Smoking Meat – What Is an Offset Barbecue Smoker?

January 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured Content

There are basically three different types of barbecue smokers. The Offset Smoker, the vertical smoker, and the kettle style of smoker. A vertical smoker has only one chamber, with the fire at the bottom of the chamber and the meat supported on racks suspended over the fire. A kettle type smoker is what you may already have, or your father or brother, uncle cousin already has. Think a Weber Grill and that is a kettle type smoker. A weber grill can be set up for smoking barbecue by building a fire on one side, putting the meat on the other side, putting on the lid and opening the vents. The meat will be smoked by indirect heat. This short article will describe the offset type smoker.

  • An offset smoker has two chambers. One is called the firebox. The other is called the smoke chamber. These are offset from each other. That is why it is called an Offset Smoker or Offset cooker. The firebox is off to one side of the apparatus, and that is where the wood or charcoal fire is built. the smoke and heat flows from the firebox into the smoke chamber also referred to as the cooking chamber, and then the smoke flows around the meat and out through the chimney. As the smoke flows over and around the meat, it flavors the meat with a smoke flavor, and the low indirect heat cooks the meat. Most offset cookers can be visualized as a big drum on its side, with a hinged lid cut into it and a little smoke stack chimney coming off the top. That is the smoke chamber. Off to one side and a little lower than the smoke chamber is the firebox, which is often a square metal box attached to the side, but also could be another metal drum. The firebox is usually much smaller than the smoke chamber.
  • An offset smoker burns wood to provide heat and smoke. The type of wood to burn varies on the choice of the pit-master. Many burn whole logs in their smoker, while others prefer to burn wood chunks, traditional charcoal, charcoal chunks or even wood pellets.
  • Different varieties of wood can be burned in an offset smoker to impart different flavors to the wood. Some prefer to burn Hickory, others prefer Mesquite, some prefer fruit wood such as apple-wood or cherry.
  • The secret to using an offset smoker for good barbecue is cooking “low and slow.” This means to cook the food at a low temperature for a long time. An offset smoker is great for this as it only uses indirect heat, because the fire is away from the meat in the firebox, while the meat is in the cooking chamber.

This should help you determine if you should get an offset smoker to make great smoked barbecue meat. You will be able to make great barbecue ribs, pork shoulder (pulled pork), beef brisket and chicken with an indirect smoker.

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