HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Smoker. Is it worth it?

h
hungryandcurious Mar 25, 2012 08:29 PM

I am thinking of purchasing a smoker (Probably the Weber 18.5 inch) for my boyfriend's 31st birthday. (Last year was a Weber BBQ). But I am debating weather or not it will be worth it -aka- used enough to warrant it.

We love smoked meats and are big into making our own (Beer, bread, cheese, etc.) and I think this could be a great addition.

I guess what I would like to know from all you wondering people is do you find your smoker useful, used often and a good investment?

Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. dcrb RE: hungryandcurious Mar 25, 2012 08:46 PM

    hello, About 20 years ago I bought a Brinkman Pitmaster at an end of season sale. Prior to that I smoked meats using a large Weber kettle by having the coals on one side and the meats opposite. It worked well but I have to say a dedicated smoker is the way to go. I will say that use has died down the last couple of years but prior to that we smoked meats 5 or 6 times a month so for us it was worth it. Hope this helps.

    1. John E. RE: hungryandcurious Mar 25, 2012 09:39 PM

      Does your boyfriend use the Weber to smoke meat? He should try smoking meat on the Weber using the offset heat method for a while to see how much he really likes it. Personally, I prefer an offset smoker. I too bought a Brinkman on sale years ago, a verticle bullet smoker and I used it a few times before I just stopped using it (it's still in our garage somewhers, I gotta give it away). I did not like adding fuel or wood chips through the little door. I also did not like having to lift a top grate with meat on it to get to the meat on the lower grate.

      1. r
        ricepad RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 12:07 AM

        If you're talking about the Weber Smokey Mountain, you could do much worse! The WSM is a much much better choice than an El Cheapo Brinkman. I have an offset. I have two Weber kettles. I *had* an ECB (got rid of it, that piece of crap). I'd love to have a WSM. Mrs. ricepad says I have enough. (bummer!)

        1. Njchicaa RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 12:14 AM

          We have a Brinkmann smoker and love it! We use it pretty much once a week to smoke things like ribs, pork shoulder, whole chicken, chicken wings, meatloaf, meatballs, etc. We've even smoked stuffed peppers and shrimp for shrimp cocktail.

          Our plan was to get the cheap smoker to see if we even liked/used it. Well, we do! When the Brinkmann falls apart, we'll buy the Weber one.

          1. dcrb RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 06:21 AM

            Just for fun, here is a snap of our smoker and weber. The smoker has an offset fire box and the weber is about 27 or 28 inch in diameter.

            1. BiscuitBoy RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 07:19 AM

              You've got to like doing it...tending the fire, basting, getting up early and keeping an eye on it all day. If you like to make your own stuff, you will enjoy the process. I'd say start with a weber smoky mountain (cheap buy in) then maybe move up to a good offset, or for me , a big green egg (still saving my pennies). I use my smoker about once a month, spring to fall

              1. j
                jzerocsk RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 08:34 AM

                I bought an "El Cheapo Brinkmann" for like $60 just to sort of test the waters. I actually bought the electric one. I know "purists" blanch at the thought, but I figured I'll be more apt to use it if I never have "I'm out of charcoal" as an excuse.

                I'm so busy I only get to use it 3-4x a year but I sure love having it when I use it. I've had it 4 years now and I definitely feel that i got my money's worth.

                At this point I'm biding my time until I can afford a Big Green Egg or similar and then I will just use that for all of my grilling and smoking.

                Even the Weber is not prohibitively expensive, and if it turns out he doesn't like using it it can probably be resold to recoup most of the cost.

                1. m
                  monopod RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 08:54 AM

                  If you're the kind of folks that enjoy spending time on preparing great food, then a smoker is a great investment. But it's not like a grill where you can just pull it out in the evening before dinner - it really requires a full day's investment of time in order to properly smoke ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, chickens, etc. And it's a good bit of effort, since you have to set everything up, get the fire going, then tend it at least ever hour or so to be sure that it's holding temperature (and there's an art to managing the temperature with airflow).

