There’s little doubt that barbecue is a favorite food choice among American citizens. Whether it’s a federal holiday or a family celebration, it seems that people are always looking for a reason to invite family and friends to hang out in the backyard while a self-proclaimed grill master prepares more barbecued meat than anyone can fathom eating. Barbecuing seems to bring people together to share a whole lot of fun and a great meal.
One of the keys to making barbecue taste great is using a smoker to prepare the meat. Although there are viable methods of meat preparation that don’t involve using one, a smoker has the ability to take the flavor of the meat to another level. Read on to learn a little about what smokers do that make them great for coking and what to look for when purchasing one.
What Is A Smoker And Why Use One?
Simply put, a smoker is a cooking device that cooks meat slowly at a very low temperature. The point of using a smoker is to have the meat in a controlled environment with lots of smoke for an extended period of time. The person tending to the meat must constantly ensure that there is smoke flowing throughout the smoker and that the cooking temperature remains consistent the whole time. The ideal temperature rage for smoking meats is between 225 and 275 degrees.
Many people are familiar with cooking meats on the grill, but not everyone understands the point of using a smoker. Meats cooked in a smoker have a much richer taste than those that were not. In addition, slow cooking the meat makes it juicy and tender so that it’s nearly falling off the bone. All of this makes meat cooked in a smoker much more pleasurable to eat.
The Great Debate About Smoker Types
It’s important for those considering purchasing a smoker to know that there’s more than one type to choose from. Here’s a brief overview of the types of smokers available on the market and the pros and cons of using each one:
Gas Smokers: These types of smokers are heated by a propane tank. Chefs love gas smokers because of their “set-and-forget” nature, which means there’s no need to constantly keep watch over the grill to ensure that the temperature stays consistent. This type of smoker is also convenient because it can be used anywhere. However, some users find that parts break often, which means they end up needing to buy replacement parts frequently. Also, a fuel meter is needed to ensure that the chef does not run out of propane while the meat is still cooking.
Electric Smokers: Just like their name suggests, electric smokers run on
electricity. Similar to propane smokers, they are also a “set-and-forget” option. Some chefs consider using an electric smoker as “cheating”, and they believe that it just doesn’t give the meat the same level of flavor as other types of smokers. It’s also important to be aware that these smokers often cannot be fixed without the help of a professional if the parts break.
Charcoal Smokers: There are many chefs out there who consider charcoal smoker grill units to be the “holy grail” of smokers. Charcoal smokers are known for infusing the best flavors into the meat and for producing the juiciest, most tender barbecue. Those who cook on a charcoal grill smoker must learn how to maintain a consistent fire, but many say that the end result is worth the time it takes.
What To Look For In A Charcoal Smoker
For those who have decided that a charcoal grill with smoker is the way to go, here are several thing that a chef should look for before they hand over the money:
Water Pan: Many reviews point out that charcoal smokers with a water tank are the best to use because the water pan helps the fire stay consistent and also releases moisture into the air, which in turn helps to keep the meat moist.
Ventilation: Some cheaper models do not have any vents on the firebox. These are necessary for temperature control, so be sure to go with a model that has them.
Ease of Use: In addition to solid construction and parts that fit well together, buyers also need to ensure that they have access to the charcoal pan and water chamber without removing the grates or cooking chamber. This contributes to hassle-free fire and temperature maintenance.
A Few Notes About Purchasing Charcoal Smokers
Charcoal smokers tend to be a favorite of chefs because of the superior meat they produce. However, there are a few things that people need to be aware of before they purchase one:
Charcoal smokers are not a “set-and-forget” option. Chefs must stay close to the smoker to ensure that a consistent fire is maintained during the cooking process. Many report that the results make it worth this effort.
Those who want to purchase a charcoal smoker should consider the cost of charcoal. It tends to be a bit more expensive than propane, so it’s important that chefs factor that in when they are purchasing their smoker.
Using a charcoal smoker is one of the best ways to enhance the taste of barbecued meats. The cooking temperature may be low, but the enjoyment will most certainly be sky high once everyone at the party tastes the difference that a charcoal smoker can make.