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BBQ SMOKER RECOMMENDATION

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mike May 4, 2006 04:18 PM

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!

  1. m
    Monty May 4, 2006 04:24 PM

    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.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Monty
      g
      Glenn May 4, 2006 04:28 PM

      My recommendation is a Weber Smokey Mountain. It is easier to operate compared to a stick burner. I can do overnight cooks with mine (and I sleep for at least 8 hours). For about $200 it is unbeatable. Use lump charcoal.

      http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/ind...

      1. re: Glenn
        j
        Jim Washburn May 4, 2006 04:35 PM

        My recommendation also. I've had mine about 7 years. It's a great cooker and very durable.

        Jim

        1. re: Jim Washburn
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          dayle long May 4, 2006 05:01 PM

          the hubster has a Smokey Mountain series propane smoker that he absolutely loves. bought it online for less than 200

        2. re: Glenn
          o
          ODB May 4, 2006 04:39 PM

          What about using wood?

          Man can not smoke on charcoal alone.

          1. re: ODB
            a
            adamclyde May 4, 2006 09:13 PM

            you can certainly add wood for smoke in a WSM. Pecan and hickory being my current favorites right now. You just can't do only wood for your heat and fuel source.

        3. re: Monty
          b
          beteez May 4, 2006 04:54 PM

          I agree it is so much more versatile than a bullet type smoker. I got mine preassembled at home depot. Gonna do a picnic turky & ribs this weekend which you could not do on the weber.

          1. re: beteez
            a
            adamclyde May 4, 2006 09:17 PM

            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.

        4. b
          BackyardChef May 4, 2006 04:57 PM

          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....

          1. n
            nooodles May 4, 2006 05:39 PM

            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).

            Link: http://bbq.about.com/od/smokers/tp/aatp081004a.htm

            Image: http://www.chezpei.com/uploaded_image...

            1 Reply
            1. re: nooodles
              b
              BackyardChef May 4, 2006 05:59 PM

              Two things with these-- one, I've heard that the heating elements burn out and need to be replaced, and also they use an exclusive wood disk to provide smoke that is not always readily available everywhere. They are decent little units, but two things to think about.

            2. t
              theSauce May 4, 2006 05:58 PM

              The Green Egg... expensive, but it's a great all-in-one grill.

              Link: http://www.homeclick.com/showpage.asp...

              1. a
                adamclyde May 4, 2006 09:37 PM

                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.

                1. p
                  Paul May 4, 2006 10:06 PM

                  I bought a great outdoors gas smoker about a year ago and really enjoy it. I know charcoal usually tastes better but the propane is much more convenient. You set the temp. and after it settles in about an hour it keeps a constant temp. Also I think the advantage over a bullet smoker is that you can fit the meat on the racks a lot better. With the 20"x14" racks you can lay out your ribs without having to bend or cut them. When smoking a pork shoulder for 12-14 hours I set the temp. and go to bed. Next morning the temp. is holding right where I set it. You will also be surprised that it does not use that much propane.

                  Link: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produc...

                  1. j
                    JB May 5, 2006 12:31 AM

                    I ordered my Hasty-Bake from BBQs Galore.

                    Link: http://www.hastybake.com/

                    1. j
                      Janer May 5, 2006 08:05 AM

                      Mike,
                      Our household has both the Big Green Egg and the Weber Smokey Mountain. Both work just fine; clearly the Weber is much less expensive. However, the Egg is a real dream. Its thick walls hold the heat and I find it requires less tending overall than the Weber. Oh what it does to a hunk of pork shoulder will bring you to your knees. Love it, love it, love it.

                      Link: http://www.biggreenegg.com/

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Janer
                        d
                        deborah May 5, 2006 11:09 AM

                        Janer, we have a Big Green Egg too and love it. I have only braised a large pork shoulder in a 250 degree oven and wondered how it would do on the Egg since it is dry heat. How do you prepare it? Dry rub or leave it and/or smoke? Thanks for any help you can give me.

                        1. re: deborah
                          j
                          Janer May 6, 2006 10:44 AM

                          Deborah, I coat/roll it in lots of freshly ground black pepper (although that's certainly optional) and let it smoke away in the dry heat at about 225....can take 6-9 hours depending on the size. Then pull/chop the pork, & make a sauce of your preference (mine is vinegar-based).

                          My family got started using the egg several generations ago, before BGEs existed in the U.S. A Navy man brought back the real deal from Japan as a gift for my grandfather, who smoked the Thanksgiving turkey in it for years. It's definitely not portable--that original one was sold with the house!

                          1. re: Janer
                            d
                            deborah May 7, 2006 02:51 PM

                            Janer, thank-you for your recipe!

                        2. re: Janer
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                          Jimbo May 5, 2006 12:42 PM

                          With the BGE you have a number of issues to worry about. Thats in addition to the huge cost.

                          First, have you ever had a flashback? How a cracked firebox? Ever had to replace a fried gasket or one that leaked? Backdraft can cause lots of yucks. BGE is not portable (unless you are Hercules). Oh, and some guy in Virginia burned down his house last week using a BGE. The same clown almost put his eye out using this cooker.

                          Yeah, sign me up for one of these cookers!

                          1. re: Jimbo
                            h
                            Hank May 5, 2006 01:45 PM

                            I heard of another person who burned down his house using a BGE. An ember fell out of the vent door that set the bedroom on fire. Total loss.

                            1. re: Hank
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                              cheapskate May 5, 2006 03:04 PM

                              don't the instructions say not to use it in your bedroom?

                              Good on the guy for trying though.....

                            2. re: Jimbo
                              j
                              Jess May 5, 2006 04:14 PM

                              We have not had any of those issues. Of course, for safety, we use it far from the house, just like any other grill/smoker. I'm not sure how the gasket would get fried-- I assume you mean the one on the rim of the lid that is made of felt and easily replaceable. Ours made it through Hurricane Katrina, sitting in an unsheltered spot in our backyard (I live in New Orleans), without a cover on it.

                              It takes very little fuel, keeps an even temperature, and has never turned out anything less than above average, even in the hands of these (DH and I) rank amateurs.

                          2. r
                            ricepad May 5, 2006 12:30 PM

                            For the typical backyard application, I don't think any smoker has as ardent a following as the Weber Smokey Mountain (already recommended). I don't have one, but WSM Believers swear by them. Ease of use is the biggest factor - no fiddling with doors or vents, even temperature for long periods on a single load of charcoal...hard to beat.

                            BUT...I don't have one, and chose not to buy one when I wanted to upgrade from an ECB and Weber kettle. Instead, I went with an inexpensive offset (New Braunfels). Yeah, I have to feed the fire more often, and monitor cooking temps more, but what I gain is ease of access to the cooking chamber. With the NB, I have full access to a much larger cooking grate, whereas with the WSM, you have to take the top rack out to get to the bottom rack. Easy to do when there's nothing in it, but more difficult when it's fully loaded and HOT.

                            There's a trade-off, and I chose to have to mess with the fire. YMMV.

                            (FWIW, what I really wanted was a Klose, but the War Department wouldn't authorize that large an expenditure.)

                            1. r
                              rexmo May 6, 2006 07:47 AM

                              Grill Dome SS large extra tall w/BBQ Guru temperature controller, and a couple of 13" kiln shelves for pizza and heat shield for indirect cooks.

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