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Q Myths or truths and how they relate to my consideration of a new smoker

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have decided to give up on my homemade electric smoker and get a charcoal smoker.  I am considering a Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC) or a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM)

 

So I start with a general question, is there a difference between a homemade Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) and the (PBC)  Either way I doubt I would build a UDS, because I know me.  I will go buy a drum and 6 months late I will still have a ... drum.

 

 

 

So I have gone to the PBC website and found a few things that bothered me, but in reading opinions on the cooker seems it that everyone that owns one seems to like it, even those that also own WSM.  In fact I found no opinions in favor of a WSM of someone that also owned a PBS.

 

1) Myth or Truth # 1, DO not pierce the muscle.  I usually smoke for several hours on a Butt before I will put a temperature probe in.  I thought it was a contamination risk to pierce the meat before getting around 140 degrees. With PBS you pierce the meat with the hangers first thing.

 

2) Myth or Truth #2, TBS.  I have always sought to achieve TBS, but on the demo videos I see on the PBS website I see thick white smoke billowing up.  So I can only infer that is what they are trying to achieve or why show it.

 

3)Myth or Truth #3 Cleaning, While I am not a neat freak I do like my food safe, on the PBS website the only cleaning they recommend is cleaning up the ashes.  While I understand a smoker needs some seasoning I thought it was good practice to clean the inside of your smoker periodically with warm water and a little mild detergent (dawn) to cut the grease buildup so you would not have rancid grease dripping on your food.

 

4) Myth or Truth #4.  I thought the point to "low and slow" was to give the fat and collagen time to break down on tougher cuts of meat. A butt in 5 or 6 hours on the PBS?  Ribs in 3.5?

 

 

Blat

post #2 of 9

well as far as cleaning goes I never scrub the interior of my grill or smoker, just wire brush the stuff off and same with grates and burners.. and for the poking meat early..don't worry about it as you did clean the probe and with proper temp you have nothing to worry about or I would be dead along with everybody I know 45 yrs ago....heck you toch it and the butcher touched it and it sat in the cooler then the fridge and then you touch it again...I know many on here have superstitions on germs.. well I grew up on farms and milk from the cow and hang the meat and cut a piece off and cook it or hang it for a week or three and let some mold grow on it and its all good.. Now poultry I do wash more and of course don't hang for weeks but neither did my great grandpa..and for me as long as the smoke is not the creosote type you are good to go..to get tbs you have to wait until its charcoaled ..

        then the pbs and low hours , it is because they cook at like 325 and fast air up the meat, so its like convection....

    these are just my opinions and they work for me and my great grand parents{im kinda old, but not to old}  jeff

post #3 of 9
My preference would be the WSM. It is very user friendly and will give you excellent finished product. There are 2cooking grates, so there is no need to hang any meat. When I had mine, I always had TBS with no problem. As for cleaning, the WSM is porcelin finished, so a good hosing occasionally is all you need with the exception of the grates. As for myth #4, I really don't understand the question, but the temps and times on the WSM are pretty standard as charcoal smokers go. I really enjoyed the WSM that I had. My barber has it now and really likes it.

Good luck with your selection and good smoking, Joe
post #4 of 9
WSM.

Which ever size you choose, all are the easiest to use and control.

As far as that PBS show, quit watching and start reading posts here.

That's all.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
My question #4 related to the cook times in the PBC. 5 hours for a butt. I would not think that would give the collagen and fat time to break down. If it does why not cook at that temp in our other smokers?
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Also for clarity, Somewhere in the middle of original post I changed my abbreviation for the Pit Barrell cooker from PBC to PBS, sorry if it made post hard to read.
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by blat View Post
 

I have decided to give up on my homemade electric smoker and get a charcoal smoker.  I am considering a Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC) or a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM)

 

So I start with a general question, is there a difference between a homemade Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) and the (PBC)  Either way I doubt I would build a UDS, because I know me.  I will go buy a drum and 6 months late I will still have a ... drum.

 

 

 

So I have gone to the PBC website and found a few things that bothered me, but in reading opinions on the cooker seems it that everyone that owns one seems to like it, even those that also own WSM.  In fact I found no opinions in favor of a WSM of someone that also owned a PBS.

 

1) Myth or Truth # 1, DO not pierce the muscle.  I usually smoke for several hours on a Butt before I will put a temperature probe in.  I thought it was a contamination risk to pierce the meat before getting around 140 degrees. With PBS you pierce the meat with the hangers first thing. That is a frequently debated topic around here. On a PBC you are "hot" smoking so you shouldn't have any problems (if you keep all the hangers clean and sanitized)

 

2) Myth or Truth #2, TBS.  I have always sought to achieve TBS, but on the demo videos I see on the PBS website I see thick white smoke billowing up.  So I can only infer that is what they are trying to achieve or why show it. I have not used a PBC but on my UDS there are times as new wood pieces light that the smoke gets thick but it usually settles down. 

 

3)Myth or Truth #3 Cleaning, While I am not a neat freak I do like my food safe, on the PBS website the only cleaning they recommend is cleaning up the ashes.  While I understand a smoker needs some seasoning I thought it was good practice to clean the inside of your smoker periodically with warm water and a little mild detergent (dawn) to cut the grease buildup so you would not have rancid grease dripping on your food. With a vertical smoker a lot of the grease gets burned off while smoking when it drops on the coals or near the coals so there isn't that much to clean. 

