What's up y'all. My name is Dean and I am living in Savannah, GA, well, just outside of Savannah in a little town called Pooler, where it's cooler...
Been smoking food since I was about 18 or so. My first smoked food was a honking huge 20+lb whole turkey done on a bullet smoker on the second floor balcony of my apartment for a party. Didn't brine it, hell, didn't even thaw it out all the way, just rubbed it down with some salt and pepper at around 4am, fired up the coals and stuck it on there until around 7pm. Thermometer? Naw, who needs one! Was it cooked all the way through? Not really, you just ate around that. Was it every bit of delicious? Heck yeah. Anyone get sick? Nope, not that they admitted anyway! Did another one a few weeks later if I recall right. Thawed that one out in the bathtub. Yum. You think back to some of the stuff you did when you were a kid and just shake your head, right?
Now, that was longer ago than I care to admit, pushing 25 years, well, yeah, OK, so LAST year it was 25 years ago. Have I learned a bit since then? BIG yup. I've had a bullet smoker for years, two of them in fact - the aforementioned apartment balcony smoker and when that one died about 10 years ago, another, identical, bullet smoker. Just recently though, the second bullet took a turn for the worse and had to be put down. That was about a month ago. Been meaning to pick one up, just been busy. I have one of those Orion cookers too. That thing is AWESOME. Not a true smoker, but let me tell you what, it makes some great food. It is really set it and forget it. Great for a party when you want to host and not screw with the food. It lacks capacity for big parties but will do 3-4 butts or 6 racks of spare ribs like nobody's business. It imparts a light smoke, not heavy at all, and you get little, if any, pink penetration into the meat, but it is the bomb. I digress though....
Just last weekend we had a little get together with some co-workers that I hadn't seen in 15 - 20 years, some of them attendees at the parties we used to throw back in the day at that apartment. They asked me to smoke some food, didn't have a smoker, so a buddy obliged and brought his smoker and said he'd cook. Great! He showed up with a - GASP - Charbroil vertical GAS smoker. "What is this abomination?!", I thought. Gas? Seriously? Gas? But, being the open minded fellow I am, I decided to watch and see how it all went. I suggested ahead of time that he brine the butts in salt and molasses, which he did religiously with poultry but never on a butt. Check. He hooked up his secret rub. Check. Put it on around 6 am and used a remote dual probe thermometer. Wow. Fancy! Never used one of those but I liked it. "Gotta get me one of those", I thought. He proceeded to smoke it with cherry chunks, for which he earned some cred back from me after showing up with a GAS smoker. Then he upped the ante by tossing in two packs of chicken leg quarters at around 4pm. Around 7pm, the pork was just right, the bone was loose and we were ready to eat. While it rested, we tossed the chicken in a hot oven to crisp up the skin. We all dove in. Wow. I was shocked. It was freaking great. I mean, wow. Never would have imagined that was a propane smoker. The bark was thick, black and delicious - everything you want in a well developed bark. He didn't have to fool with coals. He didn't have to adjust much of anything. The little remote thermometer told him what was up and how it was going. He threw some chunks on when it needed it and that was it. Essentially set it and forget it. When I smoked on the bullet, it was an all day thing, which I don't complain about, it's a ritual, but now, getting a little older with kids and all, time has become, how shall I say it, precious. We drank beer all day, caught up with each other and had a hell of a time. It was cold outside and no one wanted to hang out in the wind and cold while the smoker did it thing so it was great having that gas and remote thermometer. I was hooked. When we throw parties at the house and smoke, it's a constant babysitting thing with the smoker. Again, not bad, but this was a pretty good experience with the gas. I was, as you can tell, impressed.
So, fast forward to two days ago. I was SO freaking impressed by the results and, quite frankly, the capacity and convenience, that I HAD to get one. Did lots of reading and went with a Masterbuilt Dual Fuel Vertical Smoker, model 20050412. Capacity - check. Two doors - check. Flexibility with gas or coals - BIG check. Put it all together, added lava rocks to the pan underneath per suggestions I read here and seasoned it up. Going to do a couple whole chickens for dinner tonight and maybe some smoked veggies, haven't decided just yet. Looking forward to hanging some sausage in there too. I am excited to try the gas myself but I am happy I have the flexibility to do the charcoal too.
If there's anything I've learned in my life about smoking and BBQ, it's that it's a personal thing. What I like isn't the same as what you like. How I get there isn't the same as how you get there. There's basics that should be followed but after that, it's all boils down to what YOU like and what your family likes and tweaking it from there. My family hates spicy hot, so I don't mess with it. I like a touch of heat but not much. That works. My family loves heavily smoked food, to the point of almost tasting like an ashtray, with a thick bark, so I make a rub that is thick and moist and smoke it heavy. It's all about what YOU like, right?
Well, there you go. Hope to get to know some of you out there on the old interweb. Hope to learn a few things too. I don't compete so I am not secretive about any sauces I make or rubs I use. Got a hell of a St. Louis style sauce recipe that I love to make up that I'll share with anyone who asks. Been complimented time and time again on it. Probably cook up two gallons a year of that stuff. It goes fast.
Catch you all on the flip side!