Game Changer

We’ve made a change to our setup here at The Altar of Meat. For several years, we’ve been cooking on a first generation Traeger Timberline 850. Great grill… really allowed a lot of flexibility in food prep and was great for reverse searing steaks or making multiple rib racks or pork shoulders. It accomplished this with very little problem… the only issue we ever had was of my own making (I managed to get the meat probe wire wet and it caused some crazy readings. Even though it was my fault, I was able to call Traeger ON THANKSGIVING DAY and not only did they send me a new probe, the box also contained a new controller “just in case.”

So when we saw the Traeger event regarding the new timberline, it was decision time. Do you stick with old faithful, or so you trade up for a newer, sexier model? We watched most of the video previews, watched reviews from folks like Matt Pittman at Meat Church, and we were able to talk with Traeger Todd, who is the local area manager for Traeger and a helluva guy,

After chatting with Todd at a local BBQ shop’s open house, we decided to go see our grill guy, after ascertaining that he had some new Timberlines set up for display. A nice 30 minute drive in the country brought us to Dan at North Forge Home Heating in Annville, PA.

Now, let me explain… I first met Dan at a Traeger Shop Class and we hit it off. Not only does he know BBQ, he’s one of the most genuine guys you’ll ever meet. Every one of his recommendations has been spot on… even down to saving some cash on pellets. We had visited Dan back in 2018 when we opted for the 850 to replace our Costco-purchased Traeger Select, and ever since North Forge has been the place to go.

So, getting back to the original point. We went. We saw. We ordered. And this beauty arrived this week. This is the standard size Timberline (Yeah, we looked at the XL, but the available deck space is not huge)

We’ve named it Big Tasty

Yes, we named the grill Big Tasty. We had other ideas… Sir Ribs-a-Lot, Brisketville, Long Tong Silver, but somehow Big Tasty seemed to fit the best. The list of features is astounding… 880 square inches of cooking space, or enough room for 9 chickens, 8 rib racks, or 6 pork butts. Weighs in at a cool 238 pounds. The entire cook chamber is double wall stainless steel insulated, which explains the weight.

Here’s some of the other features:
– 22 pound capacity hopper
– Includes 2 wired temperature probes
– includes two wireless MEATER probes (with capacity to add two more)
– full color touchscreen control panel
– WiFire wireless connectivity with a relocated antenna to increase range
– Bamboo storage shelves
– Under grill storage cabinet with soft-close doors
– Front accessible pellet clean out system that actually drains pellets from the bottom of the hopper directly into an included storage bin.
– A single point grease and ash collection system, also accessible from the front
– Adjustable cooking racks
– split main rack for ease of removal and cleaning
– One piece drip tray
– Pop And Lock accessories allow you to customize your Timberline

I added the utensil hooks and the foldable front shelf

There’s also one other huge addition… and this is what cements the new Timberline as a game-changer… Traeger has included the first induction side burner on a pellet grill and it is choice. No more will I need to fire up the gas grill to get a good sear. I can throw a cast-iron skillet on the induction burner and be cooking away in no time.

The High Priestess calls this Induction Junction

So you’re probably wondering… how does it cook? The short answer is simply, “Daaaayummmmm.” In all honesty, I’ve only had the chance to cook one meal on it so far, but it was pretty yum. I started by cooking up bacon in the Lodge cast iron while the grill was heating up. After the bacon was good, I removed the slices and put on a large stockpot of water to make corn on the cob. The main course was something simple… 1/2 lb brisket cheeseburgers served with bacon and cheddar on Martin’s potato rolls. I had them on the grill on Super Smoke until they reached 110, at which time I put the skillet back on Induction Junction, heated up the bacon fat, and got a lovely sear. Only tip there is to put the patties on some paper towel after you get them out of the bacon fat… otherwise they are a grease bomb.

The final verdict was that they were damn tasty. In fact everything cooked well and performed pretty much as expected. I had a couple of small beefs… I had the grill set for 225 and the temp was alternating between 180 and 250. It seemed to settle down as the cook progressed, but that was a little concerning. The new grease and ash system seems to work as designed. I wiped things down after the cook and it cleaned up easily.

I’m planning some major cooking for Traeger Day 2022 so I’m looking forward to putting Big Tasty through its paces with pork butt, brisket, mac & cheese, and probably turkey breast. I’m sure I’ll have more to say after I really get into it, but initial impressions are positive.

One final thought… since the Traeger app has been updated, it allows you to monitor many aspects of the cook, including pellet level, temperatures for all your probes, and also the power level for the induction burner. The highest setting on that burner is called “Turbo” and when you are running that level, your app gives a reading that will be familiar to anyone whose seen the classic film “This is Spinal Tap”

But these go to 11

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