Calling All Smokers!

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mekender
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Re: Calling All Smokers!

Post by mekender » Fri May 06, 2016 4:44 am

Pretty much the gold standard in low cost smokers:

http://www.amazon.com/Weber-721001-Moun ... B001I8ZTJ0

I have one on my back porch... Big enough to do 4 to 6 pork butts and the charcoal grate is large enough to run for 12 to 14 hours without any feeding. A note, if you are in an area where humidity varies from month to month, you have to take that into account and keep the water pan filled during low humidity months, I ruined my first Thanksgiving turkey by making that mistake.

IMO the only real problem I have with it is that it is too big to do small portions meant for only a couple of people without effort... What I mean is that the same 45 minute process of cleaning, assembling, loading with charcoal, getting up to temp and putting food on will happen for both 5 pork butts and for a single rack of ribs. It is not horrible but it makes short smokes a bit of a pain.

A better option for small smokes, which I also have and use is a Weber kettle grill...

I have one like this but a much older model:

http://www.amazon.com/Weber-15501001-Pe ... 00MKB5V1A/

I have a grate that has hinges on it and I can lift up the side to feed charcoal onto one side while the meat is on the other not over the direct heat. Bonus is that it doubles as a damn good grill... But it is not that great for doing big smokes like a full brisket or pork butt.
“I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democrat Party has adopted our platform.” - Norman Thomas, a six time candidate for president for the Socialist Party, 1944

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mekender
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Re: Calling All Smokers!

Post by mekender » Fri May 06, 2016 4:46 am

MarkD wrote:
PawPaw wrote:
Oh, and if you're cleaning "soot and gunk" off of anything that uses smoke, you're just reducing flavor. I can see pressure washing it once a year or so, if you're so inclined, but I don't clean smokers. They're supposed to smell like that.
Well, I DID try to smoke on my gas grill, so the soot and gunk needed to come off so it could be used for normal grilling. A big part of it also was that, because (I think) too much air got in, I had an absolute bonfire in there instead of the smoldering wood chips you ought to have.

A dedicated smoker would let the crud build up, as you said, they're supposed to smell like that.
Gas smokers are tricky for a few reasons... In addition to what you mention, gas is wet by nature which significantly changes the smoking process in many cases.
“I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democrat Party has adopted our platform.” - Norman Thomas, a six time candidate for president for the Socialist Party, 1944

MarkD
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Re: Calling All Smokers!

Post by MarkD » Fri May 06, 2016 12:46 pm

Having read the replies:

As I said, electric isn't really an option (I'm assuming they still need to be outside, running extension cords is a pain).

I'm not real interested in a DIY smoker, if I were I'd build an Ugly Drum smoker.

For gas smokers, how much gas do they use? I've read some places that you won't get two smokes out of a tank. I keep an extra tank for the grill (ran out once during a family barbecue, on a Sunday when everything is closed. Only time in history a woman got mad at her husband for not having ENOUGH gas), but if I go with a gas smoke I may need to get a couple more tanks.

Since I got my Weber gas grill last summer I've become a total Weber fanboi. By the time I got done assembling it I understood why they cost twice what a CharBroil costs, and why they're worth every penny.

I've considered the kettle grill option, but I don't really need another grill since I have the gas grill. There are a number of options to make the kettle into a better smoker (including tubes that sit on top and basically turn it into a Smokey Mountain smoker), but when you do all that you're getting to the same price-point as the WSM.

Anything I get will be mostly used for just my wife and I, but I'd really like to try smoking the Thanksgiving turkey. I'd try it on a small one for us first just to make sure before subjecting the whole crew to it. Mostly it'll be ribs, chicken, the occasional pork shoulder or butt. We have an occasional cook-out with the whole family (generally about 20 people), if we do that the smoker will only handle part of the cooking duties, the rest will be steaks/burgers/hot dogs/etc on the gas grill.

I'd certainly get a remote thermometer so I could monitor the temperature without going outside.

Thanks for the replies folks. I'm still thinking the Smokey Mountain would be the way to go....

