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New guy, first smoker, any recommendations? - Page 7

post #121 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by mummel View Post
 

Do you know if Costco slices up meat?  Do they do custom orders in the butchery?

Yes they do if there is a meat cutter there at the time. They will custom cut what you want out of what they have.

post #122 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by daRicksta View Post
 


We don't have a Super 1 store in western Washington state; they're all in the central and eastern regions. Three corporations control 98% or more of the supermarkets around here. We had a new Western WA chain move into town recently and I think another new supermarket is about to open so there's hope for cheaper prices yet. I restrict myself to buying pork products from Safeway because they're the only chain that doesn't add saline solution to their pork products. Even Costco sells pork ribs from Swift Premium that inject this crap into the meat so I rarely buy from them unless I need a lot of ribs at a decent price.

Well, ellensburg is not too far from seattle. I would say it's a nice drive but you know better. lol. I really like their meat. No soloution added for weight like all the other chains. I have not had any good meat from safeway in walla walla. They suck. Albertsons just turned into something else and it sucks even worse now. Have you looked into any small time butchers. I would think there would be a good organic pork producer or maybe quite a few around on the west side.

post #123 of 155
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by timberjet View Post
 

Yes they do if there is a meat cutter there at the time. They will custom cut what you want out of what they have.

 

I called Costco and they said they wont do it.  Maybe its a regional thing?  I will stop by the store again this weekend and speak with a manager.

post #124 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by mummel View Post
 

Do you know if Costco slices up meat?  Do they do custom orders in the butchery?


I don't know. We're going there this weekend so I can ask. I do know you can order special party meat platters and such so perhaps they might be able to do it for you. If there's one near you then you can visit and just rap on the glass behind the meat counter and ask them yourself.

post #125 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by timberjet View Post
 

Well, ellensburg is not too far from seattle. I would say it's a nice drive but you know better. lol. I really like their meat. No soloution added for weight like all the other chains. I have not had any good meat from safeway in walla walla. They suck. Albertsons just turned into something else and it sucks even worse now. Have you looked into any small time butchers. I would think there would be a good organic pork producer or maybe quite a few around on the west side.


Ironically, my daughter used to live in Ellensburg since she was attending CWU. She's almost attained her Master's but she lives somewhere else now. It can be a nice drive but the time and costs involved would make it very expensive meat no matter what the per pound cost was.

 

We have a local butcher here but the quality's dropped off after the son took over after his father died. For my money (literally) Safeway has got the best of the chain store meat. We just lost our store in town here when Haggen bought it. Haggen also has great looking meat but the store itself is way too expensive so we're shopping at a Safeway in the next town. We also shop at Winco but I don't like the looks of their meat (the way it's butchered) or that it can be either USDA Select or USDA Choice. We also have a Fred Meyer that sells both Select and Choice (but for a higher price). Safeway is my meat place when we're not shopping at Costco.

post #126 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by mummel View Post
 

 

I called Costco and they said they wont do it.  Maybe its a regional thing?  I will stop by the store again this weekend and speak with a manager.


Read this after I read your reply. As I was writing my comment I figured they wouldn't because it would raise costs if all they did was custom slice or butcher meat. It's an assembly line process in all the stores since they do such a high volume.

 

You could get yourself a meat slicer. I think Bearcarver has one that he likes. I might get one someday but until then I've got a really fine set of knives and my knife skills are getting better all the time.

post #127 of 155
Thread Starter 

Hey guys - I'm going to Sam's on Sunday to checkout the BT models.  

 

I did however want to ask about smoking meat on a regular propane grill.  Granted you dont have the world of options an MES offers (18 hour butt smokes, briskets, cheeses etc), but as I'm just starting out, being able to smoke fish (1.5 hour smoke) and ribs (3 hours) would be a great place for me to learn before dropping hundreds on a full MES setup.

 

I was looking at Todd's tube smoker.  I have 4 burners.  Could I run 2 burners and put say a rack of ribs over the other 2 unlit burners?  Then light up a 12 inch tube (placement on the top rack, see pic), and cook for 3 hours?  Do guys do this?  Is it a popular method?

 

Just curious to hear your thoughts?  Thanks.

 

NOTE:

-I need to see if 2 burners can each 225F for fish and 230F for pork ribs.

 

 

 

 

post #128 of 155
Thread Starter 
post #129 of 155

Sure it can work. But will it be anywhere as efficient as a smoker? No. Grills are designed for high powered direct heat. Depending on the grill you could end up modifying it extensively with heat deflectors, gaskets to seal the lid, etc. You would get better results out of a $150 Masterbuilt analog or a $75 electric ECB.

post #130 of 155
Thread Starter 

You referring to the amount of propane used?  I know when I've done a rotisserie chicken at 350F it chews up a lot of propane (maybe 25%-50% of an $11 bottle)?  It's very poor efficiency.  But I'm thinking 265F may be more efficient (assuming heat vs propane used does not scale linearly).  If it does, then smoking on a grill doesnt make sense.

