Sooner or later you’re going to want to know more about barbecue smokers if you’ve a taste for barbecue food. In fact many people believe that true barbecue requires a BBQ smoker.
If you’ve ever been to a restaurant, particularly the pit barbecue type, and eaten smoked ribs or pulled pork you’ll have noticed that the meat just fell apart. The secret to this is cooking at a relatively low temperature for an extended period of time compared to grilled food; low and slow is the term used.
If you’ve a barbecue grill with a hood then it’s possible to try smoking your food with that, or you could make your own smoker, there are a number of plans available if you search.
Most people though buy their backyard BBQ smokers and there are a number of options available. First though, how do barbecue smokers work.
How Do Barbecue Smokers Work?
As mentioned above, the theory behind BBQ smoker cooking is low and slow. This means that the food will be thoroughly cooked but the low heat prevents the food from drying out. And slow can mean anything from 2 hours to 24 hours or more!
But don’t think that a smoker is just for meat, you can cook all sorts of food in one including fish, cheese and fruit.
To avoid confusion, we’re talking about hot smoking here where the food is smoked and cooked at the same time. Not cold smoking which is a method used for preserving food.
In principle all barbecue smokers work in the same manner. The food is placed on a cooking rack away from direct heat. Wood is burned to create the smoke that flows around and flavours the food, while the indirect heat cooks it. It’s a simple as that.
What Types of Fuel Do BBQ Smokers Use?
To create the smoke wood needs to be used, but wood does not necessarily have to be the fuel. In fact comparatively few smokers use wood as fuel.
The most common fuel used is probably charcoal and after that, gas. But you can also buy smokers that use hardwood, electricity or wood pellets for fuel.
Die hards would tell you that for true barbecue the only fuel to use is charcoal. But choose whichever suits you and your pocket the best.
Gas and electricity offer the best ease of use and will be the cleanest, but they are generally more expensive.
Wood pellet grills are electrically controlled but burn wood so might be a good compromise. However they do come at a cost.
What Types of Smoker Can You Buy?
In general there are two varieties of smoker.
Vertical smokers which are bullet shaped with the cooking racks in line above the heat source. To provide indirect heat a water pan is placed between the cooking racks and the heat source. During cooking the water in the pan heats and creates steam which helps keep the food moist and succulent.
Horizontal smokers are similar to a conventional hooded barbecue but mostly have a separate offset chamber for the holding the charcoal and wood. The offset chamber provides the indirect heat.
Barbecue Smoker Grills
Some smokers are sold as barbecue smoker grills implying that they can be used as both a smoker and a conventional barbecue grill. Take care when buying such an item, especially in the budget range, as you may be disappointed in its performance as either a smoker or a grill.Related articles:
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