BBQ’n’A Episode 2: Smokers

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Its the long awaited return of BBQ’nA, a series originated in the smokey wood fired depths of Tony’s mind along with fellow Pit Master extraordinaire ChiefBearCat. With Bear’s blessing, the series returns with new co-host Adam.

Adam and Tony possess a wide knowledge base of BBQ, from flavor profiles to cooking technique. As we start out on this journey together, we will take you through the entire process of learning how to BBQ from the very beginning, for those looking to try the famed slow and low cooking technique for their first time. Our tips will save you time and money, a benefit of us having made all the mistakes you can self-learning the art of Que. We will provide all the tips and information needed to turn out perfect Que on your first attempt, along with things not to do.

On Episode 2 of BBQ’n’A, the Arrowhead Guys cover the different styles of smokers, detailing both the pros and cons of each type while providing general price points. Whether shopping for your first smoker or your next, we give you all the information you need to make sure you get the smoker that’s fits your needs.

Previously on BBQ’n’A

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KenW
KenW

I can’t believe you are dissin my cheap offset smoker like that. I’ve been certified and judged KCBS contest and I know I can make some good bbq on my cheap offset. The one downfall to them is they do require more attention and occasionally an extended cooking time compared to any of the smokers you have shown here. With a few mods can be servicable for many years.

For some one at home an egg or pellet smoker is ideal as you can pretty much set it and forget it until it is done and they can produce some excellent cooked meat. I’m a purest at heart and when it came to competing and felt pellet smokers should be in a class of their own. I’ll try to find pictures of a big offset my friend and I built and competed with many years ago using 3 of those huge water tanks off of a concrete truck. Our test run was at a bbq contest and it was disappointing to say the least. The 4 ” stack didn’t allow enough air flow and we changed it to an 8″ that worked well Oh the memories this smoker brings back, it was affectionately called the shit pit…. 🙂

4thQtrMagic
4thQtrMagic

Good stuff. I still need to order that knife off of amazon!

Straybrit
Straybrit

Oh – and comment on how much fuel the pellet pooper uses. My 24″ one (with an insulating blanket) uses about 1lb an hour for an internal temp of 220 – when the external temps are in the 20s. So that’s about $10 – not $20.

Still not as inexpensive as the ceramic wonders – but damn I can buy a lot of pellets for the difference in price of the smoker.

jaestar33
jaestar33

I have an FEC100 made by Cookshack. It is double wall insulated. I bought a pallet of BBQers Delight pellets (1000 lbs) in 2013. I’ve done about 120 contests running it 12-14 hours at each contest, probably another 3-400 hours outside of contests and still have 8 bags left from the original pallet.

jaestar33
jaestar33

Here are a couple of tips for ya.

If you have an off set smoker, you can go to Harbor Freight and buy a $15 welders blanket to put over the cook chamber on windy/cold days. Will really help maintain temp and not use as much fuel.

Drum smokers offer the benefit of hot and fast cooking. Briskets and pork butts in 5-6 hours and ribs in 2 hours. You can get a diy kit at bigpoppasmokers.com that makes it really easy.

If you want more smoke flavor in a pellet smoker, start out cooking at a much lower temp (180 degrees) for the first few hours.

BleedingRedAndGold

I’m the heretic in the room, perhaps, but I learned to make some pretty damn good ribs and chicken on a Brinkmann bullet smoker. As mentioned, they ain’t great heat sinks so they take a lot of fire management. Worse is that by original design, you have basically no access to the fire pan. However, that said, a couple simple modifications help a lot with that. I can provide a breakdown of that, if anyone’s interested in the bargain-basement approach.

But then, I’m weird, because on days when I smoked, I enjoyed babying the finicky little thing along, and learned a lot along the way. My ‘Cue might not be as good as these guys’, but it was plenty good enough.

Team Player
Team Player

That blanket trick works on most smokers when it’s cold out too

Dave B.
Dave B.

Those eggs are nice but a bit pricey. The Akorn is a good deal even though it’s not ceramic. It still holds heat really well and hardly uses any coal.

Straybrit
Straybrit

So glad I didn’t get a propane one. Was tempted for a while. You can sneer all you want at my pellet pooper 🙂

Hmm – next question – ribs for tomorrow – pork or beef. Guess I’ll go down the butchers and see what I like the look of.

Oh – tip for people that live in college towns. Especially if it’s an ag college. They might have a butcher school – if so it’s a real good place to get acquainted with. Meat at about 60% of what the shops charge.

Zephyr
Zephyr

Speaking of beef ribs, might be a worthwhile discussion of the difference between plate ribs (meat on top of bones / “dino bones”) and back ribs (meat between bones – most common at the grocery store). If available, the plate ribs are vastly superior – meatier and basically brisket/burnt ends on a stick.

BleedingRedAndGold

Heartily agree. Tried a rack of back ribs once, not worth the effort or expense. OTOH, it wasn’t a total loss, since I simmered the bones to make beef stock, but still, never again.

Zephyr
Zephyr

Yeah, the back ribs are barely worth the effort, since there’s so little meat left on them (the prime rib is what is cut from the back ribs, so butchers want to maximize the yield of that). For those unfamiliar, here’s a brief primer on the different beef rib types: https://three-little-pigs-bbq.com/help-i-need-to-know-what-cut-of-beef-ribs-to-tell-my-butcher/

CHIEFSandSABRES

Awesome video, been waiting for this. Thanks for the breakdown.

Dave B.
Dave B.

If you can’t make up your mind just buy one of each.