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Orion Cooker - My product review
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adolpho
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 11:29 am    Post subject: Orion Cooker - My product review Reply with quote

I kept seeing them at my local Academy and Fry's and I finally broke down and bought one just to see what it was like. Hey, maybe it can cook chicken for me at comps, right?

Well here goes:
First off, it is pretty heavy and durable (stainless steel), so I thought that's not cheap. The only assembly needed was screwing in the legs and attaching the grill brackets/rib holders inside. The brackets were easy but the legs were awkward since there was no room for a screw driver to fit straight up while screwing in the screws (I always feel like I'm already stripping the heads when going in at an angle). My wife scrubbed and cleaned out the cooker with soap and water. I used to work in a restaurant and soap and water never harmed any stainless steel so I thought it'd be ok. Besides, BBQMAN washes out his stainless steel rig all the time!
The next day I put in the drip pan and then lined the edge between the cooker and drip pan with apple chips.

I then loaded in two chickens cut in half (1 on the bottom rack the other in the middle rack). I didn't use the poultry stand since I was cooking two chickens, I also didn't use the top rack.

As per directions, I loaded the top cup with instant light charcoal and filled the bottom ring around the cooking chamber with instant light charcoal. Yes, the fear of lighter fluid taste ran inside my head, but I'm going for it.

I then lit her up and watched her burn. Apparently searing is happening during this phase and the cooker is so air tight that lighter fluid will not get in.

It takes an hour and ten minutes to cook chicken. After 30 minutes, moisture started to leak out.

I waited till an hour and twenty minutes just to be safe. The chicken looked pretty, but was obviously a little overdone. It fell apart and was very tender, but was oversmoked. It was the first time I experienced what ya'll call the "bitter/oversmoked" taste. There was also no hint of lighter fluid in the taste. Very Happy

I liked how tender the chicken was, just too much smoke. Today I cooked some spare ribs and used less chips. Again it was oversmoked, but not as bad. So next time it will be only a handful of chips. I think that the smoke is trapped inside and has no where to go, so it doesn't take much wood chips. But the funny thing is, that there is no smoke ring. Too much smoke, but no smokering doesn't make sense, so maybe ya'll can help explain this one to me. I'm also wondering if using pellets will give a better control of smoke.
I hope this review is helpful to any of you who've seen one and thought of buying it. I think once I get the oversmoke issue under control, it will be one hell of a cooker because the meat is very tender and juicy.
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WBOGGS
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting; it's actually more like an oven with smoke since no burning charcoal is within the cook chamber. That's why there's no smoke ring. I would expect food to be tender since it's a sealed cook chamber and steams in its own juices. I might expect a slight bitter smoke flavor since you can get a bitter taste in a conventional smoker if there isn't sufficient draft. Keep that in mind as you try to solve that problem.
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you brine the chicken or the ribs?

If you do get round to brining, I wonder if you would get a smoke ring if you added some nitrites and nitrates to the brine?

Though you could end up with everything having a hammy taste if you go that route, I for one would be interested to know the answer, maybe not interested enough to buy an Orion cooker, but still, enquiring bbqers minds want to know!
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think BBQMAN is going to be seeing double later today with all the smoke he ingested over the weekend...They must have some funny flavored smoke over there in FL, <sniff> smells like Amsterdam to me! Laughing
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Last edited by SoEzzy on Mon Mar 19 07 8:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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BBQMAN
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the review Adolpho! I too think you are probably getting the oversmoked taste from lack of air movement. Never seen that particular cooker- keep us posted! Very Happy

Up early again SoEzzy! Not quite awake yet tho bro- posting double (or maybe I'm just seeing double after all the smoke this past weekend! Laughing )
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Josjor
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, here's my two-cent theory, and you're probably being overcharged Very Happy

I would think that regardless of the heat source you should have a smokering. So here is my thought:

Since it's generally agreed that the smokering forms before the meat hits 140 degrees, my guess is that the meat is getting to 140 before the wood is starting to smoke, or at least the outside of the meat is. I would think that with the thin wall of the cooker and the sealed design that the air inside the cooker would get pretty hot, pretty quick. A whole bird in a little over an hour sounds like the internal temp would be between 325 and 350 and since you said it was a bit overdone, probably closer to 350. Just for kicks I would try putting in some meat straight from the fridge and see if that gets you a smokering.

