Game changers. That's what I call those things that appear in my life that makes the complex simple and bring about awesome results every time. I have had yet another "game changer" enter my life in the past couple of weeks: an electric smoker.

It seems that this is a growing trend in my neighborhood. I couldn't help but notice the smell of wood and meat in the air and the number of people outside cooking their feasts every weekend. Then, a friend let me taste the results. I fell in love immediately.

I grew up in the South. Memphis to be exact. That is the home to the International BBQ Fest that happens along the Mississippi River every May. It's also home to the best dry rub ribs you could ever put in your mouth. It is important to note that their ribs are smoked over an open flame. Almost everything is cooked over open flame, with their delicious fried chicken being a notable exception. So me getting an electric smoker is a bit blasphemous to my peeps in Memphis. But, as I've learned on YouTube...."Honey Badger Don't Care." I wanted delicious ribs no matter the delivery system.

I did my research. I learned a lot about the different styles, sizes, and manufacturers of the electric smoker. For example, Masterbuilt does not provide the exact model at different stores. The Masterbuilt you see at Home Depot will not be the same at Lowe's. There's something different and unique at each store. I also looked at the Bradley smoker. It has a self-feeding mechanism on the side that feeds round wood biscuits into the smoker. This is a "put it in and forget about it" kind of smoker. It's also very reasonably priced. There's also a Traeger smoker that a friend of mine has that uses pellets for flavor. It looks more like a regular grill and has the smoke box on the side. Everybody who has one raves about it.

I went with the Masterbuilt due to budget and because I can try different brands of wood chips.I also found a lot of positive reviews from long time owners.

Not long after getting it home, I started to game plan my first cook. I mean, I got real nerdy with it. I wanted to do four racks of pork ribs with each prepared and cooked differently so that we could get a good sample and find the perfect combination. I got four toothpicks and colored the ends in red, orange, green, and black, then I wrote out the game plan. Yeah, I went that nerdy:
RED:
Meat: Sam's Club
Prep: 18 hrs before
Pre-rub: Olive Oil
Rub: Spicy Siracha
Placement: Middle-high
Sauce: Famous Dave's

GREEN:
Meat: Sam's Club
Prep: 18 hrs before
Pre-Rub: Mustard
Rub: Sweet Honey Cajun
Placement: Medium-High
Sauce: Sweet Baby Rays

ORANGE:
Meat: Sam's Club
Prep: 18 hrs before
Pre-Rub: Mustard
Rub: Yardbird Rub
Placement: Medium-low
Sauce: Jack Daniels

BLACK:
Meat: Sam's Club
Prep: 18 hrs before
Pre-Rub: Olive Oil
Rub: Smokey Chipolte
Placement: Medium-low
Sauce: NO SAUCE

You might wonder about "placement". There are four levels inside of my Masterbuilt and I wanted to find out if there was any advantage to its location. Turns out, no. They all turned out about the same.

Along with the ribs, I also had some side dishes: Mac & Cheese and potato's. I found those recipe's online. While the ribs turned out perfect, I had issues with Mac & Cheese and potato's. Ironic. Two of the easiest side dishes I could choose were the only downsides to my experience. The problem was with the preparation, not the smoker.

The other fun benefit to the smoker is that it takes a while to do its job which allows me to participate in one of my favorite pastimes: lounging with friends and family while drinking my favorite adult beverage.

As I continue to experiment and try different things, I will write about it and let you know. If you'd like to do the same, my email is doc@tri1025.com.