Nothing better than home smoked goodness
Apr 29, 2005 (Updated Apr 29, 2005)
Review by xyzwyatt
Rated a Very Helpful Review
When my husband learned that he needed to cut back on his cholesterol level we discussed the issue and decided that we needed a smoker because a small piece of smoked meat is satisfying and it allows the fat to drip from the meat rather than soaking in a pan which sometimes happens in a skillet or the oven. The taste is so flavorful that you don't need to add bbq or toppings to the meat to enjoy it. Sure a traditional grill makes good steaks and hamburgers, but we needed to avoid such meats so we started looking at a smoker.
Recommend this product?
Making a decision for a smoker was an easy choice for us; we went with an affordable vertically compact one because our patio is very small and we already had two other grills on it. We had no idea that we would use the smoker as often as we do so we are glad that we went with this model rather than the smaller portable smoker.
Im not sure where this exact model is sold at but I know that they keep it in stock at Wal-mart which is where we bought ours last summer for $60 and I noticed that they are still selling the same model this year.
The pit is heavy, over 50 pounds, and requires 30 minutes or less of assembly when you get home. Hubby assembled this in no time then followed the directions for priming the smoker with means heating it up to 400 degrees and letting it cool completely which needs to be done before you begin to smoke food in it so you probably wont be able cook your first meal until the next day.
I would recommend picking some cheap meat or an easier meat like beef to begin with because we started with a big fat turkey and ended putting it directly into the trash can because we werent able to get the heat correct so it wasn't safe to eat. We were too inexperienced, it took us a couple times practicing before getting it right and learning how long pieces of meat will take. Initially we thought the smoker was garbage but after practicing and reading advice online it became easier and the meats came out a lot better.
One of the reasons we chose this one is because it has a thermometer in the door. The thermometer is very important because the inside has to remain a certain temperature in order for the meat to cook especially since it will be at a low temperature anyway. The hottest that we are able to get the smoker to is usually 250 degrees while the water pan is in. If the water pan is removed the temperature can get up to 400 degrees. Smoker thermometers usually run around $40 so as you can see makes this smoker a real deal. Having an internal gauge is not recommended because it adds to the cook time every time you open the door. The door handle has a locking mechanism which prevents it from being opened accidentally and the handle never gets warm.
The outside temperature also effects how well the smoker performs. We only have an easy and successful smoke if it is warm outside, usually 68 degrees or above. When it is cooler outside its extremely challenging to keep the smoker warm enough. We know people with a smaller smoker who have no problem smoking in cold temperatures. There are 4 large vents on this which can help control the heat.
It takes a LOT of time to smoke, all day really. It depends on how thick your meat is and how many pounds but generally we start smoking at least 4 hours in advance. The procedures for use are very simple. It takes 30 minutes just to get the coals warm enough. If youre using lighter fluid you have to leave the door open while the fluid burns off otherwise it might explode. Youll add water or other seasoning liquid to the pan just above the wood or coals. The heat heats up the water and cooks the meat with steam. Blocks of cooking wood is added as desired to add flavor to the meat. The smoke permeates the meat a lot so we usually only use the smoke for two hours then cover the meat with aluminum foil and continue smoking as usual. More coal or wood needs to be added to the smoker every 30 minutes or so.
It takes a lot of time and a lot of charcoal and wood to smoke so we usually smoke a lot of meat at once. Another reason we chose this over smaller ones is because it holds 50 pounds of meat on 390 square inches which is a great deal of meat. There are two square removable shelves and we have never had any problems cooking different meats together, the tastes dont mix like they do in an oven. We typically smoke 4 or 5 days worth of meat and unlike meat from an oven this meat only tastes better with age. Since the racks are removable you are also able to do more with the smoker such as smoke larger items like a turkey. We smoked our Thanksgiving turkey, it turned out great! 12 pounds is the best size for a smoked turkey but 15 pounds is the largest that you can safely smoke in the smoker. Turkey larger than 15 pounds can grow bacteria from being at a low temperature for too long which is why we had to throw our first turkey away.
Another benefit of this smoker is it can also be used as a typical grill by taking out the water pan and lowering the racks. Originally we thought that the smoker would be able to replace our traditional charcoal grill but a year has passed and we still have the need for both. We have tried grilling in the smoker a couple of times and have been disappointed with the length of time the food takes and the lack of grilled flavor. In addition the ashes from the charcoals need to be emptied frequently. We put our ashes in the traditional charcoal because we dont have any other options for hot ashes. If you are shopping for a smoker I would recommend picking up something safe to transfer your ashes to if you dont have a traditional charcoal grill.
We are very disappointed with the durability and cosmetics of this. The smoker is advertised as having durable paint tat will last for years but that is questionable in my opinion. Both my gas and charcoal grill are older and never covered and cosmetically look a lot better than the smoker does now. The screws have rusted all over, the black sides have turned white from heat damage, and the smoker just looks old and worn out. We do use it a couple times a week and all winter long and has gotten a lot of use. I havent found a cover that fits it however I did find one that was pretty close. I covered it for awhile however its usually the next day before its cool enough to cover and sometimes gets forgotten so it spends a lot of time uncovered.
The smoker is very heavy and stinky so you probably wont be moving it much. I cant say that we have actually cleaned it. The porcelain-coated bowls and grates nearly clean themselves so we remove them and hose them off. With temperatures up to 400 degrees anything on them usually cooks off. The smoke and grease from the inside carries a smell that you can smell when standing near it so is certainly not something that I would want sitting in my garage on a regular basis.
This has a one year limited warranty on craftsmanship but doesnt really cover much. Paint and rust is not covered at all. A receipt for purchase is required. Contact customer service for more details.
Overall this is really good and we have definitely gotten our $60 out of it in the first year. Large impressive smokers are very expensive, in the $700 range and up, so I can live with the few cosmetic flaws in this one. Electric, propane and gas smokers are other options which seem nice but are typically more expensive and sometimes lack the added charcoal flavor. The major drawback for the charcoal version is that it requires extensive babysitting to make sure the heat is high enough. I do like this better than the traveling styles because you end up leaving it unattended at times (as you can not watch it directly for 8 hours) so a solid smoker that wont get knocked over like this makes more sense to me than a portable one. I prefer this over other styles because the meat, water, or coals can be accessed easily without moving the other. For a family size affordable smoker this one does a good job.
5 stars to Pogomom for adding my request to the database so quickly!
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Amount Paid (US$): 60.00
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