Friday, August 15, 2008

How to Use a Smoker – Electric, Gas or Charcoal, OH MY!

Oh my, how to choose the best smoker when you are just learning how to use a smoker. Should you use bottle propane gas, that you haul around and fill up at the store, what about charcoal briquettes, some of them have quite a distinct flavor or maybe just say to heck with it and use an electric smoker which is easy to handle and all you need is a 110 outlet standing close by. Each type of smoker has pros and cons and everyone has their very own favorite.

Charcoal grills add a flavor that no other grill can match. Some briquettes even come in different flavors. It is quite easy to add natural woods to the charcoal and the end result can be very tasty. Of course, many of the latest grill designs give you the option to add the natural woods also. The real trick to charcoal smoking is making sure that the lighter fluid has had a chance to burn off. There is nothing worse than smoked pork butt with lighter fluid aftertaste! Charcoal also has the disadvantage of being tough to control the temperature and you do have to watch for flare up that might char your meat.

Propane is much easier to control, but you need to make sure that you chooses a model that allows you to crank up the heat if need be. Flare ups usually aren’t an issue since splashing grease doesn't cause add-on ceramic briquettes to produce a scorching flame. I have found that I always keep two bottles in reserve. There is nothing worse than running out of gas at a critical time during the smoking process. Who wants to break up the party to run to the store for more gas?

If you choose to go with an electric smoker make sure that it allows you to raise the temp above400F. With smoking you usually don’t need a heat that high, but you never know and you should have a model that is all purpose.

Of course some purists think that electric smokers are for sissies and it is just like cooking in your kitchen only outside! Well, it all comes down to choice when you are learning how to use a smoker … Electric, Gas or Charcoal, OH MY!

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