There are so many different types of smokers. We mostly use Cookshack smokers. We started out with the Cookshack Smokette SM-009 in about 2004 and we have used the heck out of that smoker. In the past few years, we’ve added a larger one with some upgraded bells and whistles. We smoke briskets, pork butts, chicken, bacon, tasso, beans, salmon and we really do use our smokers a lot. We also have several others that work off lump charcoal (vs. briquettes) and a big barrel type smoker that takes wood or lump charcoal. Those are more for Vince to use while I use the electric ones.
Chad has a barrel type, as well as an electric one.
Chad mostly uses the barrel smoker when he’s home all day and able to watch it and add wood as needed. Otherwise, he uses the electric one.
This is the Pit Boss Copperhead. It’s very easy for Nicole to use. It uses pellets (where the Cookshacks use pieces of wood). It can be any wood you want to use. We prefer fruit woods – cherry, apple, and we like pecan and oak. Mesquite is way too strong for my taste and I’m not crazy about hickory. I will use hickory in a bind but I’ll hardly ever use mesquite, which is sad because it’s available everywhere in our area. Fruit woods are a bit harder to come by so I either get them from Chad or have to buy them.
For the barrel smoker, Chad will build a fire and get the temp rising before putting his meat in there. Then, with a damper of sorts, he controls the temp, adding more wood as necessary.
With the electric smokers, the heat comes from electricity. The smoke is only for adding flavor. I’ve heard, and Chad repeated, that within four hours, the meat has taken on as much smoke flavor as it’s going to get. We still cook low and slow because that will render the fats, keeping the meet very moist and flavorful.
While I consider smoking an art and something I’m constantly trying to improve upon, it can also be simple and easy. For a whole chicken, I season it a day before I’m going to smoke it, oil the skin to keep it from drying and cracking, stick in the smoker and let it smoke. If I can keep it on the smoker for a couple of hours at 225, I’m happy. I will leave it longer if I’m busy or not home, but no matter how long it’s been in the smoker, I still stick it in the oven at about 375 using convection, for at least half an hour, to crisp up the skin. If the chicken has only been on the smoker a short time, I’ll leave it in the oven longer. The bottom line is that I finish it off in the oven til the internal temp is 165.
There are many charts on the internet but here’s one for the internal temp meat should be before eating.
I do enjoy smoking and obviously, Chad does too.
Of course, you do not need an expensive smoker to get great results. If you’re not in the market for a Cookshack or a Pit Boss, shop around and find one that suits your needs.