                  Most people I know who ended up not using their smoker weren't excited about spending the amount of time required. But if you're up for the occasional Saturday or Sunday spent tending the 'cue, drinking a couple of beers, and maybe doing some home improvement in the downtime, then it'll be great.

                  (And just to be pedantic, what you bought last year was a "grill" - not a "BBQ". "BBQ" means low and slow smoked meat, the stuff you make in a smoker. High-heat, direct cooking over charcoal or gas is grilling, not BBQ. I mention this because it'll help if you know the terminology when you look into buying a smoker.)

                  1. n
                    Nanzi RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 10:24 AM

                    About 12 years ago we were given an ElcheapoBrinkman(ECB). We learned to use it and made good food on it. I kept seeing one brand of smokers mentioned in the bbq forums I was hitting for recipes, looked it up, talked DH into it and the rest is good eating. We got a ceramic tiled Kamado and haven't looked back. It is about 12 years old and we've never eaten so well. A couple of years later I got DH a toy that has made his cooking almost a breeze. It is a BBQ Guru(www.thebbqguru.com) and keeps the temp steady and true for hours at a time. He gets to sleep even with an overnighter cooking. We get to leave the house with a brisket, or pork roast evolving into extra special edible goodness. Without the gift of our friends who were cleaning out their garage, we would never have discovered this way of eating.

                    We only use it 3 - 4 times a week, I've even done a stuffed turkey and casseroles in it. Check out ceramic cookers, there are several good ones on the market, and some with the tiles are total works of beautiful yard art!! We were wearing out gas grills every couple of years, and this has a lifetime warrantee, and is in perfect condition. It seemed expensive to start, but has more than paid for itself in 12 years.

                    And the kids are 'fighting' over who gets it when we're gone. One said 'the first guy who shows up with a truck and a couple of friends to help lift it'. We're thrilled they all want it, and it is because of the food it produces!!

                    1. Davwud RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 10:38 AM

                      Yes it absolutely is providing you're prepared to put in the time required. Both in learning and in actual tending of the smoker. The more you use it, the better you get. The better you get, the more you want to use it.

                      I had the "El Cheapo" that has been referred to here. I upgraded to a Charbroil Silver Smoker and have not regretted it at all. Go with the offset box smoker. Much better than the capsule style.

                      DT

                      1. p
                        planojim RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 11:02 AM

                        Hungry:

                        I have a Brinkman with an offset box. Yesterday, I smoked 6 turkey breasts. About 50lbs total. That yielded me near 22lbs of turkey. Most of it was sliced into lunch meat for the kids. Some will be used for other dishes like pot pie, etc. Carcasses will be used for soup.
                        Local grocery had the turkey breasts on sale for $.98/lb. That works out to be about $2.25/lb, but around $2.50/lb when you factor in the wood and such that I used. Not bad when you consider that smoked turkey in the deli is around $7/lb.
                        The downside, of course, is that from 10am till 6pmish, I was tending the smoker. It's not often that I have that kind of time available on a weekend. Most of the time, I use the smoker to smoke things that take a lot less time, salmon, ribs, etc.
                        I tend to use mine a couple of times per month in the spring and fall. The weather has to be good, I don't like smoking in the rain, and where I live, it's just too dang hot outside to be using in June, July, August.
                        But, by having one, it does open the door to a whole bunch of other stuff that you can be making...in the past couple of years, I've started curing and smoking my own bacon, brining and smoking my own pastrami, and grinding, stuffing, and smoking my own sausages.
                        Do I like having one? Absolutely. Is it time consuming and something that you really just can't do on a whim? Absolutely.

                        1. b
                          bbqJohn RE: hungryandcurious Mar 26, 2012 07:21 PM

                          I think you need to decide if it's worth your resources to get a smoker.

                          For me/us the answer was yes.

                          I started smoking meat on a standard 22 in Weber in the early 1990s so about 20 years now. Currently have a Weber Ranch Kettle, 22 inch WSM, 22 inch Kettle, a Smokey Joe Tamale Pot conversion and recently gifted a 18 WSM. One brother has an Offset and a Traeger Pellet smoker, another a Ugly Drum smoker, and another a Cajun Bandit conversion kit. We have experience with competitions, vending, and catering.

