[dropcap]E[/dropcap]very now and then we stray from the fishing products and check out some really cool outdoor gear. The last week, we checked out the best slow cooker we could find in the market, and reviewed it. And this week, we had the opportunity to test and experiment with a very cool and simple outdoor cooker. The Orion Cooker is an outdoor, charcoal powered, convection cooker that reduces cooking times and leaves meats juicy and tender. Priced at $150 (currently includes free shipping), the Orion had me skeptical about it’s construction and effectiveness. After 2 uses, my skepticism had vanished.
So here’s the deal. The Orion takes 20 minutes to assemble. All of it’s parts are stainless steel and nicely manufactured. There are three racks for holding food and a removable drip pan in the bottom. All charcoal is placed outside of the sealed cooking chamber in ring around the base of the cooker and in a small charcoal bin on the top of the cooker. To achieve smoke flavor, wood chips are placed between the drip pan and the inside of the outer ring of the cooker. Cook times are impressive with a 20 pound turkey taking only two hours and fifteen minutes. To achieve these impressive cook times and tender, juicy meat, the Orion uses convection heat, smoke (optional), and the steam from the internal juices of the meat (no water is added). Because the cooking chamber is sealed, the steam stays in the chamber. Also included with the cooker are integrated rib hangers and bird stand for keeping turkeys in just the right cooking position.
On my first use of the cooker, I simply placed chicken wings on the racks after rubbing them with a seasoned salt, brown sugar, coriander, smoked paprika mixture. I lit the charcoal and came back an hour later to really tender wings with a really pleasant smokey flavor. The following evening I had guests for dinner and showcased the Orion’s finer points while cooking two free range chickens with the same rub from the wing recipe the night before. An hour and 15 minutes later we removed the birds and broke them down on a cutting board. These birds brought rave reviews from my dinner guests. Again, wonderful smoke flavor, super tender and juicy meat prevailed. An interesting bit of feedback that I received is how much people enjoyed the very supple and tender skin. Because there is steam involved, the skin doesn’t become crispy but comes out like buttery velvet. It is tender and just disappears in your mouth. This was a unique factor that was a pleasant surprise.
Check out their Youtube video and their website to learn more about the Orion if you are interested in a very simple and affordable method of outdoor cooking that yields excellent results. There really is nothing that one can screw up with this process. I won’t be dismantling our pig roast pit just yet, but will certainly be utilizing this simple and easy cooker frequently. We are going to do racks of ribs later in the week and probably try the turkey in November.