Coming up with a brief description of the Orion Cooker may be the most difficult thing about it. Basically, it is a charcoal-fired, stainless steel convection oven, where the completely enclosed cooking chamber separates the flame from the food. The Orion Cooker is just as good as your oven at cooking everything from racks of ribs to whole turkeys—you can even add smoke flavor. This is a great "cooker" for large meals, tailgating, and for getting foods cooked quickly (a 20-pound turkey will be done in 2 1/2 hours). There are many pros to the Orion Cooker, but the few cons could deter you from purchasing one.
Features of the Orion Cooker
The Orion Cooker is completely made of 304 stainless steel construction. The large capacity cooking chamber is capable of cooking eight racks of ribs or three Boston butts, as well as a large turkey. The unit comes with a poultry stand, three rib racks, three cooking racks, a lifting handle, and a drip pan, as well as stay-cool handles on the lid and a large capacity charcoal pan.
The body of the unit is a sealed chamber that holds heat, moisture, and smoke. Smoke is generated by setting wood chips against the outer edge of the cooking chamber in close proximity to the burning coals outside.
The cooking fuel is charcoal, which is placed around the bottom to generate heat. About a dozen more briquettes are put in the cup on the top. This indirect heat creates a convection current within the cooking drum.
Pros of the Orion Cooker
There are many positive aspects of the Orion Cooker, from its cooking speed to its versatility. The combination of convection, intense heat, and captured moisture (as long as you don't remove the lid while cooking) allows this unit to turn out large pieces of meat in a short amount of time—about half the amount of time as a traditional smoker. Also, the included features, such as hooks to hang racks of ribs, a poultry stand, and three stacking cooking grates, give the Orion Cooker amazingly versatile cooking abilities. In addition, the 304 stainless steel construction is solid, and the size allows for cooking large quantities of food.
Cons of the Orion Cooker
If there is one negative thing to say about the Orion Cooker, it is how much it costs to heat it. The unit consumes large amounts of fuel—you will need about 15 pounds of charcoal to fire up the Orion Cooker. So, if you are not going to cook large quantities of food at a time, this makes it an expensive unit to use.
It is also recommended that you use self-lighting charcoal since there isn't an easy way to light the unit otherwise; you need to place the charcoal in two separate rings, which does not allow you to use a tool like a chimney. So, if you're not a fan of the smell of lighter fluid (although keep in mind it won't permeate the food), this cooker may not be for you.
If you are interested in using it as a smoker, be prepared that there is limited smoke generation—while you can smell and taste the smoke, it is a little weak.