I just started getting in to smoking myself. Best advice is to get involved in a forum dedicated to the topic. I belong to the appropriately named "smoking meat forums" that I would recommend. The WSM is widely regarded as an excellent smoker, btw.
OT: Grill/Smoker Suggestions?
My dilemma: purchased a Weber 22.5 inch Performer last summer and it has done a great job for me so far with both briquettes and lump charcoal. However, I am just now getting extremely interested in smoking and attempted a makeshift smoke on some wings tonight (turned out well but required a ton of babysitting).
I am now interested in adding a Weber Smokey Mountain ($299) in addition do my Weber Performer OR selling my Weber Performer and splurging on a Big Green Egg (large size - $700-$1,000).
Anyone have a similar situation in the past? Ideas? Options?
Answers for EVERTHANG
I once queried - " derp, anyone ever smoke a pot roast?". I had 25 replies inside 2 hours, and I smoked the best got-damn pot roast ever known by mankind.
Love that website.
Big Green Egg's the equivalent to training wheels, by the way.
delicious, evenly cooked, and remarkable-tasting training wheels. Can't beat a BGE.
A buddy of mine just bought one and he is obsessed. It's tempting...
This is true! BGE rocks. You can grill year round which what I do. Also get a La Caja China so you can do whole animals. Which is the best.
I must say my Weber Genesis (lp gas) owes me nothing. I treat it like crap, don't clean it and it just cooks great food. Its never been one to get very hot, (like 550 max) but it just works. I will always appreciate Weber grills. That said, I've been studying and lusting over a green egg for a couple years now. I wouldn't fault you for going in either direction.
(Re-reading my dumb comment, I realize that it may not help you make any decisions. Sorry. But I do like where your head is at.)
No worries! I actually had a Genesis and ditched it. I won't do gas again. It worked well enough but the flavor wasn't there compared to charcoal.
rusting out Holland Grill it replaced.
At the time I thought I was missing being able to control the temperature. It was very hard to screw up a meal on the Holland Grill, and the smoker box worked really well too.
We built a smoker out of a 68 cu.ft. commercial refrigerator. We've smoked 250 lbs of deer at once in it. Mmm...deer. One word. Awesome. It's gas. Put in redundant thermostats. It smokes with charcoal.
More useful to you perhaps is that masterbuilt makes a pretty good smoker. You can get a decent one at meijer for about $200. Go electric. Much easier than gas or charcoal. Did have to replace the wiring on the burner after about 5 years of heavy use. Had to drill the rivets out of the back and pop rivet it back on after. Easy, but it took a couple hours. That was a couple years ago.
For a dinner for a family, nothing is easier than an electric smoker. The masterbuilt has been great for years.
I have a big green egg and it is awesome. It is very versatile, you can smoke and grill, just about anything you can imagine. I have had it for 5 years and love it.
The best combo I've found is The Big Green Egg. It grills as well as any grill, and is almost as good as a dedicated smoker.
There is a knock off made in Mexico? that is just about as awesome. I think the only real difference is the hinge hardware. They brand is Kamado.
Kamado was an option I considered but I heard they're under some major fraud issues.
The Big Green Egg is incredible. It doesn't take long to get going and the food that comes off of it is competition level stuff. Highly recommend it!
I'm in the process of adding a side firebox to my Weber Genesis grill. Will allow me to grill like normal or smoke with charcoal and wood. The key is to making the cooking chamber as efficient as possible so you don't have to be babysitting the temperature all day.
But one must, is getting a DVD of "primal grill". The recipies are out of this world.
I have heard about this and I would like to try it someday, maybe it would work for you.
This claims they paid $12 for the garbage can, I paid $25 for mine at lowes but I used it for garbage, I would get a new one dedicated to only smoking.
I saved the side burner from an old propane BBQ that was ready for the garbage and I plan to use that instead of an electric hotplate.
I have the same charcoal grill. You can easily turn it into a smoker. I think the flavor is better too. Look up some videos on YouTube.
Yup. I did it tonight and it turned out really well. Just did wings for an hour or so but might want to go for a standalone smoker.
I've been smokin' for nearly 20 years. Weber grills work great. The design is really good for indirect heat circulation; perfect for smoking ribs etc. I paid less than $30.00 for mine, but use soaked wood chips and low temps for best results. Rule 1: Low and slow. For pork and fish, try alder wood. Dry rubs are great and add a mop sauce over the last half hour to avoid burning, sticking and over-caramelization of sauce.
I bought a yoder grill/smoker a couple years ago and absolutely love it. Not super cheap, but it's really sturdy and functions as both a grill and an indirect smoker. The website is: www.yodersmokers.com.
If she smokes, she pokes!
