Buying a BBQ cooker

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EliseT
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Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 04/10/03 5:32 PM
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I just bought a house and finally have a backyard for BBQ-ing. I have less than $200 to buy a BBQ. Any suggestions? I prefer coal/wood, but wouldn't mind a combo one with gas. I grew up with an oil drum BBQ, but don't know where to get one here in LA. Thanks!

Michael Hoffman
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 04/10/03 5:38 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by EliseT

I just bought a house and finally have a backyard for BBQ-ing. I have less than $200 to buy a BBQ. Any suggestions? I prefer coal/wood, but wouldn't mind a combo one with gas. I grew up with an oil drum BBQ, but don't know where to get one here in LA. Thanks!


You might want to look at the Weber line of grills. I use one, and swear by it. I saw some in a store the other day for about $160. That's for a 22-inch (across) grill with an ash-clearing system. The Weber is terrific for both grilling and smoking.

Cosmos
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 04/10/03 5:46 PM
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I own two large webbers (inherited my fathers), and a smokey joe ("smokin josephus"). I have one set-up for indirect cooking and smoking and the other direct. Smokey comes in handy for small meals and grilling on the front porch in the winter time when the other two are snowed-in. I'm a firm believer in charcoal because if it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing.

Having said that, I'd like to have the $350.00 or whatever it takes to get the combo unit with the gas starter.

Michael Hoffman
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 04/10/03 6:04 PM
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I have a Smokey Joe, also. I take it for camping trips and hunting camp. I've seen the unit with the gas starter, but I'll stick with my chimney.

Sundancer7
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 04/10/03 6:09 PM
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I have had dozens of grills. They range from the outdoor patio gas grills, Weber charcoal grills that have the smoke outlet on top, gas grill's that are sorta fancy looking with the self starting button, wet smoker and the last one I bought was a combo grill that is a direct grill and a smoker.

I really like the last one the best because it has the room to grill large quanities and smoke large quanities. I bought it at Walmart and I do not think I paid more than $150.00.

Real good for doing a 10-15lb brisket that takes 12 hours or better or pork butte. You just build the fire at one end and put your meat at the other end and just keep it going. Takes a long time, but a the Mayor indicated yesterday, that is why they invented brewskies or your beverage of choice.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

mayor al
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 04/10/03 9:03 PM
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I wish I could figure out how to post a photo in one of these messages like some of you do. I have a dandy shot of my $140 Brinkman unit (Walmart) cooking away with a large Brisket and three pork shoulders. If someone knows the secret, I will be happy to email the jpeg file and you post it...
I usually start a wood fire in the firebox, let it burn down and then use charcoal CHUNKS not briquets, and wet hickory chunks to cook with. See Sundance's and my discussion down at the bottom of the recipe and technique's file under MISC. for more info.
Help the computer semi-literate with the photo Please.
AL

pigface
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 04/10/03 9:04 PM
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I alway put my money in Weber grills
I like the Jumbo Smokey Joe for being portable,
Goes camping well ... And will hold a turkey ... Fits in the back end of a truck w/o blowing over ... I have also collected the middle collar from a brinkmann smoker, which fits nicely over the fire pot, I'll set a metal bowl over the charcaols, and improvise as water smoker ... usually hanging slabs of ribs over the metal bowl ...

I've been impressed with these Green Ceramic "Egg" barbecues that look sharp, and I can't afford

mayor al
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 04/10/03 9:05 PM
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OH, BTW
I use a Sunbeam Gas grill for the quick items that don't require hours of low heat. (Home Depot $198)

cfitz
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Fri, 04/11/03 9:18 AM
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The big Weber's great. We've got the biggest size, as well as the medium one. We don't take care of them at all - shamefully - and they come back ready to go every season.

That's for grilling. For smokin', we use a $30 water smoker from Home Depot. There are two varieties of this thing. The first is a charcoal one that's rather a pain to keep hot. However it makes excellent smoke and diverts it directly to the meat. The other variety is similar in shape but uses an electric heating element to make it work. Seems a little easier, but you don't get ash in your food. That may or may not be a good thing.