                          There are a few options. One is to use what he has now.

                          If he already has a standard Weber Kettle BBQ I'm assuming it's a 22" model? If so he can smoke on what he has with some experience and help. See This Thread http://tvwbb.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/9...

                          2nd is the Cajun Bandit Kit http://cajunbandit.com which will allow him to use his existing 22 in. Kettle. The Kettle can still be used for standard grilling with the middle section removed.

                          A 3rd option for smaller smoking is using a Smokey Joe Tamale Pot Conversion aka "The Mini WSM
                          http://tvwbb.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/1...

                          It's a bit of a home project but when done everyone that uses one loves theirs. I use mine a lot especially when I don't need to cook a lot of food.

                          4th is a 18 or 22 WSM. Of the 2 I prefer the 22 as it can easily fit a full racks of ribs or briskets without feeling cramped. The 18 works but it can get a bit cramped with the larger pieces of meat mentioned.

                          If you like to set it and forget it, don't get an Off Set-they need tending to on a regular basis. The WSMs are designed to run without much effort. Many WSM owners do overnight smokes without worrying about tending the fire.

                          If I had only one 22 inch Kettle I would get the Cajun Bandit kit.

                          If I had to keep only one smoker/BBQ, it will be the 22 WSM as I can smoke or grill with it by removing the middle section. 2nd choice is the Smokey Joe Tamale Pot (Mini WSM). The Ranch Kettle is really nice for large parties and catering but I rarely use it now.

                          The best web site that I know of on the WSM and Weber Kettles is:
                          www.virtualweberbullet.com

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bbqJohn
                            BiscuitBoy RE: bbqJohn Mar 27, 2012 07:55 AM

                            Hey John....never used an offset, but I always thought the good ones, (Klose, etc) require the same tuning as a vertical (WSM), and once stabilized are good for a few hours, and were more efficient

                            1. re: BiscuitBoy
                              b
                              bbqJohn RE: BiscuitBoy Mar 27, 2012 07:01 PM

                              You may be right about the large ones. but I remember a few years ago at the West Coast BBQ Championships, the guy across from us had a trailered off set and he was up all night feeding logs about 1/hr to maintain temps... my brother had a smaller one which he eventually threw out after he got the 22 WSM.

                          2. h
                            hungryandcurious RE: hungryandcurious Mar 27, 2012 09:56 AM

                            Thanks for all the insight. You have given a lot of good point to mull over.

                            As far as the time it takes I don't think that will be an issue. He enjoys those sort of activities; tending things and timely projects.

                            Thanks!

                            1. ecwashere7 RE: hungryandcurious Mar 27, 2012 10:47 AM

                              To start, yes. Smokers are a necessity to anyone who loves good barbecue and wants to make it himself/herself.

                              If you have a standard Weber kettle grill, you can go with the Smokenator. It's a piece that you put in your kettle to convert it to a smoker. It works really well for what it is.

                              http://www.smokenator.com/

                              Meathead Goldwyn (contributor on Huffpo's food section) has always had great things to say about it. Here is his site:

                              http://www.amazingribs.com/

                              1. f
                                freshlycured RE: hungryandcurious Mar 27, 2012 07:12 PM

                                The 18 & 22" WSMs can't be beat. I own both. The price is reasonable and you'll be able to smoke just about anything you want on them. As mentioned above, the big benefit of the 22", besides overall capacity, is the ability to lay racks of ribs flat. However, a simple rib rack will allow for multiple racks in the 18". Smoking meat is certainly a time consuming hobby, but churning out BBQ far superior to just about every restaurant you know is very satisfying.

