It’s time to pay tribute to one of the greatest contributors to epic meals. The transformation that occurs when food is smoked cannot be matched by any other cooking method.
Allow us to give you a tour of our “magic machines”.
Smokers may come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, prices, and fuel sources, but they all have the same goal. Low temperature, slow cook times, and a smokey taste that delivers. Here’s how we get there.
Nate’s Brinkmann Electric Smoker
On first impression electricity may sound inferior to other smoking methods. Trust me, it’s not! The electric element may cook the food, but you still use wood chips or chunks for the smoke. I challenge you to tell the difference.
The Brinkmann is a very simple device. In the base there is an electric element that sits on a bed of lava rock. This is your heat source. You add your wood for smoking here.
In the body there is a water pan for moisture and 2 racks for food.
This particular smoker has one heat setting, no need to check temperatures or babysit. Just keep an eye on the water pan and when the smoke stops rolling, add more wood.
A very basic machine that’s easy to use. There are better electric smokers out there, but for now I’ve been very happy with the results this little machine delivers.
Dave’s gas grill “smoker”
I’ll start off with by saying that I love electric smokers. The ease of use and the price of them typically can’t be beat. However, my family and I seem to have terrible luck with them. It seems like either the element or (if it has it) the temperature control unit is always going out on them for us. Because of that, we now use our grill as a smoker.
My grill is a weather beaten old battle-axe with loads of character and very little beauty. There’s little that sets it apart from the rest of the pack except for one feature that I don’t think I can ever live without. My grill is fueled by natural gas. This fuel type is the one thing that makes smoking on my grill feasible. You could apply my technique to a propane fueled grill, but I wouldn’t recommend it since it’s not unheard of for me to smoke for a 10+ hour stretch.
I always set my grill up for indirect heating when smoking. The burner on the side that the meat is on (usually the left side) is left off, while the side opposite the meat has its burner turned to low. It’s on the heated side that I’ll load my wood chips or chunks onto.
If I’m smoking something that isn’t very tall, like the brisket pictured above, I’ll use the warming rack so that it’s easier to get at the area where I’ll be adding more wood. This also gives me the advantage of keeping the meat out of the draft created by my heat regulation method. For taller things like a turkey or pork shoulder, I’ll just set them on the regular grill rack so that they don’t rub the top of the lid when it closes.
Since I keep the single burner as low as it will go, if things get a little too toasty I need to prop the grill lid open to regulate the temperature. Not quite as convenient as a “set it and forget it” electric smoker, but it does work.
Next, since I don’t have a water pan like most direct heat/electric smokers have, I resort to using “mops” to apply moisture to anything that I’m smoking. Where natural evaporation works in unison with a water pan to apply moisture, on my setup I usually use a spray bottle filled with a mixture of juices, water, and occasionally vinegar to apply moisture.
One burner, wood chip pouch, food on the rack and a spray bottle turns my grill into a worthy smoker. One device to grill, or smoke.
Up In Smoke…
So there’s a peek behind “the magic machines”. As you can see, we use two completely different methods for smoking – but the results are equally impressive. No matter which way you go, just remember the common denominator: low and slow! Look for more posts from the smoker in the near future.