Good BBQ on a cheap offset smoker

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by hickorybutt, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    We have been visiting family in GA for the holidays. My reverse flow patio-style pit is just too heavy and difficult to travel with, so I brought my CharBroil American Gourmet with me. Just had to cook some bbq for Christmas. I first learned how to cook bbq on this pit a few years ago. Now that I've gotten better and cook on a nicer pit, it's actually fun to go back to the "cheap" smoker and still cook some great Q. Figured I'd put out a detailed post for any newbies who maybe have a cheaper offset smoker and are trying to learn. You don't have to get some multi-thousand dollar smoker to cook good bbq. It's all about learning how to use what you can afford and making the most out of YOUR pit.

    I have a few modifications that I made to the pit to make it a better cooker. All of these mods are outlined here in the forum.

    First things first - a charcoal basket raised from the bottom of the firebox.

    I cook with the side door of the firebox open. I start my fire with a load of charcoal and then just use wood throughout the rest of the cook. I've found that to keep a steady fire on this pit, having the door open keeps the combustion going better. Sure I could add more dampers, but I found something that works for me and my pit. I control my temps by perfecting fire management. I know what temp I'll get to just by what size firewood I put on the fire and how to arrange the fire.

    Secondly, I added a baffle and tuning plates to the cooking chamber to help even temps.

    Look at my two thermometers - almost dead even from one end to the other.

    As I mentioned above, I start with charcoal and then switch over to just wood.

    Starting with charcoal:

    Now charcoal is burned out and I'm just burning sticks:

    Now for the meat - cooked two pork shoulders and a chicken today.

    Pork going on:

    Steady Eddy at 275 degrees. I cook pork shoulders at a higher temp. My experience is they can take more heat and it will help finish it a lot faster.

    Pork almost ready to be wrapped. Chicken just went on:

    Kicked up the fire for hotter temps for the chicken so I can get more crispy skin:

    Pork finished and resting, and then pulled:

    I didn't get a picture of the finished chicken.

    This smoker is certainly harder to use than my reverse flow pit. It doesn't hold temps as well and requires a little more maintenance. But the meat I cooked tonight was every bit as good as any food that comes out of my RF. I say again, it's not about the equipment. It's about the cook. And about the process. With a little modification and practice, you can put out world class bbq on a $140 smoker from Wal-Mart.

    Thanks for lookin.

    kayab and gary s like this.
  2. Hey James Great cook, That goes to show what a great pit-master you are, It may have been a little harder But the results were Fantastic !!

    Great Job, and have a safe trip.


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  3. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Thank you Gary.  Means a lot coming from a great pitmaster like yourself.  Hope you and the family are having a good Christmas down in TX.
  4. Thats a GOOD thread. Good pics too.
  5. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Thank you - much appreciated
  6. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Nice work! I'm on a $125 offset from Sears (see sig) and I'm having a blast with it.
  7. This is a great example, HB is smoking on a $125 smoker because that what he had available, and doing a fine job and turning out some great Q. A high dollar smoker doesn't make better Q it's the person doing the smoking. 

    Great job


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