Thursday, December 10, 2009

Caldera Del Fuego Cooker

I've added a new smoker to the inventory and it is a beauty. If you've been reading my blog, you're probably wondering why I would need a new smoker when my trusty Weber Smokey Mountain equipped with the CyberQ II temperature controller has served me so well. Basically, it's a capacity issue. I was offered a catering gig for 60-70 people, and after I'd accepted I began calculating how many WSMs I'd need to cook brisket, pork shoulder and chicken for that many people. Four? Five? And then I'd need another CyberQ II and 3-4 more fans......

I eventually found an online deal for discounted WSMs, but there was still the issue of adding more temp control hardware. So I called The BBQ Guru, told them what I was doing and asked if they had a suggestion. BBQ Guru's Bob Trudnak suggested I look at their Caldera del Fuego Tallboy smoker. Bob, I want to thank you for that suggestion, because for the amount of money I would've spent on four WSMs and additional temp control hardware I got a single versatile cooker that serves as a hot/cold smoker, grill, and deep fryer (hopefully I didn't miss any other uses). It holds up to 16 racks and is sized so standard steam table pans slide right in. And of course it's ducted for my CyberQ II.

I've used it twice so far, and I'm really pleased with the results it produces. There's a bit of a learning curve with maintaining a stable temperature, but nothing major. After using Kingsford Competition briquettes on the first cook and having the fire go out overnight, I switched to Wicked Good hardwood lump charcoal the second time and got a much more steady, long lasting burn. So much so that the smoker actually overshot the selected temperature while I was sleeping. Partially my fault, though, as I had the Tallboy "buttoned up" in its cold weather jacket and outside temps didn't drop as much as forecast.

The second cook was a bigger one. 20 lbs. worth of Boston butt, four racks of St. Louis style ribs, one full packer brisket and a brisket flat. I cooked the pork butts and brisket overnight on Wicked Good lump and oak and hickory chunks, and after pulling them around 7:00 AM I topped off the charcoal, added some apple wood chunks and the ribs. The office holiday party celebrants raved about the pulled pork, ribs and brisket, and I even got a few inquiries about whether I'd consider catering. Since I've already got my first job this month, I'm hoping I can get some more.

One more thing I want to mention about The BBQ Guru. As good their products are, their customer service is just as good or better. In addition to BBQ Bob taking time to give me advice on using the Tallboy and preparing for my big catering event, Sarah in sales has been a big help. She's made sure that orders got to me within 24-48 hours if I needed them in a hurry. And she's very nice, too. Thanks Sarah and Bob!

Although I'll still use my WSM for smaller cooks at home, the Caldera del Fuego Tallboy will see plenty of use in 2010 as Sharon and I make our first foray into the world of competitive BBQ.

One of my pork butts. It came pretty much as you see it, and I used my new Misono Ux-10 Gyutou knife to do a little more trimming. The Misono has instantly become my "go to" knife. I read about it in Cooks Illustrated, and it's worth every penny.

Rubbed and injected pork. I used Chris Lilly's Peach Butt injection marinade and rub recipe

Rubbed brisket using my favorite coffee based rub. I have no idea how the (empty) Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale bottle sitting on the sink got there.....

Pork and brisket in the Caldera. Notice the amount of free space in the smoker. I could've easily done 3-4 times as much meat if necessary

Caldera firebox

And now the recipes and product references:


  1. Nice smoker, nice knife, nice blog, Kit.

    Good running into you at SLT yesterday


  2. Thanks Dave. Glad you liked the blog. Look forward to catching up with you in 2010 when Sharon and I make our first foray into competitive BBQ. Could always use some Kiwi know how!!