What if you don't have time to deal with charcoal? I love it too, but I rarely have the time to deal with that.
I'm sorry for your loss.
You need to make time.
Then you're just grilling.
I think I'm OK with that actually.
You are just grilling anyway.
You don't need charcoal. Our big smoker has a gas burner for heat, but we built a smoke generator out of a 5 gal air tank and use charcoal for smoke and we have a 40 inch tall electric smoker and there's no noticeable difference in flavor. The flavor comes from the wood, not the charcoal. We've also used a Weber barrel shaped charcoal smoker and a small gas smoker.
Our experience has been the flavor comes from the wood, not the heat source and that smoker type doesn't make the difference. And we've smoked over a literal ton of deer alone over the years. Some years we smoke 400 pounds of deer. The electric masterbuilt with cherry tastes just as good as the Weber charcoal with cherry tastes just as good as the Weber gas with cherry tastes just as good as the gas heat with charcoal generator home built monster smoker with cherry. Because the flavor should come from the cherry (or wood of choice). If you use charcoal, you're not just getting your wood of choice, you're also getting charcoal flavor. Not necessarily bad, not necessarily great.
I want to know where you're finding 400lbs of deer in one season. That's 6 or 7 years worth of meat where we hunt.
However, some people have a family farm of about 1000 acres in the golden triangle in Illinois. One year, 4 people brought 12 back from 5 days of bow hunting. And I guess I'm cheating a little. Our summer sausage is 50% pork and snack sticks are 20% pork. My cousin still has probably 200 pounds of ground deer in his freezer we need to turn into bologna. We each usually end up with about 125 pounds of meat, pre-cure weight each year.
Nothing but oak, I don't even use charcoal anymore. Just collect some sticks from under my oak trees. Is the best and it is free!
Also check out Primo. Same type as Big Green Egg, but more oblong shape.
For excellent pork butt:
I saw this years ago and it's a good general approach for a Weber. Can't find the original link but here's one that provides the basic visuals:
What this site doesn't show: Put a foil grill pan (those from Weber are perfect) in the middle of the 2/3 charcoal fuse, with hot water in it before you light it (drop a "handfull" of hot briquettes at the start of the fuse).
CRITICAL - Don't use regular (blue bag) Kingsford, which has lighter fluid type chemicals soaked into the outer layer of the coals, and imparts an unpleasant taste when cooking low and slow. Stubb's charcoal (the sauce people), make natural briquettes that are sold at Lowes. Kingsford makes (or made) natural briquettes (burnt-orange bag) called Championship briquettes, but I haven't been able to buy them for a while (at least here in NH) - discontinued? I'm going to try it with natural lump one of these days - but the uniform-shaped briquettes are preferable.
I do not overlap the coals as those photos show (perhaps I might in the winter though), as I've found they burn hotter and a little faster. I also don't go quite as big with the wood chunks, but space them about like that almost all the way around - I will remove the top coals of the fuse and replace with wood chunk wherever they're placed. I don't get 8 hrs - more like 5 give or take, but then I leave my vents all wide open. I've never checked what temp the fuse burns at, but it always turns out great. I've read that when smoking, the meat only really absorbs smoke flavor for the first half or so of it's cooking time (total 8-12+ hrs depending on temps), and therefore folks will finish the butt in the oven - wrapped in foil at the desired, (controlled) temperature-dictaed time. I've gone an additional 3-4 hrs at 300 deg. with great results, and with more time, will go 250-ish for 6-7 more. I wish I took pictures last time! One fuse-burn (~5 hrs) is just about ideal with this approach.
Experiment with venting and everythings else. These are just rough guidelines really.
One last tip: Attain an internal temp of 210-215 deg. I usually hear folks recommend 180-190, but I have found the pork a little tougher and porky tasting in the middle. I think the flavor, and overall product is much better at the higher temp (not alone on that opinion). The moisture (and melted collagen) retention of the foil, works with the bark attained during the smoking session, however you may have rubbed it, to provide incredible juices you can pour over the shredded pork or use for dipping, whatever.
Anyone else do this? Love to hear your tips.
Great advise. I don't like to use chunks that big as well, prefer something between what is shown and chips. You can soak the chips overnight, but the larger pieces require several days to get good penetration in seasoned wood. Also,I never use briquettes for smoking, I like lump because your getting more even heat throughout the process, and the seasoned wood is just providing the smoke.
I would just stick with the Weber you have, it can be great for a smoker as mentioned above. use good wood and charcoal, indirect heat with a pan of water under the meat and its hard to go wrong.
1) Have been always using charcoal, never briquettes. Wegman's has pretty good chunk charcoal for $7 a bag.
