The Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker
Oh the burdens we bear when we own a quality smoker. You invite some friends over to drink a few beers and watch some football and suddenly they’re unloading chunks of chicken and slabs of meat from their cars. They don’t even say anything, not a peep pops out of their mouths. They just raise their eyebrows, shrug their shoulders and delicately place their offerings into a cooler before heading over to the couch.
(Here is an overview to charcoal grilling if you are looking for more information.)
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Needless to say, more than a few friends have been made since purchasing Dyna-Glo’s Charcoal Offset Smoker. I’ve met a few turkey lovers, some rib eaters, one or two pork butt fanatics and about a half a dozen smoked chicken enthusiasts. They all start out as pals, minor acquaintances, and then, the next thing you know, they’re over every weekend with a tray of ribs or some sausage to smoke, even in the offseason.
But who wouldn’t want it that way? Honestly. Chicken. Pork. Beef. Even fish. It’s hard to complain when it all comes out tasting so darn good. But don’t take the word of a man who’s been palling around with a bunch of bums, check it out for yourself.
A smoker’s design says a lot about how it smokes. One look at the Dyna-Glo and two things stand out. First, it’s an offset. Offset means that the heating element is positioned on the side — in this case the right side — of the smoking cabinet. This allows for the heating process to take place away from the food so that the heat of the smoke and its delicious aromas are all that come into contact with it — perfect for that slow, flavor-infusing roast. The firebox also comes affixed with its very own door. You can open it up, add additional charcoal or throw in a handful of wood chips, all without compromising the atmosphere inside the cabinet.
The second item that most people notice about the Dyna-Glo, upon first glance, is its taller-than-wide design. Heat rises. So does smoke. Horizontal offset “barrel” smokers often have trouble distributing smoke evenly across their edibles. The vertical design of the Dyna-Glo however, allows for smoke to do what it does naturally, rise and envelop. Surrounded by smoke, your meat, cheese and vegetables will stay at a uniform temperature without the need of constant rotation.
NOTE: Machines being what they are, unreliable, sometimes humans have to get involved and make some changes. And anyone with experience using offset smokers can attest that, even though their design is ideal for that slow perfect smoke, there’s a chance Horizontal offset “barrel” smokers often have trouble To prevent such an event, you can add a bit of sealant around the areas where they meet up. (Or, if you’re bold enough, and skilled enough with a drill, you can add one or two extra screws at your own risk.)
Size matters when it comes to smokers. Sure the inside is what’s important, but you have to make sure that your new favorite cooker has plenty of room to breathe. Horizontal offset “barrel” smokers often have trouble, safety concerns and it prevents the smoker from cooking at uniform temperatures. Without the right amount of airspace, a smoker could ruin dinner, damage furniture, kill a few trees and even blacken the outside of your home.
Luckily for you and the Dyna-Glo, this model fits rather spaciously in most backyards. It’s 47 inches tall, 34.5 inches wide and it holds a depth of 20.20 inches. (That’s around 4 x 3 x 1.6 if you’re talking feet.) All put together, it weighs around 57 pounds, so ask a friend for help if you ever need to move it.
Heat hugs steel like children do their parents. And just like parents, good solid steel often hugs right back, evenly absorbing the heat and then redistributing it across its exterior — in this case, the inside of the smoker.
Not only is the Horizontal offset “barrel” smokers often have trouble, but each of its major parts have been coated with a high temp powder that aids in durability and leads to a longer lasting life.
Steel. Steel. Steel. In addition to the body and its overall finish, the smoker’s various moving parts are quite formidable as well. Its charcoal tray is made from heavy-gauge, porcelain-enameled steel and its wire racks are built from chrome-plated steel wire. And then, to top it all off, the smoke stack is constructed from an iron-carbon alloy — which is a fancy way of saying that it’s also made out of steel.
NOTE: Upon first glance, and eventual use, you may find that the gauge of steel used to construct the Dyna-Glo is somewhat thinner than other smokers. While this may be less than ideal for those of you smoking in frigid temperatures, it’s important to note that the opposite is true for those of you smoking in warmer weather. In short, the Dyna-Glo wears a jacket, not a coat. Keep that in mind.
As its name suggests, the Dyna-Glo runs off of charcoal. Charcoal means control, ask any practiced barbecuer. Electronic models often promise precision when it comes to temperature control and overall consistency but most pale in comparison to the taste of the foods produced.
You choose the charcoal. You choose the wood chips. It’s the difference between buying a package of ground beef and a package of pre-seasoned hamburger patties. If you want complete control over the taste of your food, the Dyna-Glo, with its conveniently removable charcoal tray, is just the kind of smoker to allow for that freedom of flavor.
