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Jacqui Ingledew

Food Smokers: The Topic

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of course they can't cool below ambient

Sure they can. stick a tray of ice in the smoker while you cold smoke. I cold smoke with the tin can/soldering iron method. I use frozen foam freezer blocks to help keep my temps below ambient. Just did a side of steel head trout yesterday.

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The thing is that you always need heat to create smoke. Even the very efficient Bradley smoker creates quite some heat without the use of the heating element. In a ceramic cooker, heat can accumulate because of the thermal insulation provided by the ceramic walls. This is why having a remote smoke source is a good thing for true (and safe) cold smoking.

As for not needing to add coals for long cooks on a ceramic BBQ, this is absolutely true but you need to fill the fire box to capacity and ensure that you cook at a fairly low temperature (180*-250*). Some people boast doing 36 hours briskets this way using an electronic controller.

By the way, my Primo BBQ has 400 square inches of cooking surface (680 with the grate extenders) and can be used with the the BBQ Guru. I think the price is about the same as the BGE. There are some online retailers, you could probably get a better idea of the price (don't forget to include shipping) by calling around.

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Can you put a drip pan into the BGE? Seems like that's important for several things, also to add water or other liquid to keep moisture high. The BGE, even the XL, seems relatively small, sure not big enough to have a pan in between piles of coals like on my weber.

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I got an ad the other day from Bradley regarding their cold-smoking attachment for the smoker. It looks like basically a dryer hose that allows you to move the smoke generator away from the main unit. At $100, I think I'll pass on the "official" solution, but it's out there.

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in my endless explorations of smokers online I've seen mods to do that yourself quite easily. Doesn't look that great, but works. I can't find those links, but if you poke around on the bradley forum you'll probably find it.

I might now actually spring for the Big Green Egg XL, more costly, but also offers the wood fired oven thing I want. As I'm not looking into baking huge amounts of breads or pizzas, a real wood fired oven is probably overkill and certainly 10x as expensive.

I want to be able to add unusual woods and other things (dried fennel stalks, grape vines, juniper, etc) to my smokes, which the motorized smokers don't allow.

A side by side (those that look like a steam train) is also still in the runnings, but I'm very intrigued by the high temps the BGE can achieve (depending on whom you believe 600-800+ degree).

Of course, now I read that some had the gasket that's sealing the lid to the body come off. Again a problem known to the manufacturer. Something that makes me simmer a bit, as they do offer to send you a different kind and have recommendations regarding better glue. Then why not use it in the darn production???

I guess nothing is perfect.

Anybody have experience and/or a good lead to a small manufacturer that makes smokers? There seem to be hundreds of shops out there, all making "the one and only, the best, the longest lasting" of course.....

I'm not in a rush and I don't spend $1000 lightly, more research to do.

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For the BGE and the Primo, there are racks that allow you to add drip pans. On mine, I almost always have a drip pan on one side of my BBQ leaving the other side for direct cooking.

I made pizza yesterday and my BBQ went over 700* in the dome which in my opinion is way too hight (I left the vent open and went away for too long). I think most people cook pizza around 500* in ceramic cookers so that the crust does not char too much but that everything cooks properly.

As for the gasket, it is a known problem. If you don't want to replace it too often, you can buy gaskets made for wood stove instead. I was told that on average, the usual felt gaskets need to be changed every year.

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seems most do pizza around 400-500, that's what I read too. How'd it turn out?

The gasket thing, just one of those things that drive me up the wall. If the mfg knows about it, why not do something that does NOT need to be fixed by me once a year? Especially if an easy solution is out there.

Same with many of the other smokers (and other products), there always seem to be certain things the buyer has to do to make the thing really work.

Be it the fragile front feet at the Bradley's, the falling off paint with some of the traditional smokers, the too short chimney inside, the gaskets with the BGE and other similar ones. I don't understand why the manufacturers don't fix these things, especially with the more expensive units. At $1000.- I certainly would not expect my gasket to fall off within a year....

Makes me want to buy sheet metal and build my own - - -

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the Kamado Which is the original design, that BGE copied, is a much better unit. I have an old one and really like it, a pal has a newer one that is amazing..

Bud

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I've heard horrible things about one Kamado, though I don't know if it's the same one. The one in question is tiled with little blue tiles which fall off, service is terrible, etc. There's a whole website about that:

http://www.kamadofraudforum.org/

Might not be the one you're talking about of course. The "original" kamado is of course a very old traditional cooking oven that's been used for centuries.

BGE has lifetime warranty and supposedly very fast and efficient service if there's ever an issue, at least judging from what I read. Which is why I'm tending towards the BGE, not the oval one that I'd probably prefer, but it's warranty is limited. Considering the extreme heats these things can achieve a lifetime warranty is certainly something that can be very valuable years from now.

