Smoker question

JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
44,841
Location
New Jersey
Hello, Given the other threads on BBQ/smoking meat, I wanted to ask a few questions without hijacking the other threads, so here it goes: -How closely do you have to watch the process? Not being lazy, but I would like to notionally be able to set it up in the AM, go to work, and come back after work to have it 90% done. It is just the matter of leaving it alone for 8-9 hours. -Ive seen the Weber smokers, and then there are others that use little packs of what looks like pressed sawdust. Bradley smokers, as I recall. THing is with them, they seem to run autonomously, but I wonder if there are binders or health-related issues with the little briquettes. (Warning:If not installed and used properly in accordance with the Manufacture's instructions this product could expose you to substances in the fuel which can cause death or serious illness and which are known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm.) -What size makes the most sense (ok, that is a bad question)... Usually cooking for two, sometimes four to five. Want something portable, storable, not too huge, but sufficient to provide good yields. What is the practical difference in what you can do with an 18.5" vs. a 22.5" in terms of numbers of pork picnics, rib racks, chickens, etc? -Anything else good to know? Any good references to get smart on this? Thanks!
 
Messages
375
Location
Louisiana
I think you would enjoy the Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-1/2-Inch Smoker. I have the older style 18.5" and its a great smoker. I cook for 4 - 6 most of the time. They have a Weber 22.5 smoker now. Would be great for more volume. The 22.5 would use more charcoal. There is lots of information about the smoker on the site below. http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/tour.html
 
Messages
1,748
Location
Indiana
I agree with bebop on the 18.5" WSM for what you're looking for. Temps are very easy to control with the three vents on the bottom and they are very fuel efficient.Start out with a full basket of unlit charcoal and 3 or 4 chunks of wood, add 12-15 lit briqs and it will go 12-15 hours without having to do a thing. It has two cooking grates that will hold plenty of food. I cooked 4 shoulders that averaged 7 lbs each yesterday on the top rack yesterday.Leave the lid off and it will get hot enough to grill burgers and steaks.You can't go wrong with it. My offset takes more tending to. Every 1-2 hours I have to add a piece of wood and a couple briqs but I really like the way it cooks briskets. If you like the pellets you can get a Traeger of FEC. They are expensive but are set and forget.Commonly called "pellet poopers" on the competetion circuit.
 
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4,942
Location
Billings, MT
I switched from a charcoal smoker to an electric one and could not be happier about the decision. I was constantly having to tend that stupid charcoal smoker, adding lumps of charcoal and stirring it to keep it burning. I bought a 30" Masterbuilt Electric Smoker (commonly referred to as a MES) for $200 at Cabelas (40" ones are available elsewhere). It uses a digital thermostat and timer, and is very well insulated to aid efficiency and heat retention. You could set the thing for 24 hours and let it run that entire length of time without having to tend to it all, after your initial load of wood chips. You wouldn't end up with a whole lot of smoke flavor, but it would be the least amount of work possible. I like to add a load of wood chips around every hour or so, then let it go without added smoke for the last hour or two. I did the math, and this was the cheapest way for me to go. Lump charcoal isn't terribly expensive, especially compared to the Bradley smokers that burn up 3 bisquettes per hour. A 120 pack of them is $40-45, so for an 8 hour smoke it would cost about $8.00 to $9.00 for the bisquettes alone. Refilling propane tanks isn't terribly cheap, nor convenient, so propane was out of the question. I can get 2 smokes out of a $1.99 bag of hickory chips from Walmart. The MES uses a 1500 watt element (I think) so even if it was heating the entire time (which it doesn't), an 8 hour smoke would only cost me about $1.20 in electricity.
 
Messages
1,748
Location
Indiana
I'm guessing the charcoal smokers that chevrofreak and Pablo dislike are probably the typical cheap Brinkman verticals that have no way to control temperature. Those are junk that have ruined a lot of food, and turned a lot of people away from bbq'ing. A quality smoker like the WSM or drum like I use, http://www.bigdrumsmoker.com eliminate all the problems associated with charcoal smokers.I have one of the Masterbuilts, and like it, but prefer the finished product I get with charcoal and wood.
 
