When the folks at Orion Outdoors sent one of their Original Cookers 18 months ago, I was excited because it was billed as a smoker. When it comes to cooking meat, I love the ritual that surrounds smoking. Until the Orion Outdoor Cooker arrived, I didn’t smoke food as often as I wanted to for the simple reason that it was an all-day (afternoon anyway) affair with tending the apple wood fire and all.
The first time I fired up the Orion Original Cooker, I was at work … it was the day before Independence Day in 2007. I had applied a rub to the 12-pound turkey the night before. I was a little skeptical at the instructions that called for a mere 7 minutes per pound of bird … timing from the moment a match was put to the charcoal. I let that turkey go for about 90 minutes, and it was done and delicious.
We have used the Orion Original Cooker many times at home and at work. Kate was in the mood for a smoked organic chicken last weekend, so we fired up the Orion in the wintry blast and weren’t disappointed. The Orion is part smoker, part steamer and part convection oven. It is just about foolproof … although I managed to get a brisket a bit drier than I wanted last summer when I forgot to pull it off in the prescribed time. It was perfectly edible after an hour of extra smoke, but not an award winner.
I am not ready to give up my double-chamber traditional wood-fire smoker by any means. There just isn’t any better way to relax, than with friends, icy beverages and a long summer afternoon tending the smoker. However, as an outdoor cooking enthusiast, I will always have an Orion Cooker on hand for those days when I want the delicious flavor and texture of smoked pork shoulder, and I want to get a few chores done around the farm.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.