On our extended hunt for the best, not-too-massive city grill, we called up Myron Mixon, the winningest man in barbecue (he’s the four-time Grand Champion at the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis). While he has a lot of space where he’s from in Georgia, he told us that if he lived in New York City, he wouldn’t actually get a grill — he’d get a smoker. Here’s his reasoning:
“If I had a small amount of outdoor space and had to pick between a grill and a smoker, I’d choose a smoker. When you’re grilling, you get the char because it’s quick and you’re right above the flame, but a smoker uses wood chips to infuse a lot more smokey flavor into the meat, while still leaving a charlike crust. To me, that’s what barbecue is about: the smoke. That’s what makes the difference. Smoking things might take more time — say a steak that takes 8 minutes on a grill might take 15 minutes on a smoker — but you turn out a better product. Always.
“I’d get the Masterbuilt. It’s a digital smoker, so you can actually punch in the temperature you want and it takes you right there from 100 degrees to 275 degrees in just a few minutes. At this small size, most other smokers don’t have that capability. It also has a box on the side for your little wood chips to feed the coal and give it that extra bit of smoke, which is essential. It’s got 730 square inches of cooking space with four chrome racks, so it’s got a lot of space and it’s easy to clean. I actually build smokers for a living, but those are way too big for a city space. This one is just as good as anything bigger, but it only weighs around 45 pounds, so it’s really light and very easy to maneuver up to an apartment. Plus, it’s affordable.
“Some people think you can’t cook everything on a smoker, but they’re wrong: This smoker works whether you’re doing hot dogs and steaks or pork and ribs. For a hot dog, you just put it in the smoker and come back in 15 minutes. No need to watch over it, flip it, or anything. I usually like to put a little barbecue rub on it, and that gives it a nice little crunch. The truth is, everything that someone would want to barbecue you can cook with the Masterbuilt smoker, and it’s much more delicious.”