For the last several years I have wanted to purchase a smoker and try my hand with this method of cooking. I never did because I was too aprehensive - was it difficult to operate? Did it take a lot of prep work? What seasonings should I use? A week before this last Christmas, I made a comment (and not with the intention of this being a hint for a gift) about this while in the grocery store shopping with my wife. Unbeknownst to me, she made a phone call and with the assistance of several of my co-workers at Bass Pro Shops, she was educated on the many different types of smokers we carried, made a purchase of one and with the help of our three children, presented me with a new Masterbuilt 30" Electric Smoker complete with digital keypad (price $239.99) on Christmas Day.
For the next several weeks, they continually asked me when I was going to use the smoker and what I planned on cooking. I decided that even if I wasn't going to use it at the time, I would take some time and put it together. Bad planning on my part - it took longer to remove the smoker from the box and take the components out of their wrapping, than it did to put it together. The only tool needed was a Phillips-head screwdriver (for two screws) and within 10 minutes my smoker was assembled. I read the owner's manual and learned that for best results I needed to "season" the smoker before first using it. I bought a small bag of mesquite wood chips from Bass Pro Shops (price $4.99) and began the simple "seasoning" process - I plugged the smoker into an electrical outlet outside my garage, set the temperature (275 degrees) and time (3 hours) using the digital controller and went about completing some other tasks. I added a small amount of chips at the specified time and after three hours, the process was complete.
For my first attempt at using the smoker, I decided to try something that I thought would be easy and inexpensive - chicken. I bought two whole chickens from the grocery (price $11) and applied some dry-rub seasoning (purchased from the wide selection available at Bass Pro Shops - price $6.99) to them. I completed a few other preparation steps - added wood chips, filled pan with water, lined the bottom pan with aluminum foil and set the temperature and time. Three and a half hours later, I removed the chickens from the smoker, let them cool for 20 minutes and ate dinner - everyone raving about the taste and tenderness of the food. The meat, literally, fell off the bone.
Prepping and cooking the food was easy. Now came the hard part - the clean up. Or so I thought.
I removed and cleaned the racks, emptied and cleaned the water pan, removed the aluminum foil from the bottom pan, wiped it clean and wiped down the door seal. I hand-dried all of the components, placed them back in the smoker and was done in just under 20 minutes.
The entire process was simple and easy. The food tasted great and everyone gave suggestions on what to fix next.
Thanks to all of my co-workers for their time, suggestions, guidance and advice. All of it resulted in a great meal and turned a "smoking" novice into someone eager to use this cooking method again.
If you are interested and intrigued in this cooking method, don't wait to get started. All of us want to be the talk of the family, friends, neighborhood, etc. when it comes to cooking. Everything you need for cooking outdoors is available at Bass Pro Shops. We have a great selection of products, excellent prices and a knowledge staff. Remember ... Memorial Day is fast approaching.
Group Sales Manager
Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World