Big Chief

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by primevci, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. Well for people the the Big chief or little chief that have problems with it cooking unevenly i would either make a insulated blanket or buy the one they have for 25 bucks this weekend i did a batch of jerky with it and it worked pretty good seemed to hold 140 pretty well in 32 degree heat... just thought i would let people know that its a good investment I'm sure you could make the product for half the price but i was lazy :) about 2 months ago i made some jerky with it with a meat gun and i swear half of it was raw and the other half was over done if anything it cooks really Even now... Has anyone used the big chief 2 or little chief 2? i seen some at a sports store they looked really nice...
  2. larry maddock

    larry maddock Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    big chief doesnt get very hot---

    doing a brisket usually means finishing in oven[​IMG]
  3. I have used a little chief for over 25 yrs.I think its more of a cold smoker and for flavoring.I built a UDS this fall and that's a smoker .You can dial it in pretty easy at any temp range .low 100's - 350 + I still use the LC thing for sticks and jerky but I finish them in a dehydrator
    What I have done in the past is just small things fish, jerky and sticks but now with the drum anything is game .A friend got back from hunting hogs in N.E. Texas and brought me home a cooler full of butts and loins for me to play with.I'm looking for a liquid brine to make hams and in the garbage can they will go.
    Don't give up on the big chief you just have to rotate the product to even things out.Mine is hot on the bottom cool on top and all over the place around the sides and middle.Bill
  4. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    the "chief" smokers are not designed for barbecue or for smoke cooking. they are more desinged to replace the old-style "smokehouses" of the old days where meats were cured and sausages were hung. any time you try to make something do what it isn't designed to do, from smokers to hunting bullets and everything in between, you're going to have problems.
  5. beardo

    beardo Newbie

    I agree not it's not for cooking. But I have done jerky a few times and it works great,and getting better.Did some cheese last week and I woulnt want to do cheese on the mes.Any thoughts on smoking beacon on a little cheif,could use a big box to hang some over the top? I have a top loader-$25.00 new still in the box.......nice
  6. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    agreed, bear - it's great for jerky, sausage, cheese and putting a smoky zing to foods, which is what it was designed for. it wasn't designed for cooking, and i think a lot of people don't understand that, so they get a little disillusioned with it.
  7. beardo

    beardo Newbie

    I see how that can happen.But I've cought moore trout with 4-6lb test than 10-12lb test line. You need the right tool for the job. And with the top loader I can put the rack on top of the LC body and cover every thing with a big card board box and get a cooler smoke. I just wander if I could smoke bacon this way?
  8. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Agree here as well. Its a great smoker, for what it is intended for. Fish, jerky and drying herbs. However, I will say that you can get the Big Chief up and over 225 degrees, even here in C-O-L-D Minnesota, which I recently did. 231 degrees.

    Since it was sooooo cold here on one of my last smokes, I did not want to sit and tend to my reverse flow so I used the Big Chief, recently brought out of retirement. I simply wrapped the smoker in 6 inches of household insulation. I used the 16 inch insulation for this and had the edge at the top of the smoker and the bottom was a few inches from where there feed door was at. You do not want to wrap it right up to the feed door, where the ash pan is at as too much heat get trapped and the cord starts to get soft. Beleive me, I know this. This is why I now only wrap the upper parts. I also use the insulation cut a bit larger than the lid and lay that across the top.
    This does work, but I would not do this in a garage or anything, just in case of fire.
    Like I said, it does work, and one of my last smokes was done this way, a venison pastrami.
    Actually, I will be doing this again here soon, and I thing I am going to trim the insulation down to 12", since I only use the top grate. That way the lower half stays cool.

    p.s. If you try this and burn your house down, do not blame me[​IMG]
  9. cptjohn1

    cptjohn1 Newbie

    Hello;  Just signed into this site, few comments questions.  I have and use a Big Chief Smoker.  As noted so many times, it just doesn't seem to get hot enought, but does the job.  Living in Ohio and usually smoking during the winter it is tough to keep any heat in it when you are smoker for 12 to 18 hours and during late night COLD, COLD winter months.  I usually use it only to smoke Steelhead Trought, which again are caught from late October into March-May, so you can see during the Dec., Jan and Feb. months the smoking is difficult.  Anyway, just smoked a nice catch (Nov.10) and they came out great, BUT...we have been having some crazy, nice warm weather (50'-60's) and it was not to difficult to keep the smoker "warm".

    Although I have been using it for years and the last batch came out great I do have some questions that I really never answered myself, just did this smoking on a trial and error for all you experts, even though you may only be back yard experts allow me to ask:

    Q.  How many times during a lengthy smoking period (12-18 hours) do you add the wood (chips or bricks) to the pan.  I usually do it three times during that period about every 2-3 hours.

    Q.  Since I brind the fish over night then smoke and the Big Chief doesn't really get to hot, is this considered "cold smoking" or "curing".

    Q.  As I said, it really takes long, 12 - 18 hours to get a good, good tasting, still a little moist smoked Steelhead....does this seem excessively long and if so what am I doing wrong.

    Look forward to any and all replies..............going up now and take the Steelhead out of the brine, air dry, season and place them in the smoker....should be ready sometime tommorrow......later.

    Captain John

    (If you can, email me any responses:  [email protected])
  10. dalton

    dalton Smoke Blower


    like you i have used a big cheif for many years.  I live in anchorage alaska and smoke a lot of salmon.  since the salmon is only available in the mid summer to late summer with outside temps in the 50-65 range it always worked ok.  I found that if I was trying to smoke and it was colder or if it started raining then my smokes always took 15-30% longer.  at the end of salmon season the smokers went back in the shed until next summer.  but this year I got brave and tried some jerky.  it was such a hit with my family that I was asked to keep making it.  then hunting season came around and my daughter loves to go rabbit hunting (actually we have hares here) and I even tried some bunny jerky and it came out great!  but as before I noticed that since it was colder outside (temps between 45-60) the smoking took longer.  I assume this is because the big chief doesn't hold much heat.  in the end I decided that I should just build a smoker designed to work at my outside temps all year round and give it a try.  I am in the process of doing so now and I will let you know how it turned out.  I think the big chiefs are fine for what they are designed to do but that is a somewhat narrow niche.  I also wanted to to some real cold smoked salmon and cant do that in the big chief. 

    to answer your questions just based on my experience.

    I add smoke chips every 60-90 min for the first 3-4 hours or so then every 2-3 hours after

    cold smoking is typically referred to when the temps are between 65-90 deg f in the smoker.  I am not aware of any way to get a temp that low in a big chief.  so IMHO the big chief is more warm to hot smoking, some poeple say that it is really cooking with smoke added but that is a source for some depate.  from the information that I have read and the cold smoking that I have personally done it takes days (sometime months)  not hours to finish.  my cold smoking has only been salmon in the same method that the alaska natives have done it for hundreds of years and it takes about 2 weeks and the temps are never much over about 80 or so.  but again this is just my experience.

    12 to 18 hours does not really seem unreasonable base on the equipment you are working with.  I know that I specifially cut my salmon into strips so it finishes faster (8-12 hours) but I have freinds who use a big chief and do whole fillets and it take much longer than mine. 

    hope this helps.


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