Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Computer-Controlled BBQ

The vents and cooking procedure are managed by software on your computer
  [vote for,

I have a smoker which I rarely use because 1) I'm just not patient enough to wait that long for food, and 2) I am not usually willing to be available for hours while my food slowly cooks to adjust the air vents based on time and temperature inside

I also have a barbecue which I use more often, but I'm sure lifting the lid to check on the meat messes up the cooking temperature, and I'm never sure how far to open up the vents. I'd like it to be more hands-off and take some guesswork out of how long to cook the meat.

This would be easy to do with a gas grill since you could also adjust the flame level, but I like food cooked over a wood or charcoal fire better.

So the basic idea is to have a smoker/barbecue grill that has air vents and both an air-temp and a meat-temp thermometer built in. The grill would connect to your home's wireless network and come with software to install on your computer which comes with many pre-set cooking procedures, and an interface to enter in your own instructions if desired.

You start the fire and get it good and settled and hot, put the meat on the grill, stick the thermometer in the meat, then close the lid and click "Start" on the software's cooking screen.

It will do all of the measuring, venting, and timing for you - whether it's for burgers over a flame for a few minutes, or a hunk of meat smoked for hours. It will also alert you if the fire gets too low/cool and you need to add wood or charcoal.

Then, it will pop up on your screen and sound an alarm on the grill when your meat is cooked to the desired doneness!

Only problem would be when darned Windows updates itself and reboots the computer. So, the grill would have to have some sort of indicator to alert you that it is disconnected from the software and you need to finish it manually.

paix120, Dec 01 2009

The commercial version R_2eA_2eR_2eE_2e_20S_2eT_2eE_2eA_2eK_2e
[normzone, Dec 01 2009]


       You could actually do this fairly cheaply with a controller for a ceramics kiln. These are small computers, 'hardened' to withstand high temperatures (e.g. the controller we have at home is bolted to the side of a kiln which goes up to 1250°C) and connected to a thermocouple and heating elements. They allow a complete firing profile to be programmed, including the rate of increase and decrease of temperature, the peak temperature and how long you want that peak to be held.
hippo, Dec 01 2009

       The problem with using a ceramics kiln controller is that you program it with a desired air temperature as a function of time.   

       Instead, we (probably) want to program the target air temperature as a function of the food's internal temperature.   

       To make this idea more full featured, I'd add a few more (easily bakeable) features...   

       An auger to feed wood/charcoal in as the food is cooking.   

       Insulation, so less fuel is needed. Or just use a Big Green Egg as the basis of the device.   

       An exhaust/intake heat exchanger, also to reduce fuel consumption. If possible, this would have a hygroscopic coating and be water permeable, thus increasing the moisture level of the air entering the oven. More moisture in the air equals less moisture lost from the food during cooking.   

       A convection fan, to decrease cooking time (and consequently decrease fuel consumption). Yes, I know that the whole point of smoking food is a slow-cooked experience, but occasionally time is of the essence.   

       A catalytic converter, just before the exhaust/intake heat exchanger, to destroy smoke and toxic fumes.   

       A catalytic continuous cleaning coating on the interior of the oven.
goldbb, Dec 01 2009

       if time is of the essence perhaps selecting a smoker for cooking is a poor choice...
rocdoc, Dec 01 2009

       I like it: I like barbecue but it takes too long. My only complaint is that this will likely lead to a gaggle of "computer-controlled X" ideas, where X is cars, houses, luggage, pets, geese, or similar. Most of these are baked.
sninctown, Dec 02 2009

       [hippo] - cool, thanks for the info.   

       Thanks for the additions, [goldbb] - that sure is a full-featured version!   

       [rocdoc] - the idea is you could program it to grill OR smoke, see "whether it's for burgers over a flame for a few minutes, or a hunk of meat smoked for hours"   

       [sninctown] - yes, but that shouldn't keep us from posting the ones that are good ideas and aren't baked yet :)   

       [21 Quest] I KNEW someone would post a "grilling is an art" comment quickly. Yes, I know people, (especially men) get enjoyment out of perfectly grilling a cut of meat over the flame. Some of us, however, aren't that skilled at the "art" (or as patient) and would like to have perfectly-grilled meat at home without having to be an expert.   

       [normzone] haha nice one. I didn't think about having a live-readout of all of the stats during the cook process, but since the software has to know it anyway, it could easily be displayed on-screen!
paix120, Dec 03 2009

       I'm good at the marinading and sauces, just not the flame-cooking :)
paix120, Dec 04 2009


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