Country Smokers

 

Dansons, the manufacturer, is headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and started marketing pellet cookers not too long after Traeger started putting cooking pellets on the map. They also make Louisiana Grills. Among pellet cooking enthusiasts, Dansons is an established name with some history to it. The units are powder coated (that’s good) 14 or 16 gauge steel (depending on model) with a basic cylindrical barrel shape. There are sizes for very casual back yard use on up to cavernous capacities large enough to handle catering and competitions. To keep them in the lower end of the price spectrum, however, there are no high-tech controllers, insulation, meat temperature probes, remote controls, or other bells and whistles.

The TG300 Tailgater is the smallest of the family, and may well be the smallest pellet smoker anywhere, with dimensions compact enough to stash away in an RV or haul to the ballgame along with the coolers and camp chairs. Its 14.5 by 20.5″ grid, 297 square inches, is big enough to do a batch or burgers or even smoke a small brisket. At a hefty 72 pounds it won’t be easy for one person to tote, though. Remember, even at the game and campsites, it requires an electrical outlet.

country smokerCS-450, CS-570, and CS-680. These barrel shaped units are variations on a theme in that the only thing that changes is size. The number following the CS designation is an approximation of the cooking grid size in square inches. All have variable temperature controllers shared with Dansons Louisiana Cooker line, smallish side-mounted 12 pound pellet hoppers, porcelain cooking grids, and a temperature range advertised as from from 180 to 600°F.

Whole Hog. Dansons makes two more Country Smokers aimed at caterers and competitors or perhaps even a backyard chef looking for lots of space. The Whole Hog is basically two CS-680s mounted end-to-end to create a grid space of 21.75 by 60″ – large enough for a small hog or numerous large cuts. The cooker also has a clever removable partition so that both sides can be independent of each other (handy in competition cooking).

whole hog smokerSuper Hog. This is the biggest Country Smoker. It stretches all the dimensions to reach a claimed 2,400 square inches of workable cooking surface and includes a warming rack but is the same side-by-side, two controller, two hopper approach used on the Whole Hog.

Real estate sales folks call something with lots of room for a basic price a “space buy” and that’s what I’d call the Country Smoker line. Prices are extremely competitive for the sizes (in the $600 to $3,000 range) and dealers may offer them with packages including shelves, covers, hopper extensions, and cabinet enclosures. If you don’t worship the latest high tech and don’t need glitz and stainless (just lots of cooking space for the buck) check the website for the dealer locator.

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