                                1. nofunlatte RE: hungryandcurious Mar 28, 2012 06:30 AM

                                  Last year I bought the smaller Weber Smokey Mountain as a gift to myself for reaching a professional milestone. I love it! I have a small brick patio next to my deck and I already had two grills. The WSM appealed to me because of the small footprint. But it is easy to use though others have noted the small door for refueling. Personally, I usually only smoke a pork shoulder or a couple of chickens at a time, so no need for much refueling (and when I do need to I take the top two sections off--does add time to the smoking). Anyway if you are willing to invest the time, it would make a lovely gift! I might add that my BF especially gets excited when he hears that I am planning to smoke a pork shoulder!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: nofunlatte
                                    b
                                    bbqJohn RE: nofunlatte Mar 28, 2012 05:48 PM

                                    nofunlatte.. why can't you refuel through the door like everyone else?

                                    Just use a small shovel

                                  2. t
                                    tzurriz RE: hungryandcurious Mar 28, 2012 07:20 AM

                                    I bought one for my husband for Father's day last year. He's used it about once every 2 weeks all year (yes, even in the winter here in Chicago) and it is worth it's weight to us without a doubt. In fact, don't tell him but he's getting a new, larger one this year as we've had so many guests on Sunday nights (when he smokes things typically) that he has nearly tipped it a time or two.

                                    Let me tell you, smoked prime rib is amazing, and for gumbo nothing will replace my smoked chicken stock. Ever. ;) (stock made from the carcass of a couple of smoked chickens).

                                    1. ted RE: hungryandcurious Mar 28, 2012 08:05 AM

                                      I'm going to be a little contrarian. Rather than respond to each post suggesting you "graduate" to an offset, I'm going to just say NO, please don't.

                                      An offset (Smoke n Pit, Silver Smoker, etc) may be better than an El Cheapo Brinkmann, but I wouldn't recommend one over a WSM. In terms of controllability and fuel use, the WSM wins hands down. The only downside is its capacity, but the 22.5" ones help with that a lot.

                                      One problem I see with the consumer grade offsets is that you don't have nearly the airflow control you need. Especially now that some include an ash pan for convenience in the firebox, since that's just a great big hole with no damper. They also generally need a few mods to get more even heat distribution in the cooking chamber (baffle at entrance, lowered stack outlet, e.g.).

                                      What that means is that you'll end up burning a bunch of fuel for the average cook, and you'll be constantly tending the fire to hold temperature. OK for folks who are psyched (and have time) to sit around and maybe get schnockered while cooking.

                                      I used to have a Bandera with all sorts of modifications to it. The telling thing to me was that I could close it up completely and it would take at least 24 hours for the fire to go out. That's indicative of how little control you have, even before they started adding the ash pans.

                                      The WSM is so much tighter and will run with little intervention straight out of the box. Invest in one of the fan setups and you won't have to touch it.

                                      I agree that folks spend lots of time tending even the great big pro offsets (Klose, e.g.). Again, fine if you want to stay up all night cooking. I rationalized getting an insulated smoker (Stumps) when the Chowpup was a baby b/c it didn't matter how late I was up, the day still started at the same time for her.

                                      The big bottom-line bonus is that, when you have control of the fire in hand, you can worry about changing other things. Like flavoring woods, rubs, injections, etc. And you can actually see how they affect the final product independent of everything else.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ted
                                        c
                                        Cheez62 RE: ted Apr 2, 2012 09:50 PM

                                        Oh yes, what Ted said. Get the WSM. Don't even think about the cheap vertical or cabinet types, and don't think about starting with an offset. I started with a Bandera (like the one Ted mentioned), and I know that I would have cooked more in the beginning if I had started with something as reliable and easy as the WSM.
                                        I will say that I would buy the 22" instead of the 18', but if it's not in the budget, get the smaller WSM rather than something else.
                                        After he receives it, send him over to www.bbq-brethren.com We'd love to have him join us!

                                      2. m
                                        mikie RE: hungryandcurious Mar 28, 2012 01:14 PM

                                        Just a couple of weeks ago I completed a class offered by the Midwest BarBeQue Institute at the Culinary Center of Kansas City, it was an all day class, bring your own smoker, on backyard smoking basics. It was taught by an American Royal champion and chef trained at the American Culinary Institute. My son-in-law and I came with the 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain. We walked away with the best ribs of the class. Over and over the Chef raved about the ease of use of the Weber Smokey Mountain and how it was the best smoker for people starting out smoking ribs, brisket, chicken, and pork shoulder. There were about 12 different smokers there, one on a trailer that was a $9,000 rig that they intended to compete on the BBQ circuit with. They didn't win best ribs. There was a regular Weber Kettle, but you are really limited on the size of what you can smoke and one side is always hot. There are some gizmos to adapt the Kettle, but they are still not as good as the stand alone Smokey Mountain. There were also some offset smokers, but they had constant issues keeping the temperature in the proper range and couldn't keep the temperature constant across the horizontal surface, just not enough air movement for good results.

