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Started by 9ft4wt, May 20, 2010, 13:46:03 PM
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After about a dozen years, my Brinkman charcoal smoker is on its last legs and I am looking at getting a replacement.
I only smoke things about 3-4 times a year -- ribs, salmon, turkey, tri-tips etc so i don't need to invest a lot of money.
Thinking about going with either electric or gas -- like the idea of being able to adjust the temp and control it better than by adding charcoal.
Think I will stay away form the barrel type. Too hard to add water and move things around if you have to. Looking at one of the cabinet styles any of you out there are avid smokers, maybe you can answer my questions:
1. Do charcoal smokers provide better flavor than electric or gas? I kow it is the tiype of wood you use but not sure if the charcoal adds anything.
2. It seems to me that electric makes more sense than gas, propably cheaper for juice than it is gas. Do those of you with gas smokers find you use a a lot of it.
3. Some smokers require you to use their pressed hockey pucks or pellets for smoke. They seem pretty expensive are they worth it? Or is it better to use chips or wood chunks.
4. any brands or models you would recommend?
Just my humble opinion but there is no substitute for a charcoal/wood smoker. Now I can see the allure of a gas grill and have considered getting one just for the ease and quickness to use after work. For smoking butts, ribs, fish, etc I really like the chargriller super pro with the sidecar for your indirect heat. I am on my second one(first one got crushed by a tree that fell), and while they are perfect they are pretty darned good for the price which is around $175.Guests are not allowed to view images in posts, please Register or Login
I know its not the answer you were looking for, and working the fire isn't as easy as plugging it in, but to me that is just part of the enjoyment of slow cooking. I never have any complaints about my pulled pork or ribs.
Big Green Egg-a little pricey, but so easy to use, you can smoke or grill on it. I have timed it, and can be up to grilling temp in only 4-5 mins. longer than the gas grill. I use an electric coil starter that is quick and simple. Lump charcoal lasts a looong time so its cheaper in the long run, easy to add your choice of smoking wood chips, and no lighter fluid taste.
I cook a terryaki glazed salmon with alder wood that rivals the best I have had while living in the PNW, and I can have it ready in less than an hour on the same grill that I slow smoke ribs and turkeys on.
I have been using one of these with wood chips to boot that I add every hour or two. You really just have to watch the temp. on it and it does a good job. I have smoked ribs, chicken and plenty of pork butts in it.
Ceramic is simple and a joy to use. The flavor from the wood is tremendous. I've had a Big Green Egg for a number of years and they are great, but I recently purchased a Primo and I like the oval shape better than the round. They are made in U.S.A.
I'll second the Char-grill from Lowes. Had mine for two years and I love it. I use the gas grill on the week nights or if I'm trying to beat the rain, but if I have the time, I use the wood smoker. Had a bunch of oak hardwood flooring left over from a job and I've used that w/ hickory chips for ribs and pulled pork and it's been great. All you need is that, a cooler full of beer and a couple of cigars
( or whatever ) and you're all set.
I live in Memphis and I'm around a couple of BBQ contests each year, mostly in the amateur division. Here's what I've found with smokers- buy heavy. One of the reasons that Big Green Eggs are so effective is the ceramic construction allows them to hold temperature far longer than other smokers. If I'm not mistaken, they weigh over 150 lbs. This is great for several reasons. One- it's easier to find an ideal temp. and maintain it. Two- it requires less heat to maintain a temp. Three- it's less likely to get too cold when it rains or if the wind is blowing. A lot of this doesn't seem to be that big of a deal. After all, your'e just smoking every now and then and even heavy grillers only use their grills sixty or seventy times a year. The major downside to the ceramic smokers is price. They're damn expensive. My solution is to contact a welder and have him make me a grill/vertical smoker out of heavy walled steel pipe. My idea is to have a 3'-4' vertical 24" steel pipe with a fire box attached to the bottom. I'll have some drop in grates made and a coal tray for grilling. This will give me plenty of room for butts and chickens and I can hang ribs from hooks. I'm not sure how much it's going to cost, but I can guarantee that it will be far less expensive than a ceramic grill/smoker. Granted, the steel construction won't be quite as insular than ceramic, but it should get the job done. It will also be a little smaller than the BGE as well.
If you are going to only use it a few times a year and stick with a store-bought pit, this is the way to go. This model has higher quality materials than the other ones (thicker metal, better grates, temp gauges, etc). You really need to add the side smoker box to it, though. As long as you take care of it (I HIGHLY recommend getting the grill cover for it), it should last a LONG time. The side fire box will rust out and have to be replaced every couple of years, but they are less expensive. The reason the side fire box rusts out is due to the high heat created from burning wood in it. With this set-up, you should never really need to put fuel (wood, charcoal, etc) into the main chamber, which will keep said section from rusting out. I also recommend that you buy a can of the black paint/rust protector to touch up any spots that may get a little hot and lose their paint.
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