LTH Home

Shopping for a Smoker.

Shopping for a Smoker.
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 10
  • Shopping for a Smoker.

    Post #1 - June 7th, 2004, 5:00 pm
    Post #1 - June 7th, 2004, 5:00 pm Post #1 - June 7th, 2004, 5:00 pm
    I'm eager to try my hand at smoking my own meats, but I'm also the type of shopper who researches purchases to an agonizing extent before deciding on what to pick up. I'm aware that I'm in the presence of a couple barbecue gurus on this board, so I figured I'd appeal for some advice before making a purchase.

    If I was in a situation where I had the room, I'd most certainly opt for the traditional barrel-type smoker with a seperate firebox.

    Unfortunately I live in a third-story apartment with a wooden deck in the city. An apparent city ordinance forbids the use of a charcoal fire above ground level on a wooden deck, and the deck is nicely sized but quite full of furniture and whatnot to begin with.

    It looks like I have little choice but to use a propane or electric smoker, and an "egg" smoker at that. (Due to space restrictions.) Should I even bother, given the situation? If it's worth bothering with, are there any not-so-obvious features that I should be looking for? Models/brands that I should avoid at all costs?

    Also, I've heard mention of a barbecue list? Is that list open to new members?

    Thanks.
    -Pete
  • Post #2 - June 8th, 2004, 5:54 pm
    Post #2 - June 8th, 2004, 5:54 pm Post #2 - June 8th, 2004, 5:54 pm
    Calling Ronnie Suburban, a smoking guru!!!!
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #3 - June 8th, 2004, 10:19 pm
    Post #3 - June 8th, 2004, 10:19 pm Post #3 - June 8th, 2004, 10:19 pm
    Alas, they have moved, but neighbors of mine had a Brinkmann smoker on their first-floor deck (of a six-flat). I thought to myself when I noticed it that these were people worth knowing, but they moved not long after. While I noticed the make, I couldn't see a model name, but to the best of my memory it stood four or five feet high and was a black cylinder, maybe 18-24 inches in diameter, on three sturdy wire legs. So clearly someone is getting away with using them -- my guess is that no embers are visible or, for that matter, likely to escape, so these may get a pass unless someone complains.

    Of course, I'm not suggesting you do anything illegal, just reporting what little I have seen in the past. :)

    Bob
  • Post #4 - June 8th, 2004, 10:33 pm
    Post #4 - June 8th, 2004, 10:33 pm Post #4 - June 8th, 2004, 10:33 pm
    There was an episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown built a cold smoker using a big cardboard carton, a hotplate to heat the hardwood chunks, and a battery-operated fan (could probably use a PC case fan) to move air.

    Yeah, it's probably still a fire hazard, but it breaks down to invisible

    I've got one of those stubby barrel smokers I got as a company gift (it was the only thing on the list that interested me, I don't golf or wear wristwatches), but haven't had a chance to cook using it -- gas is just so darn convenient. Even if it's not as tasty as real charcoal, you can still make good chow, especially when it's this hot out.
  • Post #5 - June 9th, 2004, 7:06 am
    Post #5 - June 9th, 2004, 7:06 am Post #5 - June 9th, 2004, 7:06 am
    Pete

    I once had a Brinkman smoker on my deck. Now I have a rebuilt deck and an offset smoker in the back yard. The firepan on the Brinkman has a singular ventalation hole in the bottom. ONE ember fell out and got the green wollmanized lumber on the deck to smoldering away for hours. At about 3am I recieved a call from my neighbor telling me the back of my house was on fire. Turns out the deck had finally burned thru and ignited the wood pile directly below the smoker :shock:

    The fireman all had a good laugh when they rolled up and found me, hose in hand in my underware.

    If you are confined to your deck I would reccomend the Weber smokey mountain cooker and build a sand filled base to put it in.

    BTW Sunday there is a BBQ contest at Ribfest (lincoln,Irving and Damen) might be a good opportunity to see different smokers in action.


    http://www.northcenterchamber.com/site/epage/1050_62.htm
  • Post #6 - June 9th, 2004, 9:21 am
    Post #6 - June 9th, 2004, 9:21 am Post #6 - June 9th, 2004, 9:21 am
    Pete wrote:
    Unfortunately I live in a third-story apartment with a wooden deck in the city. An apparent city ordinance forbids the use of a charcoal fire above ground level on a wooden deck, and the deck is nicely sized but quite full of furniture and whatnot to begin with.

