Charcoal grill/smoker recommendations? | FerrariChat

Charcoal grill/smoker recommendations?

Discussion in 'Drink, Smoke, and Fine Dining' started by Nurburgringer, Apr 20, 2011.

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  1. Nurburgringer

    Nurburgringer F1 World Champ

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    #1 Nurburgringer, Apr 20, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    A suitable topic on 4/20 I think :)

    Since the new home's main
    indoor cooking appliance
    is now taken care of, and it will soon (please God) be warmer weather it's time to look outdoors.

    My FIL is a BBQ stud/hero/god and he uses a side-box equipped charcoal grill/smoker. So shall I.

    There are many versions out there (Char-griller, Char Broil etc) for <$200. Probably not much difference in quality: all made in China of thin steel so not very stable temps or durable.

    The Smoke Hollow dual-fuel 47180T combo is a cool idea. Gas for searing and grilling and charcoal grill and side box all for ~$350.
    http://www.olp-inc.com/smoke-hollow-wagons.php#
    I have the patio space, and the option of quick and easy gas grilling would be nice.
    Will check one out in person tonight at a local Gander Mountain.

    Then there's the similar Char Grill "Trio" for ~$350. Only seems to be available here:
    http://www.tractorsupply.com/lawn-garden/outdoor-living/outdoor-cooking/char-griller-reg-trio-gas-and-charcoal-grill-with-side-fire-box-4449832
    Lowes carries the "Duo" version without a firebox for ~$300. No deal.

    Any other ideas or recommendations?

    Mostly would be grilling for just me and the wife, smoking larger quantities ~1-2/month and grilling for a larger group ~1/month.

    Obviously would like to avoid something that either won't work well (given practice and reasonable mods like sealing up minor air leaks, upgraded thermometer etc) or falls apart after a year or two. Don't want to get burned ;)
    thanks!
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  2. Ney

    Ney F1 Veteran
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    What does FIL use? Imitation is the surest form of flattery and will insure domestic tranquility....
     
  3. darth550

    darth550 Six Time F1 World Champ
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    Anything from Char Broil should be considered as disposable, IMO.

    That said, my brother and I got this one for our dad on Father's day in (I think) 1994 and it has been a-rockin' and a-rollin' ever since! It still looks brand new and will hold temp for as many hours as he wants. We had to have it transported from Houston to LA by train though! :eek:

    http://www.tejassmokers.com/products/1628.htm

    The BGE is another similarly priced but smaller alternative.
     
  4. Nurburgringer

    Nurburgringer F1 World Champ

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    #4 Nurburgringer, Apr 20, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    You are wiser than I.
    I'll call him tonight. Knowing him it was purchased at a flea market or taken in trade. He could also probably make better ribs than anyone I know using a trash can and yard trimmings.

    Yeah even wheeling it into the garage for the winter I'd expect these cheaper ones to only last 5 years max.

    whoa THAT'S what I'm talking about! Shipping to Milwaukee might require special permits though, and I don't think Rob's plane has an extra 500lbs payload to spare on his next flight to Oshkosh.
    Like I said above, my FIL's smoker is probably worth 1/10 of that one, and if he finds out I spent a grand he'd lose whatever respect he has for me. Same as if I bought a brand new F150 and didn't get it muddy, deer/hog blood stained and dented after a few weeks.
    Texas is surely the place to get a hard core smokers like this. Up north the choices are severely limited :(
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  5. Ney

    Ney F1 Veteran
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    #5 Ney, Apr 20, 2011
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    ....of course if there is a BIL involved and one upsmanship is required, you will want to go with this beauty........ might be a little big for Brats though....;)
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  6. It's Ross

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    My lovely wife gave me this recently;http://www.weber.com/explore/grills/smokers-series/smokey-mountain-cooker-18 She is meticulous so did her homework and found this is well regarded by the smoked meat community.

    I love BBQ but am no expert at anything other than eating it.
    First time out it maintained the temp well at a bit under 250* needing coals only twice as I recall for a ~12 hr. session.
    My first time out results were good with this, WAY better than what I'd attempted on our gas grill trying to keep the temps down.
     
