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Smoker Bleg

I am considering getting a smoker, so Bitter and I can make our own BBQ.  I’ve had a few recommendations.  Caleb suggests the Traeger line, but I’m looking for something a bit more application specific, since I already have a grill.  I was thinking about buying this electric smoker.  I figured electric would maintain a constant temperature better, and I’d only have to add new wood chips, rather than also having to add charcoal constantly.

But I have to admit that I know almost nothing about smokers, short of you put in wood chips, water, and somehow through heat and time this is transformed into BBQ.  Is an electric smoker a sin in the eyes of BBQ?  I do not wish to be a heretic.  I figure among all the guns nuts out there, someone has to be able to help a dumb yankee figure the ins and outs of smokers and BBQ.

24 Responses to “Smoker Bleg”

  1. Robb Allen says:

    If you can afford a Traeger, they have some nice models that will add the wood automatically. A buddy of mine has one and what comes off his grill is to die for.

  2. Slowstdy says:

    http://www.traegergrills.com/shop/Details.cfm?ProdID=138&category=16
    This has to be the one, there can be no question…

  3. Alan says:

    I use a horizontal 55 gallon drum with a fire box welded to the side.

  4. Bill says:

    With the Traeger units you’re locked into their pellets as fuel. For a reasonable size investment there is the Weber Smokey Mountain at a reasonable price.

    Easy to store, works well, cheaper than some of the other types. See http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/ for more data.

    If I were doing large batches of barbeque, I’d want an offset smoker, but this has not failed me in 8 years.

  5. Andy says:

    The Big Green Egg is the standard by which others are measured.

    But, BBQ is all about low temp cooking using indirect heat for a long time. Smoke is a flavoring, not a cooking element. It is the hot air from the firebox that is actually doing the cooking, at least in the context of a wood fired smoker. As such, any heat source will do, though wood/charcoal do provide that nice smoke element.

    All that said, it isn’t the gun that makes the shooter, it isn’t the smoker that makes the cook. My weber silver b with a nice prepared wood tray and about 4 hours of time does a nice job. I’ve also had excellent Q that was made in a converted drum like an above poster, as well as hogs on a spit over a pit (that’s usually a 24 hour cooktime). So, you can probably hone skills with what you have, then move up.

  6. LC Scotty says:

    I luuurrrve my Weber Smokey Mountain. It’s a wood/charcoal fired smoker with 2 grates (18″ dia) stacked vertically (think a tylenol on it’s end.) I also have a New Braunfels style (Char-Broil silver smoker) horizontal offset fire box unit that works well, but it’s deceptive. It looks like it should cook a lot more meat than it does.

    It will easily do anything from Brisket to sausage, with minimal fidgeteng. You can even start a smoke late at night, get some shuteye and have your brisket ready for lunch.

    To really appreciate it, google “virtual weber bullet” for all manner of input on how to use it, pitfalls etc.

    Finally, go here (http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/faq2/toc.html) for the end all be all FAQ of BBQ

  7. Graumagus says:

    When you do finally decide on a model, and after you test it out a bit you MUST make one of these:

    http://www.bbqaddicts.com/blog/recipes/bacon-explosion/

    The Bacon Explosion is positive proof that any religion that forbids pork is inherently flawed.

  8. Greg Grueninger says:

    I use an propane smoker, I only smoke 2 hours max. rest of the cooking is in a bag in the oven. Smoke only adds to meat for the first hour or 2. then it just cooks the meat. SO, why dry out your meat after you smoke it. HAM, power smoke for 2hr, then bag it with 7up soda for 250 for 4 hrs in the oven and WOW., great smoke and great ham.

  9. Gator says:

    I’m very happy with my Brinkmann electric smoker. It was only about $70 or so. It has two racks/grills and a water pan.

  10. M Gallo says:

    I think “liquid smoke” is the only heresy in BBQ; anything else is simply innovation in your own secret recipe.

  11. hsoi says:

    Next time you’re in Texas look me up and I’ll show you some of the best BBQ. :-)

    If you’re starting out, do you want to start out with THE thing right out of the gate or find what works for you? I mean, does the first time gun buyer buy a custom STI 2011? Or might it be better to go and try a bunch of guns out, find the right fit and gun for you? Point is, don’t worry about going expensive. In the end, it’s just about a box to hold in heat and smoke… beyond that, it’s all gadgets.

    For instance, I use a plain old Weber grill and do some great smoking on it. I did mod the lid to put in a proper 3rd party thermometer, using some baskets to hold coals on the side, and the grill grate with the flip up “ends/sides” is good to allow putting more fuel in while she’s working. It works great and I can direct grill, indirect grill, BBQ, smoke, whatever, and it turns out great and didn’t cost me a fortune. The only downside is the grill surface isn’t that big so I’m limited on quantity. But I’ve smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving on this thing, just can’t do more than about a 20# bird.