Gas grills stink. Go charcoal. And don't use those Henry Ford floor-sweeping Kingsford briquets, either. Hardwood bulk charcoal rules. A chimney gets the coals going really quickly without the need for lighter fluid.


Cosmos
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Fri, 04/11/03 1:38 PM
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cfitz, My Webber is 15 years old, my father's is probably 20. I do need to replace some of the guts, but the rest of it is holding up fine, (considering they winter in the back yard). I think the grease is both protecting them and holding them together.

EliseT
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Fri, 04/11/03 2:17 PM
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I am getting my tax return soon and will print everyone's advice and take it shopping with me! Thanks! PS Do you guys mean the round Weber or are there other models?

Cosmos
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Fri, 04/11/03 4:53 PM
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Well they make those square gas ones....but who cares?

sauceman
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Wed, 05/28/03 10:45 PM
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Has anyone had any experience with a Bandera smoker/grill? My wife is contemplating getting me a barbecue cooker for my birthday and took me out to look at these at the local Home Depot. On the left side is an upright compartment where you can hang sausages, insert ribs in a special rack, and place other meats such as shoulders on a grill. On the right side is the compartment for wood, so it's definitely indirect heat. You can also grill meats right over the flame if you wish, and a water pan is included. The price of the whole thing was $298. Any advice and recommendations would be appreciated. My primary use would be barbecueing.

Fred Sauceman
Johnson City, Tennessee

Stogie
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 05/29/03 12:36 AM
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Fred,

Though these may look nice, they suffer from the same things that most inexpensive cookers suffer.......shoddy workmanship, thin metal and design flaws that affect the fire. Since heat control is the secret to great BBQ, these flaws can be fatal.

The fire will need constant tending and I had a buddy that went through so much charcoal he finally just sold it. Because of insufficient heat control, your fires will burn for only short periods of time and it will be near impossible to maintain a steady temp for more than an hour or two.

I would look at a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker instead. Priced at under $200, it continues to be the best backyard smoker for the weekend enthusiast. I have now collected a few of them..always looking at the alternatives, but eventually coming back to the WSM. They will burn for over 20 hours on 1 load of charcoal...IF you start them properly. I have held a steady temp of 225º for 22 hours on one load of charcoal.

Don't get me wrong, the Bandera will work and turn out some great Q, but the learning curve is steep and you will more than likely have to make some mods to it.

Hope this helps!

Stogie

kland01s
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 05/29/03 10:40 AM
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I have had my Weber about 15 years. Along the way, I have replaced the grill and the top handle, otherwise it sits outside and has survived northern Illinois winters without a problem. I love impressing people with a turkey or a lamb roast done on it, I use the side heat method placing the brickets on 2 sides with a drip pan in the middle.

RibDog
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Fri, 06/6/03 1:07 PM
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I agree with Stogie. The Weber Smokey Mountain is an excellent smoker. Not only for the backyard enthuiast but it is also used by many professional teams on the competitive circuit.

I use mine to cook brisket, ribs, butts, turkeys, you name it. It works well for me since I hate giving up my sleep. I start mine the night before and let it cook all night long. Once you learn your smoker, it won't bother you to go to sleep and not wonder whether it is holding temp or not.

There is a website that is completely devoted to the WSM. Check it out at http://www.virtualweberbullet.com.

John

Stogie
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Fri, 06/6/03 3:54 PM
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Hey, John!

Great to see you!

Be sure to tell Elise how to make ribs...it is on the other thread. As a fellow competitor who trained under the now famous, DRBBQ, John knows his stuff!

Stogie

RibDog
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Sat, 06/7/03 8:41 AM
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Thanks Stogie. You are too kind.

John

Lucky Bishop
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Mon, 06/9/03 1:29 AM
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Does anyone feel strongly about the other New Braunfels lines of smokers (other than the Bandera, which I understand is their low-end product) one way or the other? I've heard widely varying reports.

Can you cold smoke in a Weber Smokey Mountain? I do love my smoked cheddar...

Stogie
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Tue, 06/10/03 2:21 AM
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Lucky Bishop....

Personally, I would stay away from the NB line of products. Unless you are willing to spend in excess of $400...you will NOT be happy with any of the off-sets. Off-sets need superb airflow and control of that airflow. Why? Because in an off-set, you are directing heat to go sideways..NOT up, like it wants to. So, any design flaw that affects this airflow is a killer.