  7. darth550

    darth550 Six Time F1 World Champ
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    I use this as a dual purpose smoker/grill. It requires my attention every hour (or so) to smoke though. While I realize it's part of the fun to hang out and sip whatever while it's working, it would be nice to have a choice over an 8-12 hour period. :):)

    http://weber.com/explore/grills/charcoal-series/performer
     
  8. darth550

    darth550 Six Time F1 World Champ
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    My "supposed" higher line CB stainless grill lasted only 2, always covered when not in use.
     
  9. Nurburgringer

    Nurburgringer F1 World Champ

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    #9 Nurburgringer, Apr 20, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
    That's ridiculous. What happened? If the charcoal box burned through or something structural broke I'd expect CB to stand behind their product and send replacement parts. If the whole thing crumbled like a 1980's Fiat then....

    Nice looking smoker, and indeed some impressive reviews on Amazon including one by Slap Yo Mama BBQ!
    For $300 I'd still need a proper grill though, but for that a $100 Weber would work.
    hmmmm.....

    no BIL, but don't need one to still want one of those :)
    Forget the brats you could probably roast 10 pigs in that monster!

    I read up on that model this morning. Neat firing system that accd to all accounts works great. But as you say it's not really a 'proper' smoker, and tough for me to justify $200 more for the (admitedly nice) extra convinience over a Weber kettle and chinmey starter.
     
  10. darth550

    darth550 Six Time F1 World Champ
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    I had a grill, not a smoker. What happened was the gas lines ruptured and the tank would empty in < a minute. To repair it would not have been worth it so I went back to the Weber. :)
     
  11. Etcetera

    Etcetera Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Yeah. I bought a Char Broil Quantum something or other and it's a steaming pile of dog shizzle. It doesn't get hot enough for starters, and that's even after doing the whole Rub-Ya-Head-While-Patting-Ya-Belly Rain Dance in hopes that the Grill Gods bestow their might upon your grill so you can do something other than melt some fu**ing ice cream with it.

    Several tanks and regulators later (ZERO THANKS TO CHAR-BROIL, BTW, who do NOT stand behind their products AT ALL) and the thing can almost cook a steak. A THIN steak. Bring a sack lunch when cooking with this thing because you WILL STARVE TO DEATH waiting for this thing to put the sizzle on your food.

    I would call this Char Broil Quantum grill pure garbage, but that's a huge slight on garbage. Garbage, you see, has a purpose and a reason for being. This grill has neither.
     
  12. Nurburgringer

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    #12 Nurburgringer, Apr 21, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    :/
    avoid Char Broil - check

    Stopped at Lowes and Gander last night. The $299 Char Griller "duo" (convert to "trio" by adding $70 side box) did not impress at all. Plastic handles, paper thin sheet all over, wobbly everything.

    Gander had the smaller version of the Smoke Hollow 'combo' grill/BBQ/smoker on sale for $299, ALMOST pulled the trigger. No telling how long it will hold up but quite impressive materials and construction with thoughtful features.
    SS gas burners, chunky knobs (only plastic parts I could find on the whole thing), pretty tight shut lines, and looks awesome too IMO.
    Going to call other Ganders today to see if they have the larger model in stock and if they'll match Academy's online price of $399. For the extra $100 you get a searing station instead of a side gas burner (how often do people really use these for anything but a shelf?) and more cooking space on the other 2/3 cooking surfaces (small grill over the firebox for extra large parties).
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  13. powerpig

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    #13 powerpig, Apr 21, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I have four Traeger Grill Smokers and really like them. Picked one up last weekend on craigslist in good condition for $150. They are pellet grills and you can purchase flavored pellets for them. I also have a Weber Gold and WeberQ as well as a Big Green Egg, the the Traeger is my go to cooker.

