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  1. #1

    Need some advice from the meat smokers here...

    I consider myself a pretty good griller after 20 years of working at it, but I’m looking to get into smoking now. I’m not looking to spend a ton before I figure out if it’s for me or not, so I’m looking for advice on a decent starter smoker and a good wood to use with turkey. Plus any advice for newbies you might have. I saw Walmart has a few for just under $200, but I don’t want them if they’re complete crap. Amazon has some too.
    Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    Quote Originally Posted by bjornolf View Post
    I consider myself a pretty good griller after 20 years of working at it, but I’m looking to get into smoking now. I’m not looking to spend a ton before I figure out if it’s for me or not, so I’m looking for advice on a decent starter smoker and a good wood to use with turkey. Plus any advice for newbies you might have. I saw Walmart has a few for just under $200, but I don’t want them if they’re complete crap. Amazon has some too.
    Thanks so much.
    I have a large Big Green Egg (BGE), which I love. But there are less expensive things out there that frankly can hold more meat.

    I will defer to others on make, model, pellet v. charcoal, etc. (FWIW, I use FOGO charcoal and for a bird I would use a few pecan or apple chunks [not chips]).

    There are some really good YouTube and other videos that will show you a bunch of different styles, rub recipes, rituals, and will debate techniques such as whether to inject or not. In a lot of ways, it doesn't really matter so long as you (1) cook it on indirect heat; (2) keep the heat at the grill grate constant in a range of say 225F to 350F depending on the amount of time you have and how crisp you want the skin; and (3) use a thermometer (preferably a wireless thermometer so you don't need to open the lid) to cook the bird to an internal temperature of about 160F or 165F (the temperature will continue to rise after you pull it, especially if you wrap it in foil).

    People swear by a bunch of different tricks, magic temperatures, etc. but if you are not doing competition cooking I think a lot of that is just personal preference. IMO, you can cook birds at higher temperatures than pork butts and brisket which are tougher cuts of meat and really need the extra time to break down collagen.

    Enjoy, and post pictures! There is a smoked meat thread here, as well as a BGE thread which is applicable to any smoking:

    https://forums.dukebasketballreport...ghlight=smoked

    https://forums.dukebasketballreport...hlight=brisket
    Last edited by OldPhiKap; 11-08-2018 at 09:27 AM. Reason: found links instead of being lazy
    1991 -- 1992 -- 2001 -- 2010 -- 2015

  3. #3
    Thanks so much! I knew about the smoke thread, but I didn’t want to muck it up with my newbie questions. I’ve considered a BGE before but they seem awfully expensive for the size. Will a 25lb turkey fit in one?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    Quote Originally Posted by bjornolf View Post
    Thanks so much! I knew about the smoke thread, but I didn’t want to muck it up with my newbie questions. I’ve considered a BGE before but they seem awfully expensive for the size. Will a 25lb turkey fit in one?
    Wow, that's a beast! Never tried one that big. Not sure, but maybe not. I can get about 19 pounds of pork butts and about 17 pounds of brisket (pre-trimmed) in mine but that's tight and I worry about convection getting screwed up.

    And yes, there are better-priced things than a BGE.

    If CB&B responds to this thread, I would defer to him because he is a true pit master. (And a great artist. And a nice guy.)
    1991 -- 1992 -- 2001 -- 2010 -- 2015

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    In most cases, "low and slow" is the name of the game for smoking, but for turkeys, I'd recommend a higher dome temp (~325) and shorter cook time. I've had one or two birds come out tasting a little too much like an ashtray.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC unless it's a home football game then I'm grilling on Devil's Alley
    Quote Originally Posted by OldPhiKap View Post
    If CB&B responds to this thread, I would defer to him because he is a true pit master. (And a great artist. And a nice guy.)
    Lies, all lies!

    I know people LOVE the BGE, but when I cook, I like the ability to do it for lots of people, and the BGE is pretty limited on size. I also like to use my smoker for multiple purposes. I have three total. One is way big with a 4' x 2' grill plate, one is a classic barrel smoker with a side fire box, and one is a split smoker with two adjustable fire tables. The third one is the one I use most often. I can smoke and grill simultaneously, and like my barrel smoker, it was around $200. My cooking partner, TNTDevil bought the same grill after he retired his old one, and we both have been impressed by the results.

