My little buddy, the head-banging poker player with the hippie hair, the Great AlCan’tHang, asked for smoker recommendations, and I quote, “not looking for anything dramatic”. Well, that’s something that I know a little bit about, though I still consider myself a student of the art.
My first thought was that, as long as you’re not looking to become the neighborhood pit-master, the best smoker for the money, is the Weber Smokey Mountain:
I used one of those for Beer Can Chicken, racks of baby-backs, brisket flats, sausage, pretty much anything for 1-4 peeps. It produces an excellent, even smoke. The only drawback is fire control…if it gets hot, it’s hard to damp down. That’s my opinion, and in my opinion, fire control (really, heat control) is the hardest part to learn, and I still haven’t gotten it completely down.
The next thing I said was, if you want something that looks like a real smoker, with an offset fire-box, a flue, and a thermometer, but don’t want to buy a truck to trailer it around, go with this nice New Braunfels number, the Hondo:
I happen to have one of those on the deck — I got it at a garage sale for $20. It works great on all of the above, and it has more grill real estate for dealing with heat and/or bigger parties. New Braunfels makes some quality gear, too…it won’t fall apart on you like something from the Dollar General.
Of course, I’ve got the giganto humongo New Braunfels thing that’s bigger than the bed of my pickup. I used it exactly 0 times last year, which is an embarrassment of the first order. Well, I was busy, and I have no friends in this pitiless city, so, well, whatever. I’m going to try to find a home for it at my uncle’s ranch, where I can go visit it from time to time. It’s truly an awesome five-at-a-time brisket smoker. Maybe even six…