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  #61  
Old 05-16-2013, 11:23 AM
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Great! Timely bump. I was planning on possibly smoking my first brisket this weekend. My smoker is crap and there's no way I can go 18 hours with it. But from what I understand, some folks smoke it for 5-6 hours and then throw it in the oven, so I think I'll try that.
Well, please re-read what I wrote in post #10.

In summary...
Spoiler:
I told you so!


The ECBs are not worth the $50 they cost.


The $300 Weber Smokey Mountain is worth more than $300. There's a big tendency for people to buy the cheap one as their first, but the money is much better spent by applying that $ to a quality unit like the WSM.
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  #62  
Old 05-16-2013, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by DeepPurple View Post
Well, please re-read what I wrote in post #10.

In summary...
Spoiler:
I told you so!


The ECBs are not worth the $50 they cost.


The $300 Weber Smokey Mountain is worth more than $300. There's a big tendency for people to buy the cheap one as their first, but the money is much better spent by applying that $ to a quality unit like the WSM.
Actually I have a Chargriller gas/charcoal combo with side smoker box. When I say it's crap, I'm not sure it's really true - but it does come with a bit of a learning curve. I haven't had much luck hitting my desired smoking temps and maintaining them. It uses a lot of fuel and so far I'm spending most of the smoking session bouncing around between 225 and 300, fiddling with the cheap air vent and adding charcoal and wood chunks frequently.
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  #63  
Old 05-16-2013, 11:37 AM
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How low do you want your temps to be able to go? If you're not worried about insanely low temps, such as those needed for smoked salmon or cheese, then most smokers will work just fine with a Guru.
The smoker is cheaply constructed, with thin walls and the lid does not fit tightly over the base. Even when I try to choke off the air completely the fire still manages to burn pretty hot. I'd hate to spend the same amount of money on a temperature controller as I spent on the grill itself and still not be happy with it. But, the bulkhead adapter is the only part that is specific to the particular grill, so I suppose if I ended up getting a different smoker I would only have to replace the adapter.
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  #64  
Old 05-16-2013, 11:45 AM
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I'm wishing I had bought a BGE. I'm really enjoyed using doing this. I'm seeing this being at least a weekly thing.
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  #65  
Old 05-16-2013, 11:47 AM
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can you smoke meat in a grill? or do you need to purchase a 'smoker'?
Sure you can. Weber Kettles are especially good at it. You just will not be able to smoke more than about 6 hours with one load of charcoal. On many dedicated smokers, you can go 12 hours or even more, depending on ambient temperatures.



You can buy some worthwhile accessories to really accomplish this task.

Amazon search for "smokenator" (~$75) for a device that will sit in your kettle, contain charcoal, and provide moisture.

Or go to cajunbandit.com for some cool, but pricier equipment to trick out your kettle. The cajun bandit conversion kit runs $225.

But to just get started, get either a set of Weber charcoal baskets ($15) or some fire place bricks (under $15) to contain the charcoal. Light about a dozen or so briquettes and add them to full load in the basket. Throw some pre-soaked wood chips on top. Plase a drip pan across the charcoal grate from the charcoal. Add the cooking grate. Put the food above the drip pan. Place the kettle top on, with the wide open vents over the food, which draws the smoke from the charcoal over the food.


Learn to control the temp in the kettle by controlling the bottom vent. More airflow means higher temp. You always start with a very full load of mostly unlit charcoal. Beginners make the mistake of assuming the amount of charcoal controls the heat. That's wrong. Always use as much charcoal as you can. Heat is controlled by airflow from the bottom vent. Always leave the top vent wide open to allow exhaust gases out. BBQ'ers call this the Minion Method.
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  #66  
Old 05-16-2013, 11:51 AM
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Egghead, you are probably the AO expert on equipment. As I have said before, I am not terribly happy with my cheap smoker/grill combo. I know you have a BGE, and I know there are several high end competitors to the BGE in the same price range. I am interested whether you have heard anything about the lower priced knockoff Kamado cookers. The ones I have seen are generally the same size and shape, but of inferior construction and do not have the thick ceramic walls. I realize that the cheaper ones probably do not have the same moisture and heat retention properties as the good ones, but I wonder if they would do a serviceable job controlling the airflow (which is the problem with my current smoker - it is really hard to keep a slow burn going or to maintain temps below 275F without the fire going out). It seems to me that if the airflow problem is solved, and you started with adequate fuel and used a large pan of water to maintain moisture, then these cheaper knockoff kamado-shaped cookers might be reasonable option for someone who can't drop a thousand bucks on a smoker.
I don't know a lot about the cheaper Kamado smokers. From what I've seen online, some people say they're just as good, and others say they're not even close. The biggest knock on them is that many of them can't handle intense heat as well as a Big Green Egg. I've had my Egg over 750F for searing steaks. Wouldn't want to try that in a knockoff.

