At Saddleback, Craft BBQ all starts with the type of smoker that we use. We use a completely wood fired reverse flow smoker to get the best results. In order to get the best smoke possible to give you the best tasting food we have to burn all wood (no gas fired smokers here). Sure, it would be easier and we would sleep more if we used a gas fired smoker, but we think an all wood smoker offers our customers the best possible BBQ flavor.
What is a Reverse Flow Smoker?
Smokers are pretty primitive designs. You have a fire box to provide heat to cook your food and the smoke stack helps by pulling the heat and smoke across your food to flavor it. Where the fire box and smoke stack are located in relation to each other defines what type of smoker it is. With an offset smoker the stack is on the opposite side of the fire box and is offset to the fire box. On a reverse flow the fire box and stack are on the same side. The smoke travels down the length of the cooking chamber and then reverses and leaves the stack on the same side as the fire box. Why do we like the reverse flow? Well since the air is going down and then back it makes the temp in the cooking chamber more even. Also, we are able to add on another cooking chamber to the back of the main chamber directly above the fire box to cook on. Since we are limited by space to cook all of our proteins the extra space is very important.
What is the importance of all wood fired smokers in providing the best BBQ?
Great question. The best, most powerful seasoning for BBQ is smoke. Rubs are important and we will explain those in another blog, but they pale in comparison to good quality smoke. Smoke is made up of quite a few different chemicals, but what mostly flavors your food are the kinds that you can't see with the naked eye. So the smoke that you can barely see, with just a slight blue tint, is what we are after. In order to get that type of smoke you need to have fires that have enough oxygen and are burning pretty efficiently. Air flow for us is of the most importance. We have actually lengthened our smoke stacks on our smokers so that they pull more air. We never, ever, use dampers to limit the flow of oxygen to our fires. Since our fires burn efficiently, with enough oxygen, we get that blue smoke we are after. Blue smoke has all the complexity that we know and love without the acrid, bitter after taste that you get with fires that burn inefficiently and have a distinctive white look to them.
If this was easy everyone would do it. We spend lots of time staring at fires and trying to predict what fires are going to do. We have to be able to keep our temps extremely consistent (225°f) for hours and hours. It takes dedication and patience to pull this off, but we believe (very strongly) that this is the only way to get you the best BBQ available. Craft BBQ.