So many of us enjoy the smokey flavor and the tender, moist meat from a great barbecue. This kind of feast, however, does not come from just any kind of equipment. To turn the tough meat of a beef brisket into a delicious dinner, you'll need a smoker versus a grill.
Smokers are different from grills because they are built to maintain low temperatures from 200 to 250°F, for many hours at a time. This technique of cooking meat for a very long time at a relatively low is the key to truly tenderizing otherwise tough cuts of meat.
To learn how to barbecue using the smoking technique, a dependable beginner's smoker is a good place to start. The Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is just that: it is a very simple smoker without many frills at an entry-level price. It is excellent for family gathering with no more than eight people, and it is portable enough to come along for camping trips. More experienced grillers will likely want to invest in a higher-end smoker.
Two-Barrel Design with Large Body: The two-barrel design of the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is useful, especially for beginners, as it separates the heat source (in this case, a charcoal fire) from where the meat will be smoking. This can help you to avoid any direct cooking from the flames, focusing rather on the heat from the smoke of the fire. Furthermore, this smoker has a very large body with a single-level grate that doesn't impede the smoke from moving around inside the body. This allows you to ensure that all of your meat is cooking evenly. However, at 288 inches, this smoker does not have as much cooking space as more expensive versions. It is great, however, for handling one large piece of meat versus many small cuts of meat.
Offset Fire Box, Smoke Stack, and Clean-out Door: This smoker has several features that make it easy to use and perfect for beginners. As mentioned before, the separation of the fire box from the main body of the smoker is useful because it maintains indirect cooking for the barbecue. With the placement of the smoke stack and the fire box on the opposite sides of the body, you'll be able to keep the smoke from being trapped in only half the smoker. With the adjustable cover for the smoke stack as well, you will be able to control the rate that the smoke and heat leaves the body, which helps you to control the internal temperature of the body. Finally, the clean-out door on the side of the fire box gives you easy access to the remnants of the charcoal fire so that you can keep your smoker clean between uses.
Porcelain-Coated Grates: Porcelain is important for two reasons: it is rust-resistant, and it is able to retain heat. Additionally, the smooth coating of the porcelain will allow you to easily wipe off the grates between uses.
Side-Shelf, Storage Rack and Wheels: For those who like to travel with their barbecue equipment, portability is a necessity. The Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is designed with portability in mind, from its wheels to its storage rack, to its side-shelf. These features make the smoker a great addition for camping or tail-gating.
Built-In Temperature Gauge and Cool-to-Touch Handle: As keeping the smoker's body at a consistent and constant low temperature, it is important to keep the body of the smoker closed as much as possible. This is why built-in temperature gauges, as the one featured on this smoker, are useful, because you will be able to keep an eye on the temperature without having to open the fire box more than is necessary. However, we do recommend keeping a good digital thermometer on hand for best results. In addition, the cool-to-touch handle is a useful feature because it helps to protect you from the heat of the smoker when it comes time to adding fuel to the fire box.
Check out Jrbaconchi's overview of the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker below:
Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker Detailed Review
The design of this Char-Broil smoker is perfect for beginners because it is straightforward, and as mentioned before, the dual-body is nearly fool-proof when learning the art of smoking. More experienced barbecuers may also enjoy this smoker because it is great as a traveling smoker. At 46 pounds, most users will have no trouble bringing this light-weight smoker along for a weekend of camping or for a tail-gating event.
However, this smoker does show that it is a beginner's smoker because the black-painted stainless steel is prone to flaking and rusting. This happens more frequently when the smoker is used at temperatures higher than 200-250°F as a grill. While the quality of the materials is lacking, it is still a great beginner's smoker, as it will help you to develop your smoking skills before you invest in a much pricier model.
The assembly for this smoker is only moderately difficult. It has a total of thirty-four parts, which is more than other beginner smokers in the same price range. However, most users will have no difficulties putting the smoker together in an hour or two. After an additional few hours of smoking without any meat to season the smoker, it is good to go.
Because the Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is designed as a beginner's smoker, it is very easy to use. The separation of the fire box from the main body of the smoker as well as the attached temperature gauge are two key features that will help beginner barbecuers to monitor and maintain their barbecue's heat source. These features will help prepare them for future smokers down the line as well.
The biggest problem that other barbecuers have had with this smoker is that it can be difficult to maintain the fire over the course of an entire day. While this smoker gives you the tools to monitor the temperature and heat source, it is not the best quality smoker for maintaining the heat in the smoker's body. This is because there are small gaps between the fire box and the body of the smoker, which allow some of the heat to escape. This combined with a relatively thin body that lacks internal insulation means that users should only open the smoker when absolutely necessary as they are cooking.
The quality of the cook with this smoker are excellent. The offset fire box and the placement of the smokestack on opposite side of a long tubular body ensure that the smoke is not trapped in any one part of the smoker, so the barbecue is cooked evenly. As long as the ideal 200-250°F temperature range is maintained, this smoker will also be more than capable of forming the tell-tale smoked "bark" that many users crave.
Because of the porcelain-coated grates and the side door that gives direct access to the fire box, cleanup is relatively easy for this smoker. You'll be able to easily wipe down the grates and brush out the used charcoal between uses.
However, some may find it difficult to access all of the charcoal in the fire box from the side door. Fortunately, because the fire box also opens from the top, it is still possible to remove all of the charcoal from the smoker between uses.
The Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker is an excellent, low-price beginner's smoker despite being an overall low-quality product. For those who want to try to learn more about the art of smoking without making a big up-front investment, this smoker is a great value, and beginners will likely be able to gain enough confidence with smoking to move onward.
Conversely, for those who have a lot of experience with smoking, this Char-Broil smoker may be disappointing. If you're simply looking to have a reliable smoker for traveling, this smoker may be able to get the job done because of it's excellent portability and small size. Otherwise, experienced barbecuers will want to find a different smoker.
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