Pellet fuels have quickly become a very popular way to generate heat. They first came into widespread use for home heating, but then the barbecue industry discovered them. Now there are pellet smokers on the market that make it easier than ever to smoke meat without having to shell out lots of money for hickory or mesquite wood.
With such popularity, pellet smokers are all over the market. The selection can be overwhelming as you start shopping for one of your own, so it can be a big help to see what a smoker expert thinks about the various models.
An easy way to get expert feedback is to visit http://smokeysteakranch.com/best-pellet-smoker-reviews/ to find out more about which models are the best value. As you read through the reviews, think about how these four characteristics will matter for your pellet smoker.
Look for Easy Pellet Handling
Big chunks of wood are fairly easy to handle. You simply grab one out of the pile, open the smoker door, and toss it into the fire. It’s pretty hard to mess up, so you have a little more freedom in the configuration of a smoker that operates on that type of fuel.
A pellet smoker is different. You’ll be shoveling or scooping the fuel into the box, so the layout should make it easy for you to move fuel from its container into the smoker box. If it’s too hard to navigate, you’ll spill and waste a lot of pellets.
Remember the Flow of Smoke
Barbecuing meat is only partly about temperature. The low heat used in a smoker will cook the meat for purposes of doneness, but the smoke is what creates the flavor. You will never get good flavor from it if the smoke passes the meat too quickly or misses it altogether.
As you read the reviews from a smoker expert, pay attention to what they may say about the path of the smoke. Make sure it will have to pass through the meat on its way to the chimney. Consider reverse-flow models that pull the smoke under the meat to the end of the cooking chamber, then back across the meat on the way to the chimney. Models that simply let the smoke rise to the top and roll quickly out the chimney will leave the meat bland and boring.
Expect Good Temperature Management
Pellets are great for smoking because they provide a consistent energy source. Unlike firewood or even wood chips, pellet fuels are incredibly uniform in their size and composition, and that makes it easy for you to adjust the temperature with your fuel.
However, you still need to control the rate at which the pellets burn, and that is done with the smoker. Choose a model that has a wide range of adjustment on the damper so that you can increase or decrease the airflow for optimum temperature management. As you gain experience in smoking, you will see that temperature management is what separates the expert smoker from the backyard amateur.
Get Enough Space!
One of the most common mistakes people make when purchasing a smoker is forgetting to consider the cooking area. We get accustomed to neatly arranging burgers or steaks to maximize the amount of food cooking on a grill, and we assume that we can do the same when we start smoking meat.
What’s missed in that idea is that smoking is typically done with much larger pieces of meat. Briskets, shoulders, and racks of ribs can go on the heat in one position. A smoker expert knows you can’t rearrange anything to make it fit, and you can’t make it shorter if the lid doesn’t close. Choose a smoker that has enough room for the meats you plan to smoke.
Great barbecue is the product of the right combination of quality meats, the right fuel, good equipment, and a skilled chef. Using a pellet smoker makes it easy to manage most of that equation, but it takes finding the right pellet smoker to seal the deal.
There are countless pellet smokers out there, and you can’t try them all. What you can do is find a smoker expert who has tried them all and written reviews of each one, highlighting the pros and cons that they offer.
Reading those reviews will help you figure out which pellet smoker will be the best one for you. You will have a better idea of what features will be best for your needs, and you will be able to choose a model that suits you best.
With the consistent heat of pellets, quality meats from your favorite source, and your own growing experience with barbecue, your pellet smoker will give you everything you need to make terrific barbecue.