The Brinkmann Corporation manufacturers a variety of both dry and water charcoal smokers. Water smokers use a large pan of water or marinade to baste meat during cooking and help regulate the temperature. Dry smokers cook more quickly and offer the option of adding a water pan. Both types cook at a low temperature to produce tender meat with a true smoked flavor.

Add charcoal to the fire box or pan and douse it with charcoal starter. Light the coals and allow them to burn until they develop a lighter layer of ash and all the starter has burned off---about 20 minutes.

Fill the water pan to within 1 inch of the top with water or marinade. Add wood chunks or chips to the coals and allow the smoker to heat up to 210 to 250 degrees.

Place the meat on the cooking grills and set the grills in the smoker. Arrange the meat in a single layer with spaces between each piece.

Check the charcoal and water at least every 2 hours. Keep the temperature in the ideal range of 175 to 250 degrees at all times and keep at least 3 inches of water in the pan. Regulate the smoke and temperature by adjusting the vents and doors.

Check for doneness using a meat thermometer. Most meats will be pink near the inner surface from the slow smoking process, so don't judge by color.

Tip

Opening the vents makes a hotter fire. Closing them gives food a smokier flavor. The temperature on the top grill will be 20 to 30 degrees warmer than on the bottom grill. Cooking different meats together is fine. Each will have its own flavor. Dry smokers can cook at lower temperatures than water smokers.

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Meg Jernigan

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.