As for the oversmoked, creosote thing, since its a sealed cooker I think you might not be getting a clean burn of the chips. As the chamber fills with smoke there is simply not enough O2 to let the chips burn enough and they're just smoldering away. I had the same problem with my cheapie Brinkman bullet until I added some vents in the lid.

That's my theory, although I could just be blowing smoke Exclamation Laughing
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Up again late...and my excuse is the board is acting up again...acting up again...acting up again...acting up again...acting up again...acting up again.

There have been lots of double posts this weekend, so I feel the need to defend my sleepy head is greatly reduced! Razz
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gordo
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I havent seen that model before but, A fellow cooker I know uses something like that for his chicken at contest, does ok with it..think its called a Rogers grills cooker or something like that name...I didn't like the fact you couldn't sneak a look at the bird...he would cook it on that cooker and pull off and finish it off in his offset and glaze or sauce it at that time...
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WBOGGS
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Josjor wrote:
Well, here's my two-cent theory, and you're probably being overcharged Very Happy

I would think that regardless of the heat source you should have a smokering. So here is my thought:

Since it's generally agreed that the smokering forms before the meat hits 140 degrees, my guess is that the meat is getting to 140 before the wood is starting to smoke, or at least the outside of the meat is. I would think that with the thin wall of the cooker and the sealed design that the air inside the cooker would get pretty hot, pretty quick. A whole bird in a little over an hour sounds like the internal temp would be between 325 and 350 and since you said it was a bit overdone, probably closer to 350. Just for kicks I would try putting in some meat straight from the fridge and see if that gets you a smokering.

As for the oversmoked, creosote thing, since its a sealed cooker I think you might not be getting a clean burn of the chips. As the chamber fills with smoke there is simply not enough O2 to let the chips burn enough and they're just smoldering away. I had the same problem with my cheapie Brinkman bullet until I added some vents in the lid.

That's my theory, although I could just be blowing smoke Exclamation Laughing


A smoke ring comes from burning charcoal; you will never get a smoke ring any other way.
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WBOGGS
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoEzzy wrote:
Did you brine the chicken or the ribs?

If you do get round to brining, I wonder if you would get a smoke ring if you added some nitrites and nitrates to the brine?

Though you could end up with everything having a hammy taste if you go that route, I for one would be interested to know the answer, maybe not interested enough to buy an Orion cooker, but still, enquiring bbqers minds want to know!

Brine doesn't cause a smoke ring only the byproducts of burning charcoal does. Not to mention why would you add a carcinigen to your food for the sole purpose of adding a cosmetic smoke ring?
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the same reason they add those carcinegens to Ham to make it a pretty pink color, and it appears to be used in other cures both #1 and the old salt peter that #1 replaces.

Nitrites not nitrates though it was my understanding that the breakdown of some protiens with the nitrites makes nitrates, perhaps I miss read it.
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19 07 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

what josjor said^^^^^.

the smoke ring is the reaction of smoke with enzymes in the protein matrix in the meat creating nitric acid causing the colored "Smoke Ring"
if the meat is heated too abruptly to 140 degrees it cooks the proteins that are needed uncooked to develop the ring. you also need moisture to condense on the food for a good ring to develop (from my past experimentation)

Neat looking unit, more like a science experiment than an outdoor cooker.
but the fact that smoke cannot exit bothers me.

I would try a liquid in the chips (beer or cheap malt liquor) to impart an additional flavor.
Back in the day I went to visit a friend and he had an old brinkman water smoker that he wanted me to do chicken on, we went to the liquor store to get some adult beverages and this bottle of "Crazy Horse" malt liquor caught my eye, I wanted the bottle because it looked neat. I filled the water pan with the malt liquor, waited until the coals were ashed over & hot, and tossed beer soaked chips on the coals. way way good stuff that day !
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Josjor
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20 07 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WBOGGS wrote:
A smoke ring comes from burning charcoal; you will never get a smoke ring any other way.


