I've found that pellet smokers are a great way cook meats and get authentic wood fire smoked flavor. Fill the hopper with pellets, set the temperature, and turn it on. After the startup, the fire is self sustaining. The pellets are fed at the correct rate for the desired temperature.
You can find pellets made of almost any type of wood. There are even garlic and onion flavored pellets available. The pellets are made to produce very little ash, so cleaning the ash pan is a minor job. Just make sure to use bbq pellets made for smokers and grills, and not fuel pellets made for heating.
Maintenance Is Minimal
You'll need to occasionally empty the ash pan, and make sure the burn box is clean and the air holes are clear. Other than that, general cleaning of the grates and surfaces is all that's needed.
They are versatile, and can be used to low and slow smoke, or high temp grill. Pellet smokers can reach a grilling temperature of 600 degrees. Some have only a few temperature settings…grill, barbecue, and smoke. Others have full range temperature control, similar to your kitchen oven.
The temperature is controlled by the feed rate of pellets into the burn box. A higher temperature setting feeds more pellets to the fire. A fan pushes air into the burning pellets, which then circulates into the smoking/grilling area. The fan creates convection cooking, which prevents hot spots, decreases cooking time, and evenly distributes the smoke.
Pellet smokers require an electrical outlet for the initial starting of the pellets, and for the motor driven feed-auger and the blower fan to operate.
Pellet smokers are on the expensive side, but if you want convenient wood smoking, these are the way to go.
You are limited to using only smoker pellets as fuel, but at under a dollar a pound, it's not that bad. Traeger pellet grills will use one-half pound per hour when smoking, so a ten-hour smoke would cost you less than five bucks. That's very comparable to what it would cost using charcoal.
Pellet smokers have great features and are easy to use. They'll smoke, and grill, and anything in between. There are several manufacturers of pellet grills and smokers. Louisiana Grills, Traeger, and American Grills are a few that come to mind.
While these smokers can be more expensive than others, the convenience they offer would make them a perfect choice for smoker chefs with limited time on their hands.