If you want to invest in a smoker you need to check out the Big Easy Smoker, Roaster and Grill from US barbecue giants Char-Broil®. Read my review below.
When I say the word “barbecue” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you think of black, crispy pork sausages still raw in the middle or do you think of slow cooked pork ribs infused with the aromas of hickory smoke. For me, it’s the latter. I’ve really gotten the American Barbecue bug so I was delighted when an email from US barbecue giants Char-Broil® landed in my inbox. They’ve sent me a ‘Big Easy’ to try out and review. I may even share a few recipes designed especially for cooking in a smoker. The American’s know a thing or two about barbecued food – so it goes without saying that they know a thing or two about barbecues too. Right?
Why buy a smoker?
For lots of people in the UK, barbecuing involves standing over a metal grill which has been placed above a shallow layer of piping hot coals. We are often impatient and put the food on too early cooking our meat and veggies hard and fast, resulting in food that is both burnt on the outside AND raw in the middle. Pit barbecue, or American style barbecue, on the other hand focusses on low and slow cooking where the food is infused with smoke.
I love regular barbecue grilling as much as the next person but slow cooked, smoked barbecue has had a special place in my heart since I visited Shotgun in Soho, just off of Carnaby Street. The depth of flavour they got into their meat was phenomenal. I will never forget tasting burnt ends for the first time. I knew then that I wanted to learn how to smoke food to perfection.
Some mainstream barbecues purport to be capable of smoking food but if you really want to become a pro at this exciting way of cooking then you’re going to need to invest in a smoker and that’s where the Big Easy Smoker, Roasted and Grill comes in.
The Big Easy can be used to make smoked ribs, brisket, pulled pork, whole chickens, sausage and more! Jon and I have been having lots of fun smoking vegetables, halloumi and even tofu proving that a smoker isn’t just for carnivores but it can add lots of flavour to vegetarian food too. Smoked food is like normal barbecue favour miltiplied by 100! What’s not to love.
Watch this space for recipes made using the Char-Broil® Big Easy coming very soon!
Char-Broil® are a well known barbecue brand in the US bringing the first charcoal barbecue to market in 1948, and they are now attempting to break into the European BBQ market.
They pride themselves on making barbecues for everyone. Whether you are a beginner or accomplished BBQ chef, prefer gas or charcoal, they’ve got a BBQ for you! The Big Easy was the barbecue with my name on it and I was so excited when it finally arrived!
The Big Easy Set up
When your Big Easy arrives it will come in a rather large box, part assembled. When you take it out of the box it’s important to remove each and every part making sure you’ve taken off all off the protective packaging. Much of it will then just get slotted back inside itself but there are a few fiddly bits of assembly you’ll need to do first.
The hardest part of the assembly is connecting the gas hose and the electrical connection which creates the spark. Once they are all connected the rest is a doddle. Just a few screws here and there to attach the legs and the lid, and before you know it your Big Easy is complete. Because my Big Easy came quite late in the day we ended up building it inside. It is quite heavy to move so you’ll probably need two of you for that part. The rest can be done by just one person.
If you do find yourself struggling there are quite a few Youtube videos where lovely American men show you how to assemble the smoker. Aren’t they nice?!
Once the smoker has been built you’ll need to attach it to a propane or butane gas tank. This will depend on the type of connection you have but don’t worry that’s all detailed in the instructions. Attaching the gas tank is again incredibly easy and even though I’m usually petrified of playing with gas and fire even I found the process a doddle.
Fire up the smoker
Once the gas is attached all that’s left to do is fire up the smoker. Our Big Easy has been really reliable so far and we find it usually takes just one click of the ignition for the gas to catch. We then load up the smoke box with wood chips (hickory is currently our favourite) and we start cooking!
Inside the smoker you’ll find a cooking rack which can be configured depending on what it is you are cooking. In the photo below you’ll see how I have taken out the internal shelves so that I can hang ribs (make sure you get rib hooks included). The individual shelves slot on really easily meaning you could (for example) roast two whole chickens at the same time! In fact the cooking rack and grill have a capacity to cook up to 11kg of poultry and vegetables!
There’s even a grill that sits on top of the smoker which can be used to cook all sorts from halloumi to steak, vegetables and seafood. It’s so very versatile!
Char Broil are particularly proud of the technology behind this smoker. IT uses the “TRU-Infrared cooking system” which means that it can offer juicier results, better heat distribution, precise cooking control and faster cooking times (less gas!)
In contrast to conventional gas barbecues or grills which use convection heat (hot air) to grill the food, the TRU-Infrared system actually reduces the amount of hot air which comes into contact with the food, this means that the food retains a moisture barrier sealing in the natural juices of the meat. It also prevents flare-ups which ordinarily result in food getting scorched. With the TRU-Infrared cooking system it’s easy to slow-roast at temperatures of 100°C through to searing heat of 400°C! Clever stuff right?
I’ve already mentioned how easy it is to assemble, fire it up, and stock it full of meat to slow roast. But it also comes with some other handy features.
There are hooks on the back of the Big Easy which allow you to store the accessories you aren’t using, such as the grill or shelves of the cooking basket. There’s also a handy meat thermometer so you can be sure your meat is at the perfect temperature and a removable grease tray so that you can clean up easily. We all know there’s nothing worse than cleaning the barbecue!
Now I don’t want to sound like a advert…how have I really got on with the Big Easy?
It’s been great! I have quite simply been addicted to using it. The first time I’ll admit I had the heat up too high. My ribs were cooked to perfection and instead of taking them out I went to the kitchen to cut up some cornbread, and assemble a platter of pickles and slaw to go with them. By the time I came back they were overdone. I should’ve taken them out or turned them down at the very least but you live and learn!
Second time round I used it for a gathering of 8 hungry adults and 6 kids. I tried my rib recipe again as well as some brisket and both went down a treat! It was very handy being able to put the shelves on just one side of the cooking basket so that I could hang ribs the full length of the smoker and still cook the brisket in the centre.
I’ll be using the smoker for the third time this weekend when we have some friends over with their little one, our godson. I’ll be doing a joint of pulled pork which we will then put on top of burgers cooked on the grill.
I’ll have to make sure I share these recipes with you as soon as I’ve had a chance to write them up. The other problem is taking photos before someone devours the food! No one wants to see pictures of half eaten ribs…
The Char-Broil® Big Easy Smoker, Roaster and Grill will set you back £299.99 and is available online and from selected stores across the UK including: Homebase, B&Q, Amazon, Argos and all good garden centres! If you want to find out more information or check out a list of stockists then visit www.charbroil.eu .
I’m really looking forward to getting my Big Easy out again over the May bank holiday. Order yours and we can smoke along together!