I'm an engineer and tend to think in terms of requirements, so the requirements for my "Next Generation Smoker" (everything in engineering is "Next Generation" these days) are below, along with my running list of candidates. Asking your opinions on both the requirements (currently in draft form) and units that could meet them.
Current unit is a WSM 18" which produces excellent food, but has limited capacity and shares the fire grate with the cooking chamber, resulting in occasional ash on the food. The Next Generation Smoker (hereafter NGS) will address these limitations and ultimately be deployed on a new, currently non-existent patio which will be under a wood deck with screened-in enclosure. The currently planned solution for the NGS is a Lang 48 Deluxe Patio stick burner. These requirements are written specifically to present a charcoal-based alternative to the Lang. Specifically excluded from consideration are those charcoal based smokers that don't present an appreciable upgrade from the current WSM. The NGS solution will be selected based on assessed best value within an unspecified, annual bonus driven budget. Source selection of the NGS will commence upon receiving sufficient information regarding the candidate solutions. The selection criteria is best value amongst those solutions meeting all threshold requirements, with value being adjusted for objective requirements met.
- The NGS shall be capable of hot smoking over a range of temperatures from 180*-350*
- The NGS shall be capable of cooking poultry, ribs, whole brisket, and pork butt without requiring trimming, curling, or other measures required to make the food fit in the NGS. Whole brisket is estimated to require racks of 22" in at least one dimension.
- The NGS shall have sufficient capacity to routinely feed a family of 4 with a variety of smoked foods, host dinner parties with at least 20 guests with at least 2 different smoked meats, and host groups of at least 40 guests with at least 1 smoked meat.
- The NGS shall be capable of maintaining desired cook temperatures for at least 6 hours without intervention. If optional temparature controllers are required to meet this requirement then they shall be factored into the cost.
- The NGS shall be capable of producing barbecued meats with varying degrees of bark. This implies that if the NGS is a water cooker, it is not exclusively so or has such measures as to allow for good bark formation.
- The NGS shall be capable of smoking at temp within 1 hour from a cold start. Setup time includes moving the NGS into position, filling it with fuel and any liquids, initiating combustion, and bringing it to smoking temp with thin blue smoke.
- The NGS shall require minimal cleanup, with cleanup time less than 30 minutes. Cleanup time may be cumulative over multiple periods of time due to the need for the NGS to fully terminate combustion and cool. Cleanup time includes the time to clean grates, fire boxes, empty ash pans, empty and clean water pans (if used), and wipe down surfaces.
SWAP (Size, Weight, and Power)
- The NGS shall not require external power for cooking, but may use external power for temperature control devices.
- The NGS will reside on a patio and shall not be on a trailer capable of being towed by a vehicle. Patio carts are acceptable.
- The NGS shall be capable of being moved from the patio to another location for cooking.
- The NGS shall not require more than regular cleanup and annual seasoning of cooking chambers.
- The NGS shall be capable of easy later upgrades to add temperature control devices, stands, carts, casters, or other options not selected at the time of initial purchase.
- The NGS shall be capable of later third party modifications.
- The NGS should be capable of hot cooking at temps above 450*.
- The NGS should be capable of cooking pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs.
- The NGS should be capable of cold smoking when outside temperatures permit. Cold smoking may be augmented by the use of an A-Maze-N products pellet or tube smoker.
- The NGS should be capable of inducing hunger and jealousy amongst neighbors and their pets within a 1/2 mile radius.
- The NGS should be capable of smoking at temp within 30 minutes from a cold start.
- The NGS should be capable of cleanup within 15 minutes cumulative cleanup time.
- The cumulative total of setup and cleanup times should not exceed the cook time for any of the required foods, and should be minimized to the degree possible.
- The NGS should be capable of being stored in a garage without displacing anything currently in the garage until such time as permanent basing (i.e., a patio) exists.
- The NGS should not be disproportionately large relative to the currently planned patio.
- The NGS should be capable of being transported to another location without trailering or renting another vehicle. Current transportation options include the back of an ancient Toyota Sienna minivan.
No objective requirements
No objective requirements
Candidate NGS Solutions
- Backwoods Chubby G2
- Pitmaker BBQ Safe
- Spicewine Medium
- Stump's XL Baby
- Superior SS-3
- Myron Mixon MMS-V9
- The Good One Marshall
- American Barbecue Systems All Star