2) Have stopped using mesquite; my wife complains that it makes everything taste the same, so have been using a mix of hickory and applewood.
3) Have recently converted to foiling EVERYTHING after 2-4 hours (2 for ribs, 3 for brisket, 4 for butts/shoulder). Got better results with less cooking time, and have eliminated the problem of oversmoking the bark.
4) Typical run temp for me is 250-275, but am going to try running a little hotter today for my pork shoulder. I like watching BBQ Pitmasters, and Myron Mixon keeps saying he runs butt/shoulder 'hot' at 325 for 4-6 instead of 250-75 for 6-8 so...
5) Next task is to start injecting...
I have a Big Steel Keg; kinda a BGE knockoff, incredibly heavy steel instead of the ceramic. Insulated very well, holds temp forever just like the BGE. Cost $400 though :)
The Weber Rocky Mountain is a darn good smoker as well, Slapyodaddy, one of the more successful national teams, uses this exclusively (in addition to those computerized vent fans that auto-manages airflow).
Every dollar is worth it. I own a large Green Egg and it makes amazing food. Smoking meat. Grilling. Baking bread. Pizzas. Filet roasts. Whole chickens and turkeys
Austin-based Wolverine who works at Stubb's BBQ. No question - splurge and get a Green Egg. Don't get the largest size - more coals and harder to control the temp. Spend more on good charcoal, preferably lump. The BGE is great for smoking and seering. I have a Genesis too and it's more for the wife. While not available in the Lone Star State, always smoke or grill with a Bell's Oberon in your hand. I'm stuck with lesser beers and ales.
Yes, there is an innate, primitve sense of contentment, that comes from hovering over grilling/smoking meat with a beer in hand(especially in the cold of winter).
What Lone Star Light isn't as good (I was in Texas two weeks ago and this is what everyone was drinking)
I've had a Weber Smokey Mountain aka "Bullet" for 5 years. It has been great for me. The big green egg is great, but for a faction of the cost, my bullet will hold a temperature for 8-10 hours without tending. I can get a pork but on the smoker at 10 pm on a Friday, wake up at 8 on Saturday and find the temperature at 225, right where I left it. That way it's ready for kick-off of the first games on Saturday.
I got the larger size, and just last weekend (using some rib racks) did 12 racks of baby backs. It is a fine machine with a loyal following and an online community for tips, tricks, and recipes. http://tvwbb.com/.
I purchased an 18.5 weber this winter. Love it! Highly recommend it. For great advice on grilling, smoking and all things BBQ go to amazingribs.com. It's run by a guy named Meathead. I find his recipes, tips and advice spot on. And if you have a question he's quick and friendly to respond.
The green egg can be used as a smoker and for just plain barbecuing...I have had one for over 20 years. Best investment for the backyard out there. With a pizza stone, you can make pizzas at 700 degrees...versatility is unreal - try that with shying else.
Srsly awesome all around. It will make the best burgers, too !
Icefins - for the last 5 years, I've been using a Weber Summit Series gas grill for normal grilling and it has been great. A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to try slow cooking and smoking meats and tried it out a few times on the Summit. The food came out good, but still wasn't traditional smoke flavor.
So my wife, being the awesome wife that she is, bought me a Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5 inch smoker for my birthday last fall. I've used it a couple times this Spring and the results have been fantastic. I can't speak for the Green Egg, but I can tell you that for less than half the price, you can get the Smokey Mountain and get some awesome smoke flavor. Highly recommend it - very easy to regulate temperature on that thing.
A great website to add to what some others said is www.amazingribs.com. Tons of recipes, reviews and most importantly, articles on the techniques and the science behind proper BBQ.
Thanks for the link. I'm going to try out some of the techniques suggested at amazingribs. I must admit, I'm of the school cook it as hot and fast as possible, but I learned a lot just by poking around that website. I'm going to try some offset cooking and see how that turns out.
The thing about that website is that there's so much information that it gets exhausting to read after awhile. It's the BBQ blog equivalent to what MGoBlog would be if all the articles were written by the Mathlete. Super useful but after awhile, you need to take a break to clear your head.
Suggest Brinkmann Gourmet smoker, which can also be used to grill. Only $80 online or Home Depot. It is a "bullet shape" style with a water bowl. Love mine.
I've had the 18.5" Weber Bullet for 2 years now and LOVE it!! Brisket, pork butts, and ribs almost every week!! Football season have done whole turkeys...can NOT say anything bad about it!! The 22.5" is huge btw...
I second the suggestions to head over to www.amazingribs.com. If you're a fan of Alton Brown, you'll be a fan of this site.
I also have a performer and love it. There are some suggested mods on amazingribs that can help you add smoker fuctionality to your performer (or any weber kettle for that matter) that may make more financial sense than purchasing another piece of equipment...