    They have excellent customer service. I emailed them when the paint started to peel on one and they sent a whole new body free. They have a three year warranty and stand behind their product. I use my Traeger Pig in professional competitions.

    http://www.traegergrills.com/shop/grills
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  14. Nurburgringer

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    #14 Nurburgringer, Apr 22, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2011
    Too cool :)
    Reminds me of the 917 with all the cuts painted on it.
    Some interesting Amazon reviews of Traegers, incl tips on how to tell the US vs Chinese-made ones apart.
    http://www.amazon.com/Traeger-bbq070-Lil-Tex-Grill/dp/B000VYKN0M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1303471364&sr=8-2

    Not any for sale on Milwaukee Craigslist :(

    Sent a Facebook message to my FIL in east TX yesterday asking him what kind he had, with a link to the Gander Mnt "Smoke Hollow". His Response(s):

    "pipe come out of oil field and i cut and welded it up. if i make another there will be some changes..although this one works pretty good.
    14 hours ago · Like

    i viewed the link and that one from gander mountain looks big enough for a good outing..although i would like to walk around it. open the lid, kick the tires, etc., if i was going to purchase one. pull up pits and spits on internet and check them out also.
    14 hours ago · Like

    i just viewed pitts and spitts and i think with my budget i would have to stay with gndr mt. or make another trip to the oil field or salvage yard looking for heavy wall pipe.
    14 hours ago · Like

    i was going to say also that regardless of what kind you get... you need to season a pit before you start using it!!!"

    Called him up last night (while waiting for our food at Famous Dave's BBQ, one of the few decent Q joints in Milwaukee) for his seasoning procedure: on a brand new smoker smear lard all over the inside of the smoking chamber. Light a good, hot Oak wood fire in the firebox and let it burn till it goes out. Over time the lard-coated smoker will get stickier, browner, and yummier with every smoking cycle.
    FIL uses (greenish) oak almost exclusively, sometimes with hickory/cherry/mesquite mixed in.
     
  15. Giovanni_P

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    I will add my vote for the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (aka "weber bullet") to this thread. Cheap, well-designed, and doesn't take up a lot of space in the yard or on the patio. I have one that I've used for 3 years or so.

    Being made of metal, it isn't as efficient as my other smoker (a large-size "big green egg") but it is about as close to "set it and forget it" as I have seen. On a summer evening, for example, I can load it up with charcoal and some wood chunks, get the temps stabilized, load in a pork shoulder or brisket, and go to bed while the cook continues overnight- when I wake up, I usually have to poke the coals or add a bit more fuel but it holds temperature really well.

    If you're concerned, there are a number of aftermarket temp control accessories available for the weber bullet as well.

    Solid stuff.

    Now the big green egg, on the other hand, is a different animal. I did an 18-hour pork shoulder cook in 15* F weather this winter on a single load of lump charcoal!! Of course, it's 5x the price of the Weber...

    Happy smoking-

    Gio P
     
  16. darth550

    darth550 Six Time F1 World Champ
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    The cast iron grates are a big plus on that one, even better if they come standard....
     
  17. Nurburgringer

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    #17 Nurburgringer, Apr 23, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Good stuff Gio - is pork shoulder your favorite cut to smoke? Do you always use lump charcoal or sometimes use 'fresh' wood? What kind(s)?

    Yup they're cast iron alright. I know that because as of yesterday a Smoke Hollow Model 47180T is sitting in my garage :)
    Drove an hour to supposedly the only Gander Mnt in WI that had one in stock. The display model (they had both the bigger and smaller) exceeded expectations and they matched Academy's online price of $399 , plus 10% additional off for paying with a new Gander credit card (to be promptly paid and cancelled of course). Also grabbed a bunch of wood (oak, mesquite, pecan), charcoal and accessories @20% off when you buy a grill.
    This thing is a BEAST. Very well designed, great assembly instructions, everything fit together perfectly. Took me about 2.5hrs to put together with a freshly charged cordless driver for the 100+ M6 philips screws. It's rock solid, weighing in at over 150lbs.
    Had a bunch of people over come over last night and finished assembly at 6PM so only had time to season the gas section and grill up brats and veggies. On the drive back from Gander stumbled upon Sorgs Butcher Shop and picked up a variety of fresh brats, steaks and dogs.
    Seasoned that part only for 30 minutes at WOT (almost 600F on the thermo) after spraying down the grates and interior with Pam hi-temp grilling spray (cottonseed oil) .
    Nothing stuck, nice even heating across all 3 burners, superb charred flavor.
    Today it's off to the Pick&Save for lard and spare ribs. No rain forecast so can wheel her outside to properly season the smoking side and see how she does low and slow. Have a couple mods in mind as well.
    Will take a video walk-around of all the features. This is one kick-a$$ cooking appliance! :p:p:p
    Assembly photos here
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  18. darth550

    darth550 Six Time F1 World Champ
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    Friggin AWESOME! :):):)
     
