Dear BBQ Friend:
I was at Home Depot the other day and I was glancing at the grills and BBQ smokers section to see if they had anything interesting and a Char-Broil smoker caught my eye. It got my attention because of it's size and price. When I took a closer look, it seemed to be made out of some fairly heavy metal so I knew it would be decent at holding the heat in. I liked
the firebox design too... there was plenty of ventilation and the charcoal grate was up above the bottom vent. I knew this would provide ample air flow up to the charcoal and into the cooking chamber. Too many firebox designs make
the air come in through the vents and then down to the charcoal grate and then back up into the cooking chamber. Poor designs like that are hard to work with especially of you don't know what you are doing. Charcoal grates too
close to the bottom of the firebox are a problem too. Especially on long burns that produce a lot of ashes
The smoker I was looking at had ample room for ashes and an easy open firebox door that gave you very easy access to your fire. I thought adding charcoal would be a breeze. The smoker was the Char-Broil Silver smoker. I bought one just to try it out and paid only $159. They charge an extra $25 bucks to assemble it for you, but assembly was fairly easy - a 30 minute job for two people. I probably could have assembled it myself, but it would have been a little awkward at times.
So now that I had my Char-Broil Silver BBQ smoker all put together, I went out and bought 3 racks of St. Louis cut spareribs. There was just enough room in the cooking chamber to lay 3 racks side by side toward the smokestack end of the cooking chamber. I knew there was going to be some hot spots on this BBQ smoker, so I would recommend only using the portion of the cooking chamber away from the firebox. Maybe not all the way to the end because then you would get into a cold spot. The trick on these smaller smokers and grills set up for indirect heat is to rotate your meat at least once an hour during a smoke. That way, you'll get even heat on your ribs throughout the entire smoke.
Having dumped a whole charcoal chimney of white charcoal into the Char-Broil Silver smoker to start with, it stayed at 250 deg F for about an hour. After that, I only had to add about 5 charcoal briquettes every half hour or so. If you know anything at all about BBQ smoking, you know that's not much work at all. On a larger smoker, you would have to check that thing every 15 minutes and either add more charcoal or adjust the vents. With the Char-Broil Silver, I opened the bottom vent all the way and it stayed at a steady temperature of 250 deg F for 6 hours. Of course, the smokestack damper was all the way open. There is another vent on the firebox which I left closed.
Overall, I was surprised at how well the Char-Broil Silver worked. The BBQ ribs came out perfect. Good enough to turn in at a BBQ contest and possibly win a prize. You really don't have to spend thousands of dollars on an expensive smoker to compete in BBQ competitions or produce great BBQ in your back yard. Go down to your local Home Depot and get yourself a Char-Broil Silver smoker. If you get two or three, you would be set to smoke ribs, chicken, butts, and brisket in a BBQ contest.