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Smokers - help me choose one


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i was going to buy a big expensive ceramic grill/smoker last year. then i asked myself- a la bonner--how many times i would actually use it. and also whether i really wanted to make bbq at home that would--at my level of ability--probably be only a little bit better (if that) than what's available in the twin cities. the two answers together saved me about $1000. we are happy with the occasional burgers and hot dogs on our old workhorse weber kettle.

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Maybe get the Weber bullet which is of course great for smoking. You can use the bottom third of the bullet to potentially grill. 

I wouldn't use anything other than real wood charcoal so that would rule the smaller one out for me.

I’m partial to a classic Weber kettle. I don’t know how you’re gonna fry with leftover heat on anything.  

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Weber even (for a while, I don't think it's available any more) sold a heavy-duty cast-iron grill that fit the standard kettle. It had sides which folded up allowing access to the coals, and was a really nice product. Don't know why they discontinued it.

Seems as if a few of them are being made by others...http://weberkettleclub.com/blog/2018/09/17/cast-iron-grates-for-weber-charcoal-grills/

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As everyone says, an 18" kettle is your best friend for summertime (or not terrible winter time) grilling, but don't ignore @SLBunges advice regarding ceramics when it gets colder - you could even get one of those and add on a temperature controller for hot smoking and, if you want your cold smokehouse - a Smokai. 

My father had a weber barrel style smoker for many years. We got it at the local ACE (what you call 'Eh-ce in Canada I guess) where it was inexplicably on sale for about $100. It was very good for smaller items - duck breast, sausage, bacon, but I don't think it would be easy to use it for larger cuts. 

 

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4 hours ago, Anthony Bonner said:

this is the math I did when I decided on just a simple weber for now.  Realistically I grill 2-3 nights a week but slow cook 2-3 times a summer.

This makes sense. And also depends what you are smoking. Id be fine smoking chicken or a rack of ribs on a Weber kettle. I think I'd struggle smoking a pork shoulder or a brisket or a plate of beef ribs on a kettle. 

And once I get the Bullet going I cook a lot on it because I feel I'm wasting space not using both racks. So if I'm cooking a shoulder on one rack I'll make chicken for the week on the other rack.  

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4 hours ago, mitchells said:

This makes sense. And also depends what you are smoking. Id be fine smoking chicken or a rack of ribs on a Weber kettle. I think I'd struggle smoking a pork shoulder or a brisket or a plate of beef ribs on a kettle. 

And once I get the Bullet going I cook a lot on it because I feel I'm wasting space not using both racks. So if I'm cooking a shoulder on one rack I'll make chicken for the week on the other rack.  

But grilled beef ribs (Flintstonian) work really nicely over hard wood  charcoal and or coal and and a few soaked chunks!

 

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On 5/4/2021 at 2:04 PM, joethefoodie said:

And for grilling, the weber is nice for a two-level fire.  I used to use it a lot for plain old roasting with just a little smoke, like for a whole chicken, a pork roast, etc.

I don't know where you're looking at prices, but I see the classic kettle (18" - do you need much bigger?) at $99 US, and the 22" at $119 US...

I was looking at the webber website. It's the premium that's US $175 (CA $229). The 22" original is US$119 (CA$159) and 18" original $99. (CA$119).     

Truth be told, I suggested propane since it's easier to use, but my mother wanted charcoal, and since it was for her (I would only get to play with it for smoking), she got to choose.     

I recommended the premium since the enclosed ash catcher would make it cleaner and easier for her (or me) to clean. But those who purchased it ordered a MasterTouch. I didn't really look into that model, so don't know much about it other than it was CA$289, but I guess that's what we have! I will research smoking on a kettle grill now.

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3 hours ago, prasantrin said:

I was looking at the webber website. It's the premium that's US $175 (CA $229). The 22" original is US$119 (CA$159) and 18" original $99. (CA$119).     

Truth be told, I suggested propane since it's easier to use, but my mother wanted charcoal, and since it was for her (I would only get to play with it for smoking), she got to choose.     

I recommended the premium since the enclosed ash catcher would make it cleaner and easier for her (or me) to clean. But those who purchased it ordered a MasterTouch. I didn't really look into that model, so don't know much about it other than it was CA$289, but I guess that's what we have! I will research smoking on a kettle grill now.

The first thing I ever read (or the first thing I think I ever read) about smoking on a Weber was...

image.png.d03a190ccba42400d3162a3276094222.png

There should be no shortage of info for you elsewhere.

 

 

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I'm never putting together another grill. Never ever ever! 

Picked it up this morning, then decided I needed a rest before putting it together. Except my little rest turned into a long nap and it was after 5:30 before I even started putting it together, and then it took me more than 1 hour*. 

Finally got the coals ready following the instructions, and 50 briquettes, as recommended by the manual, gave a very pitiful fire and the temp never got over 250F (it was also pretty chilly out today, and by the time I finished cooking, the outdoor temp was 7C, windchill of 2C). We ended up using it for the corn and zucchini, and just to put grill marks and a bit of charcoal flavor on the steak, finishing it off on the stove. 

I clearly need to practise more. Am waiting for a couple of books from the library, but as of 10pm last night, my area shut down most services again (we're number 3! In the most covid infections per capita in Canada and the US), so who knows when I'll get them.      

*Funny side story, I just finished being assessed for adhd, and one of the assessment questions was, "Do you ever have trouble following instructions, missing important details?" And I answered no. But after tonight, I realized I should have answered yes. 

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They were definitely open, or at least the lever/handle thing was in the open position. I checked and double checked. It's possible I installed it incorrectly so even though it says it's open, it's not. Apparently I'm not so good at following instructions.

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3 hours ago, mitchells said:

Sorry if my comment came off as insulting, like when I call the Help Desk and I'm asked if my laptop is plugged in. :)

Not at all. It's definitely something I would do, and it's very possible I put it together wrong. Like how I initially put the little clasp type things with the bubble in backwards. I was going to check again today to make sure everything was ok, but I got lazy, so next time I use it (maybe this weekend if it's nice out), I'll check everything out.   

 

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I didn't get the smoker. It's the Weber Master Touch. But I suspect I'd prefer an electric smoker just so I can set it and forget it. That's probably not how they work in real life, but I like to imagine they work that way. You know, smokers for dummies. My kind of cooking.

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