I'd love to buy a Komodo Kamado, but I don't have $3000+ to spend on this thing - unfortunately. Those seem to be the ultimate thing. There's a good in depth review of that thing here:

http://www.nakedwhiz.com

I hope my local bbqgalore has the XL egg on display so I can look at it. According to the BGE website their warranty is void if you buy online, something I'd rather avoid :-)

Oliver

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I've heard horrible things about one Kamado, though I don't know if it's the same one. The one in question is tiled with little blue tiles which fall off, service is terrible, etc. There's a whole website about that:

http://www.kamadofraudforum.org/

Might not be the one you're talking about of course. The "original" kamado is of course a very old traditional cooking oven that's been used for centuries.

BGE has lifetime warranty and supposedly very fast and efficient service if there's ever an issue, at least judging from what I read. Which is why I'm tending towards the BGE, not the oval one that I'd probably prefer, but it's warranty is limited. Considering the extreme heats these things can achieve a lifetime warranty is certainly something that can be very valuable years from now.

I'd love to buy a Komodo Kamado, but I don't have $3000+ to spend on this thing - unfortunately. Those seem to be the ultimate thing. There's a good in depth review of that thing here:

http://www.nakedwhiz.com

I hope my local bbqgalore has the XL egg on display so I can look at it. According to the BGE website  their warranty is void if you buy online, something I'd rather avoid :-)

Oliver

jeeze... that is some strange stuff...Mine is old and my pals is 6 or 7 years old...They are great units, but looks like the current situation is not anything anyone would want to be involved with....

Bud

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I got an ad the other day from Bradley regarding their cold-smoking attachment for the smoker. It looks like basically a dryer hose that allows you to move the smoke generator away from the main unit. At $100, I think I'll pass on the "official" solution, but it's out there.

Bet someone can come up with a hardware store solution for a little less.

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I am still enjoying my inexpensive weber kettle for grilling and smoking. If I was doing this again, or if I add a second kettle, I would consider getting the model with the prep area attached. I'll probably add a rotisserie unit to it at some point, but it's not absolutely necessary.

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My WSM has been performing well for years and years and years. It does not compete with the high end smokers you folks are discussing here. However, for hot smoking of any type it works great. It is not a cold smoker and will do so only with serious modification.

But for the money, it is a a great device. It will most likely outlast me.

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I own a BGE, and its a great product, had it for about 2 years. I also just recently bought a BBQ Guru which is a computer controlled temperature sensor that automatically controls the temperature of the Egg by conecting a fan at the bottom air inlet. Great product, especially for the low and slows. I just did a 10 lb chuck shoulder roast overnight for 12 hrs with it.

What I lve about it too, is that it is basically a charcoal brick oven for baking too. I cook pizza in it quite a bit.

Mike

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jeeze... that is some strange stuff...Mine is old and my pals is 6 or 7 years old...They are great  units, but looks like the current situation is not anything anyone would want to be involved with....

Bud

it is strange, maybe they changed hands or something. Normally I'd figure that the few that complain are the few odd models where something went wrong in production, but I doubt they sell thousands of these, so the percentage of units with problems seems rather large.

Glad to hear your's and your friend's unit work great after all these years!

Oliver

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seems most do pizza around 400-500, that's what I read too. How'd it turn out?

I think 400 is a bit low to my taste but some people like to put a lot of toppings on their pizza so they need to reduce the temperature a bit so that the toppings have a chance to cook through without the crust turning black.

I generally like my pizza with few topings so 500*-600* probably works better, at least that is the theory... I did not have enough time to experiment yet.

I also have the feeling that the air flow in a ceramic cooker is a bit different than in a brick oven. I think it resemble the type of difference you would find between a convection oven and a regular oven. And I also havbe the impression that this difference is more obvious at higher tempratures than at lower temperatures. This might explain why 500* works well while napolitan style pizza are supposed to require much higher temperatures (700*-900*). If you wanted to experiment, you could reach these temperatures with a ceramic cooker but you'd be sure to fry your gasket and I am also ready to bet that you would burn you crust as well.

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The gasket thing, just one of those things that drive me up the wall. If the mfg knows about it, why not do something that does NOT need to be fixed by me once a year? Especially if an easy solution is out there.

I don't recall where I read that but while shopping for my BBQ I remember reading that one potential explanation for this was that manufacturers were careful only to use material that had been tested for food uses. Most of the alternative gaskets are made for wood stove or for a variety of industrial uses. If ceramic BBQ continue to gain in popularity, I'm sure you'll find better gaskets on future models.

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interesting. I guess I'd rather not have some asbestos with my burger ;-p

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I've had a Kamado #5 for about six years now with absolutely no problems. I have a BBQ Guru in it which is especially helpful for long slow cooks.

I do my pulled pork with its set at 225° for about 14 to 16 hours and use about 5 pounds of charcoal. I do pizzas on a stone: the temperature at about 600°- 650° and I've actually taken it up to over 700°for searing steaks.

In my opinion is of the best operating (and looking) grills/smokers out there. Maybe I'm an exception not have any problems but I'm sure there are many other happy customers or they wouldn't be in business.

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glad to hear you have no problems! I'll probably get that guru thing too down the road, seems like a good investment for those low and slow cooks.

I'm especially looking forward to the pizzas!

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for the DIYers out there, instructions to build your own bbqguru-type temperature control device that also posts smoker status on twitter:

click

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