OT: Grill/Smoker Suggestions?

Submitted by icefins26 on June 8th, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Way OT, I know, but we are amidst hardcore BBQ season.

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?

Comments

TatuajeVI

June 8th, 2013 at 10:34 PM ^

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.

mgobleu

June 8th, 2013 at 10:38 PM ^

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.)

teldar

June 8th, 2013 at 10:54 PM ^

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.

cbook

June 8th, 2013 at 10:39 PM ^

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. 

AFMich

June 8th, 2013 at 10:51 PM ^

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.

tpilews

June 8th, 2013 at 10:50 PM ^

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.

Victor70

June 8th, 2013 at 11:00 PM ^

I have heard about this and I would like to try it someday, maybe it would work for you.

http://cruftbox.com/cruft/docs/elecsmoker.html

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.

GoBlue_55

June 8th, 2013 at 11:00 PM ^

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.

MaizeMN

June 8th, 2013 at 11:00 PM ^

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. 

teldar

June 9th, 2013 at 7:36 AM ^

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.

teldar

June 9th, 2013 at 10:46 AM ^

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.

mastodon

June 9th, 2013 at 1:08 AM ^

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:

http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=36757

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.

mgowin

June 9th, 2013 at 1:24 AM ^

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.

gopoohgo

June 9th, 2013 at 8:23 AM ^

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).

ggoodness56

June 9th, 2013 at 1:30 AM ^

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

Quickhatch

June 9th, 2013 at 1:46 AM ^

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.

 

Waveman

June 9th, 2013 at 9:49 AM ^

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/.

goblueva

June 9th, 2013 at 7:49 AM ^

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.

bluebyyou

June 9th, 2013 at 8:44 AM ^

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.

Hello_Heisman

June 9th, 2013 at 9:37 AM ^

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.