There are many types of smokers, and one popular type is the offset smoker. The offset smoker type dominates over the other types of smokers because it is the most popular among the different types of smokers. But before using an offset smoker, you need to know more about how it functions, its different parts, and how you use wood chips to impart flavor to the food. In short, you need to read through the offset smoker 101.
The Design of the Offset Smoker
The design of offset smokers is simple. It has a typical design consisting of a large chamber that appears like an oil drum. In this chamber, you will find the grill grates wherein you would place the food. It also has an offset smaller chamber called “firebox” attached to the side of the cooking chamber. In some cases, this firebox is placed at the back of the cooking chamber. The firebox is where the charcoal and wood chips burn. It is also the source of heat for the cooking chamber. The firebox has a vent on its side.
The cooking chamber has a chimney that sticks out of the cooking chamber. It is usually situated at the farthest end of the chamber from the firebox. You can close and open this chimney. The offset smoker is supported well by sturdy supporting posts. It also has a storage shelf underneath cooking chamber and some have casters or wheels for smooth mobility.
How Do Offset Smokers Work?
The offset smoker functions by transferring heat from the firebox to the cooking chamber. The best method to fire up the firebox is by using charcoals. You can use either a fire igniter or a chimney starter to fire up the charcoal. If you are using a chimney starter, once the charcoals burn, you can dump them out onto the firebox. Spread the burning charcoal inside the firebox.
You should put several wood chips inside the firebox if you want to render flavor to your food. At the onset, you should not position the wood on top of the charcoals. You are just heating the wood chips or logs, so you don’t want to burn them. You can also use wood chips. Once the logs are well-heated and have already dried out, you can then directly put them on top of the charcoal.
Wait for the fire to reach the ideal smoking temperature. While you wait for the temperature to rise, you can put another log inside the firebox to let it warm. Do this every time you put another new log onto the fire. Heated logs can readily catch fire quicker without producing white smoke.
As a caveat, you should open the vents fully as well as the firebox door while you wait for the temperature to come up.
How to Get the Right Temperature?
You can’t rely solely on the built-in thermometer of the smoker. Hence, you should have a reliable thermometer at hand. Your temperature probe should be set up at the grate level. Once you have achieved the ideal temperature, you can leave the firebox’s vents 1/3 open. You should also leave the chimney cap half-open. As you cook, however, you should carefully adjust the cap and the vents, depending on several factors like wind, outside temperature, and the wood that you are using.
You should make fine adjustments of the vents, instead of abruptly adjusting the vents. How to manage the fire and the temperature generally takes time until you become an experienced one. At the onset, it is important to know the quirks and peculiarity of your smoker. The weather can also dramatically affect the temperature of the cooking chamber. Hence, you should also consider this important factor.
Ideal Temperature for Different Types of Food Smoking
A good piece of advice for using the best offset smoker would be to check the fire every 45 minutes if you should put a new log or wood chips inside the firebox. If the temperature drops, you should add wood chips or logs inside. For cold smoking, the ideal temperature is between 68 to 86 °F. Warm smoking is between 77–104 °F while hot smoking is 126 to 176 °F.
Smoke roasting, however, requires a temperature of 250 °F and above. Wood smoking, on the other hand, requires temperatures that range between 570 and 750 °F. You should also bear in mind that there might be a difference of up to 75°F between both ends of the cooking chamber. Thus, you need to rotate the position of your meat to be able to cook them evenly. Lastly, the above-mentioned tips and ideas basically make up a rundown of offset smoker 101.