Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by natl res8, May 2, 2015.
I would like too know the pros&cons of the smokernator,and how to use it.
I have one. Received it as a gift from my wife when I was trying to figure out how I could use a previously retired Weber Kettle that was gathering dust and cobwebs on the side of the house. The SN basically taught me everything I needed to know about the techniques associated with smoking meat: temperature control, smoke control, loading the fuel, reloading the fuel mid smoke, the importance of monitoring internal meat temperature and so much more.
Pros: Everything mentioned above. I still use it on occasion even though my Kettle pretty much serves as a grill these days since I upgraded to the WSM. It is great for smoking relatively flat cuts of meat, no more than 3" high or less. It was great for my wife and I. I could fill it with chicken pieces, splatchcocked chicken or turkey, a couple of butts, up to 5 racks of ribs using a rib rack, sausages, meatloaf, whatever.
Frankly I was pretty satisfied with it and how it performed until Christmas 2013. I got my wife a gift she absolutely loved and she was completely out of ideas for me. Then she said "If you could buy any smoker you wanted, what would you get?" I decided on the WSM and it changed my entire smoking life. Now I can relax while smoking meat.
The SN is one absolutely fuel efficient smoker. I was amazed how long a 20 lb bag of Kingsford Blue Bag would last using the SN just about every weekend. I didn't keep a fuel log back then but 60 lbs of charcoal I had in the garage lasted 5 months.
Easy to use and I like I said, will teach you everything you need to know about smoking meat.
Cons: This is going so sound like I'm poopahing the device. I'm not. Listen, I love that thing for what it taught me and I still use it on occasion. Here are the lessons I learned.
It is basically a $70 heat fence that directs all the heat upward so it circulates in the chamber. You can achieve the same thing by getting two fire bricks and setting them end to end on one side of your charcoal grate then building the fire behind the fence. After getting the SN and not wanting to buy another, I did this with my 25 year old 18.5" Kettle before it bit the dust in a wind storm because it was off balance with the bricks. You can also learn the "Minion method" of loading charcoal in your Kettle which pretty much does the same thing.
The water pan was pretty useless. I used it for a while but it required filling quite often. Tried bigger pans but nothing was as effective as the one that came with it. I eventually quit using the water pan all together and learned to dry smoke and control temps with the vents.
Pretty much requires constant attention. 90 minutes was about as long as I could go without having to fiddle with the vents to control temps. If you were smoking something for 6 hours or longer, you needed to be there constantly. 6 hours was as long as I could get a load of fuel to last too. No so with something like the WSM. The way I have my WSM set up now it is practically a set and forget smoker. We've gone shopping, to the movies, and I have no problem sleeping on an overnight smoke.
Due to the way the heat circulates in the chamber, you can get significant temperature differences between the top of the chamber and the bottom, or even between the top of the chamber and the cooking grate, like 80-100F if smoking at higher temps. That's why flat cuts of meat work best.
Suggestion: try the Minion method or the fire brick trick first (fire bricks, not regular bricks). If someone is going to buy a SN for you, let them. Either way, you'll learn a lot.
BTW, be sure to stop in over at Roll Call and introduce yourself so folks can give you a proper welcome. Glad you're here!
12 bucks and you have the same thing with more cooking space. Weber baskets. A few more bucks and you get the hinged grates from weber which makes this work like a rockstar.
Thanks for all the info I appreciate it