Step 3 to my pulled pork process deals with Equipment.
Part 3 – Equip Yourself
Take a minute to inventory your equipment. Obviously you will do this before you start brining or rubbing the pork, but this brief pre-fire minute gives us a moment to review equipment strategies.
First is the smoker itself. If you own a smoker, you’re set of course. But if you don’t have one, then you have tons of options. You can go the cost effective method or you can spend as much money as you like. How and what the smoker burns varies as well. Four great smoker options:
1. Make a UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker)
These smokers are made from 55 gallon drums. They are great for a smoker on a budget. The steel frame provides heat capacity and durability needed from a good smoker. Check out The Smoke Ring Forum for UDS picture and build ideas. You can get away for under $100. It is possible if you build it yourself.
2. Buy a simple smoker
Simplicity is great with smoking BBQ. But there is usually a cost for simplicity. That cost can be financial or in your finished product. Some small smokers you find at Home Depot or Academy are junk. Be ware of thin metal and flimsy doors and hardware. They will not retain heat and will become rust buckets before you can say “Memphis Dry Rub.” Go for a good entry model like a Charbroil Deluxe ($185), Masterbuilt Gas or Electric ($189), Bradley Pellet Smoker ($235), or a Weber Smokey Mountain ($399 for the 22 1/2″)
3. Buy an Intermediate Smoker
These smokers will require more work and attention, but the product is worth it. My smoker is a Brinkman Smoke King Deluxe offset. I restored and modded this smoker a while back and it has provided great ‘Que. Bigger offset smokers and pits from Lang, Bradley, New Braunfels and others are an investment. Do your research.
4. Go Ceramic
Ceramic smokers like the Big Green Egg and Kamado are ceramic kiln like grills/smokers priced at the high-end of personal smokers. The ceramic vessel maintains temperatures as low as 200 degrees for effortless smoking.
What other hardware do you need? You need to be concerned about temperature when smoking BBQ. There are two temperatures to watch are the temperature of the pork and of the smoker. For my meat, I use the Redi Check brand of wireless thermometers. They allow instant temp data with the convenience of wireless technology. I also keep a simple pocket thermometer for spot checking temps. The temperature of your smoker is extremely crucial to successful BBQ. I recently replaced the thermometer that came with my smoker. Most are not as accurate as you would need. Competitors on the BBQ circuit swear by Tel-Tru Thermometers. I found them on special from time to time at KCK.
My next purchases in regards to thermometers will be a Thermapen and IR Gun from ThermoWorks. They also make a great Dual Thermocouple Thermometer with two probes, one for meat and one for the smokers air temp. These are the nicest products you can buy and are a must for the serious BBQ enthusiast.
Finally buy some BBQ gloves. I like the gloves from Steven Raichlen. The are great for handling meat, they are insulated and easy to clean. Gloves are perfect for shredding your pork too. Other popular tools are Bear Paws for shredding, Charcoal Chimney to get fires going, and a tool set for handling your ‘Que. Check them out as they can make life easier.
Now that you are equipped and the pork is ready, let’s smoke!