 

I would be really curious to see how much of a 20lb propane bottle I would use smoking at 265 for 3 hours. 

post #131 of 155

I was just talking about general efficiency and ease of use. Such as the ability to maintain a constant temp, ability to keep the food separated from the heat source and provide consistent indirect heat, etc. Grills are typically not insulated and have no way to seal the lid to help keep the hot air in and maintain temps.

post #132 of 155

I found a lot of success using an aluminum baking pan, as small as possible height-wise.  Soak 1/3 to 1/2 of your wood chips and toss them into the baking sheet.  Cover with foil, poke your holes, and put the pan directly onto your burner covers.  

That should provide a good amount of smoke on a propane grill.

post #133 of 155

I just read the whole thread and wanted to make a couple of points:

 

--You can smoke on a grill. I did it for five years on a Weber with their smoking accessory and it turned out good product. I ran one burner at about 30% and it maintained rock solid 225 degrees. Not the most efficient or fun way to smoke, but it did the job. I have my suspicions that all the smoke destroyed the grill over the course of five years because that grill self destructed rather quickly for a Weber. But just suspicions, no solid evidence there.

 

--Make sure you fully understand your requirements and priorities. It seems like set and forget is a priority (hence the AMZN interest). If that is a really a priority, you should get a smoker that is truly "set and forget," not a smoker that requires additional purchases to get to "set and forget." If you buy an inexpensive smoker that doesn't meet your requirements, but then have to buy a pellet tray, $35 worth of pellets, a decent thermometer, etc... your inexpensive smoker does not ended being so inexpensive.

 

--My buddy Mitch wanted to get into smoking and bought a Masterbuilt. Unfortunately most of his stories since then have not been about great smokes, but rather about his controller and heating element dying on him multiple times and waiting to get replacement parts from Masterbuilt so he could smoke. Not saying this is is indicative of the overall Masterbuilt experience, just giving you some anecdotal info that may be relevant to where you are in your smoking journey. 

 

--If you go the pellet route, make sure there are a few retailers nearby that you can get to quickly in a pinch. I have smoked with chunks and chips and I know that if I run out of wood on a Saturday night, or if I just want to try something different at a moment's notice, I can go to one of a dozen places nearby and get what I want. 

 

--I also went through the same search you did, seeking answers to my questions. I also came here thinking I wanted a Masterbuilt (mostly because they have the most presence in my retail market).  I now have a smoker I love that easily produces phenomenal food and it is not at all what I thought I would end up with before I read what this forum has to offer. 

 

--Regarding your questions about which meat and which wood: at some point you need to just buy a butt and some wood and just jump in and start gaining experience. There is no replacement for experience. Have fun! If this was rocket science I would not be able to do it (:

post #134 of 155
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks for the thoughtful answer.  Lots of useful info here.

 

1) You Weber self destructing?  What happened?  Rust?  Burners stopped working? 

 

2) It seems like whatever I get (MES, go with the grill, or otherwise), an AMPS 5X8 tray is probably what I will end up getting for convenience.

 

3) Good point Re: the pellets.  I'll buy some bulk from Todd.

 

4) So what smoker did you end up getting?  Seems like you went through the same thought process.

 

I'm really leaning towards trying it on the grill with a AMPS/iGrill2 first.  That way I can get my feet wet and see how often I actually end up smoking (New England weather........), and then can always use the tray & probe when I get my MES.  No gear will be wasted. 

 

Thanks man.

post #135 of 155

1) You Weber self destructing?  What happened?  Rust?  Burners stopped working? 

 

--Yes, all of the above, The burners actual fell off and into the drip pan. Eventually it became a fire hazard.

 

2) It seems like whatever I get (MES, go with the grill, or otherwise), an AMPS 5X8 tray is probably what I will end up getting for convenience.

 

3) Good point Re: the pellets.  I'll buy some bulk from Todd.

 

4) So what smoker did you end up getting?  Seems like you went through the same thought process.

 

--I ended up getting a "Smokin It" smoker #3. Set and forget was a priority for me because I spent a lot of time and $$ pouring wood into that grill. Grills aren't sealed at all and you will most likely have smoke coming out every which way.

 

I'm really leaning towards trying it on the grill with a AMPS/iGrill2 first.  That way I can get my feet wet and see how often I actually end up smoking (New England weather........), and then can always use the tray & probe when I get my MES.  No gear will be wasted. 

