Little Chief, should I even bother?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by fire it up, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  2. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have smoked some wonderful smoked salmon and trout in a Little chief. Having said that I have to say that they are just a tin box with a one temperature heater heater in them. The temp you get is the temp you're stuck with. They smoke at low heat and if there's wind they do not preform very well. But for what they cost they can do a really nice job.

    The ad says obo so I'd try to talk the guy down a bit. Factor in the cost of gas driving both there and back to pick it up and you might be better off getting one locally.
  3. What he said[​IMG]
  4. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Jim, you might want to PM TasunkaWitko. He's had a little chief for just about all his life and swears by them. He can give you info.
  5. If you want to smoke cheese or anything cold smoked or really low temp smoked, this is the way to go. To help with the temperature stabilization, get the insulation blanket. I have one of those. But it is a very thin wall as mentioned so wind and outside temp affect it greatly, just not as much with the blankie :)
  6. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks everyone.
    Since it has one set temp and I can't raise and lower by choice I decided not to go for it.
    Already have a Brinkman Gourmet electric and ever since I got my sNp it has served for not much more than holding my burnt chunks of wood before I toss them on the heat so I don't imagine the little chief would get much use.
    For electric I would like an MES but the only size I can find around here are 30" and I would want a 40".
  7. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    hey, jim - i got into this one late, but what gnu bee and fm cowboy said is pretty much the same as my experience. the thing to keep in mind with the big/little chiefs is that they are not designed for hot/moist smoke cooking of foods like we usually think of here at the SMF - they are very good at what they are designed for, which is smoking fish, jerky, sausages, cheese, nuts etc. i have successfully cmoked these foods with better results than any other method using my chief smokers, especially jerky and cheese.

    for smoke flavoring of many, many other meats and other foods, they work well for what they are designed for, which is not smoke-cooking them. before i discovered this site, i threw some plain-ol' pork chops in the little chief with a little bit of apple smoke, then pan-fried them - some of the best pork chops i've ever eaten in my life! having said that, make no mistake that they are not designed to smoke-cook pork chops or much of anything else as we traditionaly think of here. i imagine they would work well for bacon and other cool/cold smoking, but have never really tried them for that kind of smoking.

    as far as temperature control goes, they are powered by a single element that is non-adjustable. you can make it run warmer by insulating it. i use the box, in defiance of the safety warnings, and geet very warm and consistent temperatures this way when i want them. a person can also buy/improvise an insulating blanket or fashion an insulating box from ceiling tiles. the big culprit is wind, but when tempsa re cold, this line of smokers seem a bit wimpy in comparison to many others.

    having said THAT, the best cheese i've smoked has been with my little chief at about 27 below zero!

    bottom line is as i stated above - if you are interested in what it is designed for, the chief smokers work great - if you are interested in smoke cooking, stick with what you have.

    i do have the instructions/recipe book for the chief smokers and if you'd like, i can email it to you in .pdf form. simply pm your email address to me - if nothing else, it is worth the read as it will better explain the functions of the unit.
  8. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Tas, Rivet had said about messaging you but by then I was sort of figuring it wouldn't have been worth the trip. I would love to do sausages and such and it would be great to hang them in there since you can't really hang links in an sNp but I checked online and I could get one brand new at Walmart for $60. Maybe I'll try to let it go for $20-25.
    Still mad about a brand new never used sNp someone in my town listed for $65 but when I called them their phone was turned off and never responded to my email, oh well.
  9. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    SnP for 65$ would be nice - i';ve seen the price on them jump 40$ this eyar - glad i got mine!

    for waht it does, the big/little chief is good - no mistake about that; but it is different than what we're doing here. i tend to think of the chiefs more like smokehouses rather than smoking pits.

    anyway, i'd be happy to send the insturction manual/cookbook - send a PM if interested.
  10. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    cripes - please disregard the multitude of typos in that last post!
  11. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Didn't even notice them [​IMG]
    On my second drink now anyway so you could have misspelled supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and I wouldn't even have picked that up.
    (Biggest word I can spell properly, thanks to the chipmunks album I had when I was a kid)
  12. jethro

    jethro Smoke Blower

    My dad had one of them for years when I was growing up. Used to smoke "sucker" and that little tin box turns a nasty, boney fish into some good eats.
  13. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Well its just a smaller version of mine, the big chief. You really can find then frequently on craigslist and I have seen them for as little at 10 bucks. Maybe wait a while and check craigslist every couple of days. With that said, I am keeping my big chief for drying herbs, making jerky and smoking fish. Its quick and does a great job at them.
  14. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    meathunter - i've got one of each and love em for what they do; never thought of drying herbs in them, but it makes perfect sense!

    thanks for the idea ~
  15. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I still have the small one , I also never thought of drying herbs. So thanks from me as well.

    When I got into smoking again I almost started with a Big Chief and am really glad I didn't because as TasunkaWitko says its not for cooking its for cold smoking. Pineywoods, Ronp and Cowgirl set me on the right course to getting a proper smoker.

    I'm Glad we could be of help to you. If you go on line to the Little Chief website they have a lot of recipes and instructions. Including a brine recipe that I used to do literally thousands of salmon.

    TasunkaWitko brings up another point, if you find one cheap on Craigslist or elsewhere, remember to get the box that comes with it. The box is used as a windbreak and to increase the internal temp of the smoker. There is a warning on the newer ones about the flammability of the cardboard box but heck I used it in conjunction with my smoker 100s of times without burning down my house. Ps to increase the temp in the little chief in cold weather we also used to put one of those charcoal burner loops in with its regular heater.

    This website gives a good explanation of the difference between the smokers we use and the Chief's .
  16. 3montes

    3montes Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    A bit late coming in on this one. I just seen on our local craigslist and big and little chief. $20.00 for BOTH [​IMG] According to the ad hardly used.
    It's about a hour drive from where I am at. I really have little interest in cold smoking so I will pass.
  17. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    3montes - it's your choice of course but here's some food for thought:

    for that price i would have a hard time passing that up ~ if for no other reason than it would open up a few new avenues if exploration, especially if a person acquired an interest in sausage, cheese, jerky, nuts and fish.

    i also wanted to mention that although i personally use them for cool and cold smoking, they are successfully used for warmer purposes - i know several people have mentioend that they work well for pork loin, but i have not tried it myself.

    if all else fails, the units could easily be sold for a good percentage more than the cost plus gas to get them.

    as i said, it's definitely your choice but i wanted to throw that out there.
  18. dieseldan723

    dieseldan723 Newbie

    Ditto! I use mine for cheese, nuts, etc. Anything you don't want to get hot or melt! ;) I DO use the box on cold days/nights too!
  19. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    i just picked up a little chief off craigslist for 25$, i plan on using it for jerky since i was gonna spend double that amount on a dehydrator i figured this would make way better jerky.

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