BBQ SMOKER RECOMMENDATION
I want to buy a smoker this year and don't know which brand/model to get. I want a good quality, authentic smoker, not a smoker attachment to a grill, etc.
If anyone LOVES their smoker and cares to share the name with me, I'd appreciate it.
I can just taste the brisket now! Mmmmmm!
My smoker is a New Braunfel's Smoker, made in New Braunfel's, Texas. It has the separate fire box and plenty of room for a couple of brikets and several racks of ribs. I'm from Texas so smoking is THE thing to do. When I fire it up here in Alameda I get lots of folks sniffin' the air.
You might check with Bar-B-Ques Galore, that's were I got mine in Texas. Assembly required and a buddy would be nice since it's very heavy. This isn't a cut up barrel, it's heavy steel.
I've cooked a whole turkey and four racks of spare ribs at one time on my Weber Smoky Mountain. It's as versatile as any home cook would ever use it for.
I've cooked two whole 14 pound briskets at once, I've cooked 6 7-pound pork butts at once and I've cooked 8 whole racks of spares at once on it. I've also done cooks with 6 whole chickens at once or two whole hams, or two turkeys. The sucker will hold enough any home cook would ever want it for.
That's a pretty broad question-- there are many makers. Klose BBQ Pits (bbqpits.com) out of Houston made my cooker and it's a gem-- grill, smoke, bake, roast, etc...You name it. Of course, it weighs about 2,000lbs and costs about that much (or more...).
If that's out of your price range-- look at Tejas Smokers (tejassmokers.com) or Lang (pigroast.com) for log burners to get some ideas. The Weber Smoky Mountain is very affordable, effective cooker-- uses charcoal and wood chips or chunks. Very easy to get the hang of, but doesn't really let you play w/ fire much. Similar to those, but ceramic are the Big Green Egg and Kamodo cookers.
Similar philosophy, but insulated steel-- look at Backwoods-Smoker.com, Spicewineironworks.com
Those all will require shipping costs, or you can go to Lowes and get a chargriller w/ a side firebox for about $200 or a Silver Smoker at Home Depot and see if you're into the 'que for real and then step up to something more expensive....
I know nothing about smokers, but my friend just bought the Bradley (Lazy-Q electric style) smoker on this Top 10 Under $400 list. He did his own research independent of this list.
What do others think? His first try out turned out well, but he needs to figure out the timing a little more (hardly the smoker's fault).
if you are getting started, I really can't think of anything better than a Weber Smokey Mountain as a few others have recommended. It's just so stinkin easy to use, but you get a real Q product - no electric, etc. They learning curve on it is really, really fast. And once you do, it's about as easy to use as an oven. I can load it full up with charcoal, get it going and let it go for 16+ hours without touching it.
Offsets (smokers with a firebox attached on the side) are great if you get one good enough. If you get one, you need one with a very heavy gauge steel. The cheap ones aren't worth it at all - trust me. You'll be fiddling constantly to keep the temperatures where you want it - they just don't work well. Obviously, the high-end offsets, like Klose pits, etc., are awesome. But you probably aren't going to be forking out a few grand.
Plus, the WSM has a good capacity. See my post below.
If you decide to get it, all the info you could ever hope for in using it, cooking Q, getting started, etc. you can find at www.virtualweberbullet.com. Check out the forum there for some great info.
Good luck. Once you start smoking for real, you won't ever go back. But beware, you'll also immediately become a BBQ snob and realize that you can cook Q far better than you can get at 99% of BBQ restaurants.