May 24, 2020
By Jessyca Sortillon
Great barbecue (I’m talking melt-in-your-mouth meaty goodness) takes time and is oh so worth the wait. But what if you don't have time to spend all day cooking and still want smoked brisket tacos? That’s when a BBQ temperature controller with Wifi and Bluetooth capabilities like Smartfire comes in handy.
Smartfire is an ingenious little gadget that turns your favorite charcoal barbecue into a hands-off, "set it and forget it" unit. When the bright orange device is connected to your cooker, it monitors the pit and meat temperatures using probe thermometers, and controls the pit’s airflow supply with its variable-speed fan to maintain a steady temperature. The controller comes with Wifi (and Bluetooth) so you can watch the progress via the app on your smartphone or tablet and adjust the temperature as needed. This means you can go grocery shopping, or run the kids to soccer practice – all while your meat safely cooks at home. With the Smartfire app, you’ll be able to keep a close eye on your food’s progress remotely.
Smartfire is easy to use and works with multiple types of cookers. I use Smartfire with my Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC) and let me tell you, it makes barbecuing and smoking easier than ever. It's especially useful when cooking tougher cuts of meat (ribs, pork shoulder and beef brisket) low and slow.
Smartfire is compatible with the following cookers:
- The Big Green Egg
- Kamado Akorn
- Pit Barrel Cooker
- ProQ Smokers
- Radar Hill Offset
- Smokin Jak Cabinet
- Weber (Kettle, SM)
Installing the Smartfire controller on your barbecue is simple. There’s no need to drill or unscrew bolts on most barbecues. Each controller comes with an adaptor specifically designed to fit your unit.
When I installed the Smartfire controller on my PBC, it was easy and straightforward. I attached the adaptor to the PBC by carefully bending the sides of the adaptor slightly to fit the inside of the barrel. I also bent the bottom of the adaptor so the screw hole on the adaptor lined up with the hole on the barrel, and then made sure the adaptor was flush against the inside. Once the adaptor was in place, I was able to connect the Smartfire controller to the PBC.
When I first used Smartfire I had some issues with the app disconnecting randomly on my phone, but with help from Mark Terrill, founder and inventor of Smartfire, and a simple change to my WiFi settings, I was barbecuing with Smartfire in no time.
My first cook using Smartfire involved a 7-pound pork shoulder in the PBC at 250 degrees. I opened the Smartfire app on my phone, setup my desired pit and food temperatures, cook times, and alarms. (The app has some great features and even saves past cooking sessions.) I set the target temperature of the pit to 250 degrees and the first meat probe to 160 degrees (so I knew when to pull the pork and wrap it in foil). The app was super helpful to monitor the temp inside the cooker and the meat. It was exciting to watch the progress on my smartphone! At one point during the cook, the pit temperature dropped drastically (seen on the graph in the Smartfire app image below). Instead of messing with the coals or adjusting the air vent to increase the temperature, I let Smartfire do its thing. The fan inside the Smartfire controller kicked on automatically, blowing small puffs of air into the pit for a hotter fire, eventually getting the temperature back on track.
I have the Super Summer Smartfire Controller Pack and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a must-have BBQ accessory if you value your time and don’t want to be tied to the barbecue during long cooking sessions. If you’ve been looking for a temperature controller for your charcoal barbecue, the Summer Smartfire Controller Pack has everything you need: BBQ controller, adaptor, storage case, pit and temperature probes, and automatic probe winders.
- Celsius and Fahrenheit configurable
- Ability to have up to 4 probes (1 pit and 3 meat)
- Probes operating range -40C to 350C / -40F to 660F
- Probe length 1.5M / 5'
- Controller operating tested range -10C to 55C / 14F to 131F
- Controller 106mm L x 43 W x 72 H / 4.17" x 1.69" x 2.83"
- Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n compliant using 20Mhz bandwidth setting
- Bluetooth Low Energy 4.2 (FCC ID: A8TBM70ABCDEFGH)
- Wireless security support for WEP, WPA Personal, WPA2 Personal (FCC ID: 2AEMI-PHOTON / IC: 20127-PHOTON)
Recipe: How to Cook Beef Brisket with Smartfire
One of the most challenging meats to smoke is beef brisket, but with the assistance of Smartfire, you can easily cook tender brisket every time. Here are step-by-step directions on how to make brisket with a Smartfire BBQ controller and its app.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 12-13 hours
- 1 whole, untrimmed “packer” brisket*
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup ground black paper
- 1/4 tablespoon celery seed**
- Olive oil
- Spritzing bottle with water and apple juice or your favorite beer
- 6 hickory and apple wood chunks
- Hardwood lump charcoal
*Ideally, you’d like to find a whole “packer” brisket, which includes both the “point” and “flat” cuts still joined in one piece. If your butcher doesn’t carry the full packer, then the point cut is your best option. The flat cut is also an option, but its lean nature makes it more difficult to render nice and tender.