    It looks like I have little choice but to use a propane or electric smoker, and an "egg" smoker at that. (Due to space restrictions.) Should I even bother, given the situation? If it's worth bothering with, are there any not-so-obvious features that I should be looking for? Models/brands that I should avoid at all costs?

    Also, I've heard mention of a barbecue list? Is that list open to new members?

    Thanks.


    http://www.thesmokering.com has good information on smoking and access to an email list you may find helpful.

    I'm assuming you are wanting to BBQ meats like ribs, pork, brisket, etc. and that space is a consideration. If so, you might check into the Great Outdoors Smoker. This would be a good smoker to use in your situation. I would make other recommendations if you were able to use charcoal. I would stay away from electric smokers unless you are wanting to cold smoke sausage.

    Image

    Wal-Mart usually has these smokers, but there are other resources available. Possibly try Amazon.com
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #7 - June 9th, 2004, 8:57 pm
    Post #7 - June 9th, 2004, 8:57 pm Post #7 - June 9th, 2004, 8:57 pm
    Living in the city as well and having only a wood deck to smoke on, I decided upon the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker ("WSM"). I have always been a HUGE fan of Weber products and this on does not fail. It is a bullet smoker, and for a beginner I think is a great choice. Reason being it is VERY easy to hold a proper smoking temperature with little maintenance. I have gone as long as 15-18 hours with one load of charcoal. The base as 3 vents and due to placement there is little chance of embers falling through.
    You can find good info at the site below and you can purchase at Amazon for $179 shipped free.

    http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/

    Now, I have used mine exclusively on wood decks, and am currently in a 3rd floor condo with a wood deck. I purchased a concrete composite pad meant to go under a grill (bought at Home depot, $30 I believe), which is fireproof and large enough to hold the smoker as well as rest the lid when it is off. I often let the thing cook away overnight while I am sleeping and have little concern about fire. Of course I do have a fire extinguisher at the ready just in case.
    If you have any question, feel free to drop me a line.
    Jamie
  • Post #8 - June 10th, 2004, 12:50 pm
    Post #8 - June 10th, 2004, 12:50 pm Post #8 - June 10th, 2004, 12:50 pm
    Pssst - the BBQ guru, hisself, has also recommended the Smokey Mountain to me, and I am going to buy one this very day. Get an extra charcoal grate, I am told and see on the web, to back up the one included and you will be further protected from losing charcoal.

    Say no more :wink:
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #9 - June 10th, 2004, 1:00 pm
    Post #9 - June 10th, 2004, 1:00 pm Post #9 - June 10th, 2004, 1:00 pm
    I don't know if I would sweat the extra grate too much as I have never really had an issue with coals falling through other than when I am pouring charcoal in initially (when it is unlit). But of course it wouldn't hurt to have it either.
    If you are going to buy a WSM, I recommend checking the website I posted yesterday instead of reading the owners manual, and also it will give you an idea what accessories you need to buy to have a successful first cook.
    Also, Peoria Packing is your friend, located at 1300 W Lake Street, it is teh perfect place to buy pig parts to smoke :) Their ribs are great and quite cheap and have a huge selection. In fact I will be there early tomorrow morning buying spare ribs as my company is closed Friday so I will be cooking ribs to host a happy hour for those friends who get stuck at the office all day :)
    Jamie
  • Post #10 - June 10th, 2004, 6:07 pm
    Post #10 - June 10th, 2004, 6:07 pm Post #10 - June 10th, 2004, 6:07 pm
    Thanks for all the help, folks.

    I think the Smokey Mountain is going to be the winner for me. You can't beat a product with it's own cult following. (And that's beneficial as that means there's a group of people already familiar with every subtle nuance of the machine.)

    Peoria Packing sounds great too - close to home, and I'm sure it's cheaper than the Paulina Meat Market. (And I recall hearing good things about 'em on CH about two or three weeks ago too.)

    I can't find any listed city ordinance against charcoal on the deck, so I'll just put a large concrete pad under it and be very careful. (The only ordinance I found involved enclosed porches. I'm on the top floor and it's open on all sides.)

