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Thread: Smoker Newbie

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Maryland
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    522

    Smoker Newbie

    So Im looking to buy a reasonably priced smoker for ribs and maybe some roasts. Whats the best kind. Gas seems like it would be the easiest to maintain temps with but how is the quality of the food compared to wood or charcoal smokers. I don't need any fancy thing just something easy to use for weekend cook outs. Thanks Guys!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Maryland
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    522
    anybody???

  3. #3
    The little round brinkman that burns charcoal works good and is low priced Lowe's & hdepot carry them.they come w/ a nice book w/ some pointers

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    NC/VA
    Posts
    85
    I have and use a cheap charcoal brinkman, I did however borrow a burner from a old turkey fryer I had so now I can slip it in for propane use, . I still use flavored wood in the water pan either way.
    with propane, I can set temp and walk away, with charcoal I have to constantly maintain the flame.
    I prefer the propane.
    Travel and work,

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Desert Southwest
    Posts
    686
    I bought a Brinkman last year and it works well for me. I use this most of the time unless I just want to use straight charcoal to cook faster.
    http://www.eldiablocharcoal.com/ When I put the Brinkman together I put the three legs on the outside so I could lift the smoker up and off the pan with the coals to add more and not loose any heat by opening the little door. I punched a few holes in the bottom pan for ventilation and set it up on red bricks to adjust the height. I also added an actual temp gauge in the top (~$12@ HD) and drilled a 1/8" hole in the very top to insert a temp thermometer (18" Turkey Fryer Type) through the top and into a roast.
    If you can't fix it with JB Weld, Duct Tape, and Ty Wire it has to be replaced.
    No good deed goes unpunished.
    If you want to take off friday to go fishing then make sure you train your helper right.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Desert Southwest
    Posts
    686
    I bought a Brinkman last year and it works well for me. I use this most of the time unless I just want to use straight charcoal to cook faster.
    http://www.eldiablocharcoal.com/ When I put the Brinkman together I put the three legs on the outside so I could lift the smoker up and off the pan with the coals to add more and not loose any heat by opening the little door. I punched a few holes in the bottom pan for ventilation and set it up on red bricks to adjust the height. I also added an actual temp gauge in the top (~$12@ HD) and drilled a 1/8" hole in the very top to insert a temp thermometer (18" Turkey Fryer Type) through the top and into a roast. You will not need to add any wood for smoke flavor as the El Diablo stuff is actually tree branches about 2-4" in diameter in chunks and burns for a long time.
    If you can't fix it with JB Weld, Duct Tape, and Ty Wire it has to be replaced.
    No good deed goes unpunished.
    If you want to take off friday to go fishing then make sure you train your helper right.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    813
    Quote Originally Posted by marylandtech View Post
    Whats the best kind. Gas seems like it would be the easiest to maintain temps with but how is the quality of the food compared to wood or charcoal smokers?
    I'll start by saying that I've been griiling and smoking meats all of my adult life, so it's almost instinctive to me. The internet has helped me refine my knowledge to my desires.

    I love to grill out. But smoking meats requires much more time, experimentation...but with far greater rewards. I relish in the idea that nobody could that...THAT way...except ME. Why? Because of my secrets in preparation!

    I personally prefer the taste and texture of meat smoked in charcoal smokers. Boston butts and briskets seem to gain a better bark - that outer smokey crust on the meat that's packed with so much flavor.

    However, while smoking ANYTHING can be a day long event compared to just grilling, using a gas smoker requires F-A-R less management than charcoal.

    CHARCOAL:

    Depending on the charcoal smoker you use, temperature swings are the problem. You get it too hot and the meat reaches temp too soon - with little smoking action & burnt outer layer when you weren't paying attention. On the other hand, you may think you got her stoked - smoking slow & steady, only to step out in the yard 45 minutes later to find that the fire went out.

    Again, the design and quality of the charcoal smoker can be the determining factor. Some low end charcoal smokers tend to starve the flame of air. So, if you go that route, you may decide to make some experimental modifications for better air flow to feed the fire. Then you can chaulk it up to your for secret for how great our pulled pork is.

    Personally, I 've never owned one of those with the horizontal offset smokers (smokebox on the side), but have always wanted one. Yes, the expensive ones. Monetary priorities limited me to experience using only the el cheapo cylindrical (vertical) ones with the domed lid.

