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 Post subject: Smoker Recommendations
PostPosted: September 24th, 2009, 12:24 pm 
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Hi Folks,
I'd like to get a smoker for making jerky, pulled pork and killer ribs (and whatever else I can dream up as I learn to use it). My boss has a tall capsule-shaped unit that can use propane or charcoal briquettes and it's after having his pulled pork that I decided this is something I want. His was about $100 and came from Wal Mart. Apparently, it's the wrong season because WalMart no longer has it in stock. Everything else I've seen is really expensive, or not as versatile. A couple of weeks ago my wife bought me an electric smoker, about $120 from Cdn Tire. I could do the jerky on it, but not use it for slow cooking meats like I'd like to do. I returned the electric smoker so that I could figure out what I want instead.

I already have a propane BBQ, and a metal box for wood chips to add smoke to the BBQ.

Currently, I do jerky with liquid smoke and an American Harvest food dehydrator.

So, do you have a smoker to recommend, or can I do this with my existing prpoane BBQ and the wood chips in a metal box? Perhaps smoking the meat on the BBQ then transferring to the dehydrator to finish it?

I've seen some of the barbecue discussions here before and I look forward to some strongly held and passionate opnions being presented.

Cheers,
Bryan

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PostPosted: September 24th, 2009, 12:40 pm 
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I had terrific smoked BBQ over a wood stove fitted with a smoke box in the Ozarks this spring.

If you want more passionate opinions

http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/index.php


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2009, 4:45 pm 
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If all you want to do is low and slow meats, you should be able to accomplish that on your propane grill. Use a smoker box and a water pan, cook it with indirect heat. Make sure you put some sort of thermometer in there so you can monitor the temperature.

That being said, you'll get better results with a dedicated smoker. I started with a charcoal 'bullet' water smoker, can't remember the brand, but it wasn't very good. I was able to turn out some decent results, but it was a labour intensive, slow process.

I once tried using an electric element, cast iron pan with wood chips in a cardboard box. I put the whole contraption in my fireplace. It actually worked pretty well, but it didn't create enough of a draft up the chimney and the smoke kind of backed up into the basement. Wife was happy.

Next, I bought the Masterbilt electric smoker from Canadian Tire (I think it's branded Centro, but is a Masterbilt elsewhere). It worked quite well for things like pulled pork and other barbeque, but it had trouble generating smoke at lower temperatures. It only has one element, so when doing sausages and such, it wouldn't reliably generate smoke as it didn't get hot enough. Eventually, the chips would get dry enough, and they would ignite, spiking the temperature in the smoker (_not_ good for sausages).

So, I finally broke down and bought a Bradley. Expensive, yes, and it relies on the Bradley smoke pucks, which are comparatively expensive compared to plain wood chips. However, the Bradley has several advantages. First off, it has two elements, one for heating the smoker, another for burning the pucks. This allows me to smoke items at much lower temperatures than any of the others. Second, the Bradley doesn't completely burn the pucks, once they're finished, the generator pushes them into a water bowl where they are extinguished. This results in a much milder smoke flavour, with no creosote. On the other smokers, you had to watch how much smoke you gave things, sometimes it was way too much and things tasted like I was eating a campfire. Bradley also sells a cold smoke adapter, which places the smoke generator away from the smoking chamber, cooling the smoke down and allowing me to cold smoke. I resisted buying the Bradley for years, as I resented buying the proprietary pucks, but I love it.

While it sounds like I'm pushing the Bradley, I'm not. It is a lot of money, and if all you want to do is things like pulled pork (barbeque), you should attempt it first on your propane grill, you should be able to achieve satisfactory results. The main reason I bought the Bradley was for sausages (I cure alot of my own meats), and you'll have a hard time smoking sausages on any of the other smokers. Incidentally, the Masterbilt did just fine with the sausages temperature wise, it just didn't get much smoke on them.

Blah blah blah, I'll stop now,

Hope this helps

Thanks,

Brian


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2009, 5:34 pm 
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Hi Brian,
That's great insight from someone who has been there, done that.

So, what sort of temperatures are required for long slow cooking of meats like ribs & pulled pork?