**The celery seed can easily be switched to cayenne pepper for some heat, or garlic powder for a savory touch.
>> How to Choose the Best Beef Brisket and Tips on Trimming
- Trim the brisket using a good sharp knife. Leave about a quarter-inch of fat on the fatty side of the brisket, but make sure to get all the “hard fat” off as that part will not render during cooking. The other side of the brisket should show plenty of muscle fiber, so here you only want to trim any remaining fat so the meat is exposed to the rub.
- In a bowl, mix the salt, pepper, and 1/4 tablespoon of celery (or your choice of additional spice flavor) to create a rub. Drizzle the entire brisket with a little bit of olive oil (this will help the rub adhere), then sprinkle your rub to evenly coat each side of the brisket. You'll dust it with a bit more rub shortly, but any leftover rub can be stored for future use. Let the rubbed brisket rest in the refrigerator for about an hour or two.
- Once the brisket has rested, get your smoker up and running. When using Smartfire to control the entire cook, it's easiest to let the Smartfire controller do the work for you. Place the wood chunks at the bottom of the coal basket and layer the lump charcoal on top. With the coal basket full, you only want to light a few lumps of coal in a chimney (or use a single tumbleweed or fire starter cube). (Note: If using a Pit Barrel Cooker, put the lit coals on the opposite side of the basket from the vent where the Smartfire is breathing.)
- Next, open the Smartfire app on your smartphone and tap the first meat probe page. Select your meat type (cow icon) and then select “brisket.” Smartfire will default the target temperature to 195 degrees internal temp, so you'll need to boost that target to 200 degrees. (The “doneness” level will default to “Slow & Rest 1 hour.”) Lastly, adjust the “trimmed weight” to match that of your brisket. Now go to the pit temperature control in the Smartfire app and set the target temp to 230 degrees.
- While the pit comes up to temperature, retrieve the brisket from the fridge and insert the probe thermometer into the thickest part of the brisket. If you are cooking a whole packer brisket, use two probes with the second probe in the brisket flat, and make sure to label that second prob in the Smartfire app accordingly. Try to ensure the probes are inserted into the meaty portion rather than a fat layer as the fat will show higher temperatures.
- Place the brisket with inserted probes on the grate, fat side up. Sprinkle a little more rub onto the brisket to refill any gaps that appeared as you were putting it on the cooker. Make sure to connect the probes to the Smartfire controller.
- Let the brisket smoke until it reaches a 160-degree internal temp, spritzing every couple of hours. When the brisket reaches 160 degrees, wrap it in foil (with the shiny side of the foil on the inside). Pour about a ½ cup of your spritzing liquid over the top before wrapping and crimping the foil to ensure a tight seal.
Note: A large cut like the brisket will eventually reach “the stall” at which point the internal temperature will hover for quite a while. If you reach the stall a few degrees before the 160 mark, go ahead a wrap it with foil a bit early (every brisket is a bit different).
- Reinsert the probe thermometer(s) into the foil-wrapped brisket. Return the wrapped brisket to the smoker and cook until it hits an internal temperature of 200 degrees. Once the Smartfire sounds, the brisket will have reached 200 degrees. Double-check the doneness by inserting a wooden skewer (or another temp probe) into the meat, it should feel like your probing room temperature butter. If you’re getting a bit of resistance, let it keep cooking for a few more degrees (again, every brisket is a little different).
Note: How long you cook your brisket ultimately depends on the size of the brisket. Cook approximately 1 hour per pound.
- Once the meat feels done in your probe test, it needs to rest. Keep the brisket in the foil, and wrap the whole thing in a big beach towel to rest for an hour. The universally determined ideal place to let your brisket rest is in a regular old cooler. Because the brisket varies in thickness across the piece, the resting time will allow the heat to distribute evenly and the moisture to reabsorb into the meat.
- After an hour, turn the brisket out onto a cutting board and slice against the grain. Serve your brisket with a little brush of your favorite BBQ sauce, if you want. Of course, brisket is perfect on its own too.