You know, you can’t say I didn’t try to make an effort. Last year I was super busy, but in between planning for my Austin trip, family’s visit, running a baking group, I snaped photos of project that I thought would be good for a blog entry. However, time flew and before I had the chance to get to them, it was already change of season. Now that things kind of slow down a bit, I think it’s a good time to go back and post one of the “toys” I have that will become crucial in my future culinary adventure.
Anyway, back in late last Autumn, after I returned from my Austin trip, I decided to get back into BBQ because I didn’t get very satisfying BBQ down in Texas. I looked around my house, I have a small charcoal smoker, and then I have a modified gas smoker. But both didn’t really do a great job in doing low and slow smoking. So I decided to break out something that has been hiding in my garage for years.
I bought this Bubba Keg smoker probably 3 years ago when they have some sort of closing out sale at Home Depot website. I ordered it online, had them delivered and I just put it in the garage as I was going through different kind of phase when come to cooking and baking. The smoker was about $700, but I got it for $450 during that sales. Anyway, with the help of my friend, we moved the whole box to my patio:
I have to say, putting together the whole smoker by myself could be challenging, especially I have no idea how bulky it could get. Upon open the box, it looked like everything was well packed, the support frame was on top of the Styrofoam.
Once I removed the Styrofoam, there is just a big metal keg inside:
The metal frame and leg doesn’t require any assembly, sweet!
Just for size comparison, putting the frame and the keg together sort of make my realize: “It’s going to be a big keg!”
I was going to lift the smoker keg out of the styrofoam base, but it’s way heavier than it look! So I had to open up the keg, and remove all the goodies they put inside the keg:
Hiding inside the keg were the handle, cooking rack made with cast iron, and 2nd tier cooking rack made from stainless steel, manual and a few more tools. No wonder the keg was heavy!
After read the manual, I put together the handle in no time.
With the handle on the keg, it’s so much more easy to handle the keg, and I was able to lift the whole keg up to the metal frame by myself, and got it snap in and secured it!
The smoker keg actually come with plastic tray that can be snap to the handle, pretty handy!
In term of feature, the smoker top has the vent control, marked with number for ease of heat level control.
The bottom of the keg also have vent that can be slide to close and open, very straight forward.
Inside the smoker keg, there is nothing complex, just a flame bowl for you to put charcoal.
You can put the cast iron grill rack on top of the flame bowl, or a few inches above it by resting the grill rack on the stainless steel stop.
A smaller stainless steel grill grate is provided, and you just snap onto the the cast iron grill grate.
By snapping in the stainless steel grill grate onto the cast iron grill grate, you can rotate the stainless steel grate out of the way to access the food below it, so well thought out!
To properly use the smoker keg, you need a special tool that they provided. It looks like a wand with a bend L shape end. This wand actually allow me to push the smoker vent, lift the cast iron grate, empty and scrap out the ash at the bottom of the air vent.
The next week or so, I seasoned the smoker based on the manufacturer’s instruction, and smoked some spare ribs:
The advantage of this smoker keg is that it holds heat very well, thanks to its double wall water flask way of insulation to keep heat in, while the outside of the smoker is cool to the touch. It performs as well as those ceramic smoker that coast a lot, and too heavy to move around.
Smoking spare ribs is very effortless. Within a few hours, I can smoke the spare rib to the point that the meat start to pull away from the bone, and the browning is very even.
I didn’t make my own BBQ sauce to base the rib since I have a lot of BBQ sauce stocked up. My favorite BBQ sauce is sticky , spicy and sweet, a few applications and it totally transform the ribs from dry looking slab of meat into moist tender smoke ribs.
My favorite meat to smoker is spare ribs, it’s because it’s meaty and flavorful, yet doesn’t take whole day to smoke.
Overall, I’m really glad I picked up this smoker when they were having close out sales, not only because it performs really well. But that company now sold the production to other BBQ companies. So now it get rename to Big Steel Keg, or Broil King Keg. Not only that you have a confusing market, it also have confusing price point, from $700 to $900. So, yes, it might have been an impulsive $450 purchase a few years back, now, you probably know who’s laughing and having some finger licking good smoked BBQ ribs!