Bryan

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PostPosted: September 24th, 2009, 5:43 pm 
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Check this homemade option.

http://www.ofncommunity.com/forums/inde ... opic=36050


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2009, 6:00 pm 
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Actually Nemo, that smoker looks very much like a miniature version of the one we had on the farm. I had completely forgotten about it. It was an old outhouse, or at least it looked exactly like one, hole and all. Presumably it was "reassinged" after the advent of indoor plumbing in my grandparent's house. Grandpa & Grandma would have smoked a lot of sausage (and hams) in their day. I should ask my Grandpa about it.
Cheers,
Bryan

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PostPosted: September 24th, 2009, 6:16 pm 
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Location: Grand Bend Ontario
A lot of the folks in my area make their own and yeas , most farmers not that long ago had their own smoke house.

Here's a link to a number of different smokers and acc's, formely SIR out of Man.


https://www.cabelas.ca/index.cfm?pageid ... ue=smokers

hope that helps

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PostPosted: September 24th, 2009, 11:44 pm 
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pawistik wrote:
So, what sort of temperatures are required for long slow cooking of meats like ribs & pulled pork?


About 210-250ºF (about 100-120ºC) for 6-10 hours.

Char Griller is real nice if you can get it up there in Canada. Long smoking incorporates an external firebox that carries heat and smoke into the main chamber.

I've done this for years using a Weber grill and indirect heating, but regulating the temp requires constant vigilance. This season I got a setup that only requires filling/checking about once every hour.

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PostPosted: September 25th, 2009, 7:36 am 
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My B-I-L is a smoker nut........ his progression was friggin' with the BBQ and chips to the bullet to the ex-large green egg.
The why's and how's I didn't pay attention to....too busy eatin'

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PostPosted: September 26th, 2009, 1:02 am 
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Bryan,

I'm a neophyte when it comes to smoking and I don't inhale, but I do like to crack open that ziploc bag of bison 'n bourbon charqui that's curing in the fridge and fill my olifactory mucosa with that incredible aroma.
I started out small, with a Mini Chief Electric Smoke House from Wholesale Sports in Saskatoon. Capacity wise it will do 2 lbs of jerky, and I also use it to add flavour to any cut of meat. The jerky is marinated for sixteen hours in the fridge and then finished off in the smoker for about six hours. The first hour (actual smoking time) it has to be outside attracting all the neighbourhood felines, but after that it can be indoors on your stovetop. The pork, beef, chicken etc. gets one hour in the smoker and is finished in the oven.
It burns a variety of hardwood chips, but now I just use the mesquite smokers available where ever fine Barbeque products are sold.

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PostPosted: September 27th, 2009, 11:29 am 
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You just can't beat smoking for the best way to cook meat. I use a Bradley Smoker that I bought at Canadian Tire when it was $100 off. It works great. Today I am smoking a fattie and 4 racks of ribs for a family gathering. There will be burgers too, as I don't have enough room to smoke for 20.

While I would love to have a good real wood smoker, they require much more attention then an electric one. Brian covered the good aspects of the Bradley quite well.

Here is a before and after of the same things from a previous smoke, just adding a couple more racks of ribs this time.

Image

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PostPosted: September 28th, 2009, 1:16 am 
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Dang Dunkin, I don't know what a "fattie" is (in this conext anyway), but that sure looks good!

So, I think I should either get a cheap electric smoker for about $100 or so and use it for the jerky and to add flavour to things I cook on the BBQ or oven, or save my money for a few more months and get the Bradley-type of electric smoker which run in the $400 and up range. Or, build my own.

Lots to think about.

Thanks,
Bryan

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PostPosted: September 29th, 2009, 2:34 pm 
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Location: Toronto, ON
If you are considering a Bradley, LeBaron has the best prices (for the smoker and pucks) I've seen for it. I'm already a member of 'Club LeBaron', so I got a further 10% off, bringing the price of the 6-rack digital under $400 (before taxes). Shipping may balance that out though.

http://www.lebaron.ca/pdf_files_sp09/ou ... rtight.pdf

(Their website really sucks)

That being said, you should be able to do a decent pulled pork on your barbeque. In my opinion, pulled pork is more about how it's cooked (low and slow) than smoke.

Either way, enjoy!

Thanks,

Brian


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2009, 11:06 am 
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To further tempt me into going with the better smokers, this morning's Canadian Tire flyer has $100 off of Bradley smokers and lists the sale prices as $289-$399. Still more than I should be spending on a luxury item right now, but it is tempting.
Bryan

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2009, 11:21 am 
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Bryan, that sounds like exactly the same deal I got. It was $100 off. If you like your ego boosted at all, go get one and put out some great eats, folks will be praising you. :)

Don't forget, the wood pucks are another expense on top of the smoker.

HERE is a site to a forum on Bradley smokers.

THIS is another good smoking forum.

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