 

4) Myth or Truth #4.  I thought the point to "low and slow" was to give the fat and collagen time to break down on tougher cuts of meat. A butt in 5 or 6 hours on the PBS?  Ribs in 3.5? This is another frequently debated topic. I can tell you from experience that fatty cuts like a pork but do really well at temps of 300 or more. The collagen will break down when the internal temp gets over 180 so time is not as big of a factor as internal temp. 

 

 

Blat

See my comments above. Also, a UDS has adjustable intake and exhaust where a PBC doesn't appear to which would make it hard to control temps. 

post #8 of 9

I have both of these smokers and they are both great cookers.  To answer your questions the best I can:

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by blat View Post
 

I have decided to give up on my homemade electric smoker and get a charcoal smoker.  I am considering a Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC) or a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM)

 

So I start with a general question, is there a difference between a homemade Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) and the (PBC)  Either way I doubt I would build a UDS, because I know me.  I will go buy a drum and 6 months late I will still have a ... drum.

 

 

 

So I have gone to the PBC website and found a few things that bothered me, but in reading opinions on the cooker seems it that everyone that owns one seems to like it, even those that also own WSM.  In fact I found no opinions in favor of a WSM of someone that also owned a PBS.

 

1) Myth or Truth # 1, DO not pierce the muscle.  I usually smoke for several hours on a Butt before I will put a temperature probe in.  I thought it was a contamination risk to pierce the meat before getting around 140 degrees. With PBS you pierce the meat with the hangers first thing.  

  You wouldn't want to pierce the muscle and then let the meat sit between 40-140 degrees for too long.  On the PBC that won't happen because the higher temps yield faster cooks.  So even a giant brisket will get to 140 in a few hours.  

2) Myth or Truth #2, TBS.  I have always sought to achieve TBS, but on the demo videos I see on the PBS website I see thick white smoke billowing up.  So I can only infer that is what they are trying to achieve or why show it.

My first cook on the PBC I had the same concern as I watched white smoke billow out.  I callled Noah from PBC and he explained that the white smoke is not due to poor combustion but to the grease dripping directly on the coals.  That actually imparts a flavor that makes cooking on the PBC much different from other smokers that have a pan or bowl catching the drippings or a completely seperate smoke chamber all together.  That "grease fog" as some call it really gives a unique flavor that I love without the meat tasting bitter or oversmoked.  Keep in mind, you can achieve that same flavor by removing the water bowl from the WSM but you may have to adjust your charcoal usage because it will cause it to run hotter without the bowl in place

 

 

 

3)Myth or Truth #3 Cleaning, While I am not a neat freak I do like my food safe, on the PBS website the only cleaning they recommend is cleaning up the ashes.  While I understand a smoker needs some seasoning I thought it was good practice to clean the inside of your smoker periodically with warm water and a little mild detergent (dawn) to cut the grease buildup so you would not have rancid grease dripping on your food.

Like everything in the BBQ world, different answer from different people.  I fall in the school of clean the grates, the hooks (PBC), and just to make it shiny maybe just wipe down the outside of any cooker.  But I have never washed the inside of any of my smokers.  

4) Myth or Truth #4.  I thought the point to "low and slow" was to give the fat and collagen time to break down on tougher cuts of meat. A butt in 5 or 6 hours on the PBS?  Ribs in 3.5?

 

 

@bmaddox gave you great advice on this one.  IT is more important when it comes to meats tenderness and juiciness.  Some insist on low and slow, others do hot and fast but it ultimately comes down to whether or not you like the final product.  This question gives a big pro to the WSM because overall temp control is easier.  You can cook low and slow, or you can cook hot and fast just by making a few minor changes to your set up. Cooking temp can be changed on the PBC too by adjusting the amount of lit coal you start with but once you dump it on the unlit, you are at the mercy of the cooker (for the most part...you can find mods on this site and others for just about any cooker that will make it do whatever you want it to).

 

Blat

 

 

I'll give you some pros of each.  

 

WSM

 

Easy set up

Easy heat control

One load of charcoal can last 10-12 hours

Versatile (It can go hot and fast, low and slow, be used as a grill, used for cold smoking)

 

 

PBC

 

Great cooking capacity. (You can hang 8 racks of ribs, Iv'e done 2 butts, a brisket, and and a rack of ribs at the same time)

Easy set up

Great customer service (call with a question and you will talk to the owner or his wife)

Faster cooking times when used according to directions (we are all busy, at least I am haha)

Unique "grease fog" flavor

 

 

So after probably confusing you more...the major difference to me is this.  If your thinking is,  "The food is done when its done and I don't care what temp it cooked at to get there as long as it tastes good," the PBC is for you.  If you are a cooking temp chaser and you like to set your maverick to certain range and lock in at 250 for hours and hours with only a few degrees variation, get the WSM.

 

Hope this helps.  If I were you, I'd buy one and if you can swing it, search craigslist for the other hahah But then again, that's why I have about 12 smokers and grills on my property.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the very detailed answers guys

 

 

I have been using gas or electric for years so when I am done they are OFF, if I put a grill mat under either of these cookers would YOU use it on a wood deck since it will continue to be hot for hours after you are done cooking?.

 

 

 

Whatever I do it will have to be... for anything that comes in something must leave. 

 

 

Blat

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