Messages
6,367
Location
Midwest
I've smoked meats for years and used both charcoal and electric. If you're dedicated and willing to keep fussing with your smoker to keep the temperature constant charcoal is great. For that reason I now own an electric Bradley and couldn't be happier. I did a turkey yesterday-put it in just before 7:00 AM and didn't have to worry about anything until I checked the temperature of the meat at 1:30. Later this week I have a brisket that I'll put in around 9:00 PM and let it cook all night while I sleep. You can't do that with charcoal. You might want to browse the Bradley smoker forums-great bunch of people.
 
Messages
47,536
Location
Duvall WA - Pacific NW USA
I use real wood with my electric home made smoker - it's sorta implied that electrics don't real wood chunks/chips. The wood on the electric skillet is very much combusting. I have nothing at all against indirect smoking with charcoal or better yet "log" burners.
 
Last edited:
Messages
1,748
Location
Indiana
 Originally Posted By: Pop_Rivit
Later this week I have a brisket that I'll put in around 9:00 PM and let it cook all night while I sleep. You can't do that with charcoal.
People keep saying that and quite frankly,it's not true.I really don't understand why this myth is still alive. I do the majority of my cooks at night with either the WSM or the drum while I sleep. It takes an hour or so to stabilize, then they don't need anymore tending.Take a few minutes and go to http://www.virtualweberbullet.com or http://www.bbq-brethren.com and read the experiences of hundreds of others who do the same thing.
 
Messages
6,367
Location
Midwest
 Originally Posted By: farrarfan1
 Originally Posted By: Pop_Rivit
Later this week I have a brisket that I'll put in around 9:00 PM and let it cook all night while I sleep. You can't do that with charcoal.
People keep saying that and quite frankly,it's not true.I really don't understand why this myth is still alive. I do the majority of my cooks at night with either the WSM or the drum while I sleep. It takes an hour or so to stabilize, then they don't need anymore tending.Take a few minutes and go to http://www.virtualweberbullet.com or http://www.bbq-brethren.com and read the experiences of hundreds of others who do the same thing.
Might I suggest you go to the Bradley smoker forums and read up on all the former charcoal smokers who have gone to the electric smokers and never looked back?
 
Messages
1,748
Location
Indiana
 Originally Posted By: Pop_Rivit
 Originally Posted By: farrarfan1
 Originally Posted By: Pop_Rivit
Later this week I have a brisket that I'll put in around 9:00 PM and let it cook all night while I sleep. You can't do that with charcoal.
People keep saying that and quite frankly,it's not true.I really don't understand why this myth is still alive. I do the majority of my cooks at night with either the WSM or the drum while I sleep. It takes an hour or so to stabilize, then they don't need anymore tending.Take a few minutes and go to http://www.virtualweberbullet.com or http://www.bbq-brethren.com and read the experiences of hundreds of others who do the same thing.
Might I suggest you go to the Bradley smoker forums and read up on all the former charcoal smokers who have gone to the electric smokers and never looked back?
I don't question that a lot of people have switched to Bradley's, just as a lot of people use Traegers and FEC's. I just pointed out that anyone saying "You can't do that with charcoal." is wrong.
 
Messages
6,991
Location
Everett, Washington
I am looking for something that is good for smoking Salmon. My Brother used to use a Little Chief. I see they make the Luhr Jenson Big Chief. Would this do a good job for Salmon? I don't think I will be doing anything but Salmon. I think my Brother used a smaller version so I will get his opinion on it.
 
Messages
379
Location
Mi
You want a charcoal for smoking fish and do not smoke fish with a propane powered smoker.Leaves a fish taste to other foods that are smoked even with the grades washed very good.The propane powered smoker is very hard to find.Did some venison in a propane smoker and came out great.
 
Messages
4,942
Location
Billings, MT
Electric should be easiest to keep at the low temperature you need for salmon. Some propane ones simply will not run that cool, and charcoal can be hard to keep that cool as well.
 
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