The test of a barbecue on a site that deals with technology: if they had told me only 3 or 4 years ago I probably would have struggled to imagine it. But here I am, complete with an apron, to tell you how it is possible to cook “American” ribs using the smartphone in the role of the scepter of power.
Let’s leave iOS 16 and MacBook Air M2 aside for a moment and start cooking. Yes, that’s right, today I’m talking about the Traeger Ironwood 650a barbecue, or rather a smoker and barbecue, powered by pellets and equipped with a wireless control system perfect for completing recipes in all simplicity and without having to always stick to the fire.
PACKAGING, ASSEMBLY AND FIRST START-UP
The Traeger Ironwood 650 comes in a rather bulky cardboard box and – whether you buy it online or in the shop – I recommend you get help from a second person for both transport and assembly. The barbecue, with its 66 kg of weight, is not exactly easy to maneuver, at least until it rests on its four wheels.
Inside the package you will find the whole central body already assembled, the four legs with their respective wheels, the bulkheads that connect the 4 legs, the lateral support surface and the grids in porcelain steel. These are the elements that you will need to assemble before putting your Ironwood 650 into operation.
The assembly itself is very simple and if you ask for help, it will really take a few minutes. In the package, in addition to all the necessary screws, Traeger also includes a screwdriver, an Allen key and a wrench, which are the basic accessories for assembly. If you want, you don’t even need to mess with your toolbox.
Once the operations are finished, we need to connect the power cable and complete the first start-up procedure. Within the settings menu, reachable via the controller in a few simple steps, it is therefore possible to start the heating procedure that allows you to load the pellets into the burner and ignite the flame for all purposes. At this point you must follow the instructions in the package to complete the procedure, keep in mind just over an hour to complete the cycle correctly.
Let’s start by talking about ours Traeger Ironwood 650. This is the “smallest” model of the Ironwood line which also includes the 885 model. The only difference between the two models is precisely the size and the number following the model name indicates the space available for cooking expressed in square inches, which are therefore 650 against the 885 of the superior model. To make it even simpler we could say that the 650 model allows you to comfortably manage a dozen seats while with the 885 you can easily reach 15.
It is, as already mentioned above, of a pellet-fueled smoker and barbecue and therefore composed of a hopper that contains the fuel (up to 9 kg), on the bottom of which we find a worm screw moved by an electric motor that makes the pellets fall into the burner. The higher the temperature required, the higher the rotation speed and, consequently, the quantity of pellets fed into the burner.
At the rear of the hopper we find the on and off button and one flap for quick pellet unloading. Once the cooking is finished, it is in fact a good thing to empty the container of the remaining pellets, especially if the barbecue is stored outside, where it may be that the humidity affects the consistency of the pellet itself. This quick unloading system also allows you to replace the pellets very quickly in case you want to change the aroma of the smoke between one cooking and another.
The whole structure appears extremely solid and you always have the feeling that you are dealing with a solution of excellent quality in all its details. As mentioned above it weighs a lot but, once assembled, moving it on its wheels will be much more comfortable than expected. The wheels are of good size and therefore allow us to move it safely and without too much effort even on uneven ground. Two of these are equipped with stops to ensure that once positioned it cannot move accidentally and rotate, thus facilitating all maneuvers.
Inside the cooking chamber, above the burner, there is a metal plate that allows the flame to be dispersed and the entire cooking area to be heated more evenly. But it does not end here because, always inside the central body, we find a ventilation system which in turn contributes to making the heat more uniform and preventing the smoke from stopping too much inside the cooking chamber going to excessively impregnate what we are cooking.
Compared to other smokers, in fact, it is not necessary to use the so-called chips for smoking but it is the pellet itself that gives the smoked flavor to the dishes. Precisely for this reason it is necessary that the diffusion of smoke is uniform and at the same time the quantity of smoke inside the barbecue is never excessive. At the same time, the fact of having a constant and effective air recirculation will also allow us to cook different types of food at the same time without contaminating each other.
