Throughout most of my entire life I have experienced BBQ either by cooking with gas (natural or propane) or charcoal. I have never really experienced wood pieces/chunks or wood pellet BBQ until now. As someone who BBQs nearly every weekend all year round I need to have a reliable and versatile BBQ that can cook a variety of foods across different weather conditions. Unfortunately my gas BBQ that had served me well for an extremely long time had finally run its course and I need a new BBQ.
Deciding what type of BBQ to get was the next big question. I could go for another gas BBQ or get a charcoal BBQ. As an avid Joe Rogan listener he constantly talks and ravs about his Traeger wood pellet grill and how once you BBQ on one of those you will never go back to a conventional grill or another smoker again. I did a little more research on the Traeger products, watched a large number of YouTube videos and decided to give it a shot. I was not disappointed one bit after my first cook with it and will most likely never go back to a gas or charcoal BBQ again, and if someone asks what type of BBQ to get I would highly recommend a Traeger.
Once I got the new Traeger Ironwood 885 home and assembled I was extremely impressed by the build quality and finish (hell I was impressed by the product overall). Nothing on it looked or felt cheap or of poor quality which is hard to find in Australia in regard to a BBQ. Most BBQs in Australia I find no matter the fuel (wood, charcoal, gas) seem to be built from cheap or thin metal and are a little flimsy. Sure you can get some really nice ones but compared to the price of the Traeger they are significantly more expensive. I guess you can say that you get what you pay for.
Along with the Traeger Ironwood 885 I also picked up four different types of wood pellets; apple, mesquite, hickory and cherry. One thing I noticed when I was watching various YouTube videos was that to get the best sear and grill marks a specific grill plate was used, so I also picked up a GrillGrate suited for my Traeger (it came with a bonus GrillGrate Lifting Tool for easy movement of food). As I am not going to be storing my BBQ inside after usage I also needed a cover for it so I picked up an official Traeger cover which should protect it from the weather, and I also picked up a steel “cut proof” rope to tie it to my balcony fence to make sure no one steals my new grill.
WiFIRE and Mobile App
One thing that I really like about the Traeger Ironwood 885 is the ability to monitor the temperature of the grill, the temperature of the meat probe, the and approximate percentage of wood pellets remaining in the hopper all through WiFIRE (WiFi) and the official Traeger app from the Google Play Store.
Setting up the Traeger Ironwood 885 to communicate with my WiFi network was not difficult but to get the actual Traeger app to “see” and register communication with the Traeger Ironwood 885 was a little painful to say the least. To start the pairing and connection process for my grill to the app I just needed to scan the QR code under the hopper lid (nice touch). The onscreen instructions were all easy to follow but the app would fail to communicate with the grill. The first time it failed, it would just not register my WiFi network so I had to restart the process again. The second time it failed, it failed to communicate back to the grill after connecting to my WiFi network. When I tried the third time I had to factory reset the Traeger Ironwood 885 WiFi settings and clear the cache/memory of the Traeger app; but once I done that it worked perfectly. So setting up the official Traeger app and Traeger Ironwood 885 can take some time but it is worth it so bare with it and get connected.
The mobile app is extremely handy as I can monitor the grill from different parts of the house and get notifications when certain actions have been completed like reaching the desired temperature or if the timer I have set has expired. You can also easily increase or decrease the temperature of the grill without having to actually go to the grill. The Traeger Ironwood 885 also has the ability to Super Smoke and can be activated through the app (more smoke flavor for your food), along with the ability to keep the food warm using the Keep Warm setting. Once I am done cooking I can also easily shut the grill off incase I forget to turn it off after I have taken the food off the grill. If you want to get some recipes for various food products then there are numerous ones to be found in the app with all the information you need to get the desired results and you can even set your grill to the settings needed for the recipe.
Smoking and Grilling
For my first grill I wanted to try out smoking and reverse searing some New York strip steak without the new grill grates and see what the searing would be like using the Traeger supplied grates. The wood pellets I had used was hickory. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of the meat as I was just too excited to start eating to take pictures (sorry). The meat looked and tasted fantastic. The grill marks were barely visible but present and the meat itself had a perfect medium rare interior along the entire steak; I have never cooked meat this perfect before. I had Super Smoked the meat for about 30 to 45 minutes and then cranked up the grill to the highest temperature to sear the meat for about 3 minutes each side. Near perfect results 🙂
My second cook I tried using the new GrillGrate grates and also cook some vegetables. I started off by BBQing some corn and potatoes. Did not set the temperature very high and it let it go for around 45 minutes. Both the corn and the potatoes came out great. They had a nice hickory flavor to them. Once I got the vegetables done I turned the heat up all the way to the maximum my Traeger Ironwood 885 would go and placed my GrillGrate grates in there. All it took was around 3 minutes on each side to get the perfect sear marks. As you can see the meat came out fantastic. When I did the meat flip, I put the probe in and made sure that the did meat reach medium rare. I did go a little in the medium territory, but as I get more used to cooking with the Traeger I will get more precise with regard to the temperature to set and also how long to keep the meat on the grill per side.
Now that I had done some steak and vegetables, I’ll try some sausages and hamburger patties next as I do like my sausage sandwiches and homemade cheese burgers. Once I have some more confidence the brisket will be what I’ll be trying and having some family over. Using the Traeger Ironwood 885 has been an absolutely pleasant experience and will enjoy smoking and grilling a number of different foods with different wood pellets for the foreseeable future.