 

--If you already have a grill then that is a no brainer. No additional real estate required and I enjoyed that aspect of it. Get your first smoke up and running and see how it goes. My prediction is that you will be happy. I have an iGrill2 and it seems to be pretty good although the range is *extremely* limited for me (my house footprint is ~70x80ft with concrete block construction). The probes are getting to be a pain in the neck because of the vertical arrangement of my smoker. When I am smoking multiple items (which is all the time) I end up having to run the probes down through multiple grates, and then if I want to pull a grate out, the probes come out. Should not be as bad with a single-level grill setup. I smoked on my grill for five years using only the built-in grill thermometer and nearly everything came out great. Except for one brisket. But I suck at cooking brisket so what can I say. 

post #136 of 155
Thread Starter 

I have the Ducane Affinity 4100.  Its an excellent grill.  I am very happy with it.  This was Weber's made in China brand.  I'm pretty sure they discontinued it because of it's own success (it was cannibalizing Weber's own market share).  Great grill made by Weber with great components at a fraction of the price.  Only thing that failed after a year was the igniter but Weber replaced it without an issue.  I should have bought 2 of these grills and kept one as a backup (think I paid $250?). 

 

Did you use a water pan in your grill when smoking?  Perhaps the moisture destroyed the components?  I would hate for my grill to fall apart (penny wise pound foolish?).  I need to research this more. 

 

I was set on the Maverick 733 (was going to get a MES and smoke overnight so would need the 733 for range).  However, if I use the grill, I will smoke at most for ~3 hours, and will probably be close by.  I wouldnt need range to reach my bedroom.  I would then value the 4 probes + charting function over range.  However, if I end up getting an MES, then the iGrill wont be the right choice.  Tough decision.

post #137 of 155

Man, just get smoking already! Hahahaha.... talk about over thinking it. 

post #138 of 155
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by timberjet View Post
 

Man, just get smoking already! Hahahaha.... talk about over thinking it. 

 

I have to drive an hour 20 to get to a Sams.  I was supposed to go on Sunday but could not as we had people come over.  They had 10 units in stock on Friday morning.  They sold them all over the weekend.  They dont know when they will get more...........  So now I'm waiting but started to research the grill angle yesterday.  I'll probably just go with a AMPS tray and some pellets and get going.  Holding out for a day or 2 in the hope that Sams gets more MES units.  

post #139 of 155
No moisture pan for me.

You definitely need to do more research. (: Here is a research methodology I would recommend for you:

1. Go to the store and buy a butt and some wood chips.
2. Put some salt, pepper, paprika, or whatever spices you have all over the butt. Soak the chips for 1/2 hour and put a couple handfuls in an aluminum foil pouch with some holes in the top. Put the pouch between your grates and your Flavor Bars as Weber calls them. Put the butt on a cookie sheet or a disposable aluminum tray and put it in your grill. Close the grill.
3. Light the burner under your pouch and adjust until your grill thermo reads 225 degrees or so.
4. This is the difficult part. Multiply the number of pounds your butt weighs by 2 and write that number down on your arm.
5. Reward yourself for completing that difficult task by drinking beer and smoking cigars for that number of hours. Do not open your grill because that means your are not drinking beers and smoking cigars.
6. When that time is up, wrap your butt in aluminum foil and towels and put it in a cooler or something for an hour or so.
7. Eat the pork and cry unfathomable tears of joy while the pork juices run down your face and onto your naked belly.

When you complete this methodology you will have everything you need to smoke at virtually no cost and will be well on your way to your first smoke! (:
post #140 of 155
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Smoke View Post

No moisture pan for me.

You definitely need to do more research. (: Here is a research methodology I would recommend for you:

1. Go to the store and buy a butt and some wood chips.
2. Put some salt, pepper, paprika, or whatever spices you have all over the butt. Soak the chips for 1/2 hour and put a couple handfuls in an aluminum foil pouch with some holes in the top. Put the pouch between your grates and your Flavor Bars as Weber calls them. Put the butt on a cookie sheet or a disposable aluminum tray and put it in your grill. Close the grill.
3. Light the burner under your pouch and adjust until your grill thermo reads 225 degrees or so.
4. This is the difficult part. Multiply the number of pounds your butt weighs by 2 and write that number down on your arm.
5. Reward yourself for completing that difficult task by drinking beer and smoking cigars for that number of hours. Do not open your grill because that means your are not drinking beers and smoking cigars.
6. When that time is up, wrap your butt in aluminum foil and towels and put it in a cooler or something for an hour or so.
7. Eat the pork and cry unfathomable tears of joy while the pork juices run down your face and onto your naked belly.

When you complete this methodology you will have everything you need to smoke at virtually no cost and will be well on your way to your first smoke! (:

 

HAHA this is awesome.  Particularly the cigars part.  I had a smile on my face the whole way though.  The only catch is that the Amazen 20% coupon ends in 2 days :(.  But your plan sounds golden! 

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