                                        When I do a pork butt, I put it on before I go to bed, the Weber holds the temperature constant all night and I don't have to mess with it till morning and they again about noon right before I take it off the smoker when it reaches the ideal temperature.

                                        If you like smoked meat there is no question that for $300 the Weber smokey Mountain is the easiest to use and most effective ways to get started into BBQ meats. My SIL tried 4 other smokers before I was able to convince him how easy and good the Weber is. He finally saw me smoke a couple of 8 lb pork butts on it and got to taste the results and then he was convinced. After attending the class with me, he is even more convinced than ever that buying the Weber Smokey Mountin was an excellent decision.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: mikie
                                          l
                                          LindaGriggs RE: mikie May 31, 2012 09:11 AM

                                          What are the safety features that allow you to leave the fire unattended all night.

                                          I want to get this for my husband but I'm such a girl scout about fire safety.

                                          1. re: LindaGriggs
                                            John E. RE: LindaGriggs May 31, 2012 09:27 AM

                                            I too am interested in mikie's reply but for myself. If the smoker is on a flat surface that is not flammable and there is plenty of clearance that is not flammable (inflammable?) then you should be ok. Think of a big slab of concrete or gravel away from your house. A sheet of steel placed in the backyard surrounded by green grass would work to as long as there are no people or animals or wind that will mess with it. mikie was in a BBQ competition in some kind of parking lot and was probably in a camper nearby so it likely is not the same as being at home.

                                            1. re: John E.
                                              m
                                              mikie RE: John E. May 31, 2012 06:26 PM

                                              Well, the Weber Smokey Mountian has reasonably well controled venting and that's a big help when it comes to fire safety. There are small adjustable vents, a vented ring to contain the coals, and the adjustable vent on top. It's just darn difficult to picture a way sparks could get out once the smoking starts and the smoker is closed. However, I smoke at home on a large concrete slab next to the garage. The garage wall is stone and the door to the garage is metal. Essentially, there is nothing close by that would catch fire even if sparks could excape. A couple of weeks ago I started the smoker at about 6 a.m. then went to work, I checked it again at lunch time and by evening, things were just about ready to come off. It was unattended most of the day. Granted, I doubt you could do this with just any smoker, but it works great on the Weber.

                                              1. re: mikie
                                                l
                                                LindaGriggs RE: mikie Jun 1, 2012 05:37 AM

                                                These replies have been a huge help to me. They've made me realize I don't have any such safe place. I'm in Asbury Park, NJ where the houses are as little as little as six feet apart. I have a small yard, an uneven, loose laid brick patio, wooden fences and a wooden house...and wind. Thanks for helping me face this impracticality.

                                                1. re: LindaGriggs
                                                  John E. RE: LindaGriggs Jun 1, 2012 07:47 AM

                                                  You could always put down an even surface for a smoker. The problem you have is the houses are too close together and the smoke might be unwelcome by your neighbors. If you have a gas grill in your small yard you can smoke meat with less intrusion. It works best if the burners are side by side instead of front and back but you put soaked wood chips into a double layer of aluminum foil, wrap it up and poke holes in it and place it on the burner away from the meat and have the meat over an unlit burner. When the smoke starts, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the entire grill area to trap as much smoke near the meat as possible. This actually works.

                                                  1. re: John E.
                                                    l
                                                    LindaGriggs RE: John E. Jun 1, 2012 08:28 AM

                                                    Thank you for this trick for smoking and containing smoke and for the reminder that the smoke could bother the neighbors. Mind you, I smell their Caribbean entrails cooking but I still don't want to be the bad guy.

