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So you’re thinking that you may get yourself a smoker this summer. Or maybe you’re going to get your baby’s daddy a smoker this Father’s Day. It’s a great idea. The home smoking revolution began a few years ago. And that’s when I dipped my toe into the smoking waters by buying a pellet smoker.

The traditional smoking faithful are probably making a decision about my choice of a pellet smoker. Why? Because it’s a trendy thing that isn’t quite the traditional way of smoking. Huh? What are you talking about? I’ll explain.

Traditional smoking involves an actual fire and using flavoring wood for smoke. Usually, this is done in an “offset smoker” or “kettle.” The person smoking must add or remove fire depending on how hot the grill gets and has to add the flavoring wood. The pellet grill uses a different method: pellets are automatically fed from a hopper into a small burning unit when the temperature of the grill dips and needs more heat.

I got a pellet grill because I can set the temperature, stick a probe in my meat and monitor it wirelessly on an app on my phone. It’s pretty easy.

One thing to note, there’s a new grill that uses charcoal that has just become kinda popular, it’s called a “gravity grill”.

Now that’s explained, I can tell you from my experience with my pellet grill smoker that there are a few items that you’re going to need to be successful. So if you’re planning on buying a smoker for yourself or one for Father’s Day we’ve got you covered. Here are 12 things you need for smoking meat.

  • Headlamp

    What? A headlamp? Why? Yeah, this sounds crazy but to cook real pulled pork you need to cook a 9 or 10-pound hunk of pig for at least 10 hours. I’ve had cooks that have taken 15 hours. Sometimes this will require you to start or check on your grill in the middle of the night. A headlamp will keep your hands free and throw the light exactly where you need it.

    And yeah, I wake up in the middle of the night to start a cook. I’m crazy. It’s fun and it’s worth it when you taste how damn good your pulled pork is.

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  • Thick BBQ Glove

    You’re gonna need some protection for your hand. I bought a pair of these gloves but you know a little secret? I’ve never used both at the same time. I find that I’ve only ever used one of these because – for whatever reason – I use the other hand for something that requires more dexterity. So, maybe you just need one of these. But you’ll

    definitely need one because, even though we’re smoking low and slow… that low will still burn the crap out of you.

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  • Long Tongs

    Yep. Long ones. Like bigger than you think. It gets hot and crowded in there and the longer you can reach, the better you’re gonna be. Trust me on this, there ain’t no love for short tongs.

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  • A Solid Spatula

    Again. Long. And solid. You don’t want to spend half a day working on a cook only to have that glorious piece of meat on your deck. Nope, go sturdy on this. No plastic. Ever. You want all metal or metal and wood, like this.

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  • A tube

    The big complaint about a pellet smoker is that it doesn’t create as much smoke as a traditional off set smoker. And I have found in my experience that is 100% true. However, this tube can make up for that.

    Fill this tube with pure fruit wood and use some food friendly lighter fluid to get it started. Let the pellets burn for 8-12 minutes and then blow out the flames and put the smoking tube in the grill with the meat. It’ll create extra smoke flavor and make up for anything your pellet grill can’t quite do.

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  • Pure Fruit Wood Pellets

    You need to use pure fruitwood when you load pellets into a tube smoker. The pellets that you’ll use in your hopper (the main feed for a pellet grill) will be a mix of mostly hard wood like hickory or oak mixed with a little bit of fruitwood (cherry, pecan, apple) for flavor. This is because the fruitwood doesn’t burn as hot or as consistently as the hardwood; so a mix is necessary. Fruit wood is also much more expensive than hardwood, a 20 pound bag of only fruit wood pellets would be crazy expensive. But in the tube, gotta go with pure fruitwood.

    Note on pellets: Where you get your pellets and what brand makes the best pellet is an eternal discussion in the BBQ universe; like some kind of never-ending quest. My personal view is: Go for price friendly pellets in the hopper. Spend my dough on the pure fruitwood for the tube.

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  • Shopvac

    Huh? A shop vac? Necessary for BBQ? You’re clearly f’n nuts, Carl.

    No. No I’m not. Guess what you have to do with your pellet smoker after every other cook? You gotta clean that thing. The bottom of the smoker will collect tons of pellet dust and you have to get that out of there. Having a small, dedicated shopvac is perfect for this because there’s also a ton of grease in that smoker and it’s really tough to keep the vacuum parts clean. The last thing I want is to use my shopvac to clean up my SUV only to find grease from the smoker on my car. No, I try to keep the two separate OR AT THE VERY LEAST have different tools and nozzles for the vac.

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  • Gloves

    For use mainly while washing the greasy grill parts. Your hands will thank you.

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  • Probe(s)

    DO NOT buy any smoker that doesn’t come with temperature probes. One is absolute minimum. Two is good. FOUR IS WHAT I’D CALL SERIOUS. And you’re serious about this, right? If, for some reason, you need temperature probes my advice is to get something that works wirelessly with wifi so you can check the meat temp via their app. The way my pellet grill works, I can check the app from anywhere (like work or the beach or while on a mountain bike ride) to see how the meat is and what temp the grill is at. It’s friggin’ sick.

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  • Mason Jars

    You’re gonna end up with lots of rubs and sauces. I guarantee it. You’ll read up on a recipe and make it and then make it again with your own twist. Then you’ll double or triple the recipe. It’ll happen. You’re gonna need mason jars, big ones, with plenty of tops. You don’t need much else. Glass mason jars are the best. The glass doesn’t adopt any color or smell from your sauce and they’re easily washable.

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  • Dish Basin

    This thing is part of the “clean up” process for me. I got burned once cleaning my grill parts in my kitchen sink. I ended up needing a plumber to clean out the grease clog. So… do yourself a favor and get one of these, fill it with hot water and let that thing soak. Then, put on a pair of rubber gloves and clean the grill part with a scrub pad like Brillo or whatever. Your sink will thank you.

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