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Grills & Smokers

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Grills & Smokers

More Flavor and Control in Barbecue

The idea behind barbecue smokers is to cook the meat “slow and low.” The slow and low method is most commonly associated with Texas barbecue. It means that the meat is cooked at a low temperature for a long time. Smokers are called that because there is a fire source where the flames are not licking under the meat, but the smoke fills the closed space where the meat is. The low heat and clouds of smoke cook and flavor the meat until it is so tender it falls apart. Modern smokers are constructed as vertical boxes with a smoking box at the bottom and racks above.

Barbecue ribs are one of the specialties usually associated with barbecue smokers. In Texas barbecue and Louisiana Cajun barbecue, the seasoning is provided via a dry rub of herbs and spices. Where some Southern barbecue is more known for being lathered in sauces, the intense and addictive flavors that are indigenous to Texas and Louisiana are based in dry spices rubbed on the meat prior to smoking. Cajun seasonings are very distinctive and spicy in nature. Texas dry rubs have more of a tangy flavor and are less spicy. Both are not sweet like some Southern barbecue flavors.

Historically, traditional smokers have actual wood or charcoal burning in a box under or to the side of the smoking box with the racks. By burning a certain type of wood, like mesquite, hickory, apple, or pecan, the meat is given a certain flavor from the smoke flowing over it continuously. In modern barbecue smokers, the smoke is often produced by propane tank heating up wet wood chips in the box at the bottom of the smoking box until the smoke billows up and around the meat on the racks. The wet wood chips are chosen according to the type of wood that the barbecue master wants to use to for optimum flavor.

Today’s barbecue smokers have cool features like a meat probe that keeps track of internal meat temperature to help you avoid opening the door to the smoker. Drip pans and racks that can be placed in two positions to handle different kinds of foods are also features of some modern smokers. Some of these high tech machines even have digital readouts and controls. This helps the cook to control the temperature, smoke levels, and more with a higher level of accuracy than in the past.