J. Rock wrote: ↑April 27th, 2020, 12:37 pm
This is a great thread! I'm really interested in adding a smoker or grill that can smoke to my tool kit, but I know very little about smoking food. I've seen some criticism that some smokers (e.g., electric) don't reach high enough heat for somethings. Can you / does it make sense to combine cooking methods like cast iron for searing or oven for higher temp roasting with smoking? Will a lower max temp limit me a lot when it comes to smoking?
I'm interested in something that's decently easy/convenient (as I won't usually want to sit by the smoker all day) and very safe (since I live in a canyon with some high winds and higher risk of wildfires); however, I don't want to get something can't do much.
Electric smokers, and I have a Cookshak for many years now, usually go up to 250F. The only thing it means is that you may need to cook something for a longer period of time, no biggie since its electric with a set and forget process. Sure, I sometimes want higher temps, but mainly if one is smoking an entire chicken, let's say, and wants the skin to crisp up. Again, no issue, since one can smoke it and then finish it on a grill, one more step in the process, but no big deal from where I stand. For pretty much anything else 250F is high enough, I rarely venture outside 200-220F for any meat/fish.
Just smoked a few skin on duck breasts, 45 minutes at 230F. We then finish them on a frying pan, skin side down, in any case, at dinner time, though I seriously doubt a wood smoker would be used differently or you end up with overcooked meat. So, really, a bit of a change in how one does things, but Cookshack and its copies do a great job with minimal effort. And have been winning pro competitions for years now, never mind being compact enough to be used in restaurant kitchens, to boot.
I get some wanting to "mess with" during cooking process, but some of us simply do not have the time to begin with, thus set it and forget it bullet proof method electrics provide. Yes, I am looking at a vertical off-set smoker, but really only for larger quantity whole fish cold/hot smoking where I want to hang them vertically for a professional look once done. That's it, I cannot see any other reason one would want such a smoker, well, unless one does entire side of animal and real estate is required (the only "negative" to small electric smokers, IMO). But that is my need, and it is different than others'.
Buy a Cookshak, USA made, bulletproof in its use, allows YOUR choice of wood (I usually stick with fruit ones, apple and cherry), and only requires an outlet. No need to keep insulation in good shape as many wood smokers require, nor replacing it, no need to clean much, no time to set up, and no baby sitting.
If you simply want great results with little fuss, then electric unit is more than fine. If you are looking for a "process" and have the time, then wood smoker. Your decision, and how high electrics go is not really an issue with 250F being "high enough" for almost anything you'd want to smoke. You may not get that "smoke ring" some crave, but if you're not in pro competitions the only thing that matters is taste, and you won't be able to tell an electric smoker product versus wood smoker in a blind side by side, trust me on that.