                                                    1. re: LindaGriggs
                                                      John E. RE: LindaGriggs Jun 1, 2012 09:25 AM

                                                      Somehow I think a little hickory smoke would be better than cooking entrails of any nationality. ; )

                                        2. a
                                          acgold7 RE: hungryandcurious Mar 28, 2012 11:25 PM

                                          I've got a couple of WSMs and I agree they are the best gateway drug for smoking. And you haven't lived until you've done a Turkey vertically in one. You don't even have to do it low and slow -- you can quick roast it, keeping the WSM's temp up to around 375 or so, and it cooks in about 6-10 minutes per pound. Of course, low and slow smoked is fantastic as well.

                                          Now I mostly use my Bradley Electric -- all you have to do is flip a switch, and for ease of use and consistency it wins hands down -- but I still love and use my WSMs.

                                          1. kaleokahu RE: hungryandcurious Jun 1, 2012 09:38 AM

                                            Hi, hungryandcurious:

                                            Good on you for thinking of such a nice gift for BF.

                                            Here's something to remember: "smoking" is a bit of a misnomer here. Temperatures in fired kettles like a Weber, and even the offset smokers, typically get too high to strictly smoke. Anything above about 140F is going to cook, so more accurately, what you'd be doing in those units would be called kippering.

                                            Now, having said that, you *can* smoke in an offset rig (I do), but if it's fired you have to watch the fire and the dampers like a hawk and tend it like a newborn. That's why the dedicated smokers that automatically feed and burn pellets (and the electrics) and maintain a set temperature make a lot of sense. What is BF's PITA tolerance?

                                            As for whether it's worth it, I wouldn't be without my Texas Pit offset.

                                            Aloha,
                                            Kaleo

                                            15 Replies
                                            1. re: kaleokahu
                                              John E. RE: kaleokahu Jun 1, 2012 10:03 AM

                                              I believe most backyard meat smoking the intention IS to cook the meat while smoking it.

                                              1. re: John E.
                                                kaleokahu RE: John E. Jun 1, 2012 10:29 AM

                                                Hi, John:

                                                Well, not for folks who do real cold smoking and curing, but it's a question of nomenclature. In the parlance of our times, 'smoking' has expanded so much as to include 'bbq' and 'kippering'. I just wanted the OP and others to know that it's well-nigh impossible to truly smoke some things (e.g., lox, cheese, bacon) in a kettle or offset "smoker".

                                                Aloha,
                                                Kaleo

                                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                                  John E. RE: kaleokahu Jun 1, 2012 05:47 PM

                                                  I have seen people doing cold smoking on television programs before. Usually it involved fish or something already cooked.

                                                  1. re: John E.
                                                    kaleokahu RE: John E. Jun 1, 2012 10:14 PM

                                                    Hi, John:

                                                    Well, whatever you've seen on TV, true cold smoking was historically done for preservation, with the happy coincidence that it tastes really good--meaning the starting flesh was *un*cooked. Certainly, bacon, hams and sausages are cold-smoked for extended periods, and only "cooked" before serving (if at all).

                                                    Speaking only for myself, I like to cold-smoke fowl for several hours before spitting and roasting or baking them, and I have done game this way as well (and venison, elk and bison IME, can only be "smoked" this way, smoked cold then cooked very hot).

                                                    But yes, cold-smoking fish is common, just not after it's cooked.

                                                    If you're interested in smoke as a process, check out http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-build-s....

                                                    Aloha,
                                                    Kaleo

                                                    1. re: kaleokahu
                                                      John E. RE: kaleokahu Jun 2, 2012 06:21 AM

                                                      Much of the smoked ham and sausages are cooked during the smoking process. At least that's been my experience.

                                                  2. re: kaleokahu
                                                    b
                                                    bbqJohn RE: kaleokahu Jun 1, 2012 06:06 PM

                                                    "nomenclature" is different depending on geographic area.. most of the west coast considers most indirect cooking with wood chunks, chips, etc and cooking between 225 to 325 as "Smoking" while the rest of the country considers that "Barbecue" and what us west coasters consider Barbecueing (direct heat) the rest of the country considers that "Grilling".