    Now, for lighter loads (a half dozens chops, ten to twelve pieces of chicken or A rack of ribs), I'm perfectly happy just using my Webber Performer grill. It's a great grill and versatile enough to do smoking of small cuts of meat. a little improvisation here and there gets it done. I have enough experience using it BOTH ways to know what works best. I simply use my own crude version of the minion method to keep charcoal briquets going for hours with little attention needed. A pan of water in there keeps adds to the heat load for temp regulation - along with putting the humidity in there.
    I'll add that the minion method didn't work well with that el cheapo domed lid one the trash men picked up.

    GAS:

    I have a Master Forge version from Lowe's gas smoker. I like it. It's so much easier than charcoal, less oportunity to screw it up and so much more liesurely than charcoal.

    It's great for the long smokes of briskets or Boston butts and holds much more meat. It has four racks. I can smoke eight butts or 3-4 racks of ribs. It's not totally foolproof since there's no thermostat. However, the temperature swings are similar to how you're cooking - slow. If it was good at 4 pm but a little high at 5 pm, just tweek it down a little. So, there's far less concern on heat management, which allows for more time to watch the race on TV.
    I can get about five long smokes out of a bttle of propane.

    Honestly though, I rarely use it for the big loads anymore since I don't plan ahead like I used to -plus- smoking can almost become a possessive hobby. Anyway, if I want to do a light load of smoked chops or chicken and get it all fired up by mid-afternoon, I can go mow the grass or go have a few beers at the VFW...and come home to it being ALMOST ready.

    ADDITIONAL STUFF:

    COOK TEMPERATURE is everything for a successful smoke. Make sure that thermometer on the smoker is accurate. Low & slow cooking temp at 225 for beef & pork. 250 or so for poultry.

    TARGET TEMPERATURES are important for food safety and how you want your meat doneness to be (i.e., pulled pork internal temp goes above 200 degrees vice sliced pork is less) . Know your meat target tempertures and get you a good remote, digital meat thermometer (they're so convenient when remote).

    SMOKING TIME is really based on meat temperature and desired doneness. I have read repeatedly that once the meat reaches 140 degrees, there's no advantage to smoking any further. For my personal satisfaction though, I keep it smoking - even when wrapped in foil.
    For food safety, they say no more than four hours to go from 41 degrees to 140. Interpret that as you may. I'll certainly follow that rule for poultry & pork, but not so much for beef.
    One factor you'll run across is charts regarding cook time with reference to "per pound" of meat. Yes, that's somebody's determine "rule of thumb." However...when you're smoking the thick cuts, you'll experience a "stall" time. You can have two seemingly identical cuts of brisket, but one stalls at 143 degrees...or actually drops down to 140 for an hour or so. I never worry about it. Keed it chugging along at 225 and it will be fine.

    VACUUM PACKING became another expense when smoking. "So, I've spent ALL day smoking ALL this meat" (because I made it a day-long event). Now I want to freeze the extra for the future.
    Vacuum packing is the only way to go.Y
    our two prominent choices are SEAL-A-MEAL and FOODSAVER. I've had both. I recommend FOODSAVER.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Arnold mo
    Posts
    3,969
    You've got about 5 minutes to get the smoke into the meat; the reason why is something any HVAC guy can understand - heat flows from hot to cold. Hot smoke and cold meat gets that good smoke ring into the meat. Once the meat gets hot, shows over.
    Almost forgot to mention how good smoked dark turkey is. It comes out with almost a ham-like texture. One of my favorites is a de-boned turkey thigh smoked and served with peperjack cheese and bar-b-que sauce on a BIG bun.
    I've never had a problem with my cheap charcoal smoker as far as having to tend to the coals. I just let the coals get to a good burn and close it up and forget it for a few hours. I do brisket by itself 'cause it needs to come off sooner than say the turkey and pork.
    An answer without a question is meaningless.
    Information without understanding is useless.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    nebraska
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    http://www.tractorsupply.com//Produc...&storeId=10151

    Bought one last year on sale to 299 and like it a lot

  10. #10
    Ive got the brinkman shown here under vertical smokershttp://smokercooking-secrets.com/Propane-Smokers.html
    Picked it up at Lowes for under $100 and its perfect for a beginner like me. Does everything I need it to. Easy to set the temp, throw on a piece of wood and just leave it. Ive cooked some tasty ribs and chicken on it

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