Not sure if someone already recommended this, but the Traegger smoker is amazing.
I'm not kidding. I have five in my back yard, and each serve a specific purpose -- including my 22.5" WSM which I cannot say enough wondering things about. In fact, I smoked six racks on it last night for a little party here. Absolute perfection.
I have my first competition coming up at the end of the month, and have both apprenticed and judged other competitions, so if you're interested in any pointers, hit me up.
My only immediate advice is if you're considering the WSM, get the 22.5". You'll be half to have the room when you need it.
Jeff Smoker, that is.
So anyone else have something on the smoker at the moment?
I have had a 8 pound blade-roast pork on the BSK for the last 30 minutes. Temp is coming up (at 200) at the moment, trimmed and rubbed overnight.
Lump charcoal, hickory and applewood, plan on foiling at 7 with applejuice/brownsugar, temp @ 325
Yeah we're going to eat late; brunch in Bal'more includes all-you-can-drink mimosas and bloody mary's, and we have access to great oysters.
Nothing else will do, and I've lived in the South long enough to know a thing or two about BBQ. :)
who saw GRIII/Smoker suggestions?
If you have a weber, you should get yourself a Smokenator. It turns your Weber into a smoker. The best part it's that it's cheap and works just as good, if not better, than any smoker I have ever used. My only complaint is you can't smoke huge amounts of food in it, but enough for a dinner party or whatever.
The Smokenator is a pretty damn ingenious contraption for turning your Weber kettle into a smoker.
And as others have noted above, AmazingRibs.com provides a wealth of information on all things 'cue.
Just now getting a chance to read all the comments and I appreciate all the help!
I'm in the middle of making a similar decision myself. I was originally just looking at getting a smoker, so I was leaning towards the WSM. However, the more I researched the more I liked the versatility of the BGE and my gas grill is in rough shape now anyway.
Now as I've been researching the BGE I've started comparing it to other kamado style grills such as the Primo, the Vision (sold at Costco), Kamado Joe, and the Big Steel Keg and weighing the pros and cons.
I like the Primo's oval shape but it's pretty expensive. The Vision looks nice, gets good reviews, and is quite a bit cheaper than the others, but it doesn't come with the lifetime warranty that some of the other ones come with (though I guess you can take advantage of Costco's liberal return policy).
I'm currently leaning towards a Kamado Joe Classic, which costs about the same amount as the Large BGE, but comes with the "nest" and side tables, which aren't included in the BGE and ends up adding a couple hundred dollars onto the BGE. The KJ gets excellent reviews, compares favorable to the BGE, and has a similar lifetime warranty. Not 100% sure I'm going to get it yet but hoping to make up my mind in the next week or so.
The best salmon I ever smoked came from a small metal bowl of hickory chips over single electric burner, inside a big cardboard box. Got the idea from Alton Brown. The key is preparation and letting the food develop a pellicle. I also have an electric Masterbuilt. It does the job and doesn't require a whole lot of attention.
If you smoke with charcoal, you have to monitor the heat constantly (from my experience). But the food does taste better.
but I win cookoffs against the BGE with my $35 Webber every time.A webber is easier to controll the heat and where the heat is in the grill. Also, a Webber is actually a smoker and a grill.
I had this same dilemma last summer. I checked out the BGE, priced it, was ready to purchase, then walked away. BGE is certainly awesome. However, I watched a friend prep his BGE and then make burgers. My wife was not having it. Took too much time. She liked the idea of charcoal, but not lighting the chimney, getting ito going, etc. She was all for charcoal, but having a young family, she did not want to have to plan way in advance to start the grill.
So, I settled on a Webber Performer. COULD NOT BE HAPPIER. Best grill I have ever owned. It gives you the best of both worlds. You get a Webber grill, which others have mentioned how they can be used as smokers, and the Performer has electric starter w/ a small propane tank to get the charcoal started. Using a charcoal grill could not be easier. So, wife-approved because it doesn't take as long to get going and she can do it herself. Yet, still an awesome grill, with a nice work table and charcoal storage. Still built in the USA if that matters to you.
and have two regular kettles for when I travel. I always end up cooking for my family when I go to their houses and their grills always heat so inconsistently. Nothing makes it harder to grill than hot spots or too much oxygen even when the lid is shut.
I use a Chargriller smoking pro with side fire box. Grill itself runs about $100 fire box an additional $70. I have had great results with it -- there was a bit of a learning curve but after 4 yrs the grill is in great shape still.
Chargriller also has an Akorn Kamodo grill similar to the BGE available for around $300. I have not used one yet but hope to make it my next grill very soon
Side fire box