Former BBQ U Alumnus - Electric Smoker or Wood Smoker with Oven?

Joined May 29, 2011
I posted this earlier, but it never made it into the thread, so I thought I'd try again.

First off, as a BBQ University Alum (Class of '09), I wanted to let you know that my grilling interests and prowess has only increased since attending BBQ U and I have you to thank for that.    I'd recommend BBQ U to anyone who is considering the experience.  Great people, a spectacular location and, of course, wonderful instruction.

My question relates to electric smokers vs wood smokers and the use of a conventional oven to "finish off" low and slow cooking of pork shoulders.  As much as I enjoy preparing pork shoulders and ribs, many times I don't have the time to dedicate to watching the smoker all day.  To that end, I have two questions:

1)  What is your opinion of electric smokers?  Those who use the Cookshack brand seem to swear by it, but Im concerned that the crispy bark that I experience with my Horizon wood smoker will be lost (along with compromising taste).  The "set it and forget it" aspect of such machines are tempting, though...What has been your experience with such smokers?

2)  What is your opinion of using a wood smoker for the first 4 or 5 hours to absorb the smoke and then wrapping the shoulders in tin foil and allowing them to cook in the oven at 225 degrees for the remainder of the time.  My friends and I debate this technique all the time...They contend that it's basically the same because the shoulder won't absorb any additional smoke after 4 hours or so....Somehow I think there's more to it.

Many thanks...
Joined May 5, 2011
Hello, again, BBQJohnNYC! BBQU 2011 begins the week after next. Wish you could join us again. We have an all-new menu inspired by barbecue cultures around the world, as well as some new grills that we're anxious to debut. Some of your former "classmates" will be "repeating"--but not because they flunked the final exam...

Although I personally prefer smoking with wood, I have nothing against electric smokers: They can produce fine results. If anything, they are almost too easy! We used them occasionally on my old show, "Barbecue University," but I don't have enough experience to recommend one over the other. (Do you remember my assistant, Nancy, from BBQ U? She has been doing a lot of barbecuing recently on Traeger pellet grills, citing the ease of "set it and forget it". It works, she says, much like a convection oven, but runs on pellets made from natural wood.)

I don't think there's any shame in transferring pork butt or brisket or other long-cooking meats to the oven to finish if that works best for you. 

(Tell any skeptics "that's how they do it in Tuscany." Ha!)  Same for foiling, although you will lose some integrity in your bark. I often foil brisket as I don't want it to dry out during the long cook.

You are correct in saying smoke absorption slows down after 3 or 4 hours. 

Bottom line? Do what works as long as you are putting great food on the table. Enjoy what's left of the holiday.


Joined Jun 16, 2011
Hi steven,

Recently I been caught up with all your bbq stuff and would like to ask you a couple of question concerning barbecue.

1)I interested to know those gadget available in your store, do you demostrate how to use them?

2)Is there in your book, a chapter on whole lamb roast on a spit, is the spit available in your store and whether u provide recipe such as rub and graze?

3)How do use a marinade injector and does it make the bird more tasty?

Thanks very much,

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