Saturday, December 05, 2009
I'm often asked what's the best barbecue smoker to buy. Barbecue smokers are used to cook low and slow with larger cuts of meat typically like pork shoulders but are also great for beer butt chicken and for ribs. Heck, bbq smokers are super for a lot of outdoor foods, but those tend to be the most popular anyway.
Grilling is direct heat (hot flame) though it's possible to offset the charcoal and use the lid and vents to do some smoking. It's just a lot harder to use a grill rather than a product designed to smoke. Also, it's hard to do a good job smoking with the low end smokers. You end up babysitting them a lot and have problems with temperature control, so the meat may or may not come out good.
I do for quality when buying barbecue smokers or grills but also am practical and like to have enough money to pay my bills like everyone else. So, while there are some terrific high end smokers (and those may be what you need if you make huge quantities of smoked meats of shift into competition smoking), my top pick barbecue smoker for home smokers is the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker which is often called the Weber Smokey Mountain Bullet or just "The Bullet."
Yes. It is more expensive than some of the low end brands of smokers. But, the Weber SMB is much less expensive than other quality smokers. So, it's a great middle ground pick - excellent product but not over-the-top on price. Also, it lasts for years and years as do other Weber products. You don't have to replace a Weber smoker every year or two, so it makes sense when it's averaged out.
Here you see my family doing smoked ribs. If you have tough ribs, then you're probably doing them on the grill. Ribs really need a low and slow cooking time to be tender. They work really well on the Weber Bullet and add a rib rack, and you can do several ribs at once.
Over the holidays, we love to do smoked shoulders or Boston Butt (the top part of the shoulder - really not the butt - honest). The barbecue comes out great on the Weber Smokey Mountain, and once the vents are set, doing barbecue on a Weber is low maintenance as well - unlike on cheaper models.
Here are our ribs going on the Weber Bullet. Note that we are using a rib rack. Ribs can also be rolled and tied, but it's much easier to use a rack, and they taste better too (in my opinion).
Right near the end of the smoking process (last 30 minutes or so), we sauce up the ribs, and this is what they look like before we dig in.
I went back and forth on whether to get a smoker. It does take some time and work to do low and slow. But, the Weber Smokey Mountain really is easy to use, and WOW - the meat comes out fabulous. I'm glad I bought the Weber Smokey Mountain Bullet, and it's the barbecue smoker I most often recommend when folks email and ask.