                                                    Cold Smoking at 180 (like Salmon) or less is a different "Smoking" category as well.

                                                    1. re: bbqJohn
                                                      John E. RE: bbqJohn Jun 1, 2012 09:04 PM

                                                      Direct heat over a bed of coals or fire IS grilling and not BBQing. BBQ is low and slow usually with smoke.

                                                      1. re: John E.
                                                        b
                                                        bbqJohn RE: John E. Jun 2, 2012 09:18 AM

                                                        John E. that's correct for your part of that world but on the west coast as I stated above it's different ... there's no set rule for what BBQ is it depends on where you are from ... and on the west coast if you throw a Tri Tip over some coals it's considered Barbecueing.

                                                        1. re: bbqJohn
                                                          s
                                                          sedimental RE: bbqJohn Jun 2, 2012 11:15 AM

                                                          This is true, we BBQ hamburgers and hot dogs here too :)

                                                          1. re: bbqJohn
                                                            John E. RE: bbqJohn Jun 2, 2012 10:35 PM

                                                            Hotdogs, hamburgers, steaks, etc. cooked over direct heat is not BBQ no matter what you believe. That is called grilling. You can think of me as an ******* for not backing down on this but it's true. Hell, I'm from Minnesota and I know the difference.

                                                            BBQ is low and slow. Grilling is hot and fast.

                                                            1. re: John E.
                                                              1POINT21GW RE: John E. Jun 2, 2012 11:56 PM

                                                              What about barbecue brisket smoked using the high heat method?

                                                        2. re: bbqJohn
                                                          kaleokahu RE: bbqJohn Jun 1, 2012 09:58 PM

                                                          Hi, bbqJohn:

                                                          You sound accomplished at bbq, but I think your temp range for "cold smoking" doesn't comport with historical or functional usage. IMO cold smoking happens at basically at or very near room temperatures, certainly not as high as 180F. See, http://www.wedlinydomowe.com/meat-smo... Kippering is a step up, but still not as high as your cold smoke. See, http://www-seafood.ucdavis.edu/pubs/s... My own working definition for both meats and fish is that the transition line between cold and kipper happens most distinctly at about 143F.

                                                          Aloha,
                                                          Kaleo

                                                          1. re: kaleokahu
                                                            b
                                                            bbqJohn RE: kaleokahu Jun 2, 2012 09:13 AM

                                                            Thanks my only experience with what I thought was "cold smoking" was with a Little Chief which I thought was in the 180 range.. but I could be very wrong.

                                                            on the other hand, I have much more experience with higher heat smoking.. (I have pork butts smoking at 274 as I post this).

                                                            Also wanted to mention that "cold smoking" is possible in a Weber WSM with the right techniques..
                                                            http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/che...

                                                            1. re: bbqJohn
                                                              kaleokahu RE: bbqJohn Jun 2, 2012 09:53 AM

                                                              Hi, John:

                                                              No problem. My dad had a Little Chief, and my B-I-L has 6. For what they are and cost, they're great. I remember being sent out as a kid to put an old blanket over the Chief (himself in the cardboard box) when the weather turned cold. And you're probably right that they run around 180F.

                                                              The B-I-L's experience with cheese is instructive. He has 6 LCs because he likes to "smoke" and give away/sell smokey-flavored cheese. The only problem is that the vast majority of cheeses will melt in a LC before they get much smoke. Even the least-melty cheese he's found, a processed cheese "food", must be turned every hour, else it sags through the grates. This is not cold smoke.

                                                              My offset pit is an old Chuckwagon, made from oilwell casing. If I baby it, I can cold smoke, but only at the point where the thermo needle *barely* comes off the peg, which is well below where the numerical scale starts at 150F. Chuckwagon made a model with a third chamber, a tall "smoking locker", that I regret not buying.

                                                              Now you have me hungry for pork butt.

                                                              Aloha,
                                                              Kaleo

                                                          2. re: bbqJohn
                                                            s
                                                            sedimental RE: bbqJohn Jun 2, 2012 07:01 AM

                                                            I think these are good points. I am a west coaster and don't have such a taste for (or eat much of) many of the items listed upthread -like pork butt, brisket and ribs.