    The split grill is available at Lowes and Home Depot, although I saved some $ and got mine through Amazon. This is that grill.

    DGN576SNC-D_Lifestyle_500x500.jpg

    https://www.lowes.com/pd/Dyna-Glo-32...caAne_EALw_wcB

    My barrel smoker is a a classic Chargriller Pro. I'll never complain about it since I have won awards on it, although the drawback is that it is not easy to get ashes out of it. The side fire box is easy enough, but in the main chamber you have to remove all of the grill plates, which is a pain. Still, it is great and inexpensive, and very sturdy.

    barbacoa-char-griller-super-pro.jpg

    That last point is important. Many of the inexpensive smokers (and some of the pricier ones) are rather flimsy, and the grill plates are questionable. Both my grills are steel, and the grill plates are iron. Don't spend money on something that won't last a few years.
    Q "Why do you like Duke, you didn't even go there." A "Because my art school didn't have a basketball team."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC unless it's a home football game then I'm grilling on Devil's Alley
    Quote Originally Posted by bjornolf View Post
    Thanks so much! I knew about the smoke thread, but I didn’t want to muck it up with my newbie questions. I’ve considered a BGE before but they seem awfully expensive for the size. Will a 25lb turkey fit in one?
    FWIW, I'd stay away from smoking a bird that size. That is ginormous. The turkeys I smoke are usually in the 12-14lb range, take 4-5 hours smoked at around 275. You might consider going with two of that size vs one huge one. Not saying that a big bird can't be done, but if you get it wrong, that's a lot of meat gone to waste.
    Q "Why do you like Duke, you didn't even go there." A "Because my art school didn't have a basketball team."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    I bought a smoker some years ago and didn't like it, it was more vertical than horizontal, so I gave it away.

    What I have found is that for periodic smoking (roasts, up to 3 five to six lb. chickens) using my three burner (20 year old) Weber Grill works marvelously...would be happy to share
    the technique with anyone interested...just an easy way to smoke stuff with the current tool on hand...but I do see a lot of smokers that are really nice, and some point I may covet one of them...

  9. #9
    You don't mention a limitation or choice of fuel. CB&B is showing you various charcoal based options, which many people swear by and won't ever move away from.

    Personally, for home use, I much prefer propane. It makes it easy for me to smoke a lot of things on days where I have a lot of other stuff to do. You can just set it up and let it run for the most part in many cases. Pricier models are even available that have thermostat control.

    I would stay away from the smallest/cheapest versions and go for one that is 20-24 wide.
    This is one that is big enough to do a lot of different things, but is relatively affordable.

    https://smile.amazon.com/Smoke-Hollo...s=smoke+hollow

    Also, don't buy one with a window. Craziest idea I have ever seen. If you're doing it right, the window will turn black immediately.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Summerville ,S.C.
    I have a smaller masterbuilt electric 140 $. It works great.i can do 4 to 6 Boston butts 4 to 7 pounds each.but if you like ribs get a larger model .I have to split my racks.i like electric I put my chips in .I dont have to baby sit my temps to much.
    I'm a novice smoker .a good wired or wireless meat thermometer is going to help you a lot.you dont want to open to check temps.
    Also on buts once it reaches 165 I wrap in aluminum(stick probes for temps through upper half of foil) foil also sprints with apple juice.till 200 or 205.then I put them in a empty cooler fill void with towels till they hit 145 then pull my bbq.takes 10 to 14 hrs all together . I do my ribs similar. 2.5 in smoker 2 in foil then a 1.5 back in smoker sauce last 40 minutes.

  11. #11
    Thanks so much. Is there a particular wood that goes well with turkey?

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    ... some point I may covet one of them...
    Working your way through the other sins first?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    Quote Originally Posted by Reilly View Post
    Working your way through the other sins first?
    “I’m very well acquainted with the seven deadly sine,
    I keep a busy schedule to try and fit them in.”

