For too many years I allowed the need to support my family to interfere with quality time with my family. Now with my new hobby of BBQ, refining that to Smoking and Grilling. I have found a way that was always there to share time with my family. Many of you may share this feeling of loss and it is my hope through sharing my interest in Smoking and grilling, you will find more time to spend with your families. So you will see an old fashion way to create memorable memories while spending quality time with your families.
Need The Right Smoker/Grill
There are a few types of smokers out there to chose from.
- Charcoal Smoker ( which there are many variations )
- Pellet Smoker
- Electric Smoker
- Gas Smoker
I myself was ready to purchase an electric smoker, then the Pellet smoker caught my eye and that is what I bought. Found it to give the feeling of charcoal, yet the pellets gave easier control over the heat and smoke.
What exactly is a smoker? It is a piece of outdoor cooking equipment that is supposed to cook at low temperatures for long period of time. Using smoke of different types of wood, to infuse different flavors into what you’re cooking on it.
Things To Think About Before Buying Your Smoker
You do not want to buy too small or too big of a smoker. I purchased a small pellet smoker, thinking it was just for my wife and I. Forgetting the family and friends. Once you have one, your quality time with your family will increase. So if you feel you are for the most part going to cook for four people or you know many times it will be a gang of 20 or you want to cook many things at once, ribs, brisket, and some appetizers. These are things you have to know before picking out the size of your smoker,
Next thing to consider is fuel type.
All of these will achieve your ultimate goal of smoking. You have to take into factor leaning curves. Charcoal is great but you have to learn, how to control the heat and smoke. Same with Wood smokers. Electric, gas and pellet smokers are easier to use. Also, think about where you live, you do not want to buy a charcoal, gas, wood smoker and find out that your Condo bylaws say you can not use them. Their electric might be the best choice.
You know yourself if you want to, most of the time making something quick, then gas or electric may be best for you. If you’re like me and your into the whole experience of smoking from choosing the right piece of meat and the seasoning. Taking time to cook it correctly than charcoal, wood or pellets is the way to go. My wife thinks I am crazy. But the family and friend sure do enjoy my slow- cooked St. Louis Ribs that take seven hours to smoke.
Also, think about if you only want to smoke or do some grilling. On most of the smokers, you can not do both, you tend to lose searing of the meat. But there is a way around that if you have an iron pan.
The other thing that most of us have to consider is ” How much can you spend on a smoker? ” When it comes to BBQ with the family, quality comes first, then price. You can spend from $100 to $10,000 on a smoker.
Pro’s and Con”s On Few Different Types Of Smokers
Let’s review a few different types of smokers.
- Electric Smoker – They are truly the best to start the smoking process and forget it. It requires the least amount of babysitting. The unites work with a heating element that heats the cooking chamber and maintains the temperature. There is a draw under unite where you place wood chips and the smoker heats them enough to cause them to smolder, hence creating smoke. On many of the electric smokers, there is another draw where you fill with water or juices to keep the cooking chamber moister and add flavor. Some higher priced units have thermostats to control the temperature. They may also have probes to insert into the meat to give you the internal temperature of the meat, for cooking it to your desired taste. The Pros are you do not have to worry about fuel (gas, pellets, wood, Charcoal). Unit comes in different sizes, but do not take up a big footprint. They are great for apartments and condos. They are safer than other smokers in places like a boat. Cons are they only be used for smoking. They tend to leak heat, so even with a thermometer, the heat tends to not be as consistent. They must be stored in dry place.
- Horizontal Offset Smoker (Off Set Smoker) – This is the first smoker I ever saw, it was at a pit master BBQ competition. The offset smokers where started by people that made them their self, using metal drums and old propane tanks. These type of smokers use charcoal for heat and wood logs or chunks of wood for the smoke. You will find two types of Offsets “Cheap ones” find at your local hardware store or chain Home and Garden store. Problem with these is they cost $100-$300 and prove to be very disappointing. The more expensive ones are made of heavier steel, have better seals. They will deliver better heat and smoke. Negative thing with Offsets there is a learning curve. And because they produce very good smoke, if you do not know how to control the smoke the meat can come out bitter.
- Gas/Propane – These smokers look like the Electric smoker, just using gas to heat and create smoke. There is no thermostat, but controlling the heat is as easy to turn the knob on a gas stove. Very similar to electric smoker comes in different sizes. Do not need big space. Very simple to use. On the other side, you can only smoke, no grilling. You should always have an extra tank of propane, do not want to run out of propane in the middle of smoking a brisket for your hungry family. They’re not typically made very well, the seals tend not to be good, which means loss of heat and smoke.
4. Pellet Smoker – These smokers look like the Off Set Smoker. But instead of charcoal and wood, they use electric and smoker quality pellets. Very interesting how they work. First, you fill the hopper with the pellets, which come in many types of wood ( hickory, maple, pecan, oak to name a few). The pellets are transported from the Hooper via an auger to the fire box, where the pellets are ignited by fire pin that is heated by electric. The heat is controlled by a thermometer with temperature controller inside the cooking chamber, which in turn controls the speed of the auger delivering the pellets. Pellet smokers start at about $500 – $9,000. They really only for smoking. I have found out that by taking an iron pan, turning Pellet smoker up to 450 F, letting the iron pan heat up for ten minutes, you can sear a steak to perfection. Need to protect the Hooper if you have pellets in it when not in use, pellets can get wet. I cover my unite and have not had a problem. After 2 or 3 uses I use a shop vac to clean out the ash the from the pellets to ensure proper firing of the pellets. The pellet smoker is my personal choice, They tend to cook faster because they have a fan that circulates the heated air and smoke, creating a convection type of cooking. I have found that if recipe says on smoker the meat will cook for a certain amount of time, on pellet smoker it will cook faster.
A Little Off Topic – Spend Quality Time With The Family
Sorry about that let me tell you how all of this can create quality time with your family and this is the main reason I have created this blog.
My personal feeling is with everyone so involved with the many things we are all involved with, we are losing the time with the people that really matter, our families. Even if you can get them all to sit down to eat together, there always taking out their beloved smartphones, say it is important to have to get this. When in, a fact it can wait. They take care of those phones as if their priceless.
This is where having a meal that is from a smoker or grill is perfect. Serve a brisket or a rack of ribs. I promise you they will not answer their cell or respond to that text. Because their hands will be too sticky to touch their precious phone. Which allows you to spend quality time with the family!!