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Old 10-06-2007, 03:05 PM   #31
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You can get a smoke ring from pure charcoal because it is burning wood. On a an electric smoker, if you allow the wood to smolder and burn, you get the same results. To achieve this properly, you should use smaller pieces of wood, soaked in water, and spread out in an open container to allow the maximum surface area of oxygen and heat to affect the wood.

Using a large chunk is the incorrect way of smoking on an electric smoker. You will get smokey flavor, but not much of a smoke ring because you are only allowing a very small area of the wood to actually come in contact with the heat source and burn.

You can also use a salt tenderizer that will load the surface of the meat with NO2 and increase the smoke ring. So yes, basically a smoke ring is cosmetic and doesn’t always mean you cooked low and slow or that you'll have great smokey flavor.

Here’s a pic from a guy that made a trash can electric smoker. Notice the smoke ring.

Smoking a Turkey



Other examples of electric smokers in use. Look at the color of the meat.

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Old 10-06-2007, 03:06 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by beerco View Post
...One thing I can say with certainty is that food made over charcoal has a different flavor compared to that prepared over e.g. gas, smoke ring or not...

This seems to contradict what you said above when we were discussing using the two different smokers.
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Old 10-06-2007, 03:21 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beerco View Post
One thing I can say with certainty is that food made over charcoal has a different flavor compared to that prepared over e.g. gas, smoke ring or not.
Of course it does. You’ve added the components of the burning charcoal to the mix, which include the chemicals used to make the charcoal. Charcoal is wood, but what kind? Some briquettes have mesquite, others hickory, and some others are from scrap lumber pieces that can be anything from pine to maple. In using charcoal with wood for smoking, you are effectively using a blend of woods, i.e. more than one kind of wood.

Because of chemical additives and the uncertainty of the type of wood in the briquette, purist opt for lump fuel.

An electric smoker gives you only the components of the wood you use without the additives in briquettes. By picking your wood properly, and using a blend of woods, using the right size of wood, using the right container for the wood, and preparing the wood properly, you can achieve the same great smokey flavors that are achieved on charcoal…..but without the chemical additives of the coals.

As I said before, you have to know how to use an electric smoker to get the desired results.
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Old 10-06-2007, 03:28 PM   #34
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This seems to contradict what you said above when we were discussing using the two different smokers.
How so?

(this sentence is here because my post is too short).
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Old 10-06-2007, 03:38 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by keltin View Post
Of course it does. You’ve added the components of the burning charcoal to the mix, which include the chemicals used to make the charcoal. Charcoal is wood, but what kind? Some briquettes have mesquite, others hickory, and some others are from scrap lumber pieces that can be anything from pine to maple. In using charcoal with wood for smoking, you are effectively using a blend of woods, i.e. more than one kind of wood.

Because of chemical additives and the uncertainty of the type of wood in the briquette, purist opt for lump fuel.

An electric smoker gives you only the components of the wood you use without the additives in briquettes. By picking your wood properly, and using a blend of woods, using the right size of wood, using the right container for the wood, and preparing the wood properly, you can achieve the same great smokey flavors that are achieved on charcoal…..but without the chemical additives of the coals.

As I said before, you have to know how to use an electric smoker to get the desired results.
Now you guys are just trying to gang up on me just because I'm not a regular.

First you say "of course it does [taste different]" and then you turn around and say "you can achieve the same great smokey flavors that are achieved on charcoal"

So is it the same or is it different?

For the record, I use lump with chunks. When I used electric I usually used either sawdust or shavings from my workshop (hardwood) or soaked chips.