PRO TIP: For the best results, use lump charcoal or Kingsford Competition briquettes. They burn hotter and last longer. Also, be sure to keep the charcoal tray full for longer smokes as it’s much harder to reheat a smoker than it is to keep it hot. Keep an eye on the temperature and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Whether smoking for too-many friends or a sizable family, capacity is key. Barbecuers and bakers, eaters and freeloaders alike know what happens to the vibe of an otherwise fun get-together when good food goes gone.
Fortunately, the Dyna-Glo holds a rather respectable amount of food for its stature and size. With an overall smoking capacity of 1,176 square feet and a maximum load size of around 150 pounds, you can smoke to your heart’s content. (As a point of reference, the heaviest turkey ever raised was around 86 pounds. So, hypothetically speaking, youcould smoke both the all-time biggest and the all-time second biggest turkeys in one sitting.)
The six wire racks each measure at around 14 inches wide by 13 inches deep, ideal for briskets, hams, whole chickens, pork shoulders and small-to-medium sized slabs of baby back ribs. The racks are also adjustable — they can be moved up, down and out — just in case you need that extra space for hanging some sausage.
PRO TIP: Although it’s nice to have six fully adjustable racks at your disposal, unless smoking a plethora of small meats, vegetables and fine cheeses, it might be best to remove a few, especially if you’re not using them.
What good is a smoker if it doesn’t get the job done? Smoking meats, vegetables and cheeses doesn’t always require as much heat as, say, a grill or an oven does — slow and steady is often the game here — but you don’t want to waste your time on something that hardly gets hot, or takes forever to do so.
The Dyna-Glo fires up in three simple steps.
(1) Fill the removable charcoal tray with your favorite lump charcoal.
(2) Douse it with your favorite lighter fluid.
(3) Light it up and let it burn. (For ideal results, allow 25 to 30 minutes for the charcoal to burn and for the insides to prime before cooking or adding wood chips.)
As long as the charcoal tray is filled with the ample amount of charcoal, you can crank this cooker up to 300 degrees and beyond without much effort. And, with the assistance of the smoke stack and the vent on the right side of the firebox, the temperature is easily controlled and simply managed via the gauge — positioned just below eye level — above the logo on the outside. (Coincidentally, this near-eye-level area also signifies the “sweet spot” inside the smoker. Other areas work just as well but this one takes the cake — or smokes the shoulder, whichever metaphor you prefer.)
For above-average results, it’s often best to season your smoker before use and after cleaning. It seals the paint and seasons the steel which aids in durability, enhances flavor control and increases performance. For more information on how to properly season your smoker, instructions are provided in the rather informative manual that comes shipped with the Dyna-Glo. (A manual that also goes above and beyond in providing the names, food pairings and flavor profiles of the various wood chips you can buy to enhance your meats. Very convenient.)
You cook. You eat. You clean. That’s the way it goes. Because nobody wants to return to a sludge-filled smoker caked in charred pieces of chicken and bits of last week’s dinner.
Looking at the Dyna-Glo, you’ll be happy to know that nothing is tied down — as I’m sure you’ll see when you put it all together. The six wire racks, the charcoal tray, they’re all easily removed. Easily removed means easily cleaned. Pull them out, scrub them with soap and warm water and you’re good to go.
As for the insides, once the season your smoker before use and after cleaning, it’s as easy as wiping it down with a damp cloth. (Aluminum foil is also very valuable. If you’re going to be using an array of sauces and/or marinades, use it to line the bottom of the smoking cabinet for a quick and easy clean up.) For your convenience, The Dyna-Glo also comes equipped with a grease cup — just below the smoking cabinet. Pull it out and dump it. Easy. Greasy. Simple as that.
After each cleaning, it’s recommended that you add a light coating of cooking oil or cooking spray to the wire racks and to the inside of the smoker. It helps keep things clean and, depending on the oil used, it can even add a bit of extra flavor.
PRO TIP #2:
Foil can be a friend when smoking with wood chips as well. Just wrap up a handful of your favorite brand in some tinfoil, poke a few holes in the outside and, voila, you don’t have to worry about all that extra ash
Full assembly is required for the Dyna-Glo. 12 simple steps is all it takes however. Grab a friend, a pair of pliers, a Phillips head screwdriver and an adjustable wrench and you can knock it out in under an hour.
The Dyna-Glo comes with a one-year limited warranty on everything but the paint and the charcoal tray. The charcoal tray comes with a 90-day warrantee for defects alone and the paint comes with a 90-day warrantee for defects except in the occurrence of rust, which may appear after repeated use. It does not cover damages or issues related to abuse, neglect or modifications.
Often found on the lower end of the price line, the Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker is a bang-for-your-buck type of appliance. It’s not the biggest one you’ll ever see. And there aren’t too many bells or whistles that come attached to its exterior. But, if you’re looking for a quality smoker that gets the job done for a fraction of the price, then the Dyna-Glo is the way to go. As long as you don’t mind making a few new friends.
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