I don't know what everyone would call real deal, but...
I bought one "scratch and dent" at the local Home Depot 8/4. Packing was beat up, but the cooker was intact without dents. $90. It was an intruiging design, and looked simple enough that even my non-cooking fiancee could manage it.
It is not a true smoker. It's an enclosed convection deal. You can put in wood chips to provide flavor. You can also put beer or other liquids in the drip pan. If anything, it is something like crossing a crockpot/dutch oven with a BBQ.
If you want a smokey flavor, use wood that is already very dry (I mean very, very dry. The kind you could set on fire with your reading glasses). Or, what I did was I added liquid smoke to the drip pan along with Yuengling lager.
The Good: It does cook fast. I've only done chicken and pork in it so far (I found this board looking for ideas for a BBQ this weekend.) I made 10 pork chops, with a mango chutney rub, on Saturday. From the start to finish, including the time to light the charcoal and place the meat on grates, it was 35 minutes. They came out perfect, moist and tender, and according to my handy thermometer, they were a parasite killing 175 degrees.
Unlike the impression of a few comments above, the charcoal is never in contact with the food, nor is the smoke from the coals. It is completely enclosed. This also means it is not a good tool for folks that like to play with their meat (yes, yes, I said it) while it cooks. As soon as you remove the lid (nearly the whole top half) the heat escapes, and you'll need to add more time to the process, and maybe add in more liquid to cover the vapor you just lost. If you use a dutch oven or crock pot often, this is a concept you've mastered.
Back to the charcoal: I think the maker recomends instant light because it lights quick and easy. I had to buy some, since I never cook with the stuff at home (don't need that stuff in my ribs, thank you). Since it never gets near the food, I can see why they recomend using it.
The Bad: Not a real smoker. If you are from the soak the wood school of cooking (like planking trout), you will get little if any flavor out of the wood. As I said above, liquid smoke works rather well.
It is also not very good for small jobs. You need to use a whole bag of charcoal to use this thing (the ones in the grocery, not the big ones from the hardware store). So if you are cooking for 2, you are wasting alot of coals.
Also not great for really big jobs. Not a comercial unit.
The Ugly: Not much to complain about here. Looks nice, cleans up easy (all the parts are stainless steel and can be put in a washer).
A bit pricey, unless you find it on sale (look for the fall sales at your local big box store).
All in all, I like the unit. Simple to use, has given me good results. Looking forward to trying a turkey in it when the heat drops down (so I can sit out side with it for 2 hours and not drip with sweat).
Now, for those that want to cry shill. Sorry, no. Just a guy that has a bit of a gadget fetish and a love of cooking. If I want a big batch of smokey goodness, I'll fire up the 50 gallon beast and work it all day. If I am having an impromptu party or going to someone's house to help the party, I'll pull the Orion off the shelf. Until I find a another shiny new toy, I suppose.
Originally posted by Larry - RibRater - Jay
If you go to google and type in orion cooker or orion cooker recipes this thread is second only to the orion cooker site (ahh the power of roadfood.com). all the 1 time posters in this thread APPEAR to at least be from the areas they say they are from.
could it be that this thing is the real deal and all these folks are real AND sincere? that we're all just jaded from to many ronco commercials?