    Thanks again, I can't wait to get started smoking.
    -Pete
  • Post #11 - June 10th, 2004, 6:13 pm
    Post #11 - June 10th, 2004, 6:13 pm Post #11 - June 10th, 2004, 6:13 pm
    If you go to Peoria Packing (their spares are usually in the $1.50/lb range but varies. Gets cheaper as summer gets going it seems) one helpful hint is to take your slabs to teh guy in pack of the store and tell them to "trim the tips off and crack the chine bone". This will leave you with a St Louis cut slab and rib tips that will be easy to manage, and they act as a snack as they tend to cook much faster than the ribs. Also, I have found that cutting my slabs in half and using 2 rib racks (one on each grate) is much easier to manage than rolling ribs. Think my racks are by Char-Broil and are at Home Depot for $8 or so. You can bend them a bit to increase thenumber of slots and also leans pieces up against them.
    Jamie
  • Post #12 - June 14th, 2004, 10:40 am
    Post #12 - June 14th, 2004, 10:40 am Post #12 - June 14th, 2004, 10:40 am
    Well, seems right now Spares are $1.89/lb at Peoria Packing.
    Here's a few pictures of my Friday smoke (please excuse the dog pictures):

    http://tinyurl.com/36pru
  • Post #13 - June 14th, 2004, 10:56 am
    Post #13 - June 14th, 2004, 10:56 am Post #13 - June 14th, 2004, 10:56 am
    The dog looks delicious: very meaty. How did you prepare him? :twisted:
  • Post #14 - June 14th, 2004, 11:53 am
    Post #14 - June 14th, 2004, 11:53 am Post #14 - June 14th, 2004, 11:53 am
    Jamieson22 wrote:I don't know if I would sweat the extra grate too much as I have never really had an issue with coals falling through other than when I am pouring charcoal in initially

    Jamieson,

    Two charcoal grates, set in a grid pattern, are useful if one cooks with lump charcoal, which I recommend. If you are using briquettes of the Kingsford variety it doesn't really matter.

    Very nice spares and Hammond's right, delicious looking dog. :lol:

    Enjoy,
    Gary
  • Post #15 - June 14th, 2004, 11:59 am
    Post #15 - June 14th, 2004, 11:59 am Post #15 - June 14th, 2004, 11:59 am
    Hey, where do you guys shop for dog? Or do you have other sources?
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #16 - June 14th, 2004, 12:02 pm
    Post #16 - June 14th, 2004, 12:02 pm Post #16 - June 14th, 2004, 12:02 pm
    Guess I forgot about the lump charcoal factor, in which case a second grate would be quite a good idea.

    Another small bit of advice to any of these new WSM users: Always line your water pan with foil. I forgot this time and clean up effort is tripled if you don't use foil.

    And the dog had better look good, I have been fattening her up for 5+ years now ;)

    Jamie
  • Post #17 - June 14th, 2004, 12:05 pm
    Post #17 - June 14th, 2004, 12:05 pm Post #17 - June 14th, 2004, 12:05 pm
    Pete wrote:
    I can't find any listed city ordinance against charcoal on the deck, so I'll just put a large concrete pad under it and be very careful. (The only ordinance I found involved enclosed porches. I'm on the top floor and it's open on all sides.)

    Thanks again, I can't wait to get started smoking.


    The concrete pad is a good idea. You might try to put a lip around so that any spills won't roll off onto the wood or the floor below accidently. I would strongly suggest that anyone cooking on a wooden deck or porch have a fire extinguisher nearby and handy. Its better to be safe than sorry.

    The WSM is an outstanding cooker for its size. Gwiv has cooked over 4000lbs in his over the past few years. This is an underestimate too.
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #18 - June 26th, 2004, 3:37 pm
    Post #18 - June 26th, 2004, 3:37 pm Post #18 - June 26th, 2004, 3:37 pm
    So Pete, did you get the smoker yet? How's it working out?
    Jamie
  • Post #19 - July 1st, 2004, 6:48 am
    Post #19 - July 1st, 2004, 6:48 am Post #19 - July 1st, 2004, 6:48 am
    Jamieson22 wrote:So Pete, did you get the smoker yet? How's it working out?
    Jamie


    Sorry for being so slow to respond, I somehow missed this post up until now.

