UPDATE: It’s been 18 months. My TWO Slow’N Sears are always in use. The SNS improves the performance of a Weber kettle and I consider it a must-have accessory. It’s available on Amazon as well as ABC Barbecue website.
I’ve long been a subscriber to Alton Brown’s “Death to the Unitasker” philosophy. I don’t want clutter without a cause. Single use kitchen gadgets like mango-slicers and pineapple corers and strawberry stem removers are a waste of space and money. There are multi-tasking kitchen essentials that serve me just fine. I apply that same kitchen rule to backyard bbq equipment. I don’t want to deal with storing gimmicky gadgets like chicken roasters, pepper racks, and burger presses – especially if they consume precious grill collecting space! So when the Slow’n’Sear burst onto the bbq scene this last July, I was naturally skeptical. You can already smoke in your Weber kettle without investing in accessories. But the Slow n Sear promises to offer several advantages
The Slow’N Sear is the revolutionary new kettle grill accessory specifically designed to turn your kettle grill into a smoker and a blistering hot sear machine – all in one. From low ‘n slow pulled pork/brisket/ribs, to juicy burgers and chicken, to a perfectly seared steak, the Slow ‘N Sear brings it ALL to your backyard.
That’s a pretty hefty promise. Low-and-slow AND blistering hot sear machine? The BBQ Vortex tried making that promise too.
But The Slow’n’Sear has the legendary Meathead Goldwyn of AmazingRibs.com gold seal of approval! And Meathead wouldn’t pimp a product just to earn advertising dollars paid for every sale, would he?
“I am in love with the Slow ‘N Sear. It makes the Weber Kettle a better grill and a serious smoker. If you own a kettle [grill], this is the single best accessory ever invented for it.”
– Meathead Goldwyn, President and founder, AmazingRibs.com
Ok enough of the promises – wtf is this thing?
It’s a charcoal divider that has a built-in water pan, but there’s actually SCIENCE involved. The V-shaped water reservoir provides a thermal barrier between the heat and your meat, which is always a good thing, except for when it’s not. *GIGGITY* It promises to hold one quart of water and last over 5 hours at 225. The other side is a curved and angled charcoal basket that cooks for 8+ hours without refueling. It snugs up perfectly to the inside contour of the kettle.
Here’s the kicker – that outer basket acts as a heat shield too! Using the Slow’n’Sear kept the exterior surface of the kettle 300 degrees lower than the equivalent load of charcoal banked in the same configuration (same pit temp, same color grill, everything). This is a great solution for cooking in our vintage kettles without increasing the likely-hood of porcelain crazing.
Slow’n Sear: Build Quality
This thing is HEAVY. It’s built like a tank. Literally, 5 pounds of 16 gauge 304 Stainless Steel. It’s welded by hand right here in the USA. Some edges are rolled, others sanded – to prevent loss of fingers. (although one forum member DID report cutting himself as he removed the Slow n Sear from the box) The water pan, or trough, is very rigid, secure, and tight. The outer edge of the charcoal basket portion is perfectly tapered to align with the edge of the Weber kettle. It’s so precise that it tucks up perfectly under the cooking grate standoffs – unless you’re using two charcoal grates. It is very obviously well designed and thought out – not a folded piece of metal and a tiny chaffing dish like the Smokenator. It’s impressive. Kudos to the designers.
Slow’n Sear: Test Cooks
I’ve had this unit for several months and was able to run it through nearly a dozen cooks. I smoked several pork butts, several chickens, salmon, burgers, steaks. I left it in the kettle ALL of the time and tried to cook everything with it to see how it would perform. AND IT DID! The Slow’n Sear creates a perfect two-zone setup every single time. In fact, when I did the side-by-side spatchcocked chickens (say that three times fast!), the cooking surface of the NON-Slow’n’Sear grill was no longer hot enough to give the chicken any color. I ended up moving the chicken from one grill over to the Slow’n Sear grill just to sear. The Slow’n Sear maintained plenty of heat and was able to sear both chickens. Both grills had the exact same amount of charcoal and maintained the exact same vent configuration the entire time.
Smoking with the Slow’n Sear
Using the lighting instructions included, the Slow’n Sear managed 9+ hours at ~225 with Kingsford blue bag charcoal and two chunks of peach wood. On my 2nd attempt, I used CoShell Coconut Charcoal and pulled 11 hours at 225. It is worth noting that I did not use water on the CoShell smoke. Smoking with the Slow’n Sear was incredibly easy and straightforward. A first time user can achieve success with this without major obstacles.
Searing and Grilling with the Slow’n Sear
The beautiful thing about this product is its versatility. You can dump a chimney of hot coals into the Slow’n Sear and you’ll have a perfect hot zone and a well protected indirect zone. If you need a bigger hot zone, pour the coals into the open space, leaving the smaller area as a cool zone. You can leave the Slow’n Sear in the kettle at all times unless you need 100% of your grill to be hot (which is rare).
During some direct cooking tests, I found that the Slow’n Sear produced a hotter cooking grate than standard Weber charcoal baskets. However, two baskets together create a more usable hot zone and the temperature difference is too subtle to make a real difference. I did notice, again, that the SNS will maintain the hot zone longer than baskets. I believe this is the result of the steel walls of the charcoal chamber.
Slow’n Sear VS Smokenator
I have never been a big fan of the Smokenator. Apply the same Smokenator method to a grill with banked coals or fire bricks and you’ll get the exact same results. The Slow n Sear not only makes it EASY to smoke in your Weber kettle – it makes your Weber kettle a BETTER smoker and a better grill as well. The Slow’n’Sear water pan holds 1 quart (4 cups) of water, while the Smokenator holds 2 cups. The Smokenator banks coals against the side of your kettle, which WILL eventually damage the porcelain finish. The Slow’n’Sear protects your kettle from the coals and keeps the exterior surface cooler. The Slow’n’Sear can stay in your kettle all the time, which means you don’t need to worry about storing it (or hiding it from the wife.) The Smokenator needs to be removed and hidden because it’s ugly and pathetic.
Slow’n’Sear, 3 – Smokenator, 0.
Slow’n Sear Review: The Verdict
This is a no brainer. It’s a GREAT product. It’s perfectly designed. It’s made in the USA. It’s made with high-quality material.
It works for high heat or low and slow. It helps preserve and protect your Weber’s porcelain finish too!
It’s such a kickass product that I’ve already purchased another one to give to a friend as a gift. Oh, and best of all – it’s affordable. $89 from Amazon. Go buy it and share your results in the forums!
FULL DISCLOSURE: ABC Barbecue provided me with a free product in exchange for an honest review. The opinions presented here are 100% authentic and objective.
Purchasing the Slow’n Sear through any of the links provided will also benefit the Weber Kettle Club. Thank you for your support.