Yes, you can cold smoke on the Weber. But, you will need to pick your time. Not unusual on hot summer days to have the unit at 120º WITHOUT firing it up. So, look for a cool day, use 3-4 briquettes, smoke them on the lower rack....it's always cooler down below. You will need to use much smaller chunks as well.....perhaps wet chips will work better. I use fresh cut branches from my oak tree...they are about the size of a pencil.

Stogie

Cosmos
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Tue, 06/10/03 7:12 AM
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Sad to say, I had to retire one of my Webbers. It's lying upside down at the curb, awaiting its final journey to the dump. After years of Central New York exposure it succumbed to rust at the leg supports, I should have bought a cover. Luckily, I still have my dad's, though, I guess I better start saving for the gas start model....

hawkeyejohn
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Tue, 06/10/03 8:33 AM
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I am a bit of a grill junkie. I have a Weber kettle, a Smokey Joe, the small table top gas Weber (for camping), a portable propane gas kettle grill (for tailgating), a smoker and, for those nights when I get home after 7 and still want to grill, a gas grill. I also have 2 turkey fryers.

Lucky Bishop
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 06/12/03 12:22 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by Stogie

Lucky Bishop....

Personally, I would stay away from the NB line of products. Unless you are willing to spend in excess of $400...you will NOT be happy with any of the off-sets. Off-sets need superb airflow and control of that airflow. Why? Because in an off-set, you are directing heat to go sideways..NOT up, like it wants to. So, any design flaw that affects this airflow is a killer.


Over $400 shouldn't be a problem: we're not leaving this house anytime soon, I got a nice backyard, so I reckon a good smoker is an investment. So is what you're saying that the high-end New Braunfels smokers are worth the money but the low-end aren't?

Although on the other side of the matter, Alton Brown just made an interesting hot smoker out of a couple terra cotta pots and a hot plate that he said cost about $47, and re-watching the episode, I saw no flaws at all in the concept.

mayor al
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 06/12/03 6:16 AM
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Lucky,
I watched Brown do his thing with the flower pots last night and was reminded of my first efforts at smoking some Jerky on a "Lil Chief Vertical Smoker". It was a 3 ft. tall Aluminum Box with a removeable cover, and a built in hot-ring and removeable chip-pan at the bottom. It had 3 levels of racks and did a commendable job on Jerky. It didn't hold heat in worth a darn, but living in the dry desert of SoCal that wasn't an issue as nature helped keep the sucker hot thru the process... but it wouldn't have done a Butt well.
Browns idea has a couple of flaws.
1. In order to 'refuel' the unit you must not only remove the top letting out any heat built up inside, but you must remove the meat being smoked allowing even more cooling to take place. The ideal cooker will maintain a steady heat and if the chef can restrain him/herself from "checking the meat" a lot then it is possible to get that steady heat by not Opening the unit.
2. You can only do one item at a time with that flower pot. One Butt just would not be enough for anykind of family meal (more than 2 people). When I do some meat I do at least two or better yet three Butts and a Brisket or more recently I have been using Turkey Breasts (can't handle the Brisket much anymore).
One of the best units I ever had was an old refrigerator converted to Electric Smoker but still using an electric heat ring and pan (old frying pan) for chips and sawdust. We gutted the refrig., drilled a few air holes in the bottom, and used the opening in the upper back for the exit...baffling it to slow the smoke's travel. The cost was $5 for the unit, and another $5 for the heat ring. The original racks in the refrigerator held the meat and the unit would maintain a steady 190-200 degrees easily. The inside of the unit was white enameled metal, not plastic.
These days I use a cooker/smoker (wood-charcoal fuel)mainly because I have the time to fuss with it a lot during the process.

Lucky Bishop
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 06/12/03 4:35 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Al-The Mayor-Bowen


Browns idea has a couple of flaws.
1. In order to 'refuel' the unit you must not only remove the top letting out any heat built up inside, but you must remove the meat being smoked allowing even more cooling to take place. The ideal cooker will maintain a steady heat and if the chef can restrain him/herself from "checking the meat" a lot then it is possible to get that steady heat by not Opening the unit.
2. You can only do one item at a time with that flower pot. One Butt just would not be enough for anykind of family meal (more than 2 people). When I do some meat I do at least two or better yet three Butts and a Brisket or more recently I have been using Turkey Breasts (can't handle the Brisket much anymore).