There's also more to the difference in flavors between charcoal & strictly wood than simply what kind of wood the charcoal is made of. A lot of it has to do with what isn't in the charcoal once it's prepared. Here's a hint - when fuling a pit with just hardwood, do the masters usually use a) wood burned down to coals or b) raw hardwood.
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Old 10-06-2007, 03:48 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beerco View Post
First you say "of course it does [taste different]" and then you turn around and say "you can achieve the same great smokey flavors that are achieved on charcoal"

So is it the same or is it different?
I had thought my post was clear. In an electric smoker, if you use just a chunk of hickory (and a chunk is wrong to begin with), you only add one wood flavor. With charcoal, you are adding more than one wood flavor. So, to be the same, you have to know how to use the electric smoker and pick a blend of woods.

Quote:
Here's a hint - when fuling a pit with just hardwood, do the masters usually use a) wood burned down to coals or b) raw hardwood.
Both. I’ve seen and have done it both ways. Some swear by adding whole logs the entire time. Some want seasoned log, and others want ”green” logs. Some want the bark on but others swear the bark has to some off. Some will burn it down to smolder hunks and others down to just embers. Some swear by medallions of wood while others praise split wedges.
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Old 10-06-2007, 03:55 PM   #37
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Let me put it this way about an electric smoker. It will give you back what you put into it. It’s all about how you use it and what you know how to do.

Give the average person a knife and a watermelon, and you get this:





But give a master the same melon and the same knife, and you get this:

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Old 10-06-2007, 04:02 PM   #38
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So, to be the same, you have to know how to use the electric smoker and pick a blend of woods.
The truth is that if you truly know how to use a charcoal pit properly and select the correct charcoal, wood and pit you can achieve results that are simply unatainable with electric. Perhaps you just don't know how to use your charcoal pit.

(for anyone laughing along, I'm just joking and don't mean to slight electric or gas smokers, but they certainly produce different results. Is it possible to get identical results? I doubt it but the realm of possibility is rather broad. It might be possible for cookies to come out the same in a conventinal oven as a convection oven but I doubt that too...although I suppose Ketlin could pull it off )
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Old 10-06-2007, 04:08 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by keltin View Post
Let me put it this way about an electric smoker. It will give you back what you put into it. It’s all about how you use it and what you know how to do.

Give the average person a knife and a watermelon, and you get this:

But give a master the same melon and the same knife, and you get this:
The pit is the knife. You can't honestly believe that the artful watermelon was cut with the same knife as the other slices do you?

A master will usually do a better job than the novice regardless of tools but it's not always the case. The tools can and do make a difference. That's why masters tend to use good tools (sometimes even the best tools).
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Old 10-06-2007, 04:14 PM   #40
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I was at Lowe's and saw the Brinkmann Gourmet Electric Smoker Grill. I am intrigued by this. On some level, it seems like cheating, but it also seems a heck of a lot easier than monitoring charcoal heat all day long. Has anyone ever used one? What are the tradeoffs with using one of these instead of a charcoal smoker?
IMHO and in a couple of words... Taste/Flavor! Also, I would buy a charcoal cooker over an electric one every day of the week, and twice on Sundays. Of all the ubiquitious tin can water cookers on the market I would suggest the Weber Smokey Mountain for your consideration as it does at least have a means to control air flow into the cooker.

As for the "smoke ring"?...Don't worry about it.. period! This ring of color that
sometimes goes from dark on the outside to a pale pink deeper (1/8" to 1/4") into the meat is not really a "smoke ring" at all. It is chemical reaction to the moisture and pigmentation(myoglobin) in the meat to NO2 that comes from incomplete combustion of woods, charcoals etc. (gas too) The depth of color has more to do with the moisture in the meat than the density of the smoke.
It has no (none) bearing on the flavor/taste of the meat, and is only important to some TV personalities/Chefs, food editors of magazines, (who wouldn't know good BBQ if there mammy slapped 'em with it) nere' do-gooders, and smoke blowers in general. Since the chemical reaction can be "man made" it is no longer a consideration in judging sanctioned BBQ events.
Again, don't worry about it, but rather spend your time/energy on other aspects of creating good BBQ. Good luck!

Have Fun & Enjoy! (Which is the First Rule of BBQ)
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