Thanksgiving 2016 - The Good, The Bad and the IGrill2

By Fred "Wiley" Richardson

This is the first year I decided to document our Thanksgiving day. I promise no football review but what we cooked, why we cooked it and how did it all turn out. Now this is not my first rodeo so somethings always come out great like the acorn squash, green beans and the mash potatoes (that our friend Woody does each year). As far as meats we did two. A 22 pound fresh and never frozen turkey from Whole Foods (disclosure: I was not compensated nor work for Whole Foods). These turkeys are natural in that they have NOT been injected with salt or as they say on the label "enhanced". Very hard to find a turkey that has not been "enhanced" these days. This is not a cheap turkey at $64.56 but time is money and I did not have to take four days to defrost the turkey plus even harder to find a turkey that weighs more than 18 pounds and a 22 pound turkey fits perfectly into my smoker. So how did I prepare it? I used my "How to Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Smoker" recipe off this site. I am now a big fan of Dry Brine and I know I am biased but the turkey came out great.

The second meat was a 5 pound Prime Rib. If you think the turkey was expensive the prime rib is over the top. Also very few places carry prime rib or at least decent prime rib. This is an area that you really do not want to buy discount. The primary reason is the way beef is graded. Here is the breakdown right from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

USDA Prime is the superior grade with amazing tenderness, juiciness, flavor and fine texture. It has the highest degree of fat marbling and is derived from the younger beef. That's why Prime is generally featured at the most exclusive upscale steakhouse restaurants.

USDA Choice is the second highest graded beef. It has less fat marbling than Prime. Choice is a quality steak particularly if it is a cut that is derived from the loin and rib areas of the beef such as a tenderloin filet or rib steak. Generally USDA Choice will be less tender, juicy and flavorful with a slightly more coarse texture versus Prime.

USDA Select is generally the lowest grade of steak you will find at a supermarket or restaurant. You will find it tougher, less juicy and less flavorful since it is leaner than Prime and Choice with very little marbling. The texture of Select is generally more coarse. Therefore, Select is not nearly as enjoyable or desirable.

So to make this even more confusing you can actually buy a Prime Rib that is not Prime. Actually it is really hard to find a REAL Prime "Prime" Rib. If you shop at Costco or Sam Club almost all their beef is either Choice or Select so buyer beware.

Now I bought mine online from Werts' GW (disclosure: I was not compensated nor work for Werts' GW) and I bought their USDA Choice Angus Beef Prime Rib Roast - Four 5 lb. Boneless Roasts. When I got them they were packaged in four separate boxed so I used one for Thanksgiving and saving the other three for our trip out to California at Christmas (material for another article). I am sure you realize these were choice and not prime grade. Well the cheapest Prime "Prime" Rib I could find if I could find it was $42 a pound. At that price we take everyone out to dinner and forget the BBQ. So you will know I got the four roasts from Werts' for $249.99 plus $30.99 in shipping for a total of $280.98. That is $14.04 a pound so still not cheap but I think was worth it.

So how did I prepare it? I used my "Smoked Prime Rib" recipe off this site. One thing that is very important when cooking a roast like this. You have to use a remote thermometer. I used the IGrill2 that I have had for almost two years. So why is this important? The roast is not going to come up to temperature like a turkey that because of it mass will slowly come up to temperature. The prime rib is going to slowly come up to temperature until it reaches about 100 degrees and then it is going to shoot up very fast on it way to 140 degrees. If you are not watching it the roast will over cook and you will have a very expensive well done and dried out roast. My five pound roast was done in less than two hours (about thirty minutes faster than I thought) and the beeping Igrill2 saved me. Now how did the roast come out. PERFECT. The turkey was great but the prime rib was fantastic. Again I am biased but that prime rib was the best I have ever had, period.

Not to say we did not have our issues. Actually the IGrill2 started off not so good but let me explain why. IDevices (who make the IGrill thermostats) was bought out by Weber earlier this year. Now two good companies getting together is usually a good thing but Weber decided to redo the Igrill app. Now the Igrill app worked extremely well and the old saying of "if it's not broken then don't fix it" very much applies. Weber turned the IGrill app into a Marketing tool. So bad that when you start it up it actually tries and sell you more stuff including the the IGrill you already own or you would not be running the app. Well the second issue is that the app does not run well on a tablet (I try and not use my phone for BBQing). With most well designed apps when you turn the tablet so it is in landscape mode the app should adjust. Well Weber forgot to do that so if you have a Pixel C tablet like me and it has a keyboard (acts like a tablet stand) the app is now sideways and not really usable. I had to remove the keyboard and then made a make shift stand so I could see the display. Next issue is the app should keep your display from timing out but it does not so every few minutes the display goes blank, you have to then tap the screen and then if it is a secured device (like mine) have to reenter my pin again, and again, and again. I found an app call "No Screen Off" that at least fixed this issue but Weber really needs to do less marketing and more testing and designing if they want to sell more IGrill devices.

So you did not realize you were going to get an informal IGrill2 review but the best way to review is to actually do something like Thanksgiving and see how the real world works.

Appreciate you reading this.