The second issue isn't much of a problem for me, since it's just me and my wife -- I suppose we'd have to do something else if we were having people over. The first one, though, is a problem. You'd certainly have to work extremely fast to lose as little heat as possible.


Still, I'm leaning towards a high-end New Braunfels. If I'm going to do this, I might as well do it right.

Sundancer7
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Sun, 06/15/03 6:56 AM
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I am considering buying a Weber "Performer". I like some of its functions such as ease of emptying ashes. Gas starter for charcoal, storage of extra charcoal, etc.

Has anyone had any experience with this model?

I would appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

Oneiron339
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Mon, 06/16/03 4:25 PM
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Lucky, go with the NB model. I have one for a few years now and use it regularly. The only thing I don't like about it is the inability to regulate temp. for lengthy periods. I am a good, but lazy BBQ'er, and like to leave the meat cooking w/o much intervention. I find I have to check it every 15 min. or the temp. fluctuates on me. I always get good results, but the checking is what gets me. Perhaps, I'm not doing the wood, fire, et., routine properly, but if that's all I have to worry about I'll be OK. Al, has the right idea w/ the old refrigerator, I don't have the space for one. BY the way, anybody know where I can pick up hardwood pellets near Atlanta?

Stogie
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Mon, 06/16/03 11:09 PM
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Lucky Bishop...

Actually the $400 model is from Brinkmann. It is called the Cimarron. It has all the mods made except for a charcoal basket.

I will stand by my comments on the line of NB's....very inferior smokers. Yes, they will work, but who wants to tend a fire every 30 minutes? Also, that makes it near impossible to do overnighters when you cook a pork butt. Pork butts require around 2hr./lb. so the large primal cuts weigh in at 8 lbs. which means at least a 16 hour cook. You want to have to stay up and tend a fire all night?

oneiron339.....

Not sure if you have ever seen any of the mods you can make. Here is a link to them. It will make your BBQing life a lot easier. Here is a simple way to extend your burn times.........

Pile up UNLIT briqs. Then fire up about 15-30 briqs. Once these are lit, pour them on top of the unlit ones. This does a number of things...it helps to keep your fire from getting too hot...it is much easier controlling a fire from lower temps rather than fighting a too hot fire. It also will gradually burn down into the unlit briqs which extends your burn times.

http://www.homebbq.com/duportal/forums/msgDetail.asp?msg_id=185&for_id=8

Stogie

Oneiron339
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Tue, 06/17/03 9:32 AM
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Thanks, Stog. Now tell me where I can find hickory pellets in a big quantity near Atlanta.

Lucky Bishop
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Tue, 06/17/03 1:54 PM
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I've never bought that concept of slow-lighting charcoal briquettes, but then, I've never been a fan of briquettes in the first place: even plain Kingsford with no accelerants or anything are stuffed with fillers and binders that taste nasty if they're not burned off. That's why I've always been a big proponent of lump charcoal: yes, it burns hotter, and yes, you have to add more charcoal more often than you do with briquettes, but the simple fact is that food cooked over lump charcoal tastes better, and I think that's reason enough to use it. If there's a big enough difference in quality, I'm willing to put up with the extra labor.

Stogie
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Tue, 06/17/03 6:09 PM
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Lucky.....

I understand your concerns about briqs. There are a few folks who have hyper sensitive taste buds and can tell the difference.

Having said that, most of the competitors that use the WSM's use briqs and slow start the charcoal that way....and they win plenty of ribbons. I personally have beaten many folks who use lump charcoal, so certified judges can't seem to tell the difference and they are trained at picking up unusual tastes.

I have also done dozens of blind tests on my ribs...briqs vs. lump....and so far, not one single person could tell any difference.

Don't get me wrong, I use lump when I do my grilling, but give me a good briq any day for slow smoking.

BUTTTT....in the end, whatever suits YOU is the BEST way to cook!