    — Warren “Mr. Bad Example” Zevon
    1991 -- 1992 -- 2001 -- 2010 -- 2015

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Quote Originally Posted by bjornolf View Post
    Thanks so much. Is there a particular wood that goes well with turkey?
    To me, that depends on your rub/brine (and yes, you should brine). If you’re going Cajun style, then I like mesquite, hickory, or a fruit wood like apple or cherry...some nice spice and zest. For more traditional turkey, I like nutty stuff like pecan or walnut.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh
    Quote Originally Posted by bjornolf View Post
    Thanks so much. Is there a particular wood that goes well with turkey?
    May I offer this suggestion:

    Dankwood_Featured2_2018.jpg
    [redacted] them and the horses they rode in on.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    Quote Originally Posted by wilson View Post
    To me, that depends on your rub/brine (and yes, you should brine). If you’re going Cajun style, then I like mesquite, hickory, or a fruit wood like apple or cherry...some nice spice and zest. For more traditional turkey, I like nutty stuff like pecan or walnut.
    And you don’t need many wood chunks. It is tempting to throw a bunch in there but there is such a thing as too much smoke. Especially if you are going with a strong wood like mesquite or hickory.

    When in doubt, pecan really goes with everything. And is a good impetus to pair the turkey with a pecan pie. . . .
    1991 -- 1992 -- 2001 -- 2010 -- 2015

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Atlanta 'burbs
    To all you football tailgaters out there, remember that the Duke campus is going smoke free in July of 2020. You tenters must have really screwed up! (Or am i misinterpreting something?)

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC unless it's a home football game then I'm grilling on Devil's Alley
    Quote Originally Posted by TruBlu View Post
    To all you football tailgaters out there, remember that the Duke campus is going smoke free in July of 2020. You tenters must have really screwed up! (Or am i misinterpreting something?)
    The championship bonfires gonna be gas logs?

    PS..out of curiosity, I looked that up.

    The policy will prohibit the use of combustible tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, and hookahs
    Damn. Guess we can't have the bong at tailgate any more, either.

    https://today.duke.edu/2018/04/messa...ke-free-policy
    Q "Why do you like Duke, you didn't even go there." A "Because my art school didn't have a basketball team."

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by CameronBornAndBred View Post
    ... Damn. Guess we can't have the bong at tailgate any more, either.

    https://today.duke.edu/2018/04/messa...ke-free-policy
    But you can still spit tobacco juice at Carolina fans: "it will not apply to non-combustible forms of tobacco such as e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco ..."

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    My first time smoking, I used my gas grill. That was a pain in the butt. Then I bought the cheap charcoal box smoker. I had really good results, but I really have trouble managing a small charcoal fire. It's either too hot or too cold, and it required an inordinate amount of tending. I think that's because the firebox is too small. A larger fire (say, Weber grill sized instead of less than half of that) is easier to keep constant, at least for me.

    A couple of years ago, I bought the Masterbuilt gas smoker. What a dream! It's SO much easier. I know that charcoal gives the best flavor, but given a choice between using a smoker only a few times a year because it's such a hassle, or using it many times a year because it's easy, I'll take the easy.

    For 25 pounds of turkey, I'd probably spatchcock two or even three smaller ones. A spatchcocked chicken comfortably fits in the box, but the turkey might need to even be halved rather than spatchcocked. You'll be done quicker -- OR you'll have more slop time if something takes longer than it should (reference the 4am note upthread!). There are four adjustable shelves, and if there were a way to acquire more rails and shelves, it would easily fit six or even eight shelves. However, I'm sure there's a way to creatively add more shelves or rack the turkey halves if you need more space. Whole turkeys...probably two and they might need to be vertical.

    Get yourself a good Bluetooth thermometer with at least two inputs (more if you ever plan on smoking two different meats at the same time). One input for the air temp in the smoker, the other for the meat temp. The thermometer on the front of the smoker is always off. I got one by Inkbird off of Amazon for a good price. I wish I had gotten at least four inputs instead of two. The only thing I don't like about it is that the app has an alarm that doesn't allow you to change the notification sound, and the sound is overly extreme. It's a thermometer, no need to outdo the emergency alerts on my phone! Otherwise, it's an easy app that works great for smoking or even an indoor oven. That notification sound, though, scares me every time.

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