BBQ’ers tend to fall into two groups, those who like to fiddle with vents and temperatures/timings, and those who like to set their BBQ up nice and simple and leave it running doing “it’s own thing”. If you fall into the keep it simple camp, then a Pit Barrel Cooker could be for you.
I’ve been cooking on the Pit Barrel cooker for a months now, as I wanted to get to know it well before writing this review. The Pit Barrel Cooker is new to the UK, but is very popular in the U.S. and Australia, but it is now available from UK Fine Foods
The Ugly Drum Smoker or UDS is a well known homemade barrel smoker, and works really well. The Pit Barrel Cooker uses this as the design basis and simplifies it, so that it’s easy for those new to smoking to get started.
It requires no assembly and is ready to go straight out of the box, it was a particularly solid barrel, of a slightly smaller size (33 gal) to regular barrel smokers (55 gal), it is heavy (18 gauge steel) with a protective porcelain enamel coat, it’s very basic for a drum smoker, but that simplicity is also one of it’s strengths.
You load up the heavy duty charcoal basket with hot coals from the chimney starter and off you go…
The recommended charcoal to use is Kingsford Original briquettes, but these are not easily available in the UK, so I experimented with a few different charcoal types, and settled on Aussie Heat Beads as the best equivalent available here in the UK.
The key it seems with this smoker is to cook at slightly higher temperatures, 140 c (280 f) which is more of a hot and fast temperature. I found the Pit Barrel Cooker holds this temperature with ease, as long as you follow the detailed instructions on the Pit Barrel Cooker Website This is why it will suit a lot of people who are new to BBQ, there are great simple instructions to follow, and very little to go wrong.
I’ve had a few great cooks in the Pit Barrel Cooker, including ribs and chicken. You can use the grate, or hang your food from the rails, on the 8 included hangers. I did this with half chickens with great results.
I found the food to keep it’s moisture really well, with lovely levels of smoke, the food generally cooked a great deal quicker than I was expecting, I’m yet to try this with some larger cuts such as pork butt or brisket, but I’ll let you know how I get on with those. The one thing I didn’t get on too well with were the 2 included rubs, I found them pretty salty, but I was able to rebalance them more to my tastes with a few added ingredients.
I’ve been really impressed with this very simple smoker, it just seems to work.
It’s also worth checking out the Amazing Ribs Review