Texas Living

Meat Smokers: Backyard Barbecue Boosters

By Kristy Alpert 4.7.14

From weeding out the “too hots” to narrowing down the “too smalls,” somewhere in the Goldilocks realm of tending fire there’s a smoker that’s just right for you. The perfect smoker can raise your barbecue game to a whole new level, turning your once-dry ribs into flavorful and tender smoked morsels, and your run-of-the-mill grilled salmon into a moist, cured version that will have your neighbors talking.

Meat smokers come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. So before you spend the dough on this backyard barbecue booster, use this guide to define your smoking style and make the best purchase for you.

  • Set your price range. Smokers can run from $50 for an entry-level smoker up to $50,000 for customized catering rigs. Remember, a smoker is an investment, but if you’re a newbie pit master, it may be best to start with a quality beginner model like the Weber Smokey Mountain to give yourself room to grow without doling out a fortune on your new hobby.
  • Size up your meat. The size of your smoker will decide what meat you can cook. Looking to feed the neighbors with a feast of brisket? Go big. Just hoping to impress your family with your secret smoked-rib recipe? A smaller smoker may suit your needs.
  • Know your style. Smokers range from wet to dry and are powered by charcoal, wood, electricity, or propane. The only factor here is your personal taste. Are you a by-the-books recipe follower? A temperature-controlled electric smoker is probably your best bet. Love that earthy flavor on everything? Go with a wood smoker, so you can play with hints of hickory and traces of cherry. Undecided? Try a hybrid model.

Homemade barbecue sauce

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Cholula hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Stir all ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer, and stir, for an hour. Bottle, refrigerate, and use within 3-4 weeks.

 


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