It didn’t take much more than a trip to Austin, TX to inspire me to recommit to the fine art of smoking – meat, that is.
While I have greatly enjoyed my Grill Dome Kamado style smoker, it did not have the cooking surface size I wanted, and I was really looking for a wood-fueled smoker. And being the cheapo I am, did not want to spend many hundreds or thousands of dollars on a smoker.
I ended up with a Pecos Smoker from Old Country BBQ (purchased at Academy Sports) and loaded onto my trailer for a ride to its new home.
This is a wood fired smoker, which is what I was looking for, and built with 14 gauge steel and 630 square inches of cooking goodness.
There are a couple of key features that were important to me in this particular smoker selection:
- Heavy steel construction (this is 14 gauge for strength, durability, rust avoidance)
- Decent size cooking surface (630 sq. inches – for cooking multiple racks of ribs, butts, whatever, and the rack removes for easy cleaning)
- Wood fueled (I wanted to be able to smoke using firewood, although you could use charcoal if you wanted; there is a decent sized bin to place firewood)
- Chimney at the opposite end from the fire box (so smoke travels across and around the food)
- Drip hole (when you smoke meats there are fats that drip – you need to have the smoker drain these fats and be able to catch them somehow)
- Wheels (this bad boy is heavy and I want to be able to move it around)
I am not without resources as far as firewood goes. We use a goodly amount of firewood to feed our fire pit in the front yard, so we always have a stash of firewood.
A lot of our firewood comes free to us when neighbors take down trees, which is very cool – for us. And splitting wood? It never ceases to amaze me what some friends and family will do for a cold beer or a meal – or just to be nice! Thankful for the splitters, although when my peeps aren’t around I will rent a splitter (I am not Superman, after all).
After test firing the smoker on Saturday, Sunday found me with a rack of lamb and a chicken to smoke, as practice.
When smoking, it is helpful (essential) to have a ready source of cold beer, a TV if there are sporting events (March Madness, baby) and perhaps a little practice on your cornhole skills while the meat smokes.
While I will be the first to admit that the chicken was a bit of a disappointment (I have work to do on the prep, rub and cooking time), the rack of lamb was exquisite – delicious! Oh man! Un. Freaking. Believable.
Now I am not insensitive to the environmental impact that burning wood and feeding/grazing livestock represents: global emissions, an enormous use of land, production of methane… essentially there is a very strong case for reducing the amount of meat (beef in particular) we eat. But let me just simmer on the joys of smoking for now, and then I’ll try to be a better citizen going forward.