If you are fond of smoking meat, or if you are someone who cherishes being outside with family and friends, with meat on a smoker, getting cooked, while you enjoy your time outdoors with your loved ones, then you must have heard about reverse flow smokers.
Reverse flow smokers are an adaptive version of regular offset smokers. They are designed in such a way that the temperature and amount of smoke throughout the smoker remain the same, and the cooking is even all around.
Some people believe that a reverse flow smoker is a better alternative to a regular offset smoker. But actually, both are good, depending on your usage, your preference, and your ability and experience in handling these smokers.
In either case, both types of smokers have different functionality and features, and they are both good to cook deliciously smoked, rich, and aromatic meat.
What is a reverse flow smoker and how is it different from a regular offset smoker?
A major difference between a regular offset smoker and a reverse flow smoker is that in the reverse flow smoker, there is even distribution of heat and smoke with similar temperature for all the pieces of meat.
It has a metallic plate called ‘baffle.’ This plate separates the cooking chamber and the underlying fire and air chamber.
The parts of a reverse flow smoker:
A typical smoker that works on the reverse flow mechanism has the following parts that make up its whole structure:
- A cooking chamber.
- Baffle Plate
- Fire Basket
- Cooking grates
- Vents for airflow
The mechanism of action :
The reverse flow smoker works on the principle of creating a homogenous heat atmosphere inside the cooking chamber.
First off, fire is built with charcoal and wood in the firebox. This heat then passes underneath the baffle plate, making it well-heated and presenting as a barrier or partition that prevents the meat to be scorched by direct fire.
This heat and smoke travel through the chamber underneath the baffle plate, thus cooking evenly from below, and then this heat and smoke flow above the meat, therefore cooking it from above also. This way, there is a uniform or homogenous cooking environment that is established inside the cooking chamber while hot air is forced out.
Eventually, after evenly distributed throughout the cooking chamber, the airflow is reversed and then it escapes out of the cooking chamber through a smokestack which is built on the same side as that of the firebox in the unit.
Advantages of having a baffle plate in the reverse flow smoker:
The baffle plate is an integral part of an offset reverse flow smoker. It has several advantages, such as:
- The metallic baffle plate blocks the direct heat from burning or overcooking the pieces of meat that are nearest to the firebox.
- The baffle plate of a reverse flow smoker helps in creating a homogenous cooking environment. It acts as a “heat sink” and makes the heat and smoke spread evenly throughout.
- When you cook a lot of meat in the smoker, there is going to be a lot of fat dripping from all of this meat while it cooks. These fat droppings fall on the baffle plate, so it acts as a collecting tray, plus it also enhances the flavor of the meat by adding the taste of the cooking fat too.
As mentioned above, a reverse flow smoker has many advantages, such as:
- Even cooking.
- Baffle plate adding as a separator and an individual heat sink too.
- When the fire is enhanced, the temperature does not spike at irregular spaces in the cooking chamber. So, the heating zones are not multiple, and a homogenous heat is transmitted throughout and to all the meat pieces.
- The flavor is richer and enhanced because of the fat drippings that get seared on the griddle pan.
While a reverse flow smoker is an amazing smoker to have, but it has certain points that may be construed as to its drawbacks if they do not suit your cooking requirements. However, on their own, they are not its flaws.
- Because of even heat distribution, this point can be a negative for you if you want to cook meat at different temperature zones.
- The airflow is restricted, so it can affect the cleanliness of the burn.
- This appliance takes more time to heat up because the heat and smoke have to travel farther throughout the chamber, and the baffle plate has to be optimally heated too to start cooking.
- Requires more fuel because fire has to be kept on for a longer period.
- Increased cooking time.
- In some models of a reverse flow smoker, the baffle plate is welded and is not easy to take out to clean thoroughly after every cooking. However, newer and more advanced models have easily removable baffle plates.
Uses of a reverse smoker:
If you are looking out for a longer and slower cooking session, then a reverse flow smoker is ideal for you.
Also, if you are a beginner and you do not have much experience in handling the heat and temperature zones, then you should use a reverse flow smoker because you will not have to constantly worry about the various temperature zones and burning of meat in one place.
This also does not require your constant “baby-sitting” and you do not have to flip the sides of the meat at regular intervals because of the even heat distribution mechanism.
Uses of a regular smoker:
When you are pro at smoking and handling different temperature zones, or you are cooking meat that requires various temperature zones to get properly cooked, then a regular offset smoker is ideal for you.
Also, it allows added airflow and is slightly more fuel-efficient, so that is an added advantage if you want to decrease your cooking time a little bit too.