Stogie

EliseT
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Wed, 06/18/03 5:08 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by Lucky Bishop

I've never bought that concept of slow-lighting charcoal briquettes


Oh, I can assure you the charcoal method Stogie recommends is incredible. I used it to indirect-BBQ some ribs over the weekend. I kept a steady 225 degrees in my BBQ for 6 straight hours without relighting or adding coals. Not once did that thermometer waver a degree! It was a steadier heat than my oven keeps and it blew my mind.

nrwayne
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Mon, 06/23/03 4:08 PM
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Fascinating there's nary a mention of the Big Green Egg, which is an Americanized version of the Japanese Kamado. The BGE is ceramic, weighs a ton, comes in a number of sizes, and has wide flexibility. It'll smoke for many hours at 200-250 or send out blue lightning with temperatures north of 1000 degrees. No joke. The better sizes at medium and large, which are approximately 19 and 23 inches in diameter. Once you've experienced food cooked in this fashion, you'll find it hard to settle for anything less. Tendy, juicy, and incredibly flavorful. Yes, there is a learning curve, but after having "paid my dues", I junked the Webers and gas grills and won't turn back. FYI, there's an extensive forum at www.biggreenegg.com, which can become addictive. Eggs start in the $200 range and climb to about $500. Prices vary widely according to dealer.

Big Muzzy
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 07/3/03 10:58 AM
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I've had an old Brinkman vertical smoker for years...it is electric, but you can put a hand-full of water soaked hickory chips down on the heating element before you load it with ribbs or a pork roast, and fire it up. Basically trouble free, I have smoked up to 90 lbs. of ribbs overnight and had them come out perfect every time....Brinkman now makes a couple of inexpensive models...both single and double tier. I really feel you can't go wrong with one of their units.
PS - I do not 'par-boil' or remove the 'film' from the back of my ribbs...I DO use a marinade (Dale's) followed by a dry rub...Happy Smoking on the 4th of July! ;o)

playgolf
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Thu, 07/3/03 1:15 PM
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I have the Bandera and love it...won a little friendly "rib off" competition a couple of weeks ago.
Good airflow and I use whole logs after starting with charcoal...

Sundancer7
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Fri, 08/1/03 9:58 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by nrwayne

Fascinating there's nary a mention of the Big Green Egg, which is an Americanized version of the Japanese Kamado. The BGE is ceramic, weighs a ton, comes in a number of sizes, and has wide flexibility. It'll smoke for many hours at 200-250 or send out blue lightning with temperatures north of 1000 degrees. No joke. The better sizes at medium and large, which are approximately 19 and 23 inches in diameter. Once you've experienced food cooked in this fashion, you'll find it hard to settle for anything less. Tendy, juicy, and incredibly flavorful. Yes, there is a learning curve, but after having "paid my dues", I junked the Webers and gas grills and won't turn back. FYI, there's an extensive forum at www.biggreenegg.com, which can become addictive. Eggs start in the $200 range and climb to about $500. Prices vary widely according to dealer.



Has anyone else had any experience with the Green Egg? If so, I would appreciate hearing about. The above poster mentioned a learning curve???

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

seafarer john
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Fri, 08/1/03 11:39 PM
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I gave my youngest son a large size Big Green Egg for his birthday a few years ago. At first he was frustrated and not too happy with his $500 toy, but he , when all else failed, read the directions and gradually learned to do great food on it. It is unbelievably economical to operate- a little handful of chacoal will last for hours. It can smoke at a steady 225 forever, and it can sear a steak at 800 with no trouble. He communicates with other BGE owners on a website they run, so I'm sure you could get plenty of information there from experienced people. It is large enough that he smoked two 8 lb butts together with no trouble a few weeks ago. I believe thay are manufactured in Georgia. If you decide to purchase one, be sure to get the table with it. The spindly litle feet they provide seem dangerous to me. Alternately, they provide directions to build your own table which Jeff's father-in-law built for him out of sturdy- last -forever oak.

Rick F.
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RE: Buying a BBQ cooker - Sat, 08/2/03 11:20 AM
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FYI: the link to http://www.biggreenegg.com has a comma after egg, so doesn't work. Use this one instead.