In the backyard barbeque cooker’s Bible, it’s almost blasphemous to give an electric smoker even an honorable mention in the “Best Smoker Category”. To many of us, a smoker or grill that’s attached to an electric cord is an insult to all of us who’ve smelled of wood smoke for a week because we stuck our head too close to the fire while adding charcoal!
Recently though, I’ve become an advocate of the electric smoker even if it does seem to be a sissy way of cooking a turkey, pork shoulder or beef brisket. Electricity was invented for making light bulbs work, running appliances, turning on the TV and drying your hair, not for cooking meat outside on the patio.
Cooking barbeque was always a chore given to the most virile of men, those who could lift a 20 pound bag of charcoal without injuring himself, then dump it in the container in the bottom of the smoker. Only the toughest of men could withstand the fumes from smoldering charcoal lighter without getting dizzy and sick to their stomach. Only a real man could live up to these criteria!
I didn’t start using the electric grill voluntarily, but out of necessity. My daughter -in- law had a barely used electric smoker sitting in their garage that was getting in the way of more important things, like last year’s Christmas decorations. When she offered it to me I initially refused, but then gave in when she said she would put it in the trash if I didn’t take it off her hands.
The second Saturday in May of last year was supposed to be a beautiful day; for that was the day I had planned for our first neighbor barbeque of the spring! I awoke to find rain pouring off the roof in bucketfuls. My attentions had been to fire up the charcoal smoker and cook a few Boston Butts for about 10 hours, but this didn’t seem possible now with all the rain. I was about to cancel the barbeque when I remembered the electric grill that I had stashed in a forgotten corner of the garage.
All men, at defining moments in their lives, have tough decisions to make. Mine was upon me. If I tried to use my old faithful charcoal smokers, the coals would soon be drowned due to the heavy downpour that was threatening to wash away my boat that was on its trailer. I couldn’t put the smoker on the porch because the chance of fire with burning charcoal is a possibility anywhere you’re cooking!
The electric smoker would have to do. What was the worst that could happen? I could cook the meat and if it didn’t taste the way it should, I could finish it off in the kitchen oven. The barbeque would probably be something that tasted like wet cardboard,
but I could blame that on my wife, saving my barbeque reputation.
With a sense of trepidation, I dusted off the electric smoker and carried it to the covered back porch. I stuffed a coffee can with hickory chips and water and set it in between the heating elements wands. Rain was pouring off the roof in torrents as I plugged grill’s electric cord into the outside socket. In only a few minutes the element in the bottom of the smoker was red, illuminating the bed of lava rocks it was resting on. It would have taken much longer to get this kind of heat from a charcoal smoker.
By the time I had salted and peppered two large Boston Butt roasts and placed them on the broiler plate, smoke from the wood chips was beginning to flow from the bottom to the top of the smoker. Setting the lid of the smoker in place, I marveled at how much this grill was acting like a real charcoal smoker. If I was blind and at walked within smelling distance of the electric smoker, I wouldn’t know the difference between that one and a real one.
The barbeque was delicious! I added more wood chips only once in the seven hours the meat was cooking. The rest of the time I watched a baseball game on TV and oiled and greased my fishing gear. I didn’t have to add charcoal three or four times the way I normally do. When I lifted the top of the grill, the meat was juicy and fell completely off the bone.