Chef Jimmy J,
A great reply, even if I don't get my wish for a cook-off. What it DID do was to get me researching various aspects of smoking, and doing a bit of testing myself. I learned a lot, and though most barbecue enthusiasts would have me drawn, quartered and slow smoked, I'll tell it like I think it is anyway.
The only real difference between food cooked in a smoker and food cooked in a kitchen oven is: SMOKE. At least as far as taste goes (smoke rings are aesthetic). And smoke, like all the other ingredients in rubs, marinades, mops, etc., is applied to the outside of the meat. Injections can be applied with either method. Smoke does NOT penetrate the surface of meat, nor does water or anything else other than SALT ions.
So, given what you said about he Food Network test, I researched liquid smoke and it's possible affects on health, compared to smoke from a smoker. Liquid smoke TASTES like smoke because it is condensed smoke, not something artificial. When applied in the correct amounts, at the correct time, it gives the meat a very smokey flavor. In addition, it does NOT contain the PAH's that are carcinogenic like airborne smoke does. I learned that smoked meat does have very significant amounts of PAH's on it, and smoked fish can even exceed the recommended safe limit with one serving, with chicken coming close as well.
So, given that the heat source only provides heat, not flavor (that coming from the smoke), and given that liquid smoke is real and gives flavor that some people even prefer over airborne smoke, I decided to try it myself. I used Wright Liquid Hickory Smoke, and put it in my own homemade sauce, and cooked baby back ribs in the oven with the 2-2-1 method. My oven has a 50F swing, so they were cooked at 200F - 250F. At the end I brushed Stubb's Spicy BBQ sauce on them and broiled them until I got a light char.
The result? Of course they would not win any contest at a competition, and they can't be classified as real barbecue, but they WERE real good food! Very flavorful, smokey & spicy, tender and moist.
Barbecuing is not only cooking, it's a hobby, and some see it as an art form, or certainly a craft. For many it's the journey as much as the result, and frankly I would prefer to eat the Q a pit master achieves on his/her stick smoker than anything I can produce either in my oven or in a smoker. But now I at least know that I can make a reasonably healthy (except for the red meat thingy), delicious, moist and tender product without polluting the air, harming my lungs, eating PAH's, making a fire and having to clean up that mess and the cooker, and I don't have to buy a smoker to do it.
To tell the truth, I'm pretty disappointed in discovering that, because I too like to fuss with the fire and I do enjoy the results. However, being a three-time cancer survivor I might rest a little easier knowing the "Q" I produce is not going to turn me into a hypochondriac. And I still get to tinker and fuss with every rub, marinade and mop that everyone else uses.
So, I thank you and I wonder: is my membership going to be revoked???