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PawPaw
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Re: Calling All Smokers!

Post by PawPaw » Fri May 06, 2016 12:57 pm

How long will a tank of propane last? That depends on how long you smoke each time. Obviously, a 12-hour smoke is going to burn more propane than a 4-hour smoke.

Thinking back, though, I generally get four or five 4-hour smokes out of a tank of propane. I don't have to change bottles so often that it has concerned me much.

A remote thermometer is a good idea. The thermometers on the outside of most grills or smokers are notoriously inaccurate. Even so, if you want to absolutely "nail" 225F, it's probably going to be fiddly, and temperatures vary a bit depending on the exact location in the smoker where you take the temps. I find generally, that the top of the smoker is hotter than the bottom. Go figure. I normally try to set the temp to be at about 250F at the top of the smoker, then forget it.

Most importantly, get the one you want. I like mine, but that doesn't mean that it's the best for you.
Dennis Dezendorf
PawPaw's House

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blackeagle603
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Re: Calling All Smokers!

Post by blackeagle603 » Fri May 06, 2016 5:22 pm

My clay pot redneck smoker has been great. I can just get 2 pork shoulders or a 20# turkey inside. Ribs took a little thinking to get a full rack in (in pieces, vertically). That's plenty for 95% of the groups I feed.

Only problem is the hotplate elements tend to have a short life. My most recent heating element went out recently and I've been pondering a more reliable heat source.

I have electric, propane tanks and a NG line handy so the sky is the limit.

I like the fire and forget aspect of electric.
With electric I turn it on, hang my PID temp controller probe just above the meat, set the desired temp and walk away.

I've smoked several times in my Dukane gas grill. However, on a long smoke the tank pressure can decrease and with it the temps. Need to remember to check temp every 3-4 hours on a 12-14 hour pork shoulder smoke. Not sure I see a simple redneck way to run LG or propane with the same level of neglect as I do with electric.
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mekender
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Re: Calling All Smokers!

Post by mekender » Fri May 06, 2016 8:20 pm

MarkD wrote:Thanks for the replies folks. I'm still thinking the Smokey Mountain would be the way to go....
From what you describe, probably so... As I said earlier my biggest problem is the time involved in setting it up for small smokes... But that does not mean it is not well worth it when you sample the results.

Best thing is, if you have a Prime account, Amazon will deliver it to your door in 2 days. If you don't have a prime account, the cost of shipping at any other place will be nearly what a Prime account costs and it will damn sure not be 2 day shipping.
“I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democrat Party has adopted our platform.” - Norman Thomas, a six time candidate for president for the Socialist Party, 1944

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blackeagle603
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Re: Calling All Smokers!

Post by blackeagle603 » Sat May 07, 2016 1:08 am

PawPaw,
How fiddly is the temp on that CampChef unit? You able to get it dialed in and walk away for a good spell?
"The Guncounter: More fun than a barrel of tattooed knife-fighting chain-smoking monkey butlers with drinking problems and excessive gambling debts!"

"The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic;" Justice Story

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PawPaw
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Re: Calling All Smokers!

Post by PawPaw » Sat May 07, 2016 3:35 pm

blackeagle603 wrote:PawPaw,
How fiddly is the temp on that CampChef unit? You able to get it dialed in and walk away for a good spell?
It takes a little while to get it dialed in, a half-hour or so. After that, I walk past it once an hour or so and check temps. Of course, I've had it for a year now and know what to expect. 90% of it is knowing your equipment.
Dennis Dezendorf
PawPaw's House

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Termite
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Re: Calling All Smokers!

Post by Termite » Sat May 07, 2016 9:09 pm

MarkD,

If you run a 120VAC 20A electric line out to your patio, you'll wonder why you ever did without it. Then you can use an electric insulated smoker like the Masterbuilt 30" S/S one sold at Academy for $249. LINK
"Life is a bitch. Shit happens. Adapt, improvise, and overcome. Acknowledge it, and move on."

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