But you're talking about smoking temperatures, typically under 300F. The fire itself is still going to be hotter than that, so you'd want something with a decent fire pan, at least. Alton Brown had an episode where he made a Big-Green-Egg-like smoker out of terra cotta flower pots, of all things. Not sure what he did for the fire pan, but some people have copied his method and said it worked for them.

If I weren't looking to spend as much as the price of an Egg, I would go with the Weber Smoky Mountain. You can get those for $300 and $400. I know a really nice guy who uses nothing but those and does very, very well in competitions. There is also a fantastic online community where users share techniques, recipes, etc. Very easy to use, maintain the fire, clean up, etc. And because of the weight, easy to move out of the way when not in use. For that price range, I don't think I'd mess with anything else.

If you spend less, you're going to make compromises that it sounds like you'd prefer to avoid.
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  #67  
Old 05-16-2013, 11:54 AM
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Actually I have a Chargriller gas/charcoal combo with side smoker box. When I say it's crap, I'm not sure it's really true - but it does come with a bit of a learning curve. I haven't had much luck hitting my desired smoking temps and maintaining them. It uses a lot of fuel and so far I'm spending most of the smoking session bouncing around between 225 and 300, fiddling with the cheap air vent and adding charcoal and wood chunks frequently.
I wondered if those Chargillers had gotten any better. Sounds like they haven't. Some people actually like that kind of setup, because going through a bunch of wood makes them feel like they're doing something, I guess. Incredibly inefficient in my mind. If I owned acreage with lots of good smoking wood, perhaps I'd feel different about it.
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  #68  
Old 05-16-2013, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by crabber View Post
The smoker is cheaply constructed, with thin walls and the lid does not fit tightly over the base. Even when I try to choke off the air completely the fire still manages to burn pretty hot. I'd hate to spend the same amount of money on a temperature controller as I spent on the grill itself and still not be happy with it. But, the bulkhead adapter is the only part that is specific to the particular grill, so I suppose if I ended up getting a different smoker I would only have to replace the adapter.
Yeah, I would spend that money on a Weber Smoky Mountain or better if I were you.

I only got the Guru so that I could cook overnight and not have to get up to check on things. I'm tempted to get a wifi model down the road, so that I can cook while at work, and make temperature changes online. How cool would that be?
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  #69  
Old 05-16-2013, 12:02 PM
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I'm wishing I had bought a BGE. I'm really enjoyed using doing this. I'm seeing this being at least a weekly thing.
The Big Green Egg is highly addictive. You'll appreciate it even more if you've developed skill smoking with lesser equipment.

Also, the Egg can do more. I tend to disbelieve claims that products can do more than one thing well, but that has been my experience with the Egg. It's my best piece of equipment for:

* smoking pork shoulders/butts and beef briskets
* grilling anything small enough to fit
* searing steaks at high temps
* baking pizzas (best brick-oven-type taste you'll find anywhere)

It also does a good job with smoking ribs, but I prefer my Backwoods for that. Most people won't want to spend $1500 on a smoker, though. The Backwoods is slightly better for ribs because I don't have to flip them over. The heat is more intense from on top of the rib than from below, so I can leave them meat side up the entire time and not worry about burning the bottoms. With the Egg, ribs turn out best if they spend most of their time upside-down, or on their sides.
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  #70  
Old 05-16-2013, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by DeepPurple View Post
Sure you can. Weber Kettles are especially good at it. You just will not be able to smoke more than about 6 hours with one load of charcoal. On many dedicated smokers, you can go 12 hours or even more, depending on ambient temperatures.

You can buy some worthwhile accessories to really accomplish this task.

Amazon search for "smokenator" (~$75) for a device that will sit in your kettle, contain charcoal, and provide moisture.

Or go to cajunbandit.com for some cool, but pricier equipment to trick out your kettle. The cajun bandit conversion kit runs $225.

But to just get started, get either a set of Weber charcoal baskets ($15) or some fire place bricks (under $15) to contain the charcoal. Light about a dozen or so briquettes and add them to full load in the basket. Throw some pre-soaked wood chips on top. Plase a drip pan across the charcoal grate from the charcoal. Add the cooking grate. Put the food above the drip pan. Place the kettle top on, with the wide open vents over the food, which draws the smoke from the charcoal over the food.


Learn to control the temp in the kettle by controlling the bottom vent. More airflow means higher temp. You always start with a very full load of mostly unlit charcoal. Beginners make the mistake of assuming the amount of charcoal controls the heat. That's wrong. Always use as much charcoal as you can. Heat is controlled by airflow from the bottom vent. Always leave the top vent wide open to allow exhaust gases out. BBQ'ers call this the Minion Method.
Another fantastic post by DP! He has more experience getting results from kettles and gas grills than I do. All of this advice is spot-on from everything I've read or seen others do.

I decided several years ago that I was going to go all-out and jumped straight to the Big Green Egg. I love it, but it's overkill for most folks. And as much as I like it, there are plenty of nights when I prefer the convenience of my Weber gas grill.
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