management of the fire to control the temperature and smoke of a cook is what makes a pitmaster a pitmaster
Now I understand the draw of the pellets. Easy to use no time wasted maintaining a fire. Small neat packages. Would I throw one out if I was given one? No. But using one is not a pitmaster make. There is a skill in the control of fire. Of which a piece of wood will keep my temps where I want them and to add to my flavor profile. Some great pitmasters do use pellets, now. They started off on stick burners or kamado style cookers. These people I do call pitmasters because they have and still can cook without the use of electricity. It's kinda like calling someone who microwaves everything a chef even though the can't use a stove top. A chef can cook using all the tools in the kitchen, just as a pitmaster can cook on any kind of pit.
Now I am not saying you can't get something tasty out of a pellet cooker but I think you can get something even better out of a stick burner. There has even been competitions where electronic temp control cookers are banned.
Now this brings up temp control systems like the BBQ Guru or the Flameboss. These systems control the airflow to the fire to control the temp. These systems can be adapted to fit many types of cookers. The difference between these and pellet is you still have to put your woods in and set them up to burn correctly. It definitely helps you maintain temp but it is not a do all solution. Like when used on a kamado or a drum cooker you still have to pay attention to how you use the cooker and the temp because it can also start to run away from you and get to hot. These devices are used as helpers and do not make up for not being able to control your pit.
If you want to call yourself a pitmaster then let's see you cook on a true stick burner. How to understand what a piece of wood will do does it burn fast or slow does it have a lot of heat or just going to smolder. These type of skills are what I believe truly make one a pitmaster. Not pushing a button and pressing start.
What do you think of the technology used in the BBQ world today? Does it help or hurt? We want to hear from you please comment or DM us. Let us know what you think. And remember #cowboyup and #keepsmoking