    I had a reshuffling of fiscal priorities, and the smoker got knocked down a few notches. I've taken the time to study the Smokering's BBQ list and pore over virtualweberbullet.com though, so I'm hoping to at least -think- that I've got a clue when the time arrives that I pick a WSM up. (I've even taken the liberty of printing off step one of GWiv's 5 step method, just to have on hand when I can make use of it.)
    -Pete
  • Post #20 - July 1st, 2004, 10:18 pm
    Post #20 - July 1st, 2004, 10:18 pm Post #20 - July 1st, 2004, 10:18 pm
    the wms looks very interesting, thinking of getting it. Wondered about the gwiv 5 step method. Tried to search for it but no luck. Is it on LTH or on the wms site?
  • Post #21 - August 3rd, 2004, 12:05 pm
    Post #21 - August 3rd, 2004, 12:05 pm Post #21 - August 3rd, 2004, 12:05 pm
    Just figured I put up some pictures to further the interest in everyone owning a smoker ;)
    These are before/after pics of a 22.5lb turkey I smoked on Saturday. Cook hot and fast, at 325-250 for a bit over 4 hours. Brushed skin with olive oil and gave it a spice rub: nice and simple.

    http://tinyurl.com/69ny9

    Jamie
  • Post #22 - August 3rd, 2004, 12:13 pm
    Post #22 - August 3rd, 2004, 12:13 pm Post #22 - August 3rd, 2004, 12:13 pm
    psychchef wrote:the wms looks very interesting, thinking of getting it. Wondered about the gwiv 5 step method. Tried to search for it but no luck. Is it on LTH or on the wms site?


    I think Gary is trying to put something together. The Gwiv 5-Step method is a great way to learn how to smoke using the WSM. The problem is most people start the method and then fiddle with it. Unfortunately, fiddling with the learning process creates problems.

    David Hammond might have an extra copy of the 250 page contract he signed to learn from the Ulitimo himself. But since he sought external advice his learning curve was altered. :)
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #23 - August 3rd, 2004, 12:21 pm
    Post #23 - August 3rd, 2004, 12:21 pm Post #23 - August 3rd, 2004, 12:21 pm
    If someone wants to pick up some meat to throw on the WSM and enough beer to keep me busy while the meat cooks, I'll teach them how to use a smoker ;)

    Jamie
  • Post #24 - August 3rd, 2004, 1:38 pm
    Post #24 - August 3rd, 2004, 1:38 pm Post #24 - August 3rd, 2004, 1:38 pm
    j22 wrote: Cook hot and fast, at 325-250 for a bit over 4 hours


    You know I was going to ask you what the trick was to get the WSM to 325 degrees, but then I noticed the high end of the range, and concluded you really meant 225-250. Is that it?

    Thanks for the pix. I am enjoying my WSM quite a bit, as is my family. Some day I even expect to be competent.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #25 - August 3rd, 2004, 1:44 pm
    Post #25 - August 3rd, 2004, 1:44 pm Post #25 - August 3rd, 2004, 1:44 pm
    Ooops, no I actually meant 325-350 degrees. Turkey has no benefit from being cooked low and slow so I cooked at same temp you would in the oven to have crisp skin.
    I started with a chimmney full of lit briquettes, emptied them into the charcoal ring and then covered with another batch of unlit. Left the whole thing open until they all were blazing then assembled cooker with no water in the water pan (I foiled the pan so clean up was easier).
    It was quite easy to hold a high temp this way.
    Jamie
  • Post #26 - August 3rd, 2004, 1:46 pm
    Post #26 - August 3rd, 2004, 1:46 pm Post #26 - August 3rd, 2004, 1:46 pm
    Unfortunately, fiddling with the learning process creates problems.



    Innocent, INNOCENT mistakes! I have to repeat class two because of INNOCENT mistakes! (I built my fire wrong)

    Ok, I didn't use an oven thermometer but a Poldor. I got wrapped on the knuckles (figuretively) for not buying the cheapie oven thermometer. Well, just using the wrong thermometer, where it pointed down, my WSM had temperatures of 300-350 degrees.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #27 - August 3rd, 2004, 2:37 pm
    Post #27 - August 3rd, 2004, 2:37 pm Post #27 - August 3rd, 2004, 2:37 pm
    Thanks Jamie. My main failing in smoking so far has been impatience - not letting the fire get hot enough before starting, and then having to smoke longer at a lower temperature. I think I get it now, but that brief bit of instruction is doubly useful and I will save it for my next Turkey.

