Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
He returns all questions . . . . . . .
FAQ Subject: I need plans for a smoker
The FAQ's on your website have been very helpful. I will look for your book at the local bookstore tomorrow. My wife and I are finally settling down to a house we are building, and one of my first projects is to get my outdoor cooking ready to go. I want to be able to do the following:
I want to be able to (Pardon my use of the misused word but the glossary link wasn't working) "smoke" or slow cook meats in the tradition of hickory smoked pork from west Kentucky ribs from west Tennessee and mesquite smoked brisket like here in Texas. I want to be able to grill meats with both direct (steaks) and indirect chicken) heat.I want to do something that would look good in our backyard (to keep my wife happy). When I was a kid we had 3 split 55 galon drums half buried in the ground for family reunions... I don't think my city folk neighborhood association would go for that.
I have no welding skills or equipment, but decent all around building abilities. The budget is not a huge factor. I would seldom cook for more than 10 people, but wouldn't mind the ability to smoke say 6 briskets or 3 turkeys simultaneously.
With those goals and limitations in mind, I had thought of constructing a cooking island in the back yard. I was planning on laying a concrete footer, roughing out with cinder blocks and facing with rock and stone. For the "grill" I would probably look for an insert that was as controlable as my old kettle grill. For the smoking end, I had thought of making masonry fire pit with a firebox and cooking chamber off of it constructed of chimney flue material (the inspiration for this was a much larger such structure at a local bbq restaurant).
I was actively searching for design ideas when I came across your FAQ page. I get the impression that perhaps I would be better served buying a unit ready made to do such cooking (like the New Braunsfels units or the Pitts and Spitts). I would like to make a nice looking area in the yard, but it would be a waste to spend thousands of dollars and a bunch of time on it if I could do better cooking with a ready made unit.
Do you have any suggestions for me? Also do you know of any books or resources that would be helpful?
Thanks in advance,
Mike Reisz, Fort Worth, TX
I guess that you know by now whether your house is in the flood plain or not.
I believe that my book will answer all your questions plus some that you maybe haven't thought of yet. It has chapters on design considerations, masonry and metal construction, with plans and illustrations. Plus it will help you do what you have already started, that is to really think out what you want from your pit. This is the most important part of winding up with satisfaction rather than regret.
I think from your e-mail that you could be well served by a masonry pit and it would give you some exercise that you probably need. But you might also wind up with a small cast iron grill just big enough for broiling 2-4 steaks when you don't want to heat up the big guy. I have several grills/pits but find that I use the smallest, a Sportsman 12X18" now made by Lodge Cast Iron. It also serves to burn down wood and charcoal for replenishing one of my large pits when I am cooking butts and such. I also use the broiling grate in the fire box of my really big Pitts & Spitts.
Meanwhile, click into "According to Smoky" and read "Burning Wood & Blowing Smoke" and "Heat" for some more info.