If you've ever seen a National BBQ Tour competition, you know that smoking is serious business for some. The enormous metal basins are moved on the backs of trucks or pulled on wheeled trailers from competition to competition. And the food itself is so succulent, tender, and juicy, you think these tours must be the only place you'll find BBQ this good. But it doesn't have to be. Here at FireforLess.Com we offer a variety of personal vertical smokers. Before you choose one, it's best to know more about the differences between the two.
Vertical smokers come in a variety of styles, from propane, to charcoal, electric, wood, or water smokers. The heating element in vertical smokers sits at the bottom. Heat rises up and warms a pan of water causing the water to 'smoke' and this smoke then heats the food. One of the best features of a vertical smoker is that you can add any variety of spices, oils, garlic, onions, or other flavorings to the water, and the flavor-infused smoke will cook the food adding those flavors to it. The cooking surface inside a vertical cooker may be a rotisserie style skewer, a grill, or flat cooking surface. One popular smoker is the Bradley Smoker because it uses specialized heat discs instead of charcoal or water to create consistent heat and smoke.
The big BBQ pit smokers are constructed much differently than the standard vertical smokers. Many are made individually, so it's difficult to list all the different varieties you might see on TV or at the BBQ competitions. Generally, BBQ pit smokers consist of a large firebox where the smoke is heated, ideally to about 200-225 degrees Fahrenheit. Wood or wood pellets are the most common way to heat the smoke, and of course charcoal can be used as well. The firebox is normally attached to the side of the BBQ pit, but it may also be placed above the pit. The smoke moves from the firebox to the BBQ pit through a flue, or series of flues where it will cook the meat before exiting through a chimney or vent. The meat is cooked rotisserie, rotating around on a skewer, on a grill, on numerous grills rotating inside the pit, or many other variations of these.
The most important thing when it comes to smokers, and deciding if you want to purchase one, is accounting for the preparation time it takes to cook the food. Whereas ordinary grills can cook your food quickly, smokers are designed to slowly cook the food over several hours, packing as much flavor from the smoke into your meats as possible. This also means you have to organize your preparation of the meal around the time that the meat should be fully cooked, making sure not to rush your side-dishes before the main component of the feast. Another important thing to remember is that smokers rely heavily on temperature control. Opening your smoker unnecessarily can quickly lower the temperature inside your smoker and increase your cooking time by 20-30 minutes each time you do. Unless you're basting the meat, there should be little cause for you to open the smoker door.
BBQ smokers are a favorable alternative to the traditional BBQ grill, and are highly touted by true BBQ pit masters. But you don't have to be a professional pit master to enjoy the delicacy of smoked meats. With a variety of household smokers, you can enjoy pit-style barbecue in the comfort of your home for a fraction of the cost.