    C2 - I cannot tell you all the mistakes and willful shortcuts I have taken in my GWIV 5 steps. It could be a book.

    I have now completed step 2 twice and step 3 three times, and I almost have it right, even if I am not quite happy with my (in)consistency. The good news is, my family has really enjoyed all the results after step 1, and the Bride really enjoyed the little salmon filet I smoked along with one of my repeats of step 2 (no not for the whole time I smoked the chickens). The brined, smoked chicken makes an excellent ingredient for salads and soups. A low fat bacon substitute, IMO.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #28 - August 3rd, 2004, 2:51 pm
    Post #28 - August 3rd, 2004, 2:51 pm Post #28 - August 3rd, 2004, 2:51 pm
    Well, generally a lower temp is much more desired, the only hot smoking I do (well, have done I should say) is for turkey, chicken wings, salmon, etc.
    For a normal session I use the Minion Method. As much unlit coal as you need to get ya through cook in the charcoal ring, then add 15 or so lit coals on top. Assemble cooker and put meat on and control temp as it rises. Virtually fool proof for 225-250 degree temps.
    Now if you ever get stuck with everything cooking and your temp too low just add some air. Usually just having all vents open will get it up there eventually but don't be afraid to take the door off for a bit in a pinch. That'll get the fire stoked.
    What is this 5 step program being mentioned?
    Jamie
  • Post #29 - August 3rd, 2004, 11:47 pm
    Post #29 - August 3rd, 2004, 11:47 pm Post #29 - August 3rd, 2004, 11:47 pm
    Jamieson22 wrote:What is this 5 step program being mentioned?
    Jamie

    Jamie,

    I've been using the WSM rain, shine, sleet, snow for 8+ years, and am fairly handy with the thing. Last year I gave my nephew, who lives in California, a WSM, problem was he had no idea as to it's use.

    I started writing tutorials for him, fire starting (I don't use the Minion method), fire control, etc. I have since refined this into a 5-Step method to learn the WSM. My WSM 5-step is not quite ready for Prime Time, but is getting close. I've taught, or am in the process of teaching, 10-12 people, with, mostly, very good results.

    The 5-Step is not so much about cooking meat as it is learning fire and smoke control. The only, small, problem some are having is I ask people to keep strictly to the program for the first 5-cooks. It's been my experience, from both cooking and being a member of BBQ oriented mailing lists (listservs) for the past 8-years that when newbies try to mix and match advice disaster is just around the corner.

    I am by no means saying that my way with the WSM is the only way, but I've found, without a doubt, that if one follows all 5-steps they have a damn good understanding of how to use the WSM. Once you have the basics, it's fairly easy to cook BBQ better than 99.9% of all BBQ restaurants.

    By the way, nice looking turkey.

    Here's a turkey I did a few weeks ago.
    Image

    I typically take out the backbone, brine, snap the leg joint out from the thigh joint (This allows the thigh to cook a wee bit quicker) and break the breastbone so it lays flat, aka Spatchcock the bird. I position the bird with the leg/thigh scrunched up to cover/protect the breast, so the bird cooks more evenly.

    I don't go the no-water in the waterpan route, but as I use sand, which acts as a heat sink/temperature stabilizer, I can get higher temps as well. I, also, like higher temps with poultry.

    We ought to get together for a BBQ one of these days, you certainly seem to know your way around the smoker.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
  • Post #30 - August 4th, 2004, 8:51 am
    Post #30 - August 4th, 2004, 8:51 am Post #30 - August 4th, 2004, 8:51 am
    So Dicksond and Cathy2 are both new WSM owners learing from an old master? That has to help the learning curve quite a bit :) I'd be interested to see your 5-Step Method once you get it ready.
    I've got enough room on my roof deck for a gaggle of WSMs if anyone might be interested in a smokefest :) Sure we could all learn a few things.
    GWiv that turkey looks good. I usually keep my turkeys whole like in my pics, and often drape bacon strips over the breast and make a foil tent to protect the breast while the thighs finish off.
    Jamie

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more