But, if the wood chips he put in are burning he should get a smoke ring. Otherwise how would us stick burners ever get one? I'm still sticking with my theory that the meat is getting to 140 before the chips start smoking. The smoke flavor can still get in after 140, but the smoke ring can't.
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WBOGGS
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20 07 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoEzzy wrote:
For the same reason they add those carcinegens to Ham to make it a pretty pink color, and it appears to be used in other cures both #1 and the old salt peter that #1 replaces.

Nitrites not nitrates though it was my understanding that the breakdown of some protiens with the nitrites makes nitrates, perhaps I miss read it.

They dont add the carcinogens for the pink color; it's because of the curing process. You dont have to put that poison in anything that you put in a hot enough space to cook to temp. It's only for long warm smokes or dry cures that sit for long periods of time with no refrigeration.

You can take that poison out of any recipe if you put in a smoker at 225 and cook it till it hits 157 (I think) 140 for pork the reheat and eat.

Carcinogen cures do turn meat pink though I personally am willing to forgo pink for health. Cancer is an awful way to die.
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WBOGGS
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20 07 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Josjor wrote:
WBOGGS wrote:
A smoke ring comes from burning charcoal; you will never get a smoke ring any other way.


But, if the wood chips he put in are burning he should get a smoke ring. Otherwise how would us stick burners ever get one? I'm still sticking with my theory that the meat is getting to 140 before the chips start smoking. The smoke flavor can still get in after 140, but the smoke ring can't.

The wood chips dont burn they cook. To burn they need all three elements, heat, fuel and oxygen. They only have heat and fuel in that cooker. That's why I would expect it to be really easy to end up with bitter tasting food since what really happens to the chips is cooking off the impurities like how you make lump charcoal and those impurities stay in the cook chamber to flavor the food. The creosote isn't being consumed by fire therefor the byproducts of that cooking of chips lacks the chemicals to create a smoke ring.

Stick burners turn wood into charcoal and burns completely just like with lump charcoal.
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Josjor
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20 07 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WBOGGS, we're both saying the same thing, only in different language, so its all good.

In a nutshell we're agreed that he isn't getting a smokering because he isn't burning the wood. I added the possibility that its also because the meat is warming up beyond the 140 mark before the wood even smolders.

To me it looks like this is more of a creosote based steamer than anything else Laughing
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Lewis & Herschel
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20 07 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would compare this to an Electric Smoker. I have one that I use on vacation or to cold smoke with. I would use one hand full of chips and that is it. I use about 4 ozs in the electric and that is plenty. Anymore and you will over smoke.

For a Smoke Ring, not enough combustion happens. The Chips just flash and flame out quickly. Stick burners get a smoke ring because the wood turns into coals as it is burned giving time for the reactions to take place. The Chips burn up too quick.

If you want a smoke ring, at a few charcoal briquetts in with the chips. The briquettes burn long enough to create the reaction that gives you the smokering.
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20 07 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the curing powders (pink salt, prague powder, #1 $ #2 cures) used in hams & corned beef are there to set the color of the meat. they do not actually turn the meat that color, instead they keep it from losing the color.
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adolpho
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20 07 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems like a consensus. I will try adding a couple of pieces of charcoal inside the cooker. If I get a chance, I'll try one cook with lump and one with briquettes (I have plenty of both). It does cook hotter, yet the meat is still moist and tender, including the ribs. I'm also tempted to use regular briquettes (non-instantlight) and start them up with the weed burner torch. It will get hotter slower and may allow a longer time for the meat to be under 140 degrees.
I think ya'll nailed it by saying there's no oxygen, because the wood chips just turned black and looked like mini lump charcoal pieces (no ashes).

Thanks for the tips and I'll get another round of cooking done this weekend!
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20 07 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sure do wonder how Allsmokenofire, kickass and BBQMAN get smoke ring on their meats as they are stick burners and from what I understand dont use no charcoal.

Last time I cooked turkey in my gas range at work I got smoke ring in the bird and I didnt see no one putting any charcoal in the oven.
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