Pros:Great grilled food
Okay smoked foods
Cons:No recipe/instruction book on using the grill
The Bottom Line: As charcoal grills go, this is the best I've ever owned. The normal price is a little steep, but if you find it on sale, buy it!
My husband and I love to grill. In our house, we share the duties when it comes to grilling. For speed propane is best, but I happen to prefer the taste of food grilled over wood or charcoal.
Recommend this product?
This fall, Home Depot started clearancing some of their left over summer items, so we got hold of the Char-Broil Silver Smoker for $125, a bargain from the normal price of $175. While Home Depot will assemble the grill for you, we don't have a truck for transportation. Plus, I enjoy assembling things, so we opted to do the work ourselves.
First, you should buy the separate grill cover ($30) if you live in an area where the weather can be iffy. Second, get the thermometer ($20). Realistically, the grill should come with the thermometer, but it doesn't. It is an essential tool for smoking and grilling. Home Depot also sells large bags of lump wood charcoal that burns much hotter than normal charcoal and this is essential to achieving proper grilling temperatures.
The assembly of the grill actually went well. We've had grills that have had the holes drilled incorrectly. The Char-Broil Silver Smoker didn't give us a hard time at all, but you do need someone to help you. The cast iron grill can be pretty heavy at times, especially when you are attaching the legs to the larger of the two cast iron smoking/grilling chambers. It took my husband and I approximately three hours to build the grill, including breaks and interruptions. So overall, it was much easier than our Fiesta propane grill which had us pulling our hair out.
One downfall to this model, there really are no instructions on building a fire that maintains a steady temperature. Our grill came with the assembly instructions and half a page of instructions on lighting a fire after rubbing the interior of the grill with vegetable oil. We did all that and then found nothing helpful in using the barbecue. The Char-Broil Silver Smoker has two dampers, and there is nothing helpful to tell you the best settings for smoking versus grilling. It's been a lot of trial and error for us. I ended up going online and finding decent instructions that I could print out.
Another issue we've had is that the outside paint on the outside bottom of the larger grill/smoking chamber started blistering and peeling. My husband sanded it down and repainted it with high-temperature paint since then and we have had no problems since, but I wasn't expecting the first couple of uses to cause the paint to flake away. Char-Broil's representative told me we probably had our fire way too hot. We have the additional thermometer so I disagree, but we've fixed the problem ourselves.
The smoker aspect of the grill works but not as well as I'd hoped. I find that the heat escapes pretty easily in the Vermont climate, so I wind up needing to use an awful lot of wood. (We've started using small maple logs with lump charcoal to get the best heat). It can take a while to get to the proper temperature and get it to stay in that zone, but you have to keep an eye on it throughout the process.
The grill is fantastic. We've had some incredibly juicy steaks using the grill. We bought the thermometer and it is easy to read, quickly registers the temperature when you light the fire, and I've checked the accuracy with my digital oven thermometer and it is right on the money. So the additional thermometer is a must!
The best thing about a charcoal grill is that after dinner, you can go supervise your children as they use the remaining hot coals to roast marshmallows for S'mores. Our kids loathe the gas grill now and are much happier when we've taken the extra time to light a fire in the Char-Broil Silver Smoker.
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