Vertical water smoker

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The simple, inexpensive barrel-shaped smoker does a stellar job of transforming turkeys, pork shoulders, and spareribs into tender pieces of meat. It has a removable domed top and a firebox. You can fill the deep drip pan in the center of the smoker with water, beer, wine, or another flavorful liquid to create a moist, smoking environment. You light the fire in the bottom of the smoker and place a pan of wood chips over it. Adjust the vents on the top and bottom to obtain the desired airflow and temperature and you’re ready to smoke. The only drawback is that because of the low cooking temperature (225° to 250°F) and the moist smoking environment, your food never acquires a crisp crust.

Water smokers come in both charcoal-fired and electric models. The charcoal-fired ones require restoking every hour. You simply plug an electric water smoker in and forget about it. The ultimate difference in the taste is minimal.

What to look for when buying a water smoker: Sturdy construction; top and bottom vents to control the airflow and heat; a door in the front to allow you to add fresh charcoal and wood; a built-in thermometer.

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