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I'd like to buy a smoker.


Hopstretch
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Here are my two bits.  I have an offset smoker I had made for me 12 or so years ago by Pitts & Spitts when they were actually worth a shit.  Offset firebox where the wood and charcoal go and I have a grate above that fire box should I want to grill over wood/charcoal.  I have a propane log starter so it's easy to get going and I had it tapped off of and run to an industrial grade burner under the smoking area grate so the wifey can grill on it.  There's a ball valve on one end and I fill the barrel with water up to the point where there's a cut out at the wall of the firebox...this allows more of a moist smoke and an easy drain of the remaining water and fat drippings.  It gets the job done and is a true smoker but I had it customized to avoid two boxes behind the house.  I thought about having a cold smoker box added on the opposite end of the firebox but I'm glad I didn't.  I wouldn't have used it.

My rig at the neighborhood Turkey Fry (we fry about 35 turkeys for the folks in the hood and I smoke ribs for everyone, jambalaya by a gent out of New Orleans, taco truck shows up for breakfast...big party).

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and of course...drinking games

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Back to the point...  The Traeger type units are great in that they're very convenient and require a lot less work.  They're basically ovens in many senses vs a true smoker.  Nothing wrong with that, it's just a different animal and I certainly see their appeal just like I see the appeal of a Big Green Egg (porcelain smoker/grill that's great for chicken and ribs...fairly small grate IMO)....it's a specialty item that's highly dependent on what you want to cook and how much which is the moral of the story IMO.

So I think the key is figuring out if you're going to grill mostly or if you're going to smoke mostly and how much convenience you like.  The whole digital, remote temp thing is a game changer and it's wonderful for many as you don't have to mind the fire per se.  Not how I cook, but how I smoke is an investment in time and is a lot of work (e.g. a bone-in pork butt of say 8-9lbs is easily a 9-10 hr job when cooking at 225 degrees (aka low and slow).  A brisket can be a 12-15 hr affair.  Then there's the clean out of the firebox.  Can't beat the results if you really like smoked meat though....Texas will do that to one.

So my recommendation is figure out how you'll cook and use the item and then if you plan on using it regular and/or keeping it long pay attention to the materials used (e.g. if they don't state what kind of steel they're using I'd be suspect even if it's a $2K unit).  My boat anchor weighs about 450lbs and it's held up great uncovered under the eve behind my home.  The stainless used is 304 grade.

Best of luck and happy smoking...

HS

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