Hi all! My name is Matt. I love outdoor cooking. For the last couple of years I have been growing my skill set and trying to expand my cooking methods to include smoking. I have had relatively good results with my Char-Griller 4 burner gas grill by removing the two center grates, placing a pan of wood chips on the burner covers, and placing the meat on a raised grate above the chip pan. The shortcomings have been the ability to achieve a high enough temperature to make smoke, but keep a low enough temperature to slow-cook the meat (mostly pork and chicken thus far)
The Char-Griller has faithfully served us for the better part of 5 years before rotting out to the point of no return. After the third or fourth year, I fabricated new burner covers from heavier gauge steel and patched a few holes and it got me by for a couple more years. I finally replaced it last week with a Broil-King Baron 440. I Really wanted to stay away from the stainless grills (I prefer function over form), but that seems to be rather tough these days. This particular grill seems to be of a lot better built quality than others in it's price class though. The burners and burner covers are made of thick gauge stainless steel. Very sturdy. The lid is double walled for insulation. The sides of the lid are fairly heavy cast aluminum. The burner valves are linear pull style valves that give you MUCH more control over the flame than the cheaper model grills. And, it's made in the USA! The only real weak point, IMO, is the somewhat flimsy lower cabinet. But the lower cabinet doesn't cook the food, so I suppose I can overlook it.
I did, however, decide that I was tired of long-cooking small portions of meat on a propane grill, so I bought a 44" Smoke Hollow dual burner propane smoker from Sam's Club. I assembled it yesterday, and have a somewhat large feast planned for tomorrow. Today will be full of preparations and a practice meal, with any luck!
I have also made a small handful of batches of home made sausage, including polish sausage, bratwurst, and quite a bit of summer sausage, as well as jerky. All of which will be made easier with a smoker instead of the house oven. The family wasn't impressed last time I had a *small* grease fire in the oven while cooking summer sausage! Oops! I also own a cheap electric grinder (with stuffer attachments, which will be replaced by a dedicated stuffer before my next outing), and prefer grinding my own meats for sausages. I have made various recipes including pork, beef, and venison. So in all, I would probably classify myself as an advanced beginner or weekend warrior, having JUST enough knowledge to make me dangerous! I joined this site with the intention to learn as much as possible and further my skill set, hopefully sharing my failures and successes for others to learn from.
And just for a little background, my other hobbies include classic cars (I own a 67 Cadillac and hand built a vintage-style teardrop camper), motorcycles, firearms, pocket knives, and flashlights. You can never have too many of any of these things! I also enjoy woodworking, but have not found the time for that recently. Now that I've typed a short novella, I'd better get back to that meat!