  19. ndpendant

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    #19 ndpendant, Apr 23, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
    If youre not doing huge volumes and arent married to charcoal, I LOVE LOVE my bradley smoker. It can be computer timed and temperature set. I can run several different types of wood in it to change flavors. Allows hot and cold smoking so you can do jerkeys, cheeses, fish, salmon etc. I can set temperatures to 5 degree intervals. It has 4-6 smoking racks depending on what you want. Best part, it can be set and will self run, auto load wood and smoke unattended for up to 10 hours! no more full saturdays tending the smoker. IVe done chicken, lamb racks and ribs all at the same time. low temps, all very controlled.
    I know charcoal and traditional hardwood is the way to go, but there is very little i cant do with this and have my days free. I cant do a 20lb shoulder but who does that often??
    heres a link:
    http://www.bradleysmoker.com/
    Nd
     
  20. Nurburgringer

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    #20 Nurburgringer, Apr 24, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    thanks D - I've been spending almost as much time staring at it as I do the 308 LOL

    Nice machine! There's a lot to be said for convenience, especially when the results are as good or better.

    Last night I smeared lard all over the inside of my smoker and seasoned it for ~3 hours with oak, couple chunks of soaked mesquite and 4 briquettes. Monitored (and checked against the bi-mettalic thermo on the smoker - very close together) the temp with a $14(!) remote digital thermometer from Target. Kept a steady 200-225F without much firebox tending, but I'm considering encasing as much of the outside as feasible with terracotta tiles to better insulate it.
    Target also had a pretty darned nice outdoor motorcycle cover for $26. Fits like a glove.

    Today I'll be smoking pork belly, bb ribs and shoulder. Early this morning put a Korean BBQ style dry rub on the belly, Vietnamese spices on the picnic and basic southern rub (br sugar, red and black pepper, cumin, salt) on the ribs.

    bon appetit!

    PS: the remote thermo was on clearance at Target for $14, I bought the last 2 at my local store. Very good range, various alarm features, backlit LCD screen, just a steal at this price so get to your local T as they appear to be discontinued:
    Chefmate® Wireless Grilling Thermometer
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  21. darth550

    darth550 Six Time F1 World Champ
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    PICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  22. cove26

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    #22 cove26, Apr 24, 2011
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  23. cove26

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    #23 cove26, Apr 24, 2011
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  24. Nurburgringer

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    #24 Nurburgringer, Apr 24, 2011
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    Love it!! What type of wood?

    ok here are the pics from my 1st smoke out.
    Started firebox with 6 briqs, split oak and a soaked mesquite chunk. Over the 1st hour temp didn't top 175F so added more briqs and oak, occasionally sprinkling soaked Jack D barrel chips on top. Lots of leaks through the lid's joint face and into the gas section, have some ideas how to fix. Also considering terra cotta tiles cut to envelope a good portion of the smoker.
    Temps eventually reached 225F, maintained for 2.5 hours and we couldn't wait longer.
    The BBs weren't fall-off-the-bone, but QUITE spicy and tender. The picnic matched the finest fresh smoked ham I've ever tasted. Pork belly chunked then dipped in Korean BBQ sauce was bacon candy. Perfectly charred chicken legs yakitori style on the gas side blew everyone away. An unqualified success, except the garlic would've done better with more heat.

    Sides of spiced carrots, slaw, cornbread, smoked beans, collards and nice beer rounded things out. Oh year, hot strawberry rhubarb crisp and a shot of Jaeger capped everything.

    Remote thermometer worked great, and got a lot of yard work done while keeping an eye on the smoldering fire.
    Happy smoking!
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  25. Nurburgringer

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    #25 Nurburgringer, Apr 24, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Here's all the meat except the shoulder, pre-rub. Got it all from an incredible Asian market not 2 miles from our house. They had everything: tongue, hearts, lovely whole red snapper, fresh produce and a ton of tea/snacks/dumplings/etcetcetc I had no idea what was in.
    The 2.3lb shoulder cost $1.75/lb, and is seriously one of the tastiest pieces of pork I've ever eaten. At first was afraid I put too much cayenne in the rib rub, but everyone loved the tingling lips. :)
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