    Electric could be OK. All depends what you want. IMHO, they’re not as flexible, but I know some folks that do things like dedicated jerky making and thus a dedicated electric smoker set up just for that is perfect for them.

    For me, I’ve dealt with just about all the varieties, and while I admit some pull now and then to other means and mechanisms (e.g. gas), I’m sticking with just plain old charcoal and wood fuel. Keep it simple. IMHO it’s more versatile and flexible, and darn if it isn’t just fun to stand around with your buddies, drink a beer, and poke at a fire. :-)

    Point is, don’t feel a need to buy something with all the gadgets and cool stuff. Do do some homework and learn about things, what materials are better, and so on… don’t buy some totally cheap-o thing that only serves to be a frustrating experience. But no need to buy something wicked expensive or gadget cool…. because just like good shooting is more about the shooter than the gun, good BBQ’ing is more about the chef than grill/smoker.

  12. SayUncle says:

    I am quite happy with my brinkmann smoker that I got at Lowe’s. you can see it here:

    http://www.saysuncle.com/2006/07/14/smoking-2/

    Works great. Had it for six years now. Going strong.

    And if you’re using an electric or propane smoker, then it’s not a smoker.

  13. Sebastian says:

    All the electric does is provide the heat. The smoke is still provided by burning wood chips.

  14. Robb Allen says:

    Concerning the whole electric / propane / heat from combusting a hippie, I’d be willing to bet 99.9% of the populace couldn’t tell you the difference if you provided them samples from each kind.

    I found the same thing in wines. Most people can’t tell the difference between red & white wines, much less if the grapes got too much sun or were picked with the wrong hand. But people like to argue those point ad naseum.

  15. Sebastian says:

    I can usually tell the difference between a 7 dollar bottle of wine and a 20 dollar bottle of wine, but I can’t really tell the difference between a 20 dollar bottle of wine and a 40 dollar bottle of wine.

    As far as BBQ goes, I think when I get whatever smoker I end up getting, and I’m sure Bitter will agree, that we should start off with some nice North Carolina pulled pork BBQ. Yum Yum!

  16. Robb Allen says:

    Eastern NC? The good kind with vinegar and crushed red pepper?

    TO DIE FOR!

  17. Sebastian says:

    I like Carolina BBQ. But if I tried to feed it to Bitter, it probably would be to die for… namely that she’d kill me :)

  18. Bitter says:

    And here I thought you loved me. There will never ever be any Carolina bbq in my house. Ever.

  19. LC Scotty says:

    One last point, Sebastian-I am a yankee that lives in Buffalo, NY. I make ribs that would be right at home in any decent KC rib joint, brisket that would be at home in the pan handle and both kinds of Carolina pulled pork. Don’t let anyone kid you that we can’t make great Q just because of a geographical accident.

  20. Sebastian says:

    I am sure I will be able to eventually, but I grew up in an area where learning how to BBQ meant learning how to grill. I have no cultural experience with making my own, or the equipment to do it.

  21. Peter says:

    This could be the start of a decent survey, if you were to correlate the styles of smoker with Glock/1911 ownership. And 9mm vs. .45ACP.

    :)

  22. Andy says:

    Growing up with BBQ just means that some of us got a head start, but we’re happy to drag/bring/launch you up to speed.

    And my vote is a TX dry rub, personally.

    As for the smoke and bag tricks, I’ve also braised ribs for 3 or 4 hours and then slapped ’em on the grill for a nice glase with a good sauce. It isn’t BBQ, but it’s good.

  23. emdfl says:

    All of this foolishness about who makes the best smoker and what’s the best way to smoke – bah.
    When I was working in the upper Canadian Northwest Territories( Fox Basin area), I BUILT a smoker out of a 30″X30″X10′ wooden crate, four used refrigerator racks and a 220 volt stove element. I used old canvas hose as a gasket on the door(made from the box lid).
    The 220v stove element at the bottom of the crate was hooked up to a 110v line. A metal pan with chunks of oak(cut up from the skids on other crates) was put on the burner.
    The refrig racks were mounted at the top and about 20 pounds of Artic Char split and laid on the them(soaked in a salt brine for about two hours).
    Close door and come back in 18 hour to replace the fish. This is cold smoking.
    We ended up smoking about 400 pounds of fish in about a week. We carried coolers full of smoked fish all over the Territories for the next month or so while we were working.
    And anybody who has eaten fresh-caught, oak-smoked Char would spit on what passes for smoked salmon down here in the states.
    And for those who are into fishing, the best we did in one day was ~100 pounds of cleaned fish caught in a little over one hour.

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