And finally, good news also for what concerns cleaning. Treager has in fact thought of a system of disposable accessories that will allow you to always keep your barbecue clean without incredible efforts. In fact, it is possible to place specially shaped aluminum dripping pans on top of the diffuser positioned under the grids and easily replaceable once dirty. Similarly, on the left side, we find the bucket for the collection of excess fat, inside which an additional disposable aluminum bucket can be placed, also replaceable as needed in a few moments. The only element that requires a little bit of elbow grease are therefore the grids which, thanks to the ceramic coating, are however really very simple and quick to clean.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS AND DIMENSIONS
- Temperature range: 73 to 260 degrees
- Cooking surface: 650 in² (4194 cm²)
- Height: 119 cm
- Width: 114 cm
- Depth: 66 cm
- Weight: 66 Kg
- Power: 10.5 Kw
- Insulated side walls
- Fuel: Pellets
- Porcelain steel grids
- Loading capacity of the hopper: 9.1 kg of pellets
- Integrated probe for cooking chamber
- External probe for food temperature
- Self-locking wheels
- WiFi connectivity (2.4 GHz)
- IRONWOOD D2 CONTROLLER
- WIFIRE® TECHNOLOGY
- D2 DRIVETRAIN
- TRU CONVECTION® SYSTEM
- TRAEGER DOWNDRAFT EXHAUST® SYSTEM
- SUPER SMOKE MODE
- KEEP WARM MODE
THE SMART COMPONENT
And we come to the component that interests us most of all this Ironwood 650, that is the D2 controllerthe temperature and cooking time control system that can be done either manually, via the display and in controls on the hopper, or via the smartphone.
In manual mode, everything is managed via the clickable wheel and the physical buttons surrounding the display. The only operation that can only be carried out in manual mode is the ignition. This obviously to avoid that the barbecue is accidentally switched on remotely without anyone to control what happens.
Inside the menu we find all the necessary settings for correct management of the barbecue, from information on Wifi connectivity to the possibility of starting pre-set cooking cycles for certain recipes, up to the creation of new customized cooking cycles that can be based on the recipes present within the application.
And the application is the element that differentiates this product and that allows us to control all the cooking parameters without actually being present in front of the barbecue. The connection to the smartphone takes place via WiFiin a few simple steps and allows us to connect the barbecue directly to the home network and have it automatically connect to our smartphone every time it is turned on. Definitely to report the fact that the controller only supports 2.4 GHz networks.
The Traeger app interface is very simple and intuitive and offers controls for the temperature of the cooking area and the timer for setting the duration of the same; in addition of course to the buttons for activating special functions such as Super Smoke and Keep Warm.
In addition to not necessarily having to be within reach of the barbecue to change the cooking temperature, the application is also an important aid because it warns us through notifications when certain events occur. The expiry of the set timer, the reaching of a pellet level that is too low, a sudden drop in temperature are all events that will be immediately signaled, allowing us to always have the situation under control.
VERSATILITY AND RELIABILITY
If I had to describe in two words the peculiarities of this solution I would say absolutely versatility and reliability. Versatility because with this Ironwood 650 it is really possible to deal with very different cooking methods according to needs and with results that are always noteworthy. From long cooking at low temperatures to more rapid and violent ones which can be completed by lowering the grill near the burner and raising the temperature to the maximum, thus obtaining the classic caramelization.
Temperature control is the other fundamental element of the whole issue and that’s what pushes me to talk about reliability. The barbecue heats up very quickly and, once the temperature is reached, the accuracy with which it is maintained is excellent, in the order of 3-4 degrees of maximum difference. Precisely for this reason it is possible to face very long cooking without surprises or unexpected results.
Being able to control everything from your smartphone is an added value that should not be underestimated, which allows you to focus on other preparations without fear that something will go wrong. As for simplicity in managing the flame and cooking, we are very close to a gas barbecue, but the adjustments are automatic and the flavor we get is closer to that of classic charcoal, without the risk of overdoing the smoke.
To further increase the characteristics of practicality and reliability we also have the probe for the integrated meat that integrates perfectly into the control system, both manual and smartphone, and allows to keep under control in an optimal way the cooking level of the meat.
And let’s talk about the price. Surely we are not talking about a cheap product but in my view the price is fully justified by the quality of the product and by all the features and technologies we talked about above. The price list speaks of 1,799 euros for the model we tested and rises to 2,099 for the Ironwood 885.
You can obviously also spend less, the Ironwood line is in fact positioned in the middle of the Traeger range but going down a step we have the Pro models that retain most of the main features of these Ironwoods with a decidedly lower price.. The Pro 575, which we could define as the basic range, starts at 1,099 euros and it goes up to 1,499 for the Pro 780. If, on the other hand, you are a lover of trips out of town but still don’t want to give up your barbecue, Traeger offers the Ranger model, portable, based on exactly the same principles but without connectivity, for around 650 euros.