                                                            I prefer a lighter hand with smoking and I use my Little Chief smoker (door ajar) for cold smoking cheese, vegetables, salmon and nuts. I "regular" smoke other fish, seafood and jerky as well, and I "pre- smoke" chicken, game hens, homemade sausage, and steaks about 1 hour before grilling. It gives me the right amount of smoke flavor and it is easy to do.

                                                            I encourage people reading this thread considering a smoker -to decide what they will be using it for the most- and that a smoker is not just for big, smoke/cook it all day and night items.

                                                    2. b
                                                      brianl999 RE: hungryandcurious Jun 1, 2012 03:47 PM

                                                      I'd also like to plug the Bradley smokers. I resisted them for a long time, not liking the proprietary 'biscuits'. I have a Weber Performer charcoal grill, and I would do pulled pork, ribs, etc on it. It worked, but was labour intensive as you had to add small amounts of fuel rather frequently to maintain the lower temps. I'd be struggling to keep the temperatures under 250F.

                                                      I then purchased a Masterbilt electric smoker as I was starting to get into curing and sausage making. With sausages, you can't have the temperatures get too high or the fat will render out, leaving a tough, dry sausage. You pretty much need to stay under 180F (pork). The Masterbilt did a fine job at staying under 180F, but it wouldn't generate smoke at that temperature. The chips would sit in the trough, dry out, and then ignite, spiking the temperature and creating acrid smoke you don't want on your food. It was great, however, at pulled pork and ribs.

                                                      So I finally relented and got the Bradley. I love it. The main element and smoker element are controlled separately, so you can have heat and no smoke or smoke and no heat, although the smoker element will still add some heat, depending on the time of year it can be an issue. As Kaleokahu pointed out, some things are cold-smoked, with no heat at all.

                                                      The Bradley smokers also do not burn the wood biscuits in their entirety. They sit on the track, and every 20 minutes it pushes a new one in, which pushes the old biscuit into a bowl of water. The spent biscuits looks more or less like an unburned one, just black.

                                                      Hope that helps

                                                      Thanks

                                                      Brian

                                                      1. Llamalicious RE: hungryandcurious Jun 2, 2012 10:49 PM

                                                        My family uses our smoker at least 4 times a month, we have a Bradley electric smoker and it's worth the cost! We also bring it camping and we just place meats in it in the early afternoon then by night you have an easy camp dinner with out all the stress. We recently discovered smoking our homemade ketchup and it is amazing! I also use it for my small business, I make home cooked meals to go for busy parents and they love my dry rubbed smoked chickens.

                                                        1. h
                                                          hungryandcurious RE: hungryandcurious Jun 2, 2012 11:11 PM

                                                          Thanks for all the great replies, sorry I disappeared. My email was not notifying me that their was responses. Oops. We ended up getting the Weber Smokey Mountain, the smaller size. We have used it a few times and love it!

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: hungryandcurious
                                                            1POINT21GW RE: hungryandcurious Jun 2, 2012 11:55 PM

                                                            That is a fantastic smoker!

                                                            What have you smoked on it so far?

                                                            Is there anything you'd like to smoke on it that you haven't yet?

                                                            1. re: 1POINT21GW
                                                              h
                                                              hungryandcurious RE: 1POINT21GW Jun 3, 2012 12:01 AM

                                                              Pork Chops, Ribs and whole chickens so far, I think next on our list is Sausages. We live near a small butcher shop so can get great meats to smoke. The BF is also playing around with allowing it to work for cold smoking as well for veggies, cheeses, fish.

                                                              1. re: hungryandcurious
                                                                1POINT21GW RE: hungryandcurious Jun 3, 2012 12:16 AM

                                                                Sounds great!

                                                                Also, check out the Virtual Weber Bullet website: http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/ind.... There is a ton of outstanding, useful information on there regarding not just the Weber Smokey Mountain, but smoking and barbecue in general.

                                                          Show Hidden Posts