May 18, 2010
Practically everyone can have that “barbecue pit” flavor in their backyard every night with a charcoal smoker. There are many models to choose from at costs as low as $ 59.99 to highs in the hundreds of dollars. This all depends on what you need and how much you want to cook.
There are now models that use propane and electricity to provide the heat needed, and there are still the plain old charcoal ones that have been used for years. Either way, they generally perform the same, you put heat and and wood inside them, and slow cook the meat until it absorbs the flavoring from the wood.
Wood That is Good to Use
Most people seem to enjoy the mesquite and hickory woods the best, but many also like to use apple, pecan, alder, cherry, maple and oak to get the flavor they want. Now, depending on the size of the unit you have, you may want to use pellets, chip, logs, or blocks of these wood when doing your cooking. However, if you have a smaller smoker, you will probably want to stick with chips.
A Beginner’s Smoker
Most people who start something new want to see how they like it before they spend a lot of money. The one that I think is best for beginners is the Cook’n Ca’jun II Smoker & Grill made by Brinkman’s. This unit might be small, but it can cook up to 50 pounds of meat at a time. The thing looks like a canister with legs that has a dome on it. The front door allows you to easily reach inside and grab the charcoal and water pans. If you look in the top you will see how things are arranged. On the floor is the charcoal pan with the water pan right above it. Then there is the 2 chrome plate steel grills where you place your meat.
The dome is the lid that covers it all up.
To get the meat just right you need to let it cook for hours. Keep on eye on the thermometer on the lid to make sure everything stays hot, and only open the door to throw in chips and charcoal when you have to. Every time that door opens precious heat escapes and that will add to your cooking time. This unit also has wooden handles over the metal to make it easy to move and open without getting burned. If you want to move it to a different location, then these handles provide an easy way to do that as well. Like other models, you can also use this as a simple backyard grill for cooking other things.
When You Want Something Better
The Master Forge Smoker is a little bigger that the Cook’N Ca’jun. This model can smoke up to 60 pounds of meat laying on top of two large grills of 376 inches of pure cooking space. This unit has an aluminized steel base that can sit up like a large table top grill to cook hamburgers, steaks, and hot dogs if you need it to after you finish smoking.
Once you get going and you find yourself using your charcoal smoker all the time, you may want to start thinking about upgrading to a more versatile and bigger unit. There are plenty of style an models to choose from. However, for now, start out with one of these smaller units and just enjoy yourself. We can almost smell the cooking from here!
Ben Chambers is a writer who specializes in outdoor cooking. You can check out his latest site at Charcoal Smoker where he provides a review of popular smokers including the Masterbuilt Smoker, Brinkman Smoker and much more.