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posted: 6/5/2013 6:00 AM

Rigs for grilling and smoking

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By Jim Shahin
Special to The Washington Post

If you're in the market for a rig that can handle both grilling and smoking, here are things to keep in mind:

Design: The firebox should be large enough and positioned properly to distribute the smoke and heat evenly throughout the cooking chamber.

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Construction: The better smokers have metal fireboxes and heavy metal cooking chambers.

Ease of cleanup: Look for an ample ashpan or other mechanism.

Cooking space: I don't care about the secondary shelf, the one that goes atop the basic grate, because I don't like meats dripping down on the meats below them, even if they are the same (brisket above brisket, say); it makes the meats below greasy and softens the crispy exterior that, in barbecue circles, is known as bark.

Size: There needs to be enough space to fully open the cooking chamber's lid and its firebox.

Cost: You can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000.

Adjustable grate: It brings the fire closer to a steak for a good char and can be used to position foods farther away, such as a gentler treatment of zucchini.

Cooking surface: Do you need enough space to feed a party of 20 or more? Or will you be cooking mostly for the family and small dinner parties?

Style: I grew up using an offset smoker, and I prefer it to vertical boxes. But box- and bullet-shaped smokers take up less room. Lots of people swear by them.

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