Easy to read directions made set-up a breeze. Had this smoker put together and charcoal rolling within a hour and a half. READ THE DIRECTIONS!!!! The grill needs to be seasoned prior to use to burn off factory oils, set the paint, etc. I was able to go 2 months of twice weekly use before having to redo the paint on the fire box, which should be expected with extreme heats, especially if the coals touch the sides. There is a large heat difference between the left and right hand sides of the cooking chamber. I was able to remedy some of this with some JB Weld (red and black tubes) sealing off the seam on the right hand side, and around the smoke stack, and a couple bricks under the cooking rack. Also, a cheapo bread pan filled with water right up next to the hole where the fire box and the cooking chamber helped level out temps as well You do need to baby sit to keep temps steady, and since the dial gauge is not accurate, I purchased a digital thermometer with a probe connected to a wire that will hold with the magnet on the sides of the grill. I purchased a charcoal chimney and found that had the best results on final flavors; no harsh chemicals from lighter fluid, and you always have newspaper laying around the house to light it. Dont skimp on your charcoal either, cheap charcoal is cheap for a reason; low quality. For the actual smoking, I prefer to use wood CHUNKS over chips. 1) I feel they burn more efficently and release a better flavor, 2) if the temperature starts to drop, a few large chunks will bring it right back up to temp. Rub your meat and stick it in the refridgerator while you go light the grill up. Cold meat picks up smoke much better than room temperature meat. Experiment with different woods for thier flavor. Hickory and Mesquite are great flavors, but with other woods easily available at stores, why limit yourself to one or two flavr profiles. As a professional culinarian, I feel this is a great smoker to learn on. Within a few uses, you can get it dialed in for succulant, juicy meat.
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