All about Reverse Flow & Offset Smoker
You are familiar with offset smokers as they have been used for ages, and many people like to smoke meat on offset smokers for the best taste and aroma. But there are different types of offset smokers available to smoke meat in different styles and sizes. Some offset smokers are of small size and some are large, but they work differently depending on their designs and features. An offset smoker not only smokes the meat but it can be used to bake, grill, sear, roast, etc. Offset smokers are of many types like electric, reverse flow, regular offset smokers, stick burner, wood smokers, etc. The most efficient, famous, and demanding offset smokers are of two types reverse flow and horizontal/vertical offset smokers. They both smoke or grill the meat, but they have different designs and working methods.
What is Reverse Flow Offset Smokers?
In the reverse flow offset smoker, there are baffle plates, and these plates are used to redirect the heat or air from the firebox to the chimney, but it passes through the food and cooking chamber. It provides an even flow of heat for the perfect smoked meat. Inside the reverse flow, the air is forced to travel to maintain the temperature. People know and use the reverse flow offset smokers as an alternative to the regular offset smoker.
What is Heat Baffle in Reverse Flow Smoker?
At the top of the griddle, the cooking racks are placed. The heat flows twice from the cooking grates in the reverse flow system. The baffle plate is present, which is fat searing and is welded griddle. It helps the food sizzle and sears with the perfect flavor, aroma, and texture full of moisture and tenderness. As the meat is cooked, the fat starts melting, and it comes out and starts searing on the hot griddle.
Benefits of Baffle Plates
- The baffles plates help improve the flow of air and heat throughout the reverse flow offset smoker.
- These plates help to block the direct heat from the firebox, which can overcook or burn when the meat is placed directly and close to the firebox.
- It helps in the flow of even heat distribution or temperature and works as a heat sink and greases the pan, as the fat drips on the grill and sears the meat, which produces better flavors to the meat.
Working of the Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
The reverse flow smokers work differently from the regular offset smokers. They work in the following way:
- The meat is prepared first; season or marinate the meat with the required flavors and sauces.
- You can also put the meat in the fridge for more than 8 hours or overnight. If not, then use it without waiting for long hours.
- Prepare the starter for building a fire. Place the starter over the charcoal or wood splits in the firebox. Use flavored wood splits for strong taste if desired.
- Now adjust the dampers and maintain the heat at about 225 degrees F. This temperature is perfect for almost every type of meat for smoking.
- Start by placing the meat on the cooking grates and then close the lids.
- After every hour, add the fuel into the firebox, or if the temperature starts cooling down, add more fuel into it.
- Try to use wood splits as they are perfect for maintaining the temperature for longer use.
- Use meat probes to check or maintain the meat’s temperature and internal temperature.
- Keep on monitoring until the meat is tender and moist.
- Remove the meat and start serving on the plate with some grilled vegetables or sauces.
The wood or charcoal is burned to generate the perfect heat and smoke in an offset smoker. It is not easy to maintain the heat inside the cooking area and sometimes it produces a bad taste or it is difficult to manage or handle. A firebox is attached to the side of the main cooking area. The cooking area is larger than the firebox. The cooking chamber is like a barrel, or it can be a vertical rectangular box. The firebox is also like a square box, or it can be cylindrical. It does not matter what design the firebox is. It works the same. The exhaust is present at the top or side of the cooking chamber through which the heat flows out. Through these exhausts and vents, the heat is maintained. Buy the offset smoker, which is made of good quality steel and has been used for years with the perfect result. It also retains the heat perfectly.
If the regular offset smokers are used, the cooking methods are different, and their costs and features are different. In the offset smoker, the heat flows in one direction only. It can cook the food unevenly sometimes if the frozen meat is used.
Better Smoking Method: Standard vs Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
The offset smoker gives clean and good airflow for cooking. In reverse flow, there is a more uniform temperature. Some cook enjoys cooking in the hot zones from the direct airflow, and some likes to cook at a cooler temperature. It all depends on the cooking master where and what type of meat they want to cook.
Setting and maintaining the temperature is easy in a reverse flow offset smoker, but you need to control temperature and monitor it frequently in a regular offset smoker. Once you have built a fire, the temperature in the reverse flow offset smokers can be maintained, or heat can be adjusted by opening and closing the vents and exhaust. But you just set the heat and temperature and can forget it in reverse flow.
Offset smokers need proper attention than the reverse flow. Sometimes you need to slow down the heat or increase the fuel to increase the heat. The dampers are used to slow the heat or smoke in the cooking chamber.
Starting of Offset Smoker
Once you have lighted the fire in the firebox. Add the starter to the charcoal and place wood logs or splits for flavor. But in reverse flow, you keep going the burning of fuel and then add wood logs. There is no need to stoke the fire, as it will keep burning slowly, and there is no need to check frequently.
There are no baffle plates in an offset smoker, so you need to be active in monitoring the temperature. The fire takes time to start up in an offset smoker, and so you keep on adding the fuel to get the perfect amount of heat.
In the cleaning process, the reverse flow has baffle plates below the grill grates. It is difficult to remove and clean the grease and dirt from grates. Use the scraper to clean the grates and remove the dirt/ grease. When we consider the cleaning method in reverse flow grill vs. offset smokers, the offset smokers are much easier to clean after finishing the cooking. There is no baffle plate, and some offset smokers have removable cooking grates. These removable grates are removable and cleanable with the help of tools and scrappers.
Different Temperature Zones
Both the offset smokers have different designs and work differently. So they have a different and unique distribution of heat and air in the cooking chambers. The best thing about the reverse flow is that it has a consistent temperature in the cooking area. Heat flows from the firebox, passes from under the cooking grate and from the baffle plates, and reverses from above the cooking grates through the food. This method creates consistency in the temperature and heat throughout the cooking area. While in offset smoker, the hot and cool zones create a patchwork effect. Many cooks like such an effect for grilling the meat. If the large and thick size of meat is present, place the meat in the hotter zone. Smaller size meat is smoked in a cooler zone.
The most important part which makes both offset smokers different is the difference in cooking style. In the reverse flow smoker, the low heat flow from under the cooking grate emanates from the baffle plate due to low heat. Then cooks the item from the top as the air moves from under to above the cooking area. Heat rises from the bottom to the top. In regular offset smokers, the meat is smoked or cooked from top to down. The top area is the hottest as the heat rises without the induction plates.
The firebox is the central part of the offset smokers. As it crafts, the fire and fire management for BBQ is done by adding fuel to it. It takes hours to manage the heat. The firebox design is also essential for building and managing a clean fire. The design of the firebox varies in size, shape, the material used, insulation, style of door, vents, and how the heat will flow to the cooking area. In some of the firebox, there is a warming area utilized to cook vegetables or make sauces. While in reverse flow, the firebox is attached slightly below the cooking area so that the heat flows through the baffle plates and under the grill with ease. There will also be no direct flow of heat from the firebox.
The size of the firebox also varies. The square firebox is a modern style and popular as it looks attractive. In comparison, the round firebox shows classic looks. Each of these shapes has some advantages and disadvantages. A square-shaped firebox has excellent access. The flat surface at the top provides extra space for preheating the wood logs. The corners of the square firebox are also used to preheat the wood splits. While in the round firebox keeping the wood splits away is difficult to manage. Round fireboxes are also famous for many good reasons. They are economical and are made up of low-cost materials. The round design can be fabricated easily, welded, and rolled. The doors are round with the vents. These vents can be used for airflow. There is no warming area on the round firebox. The choice of the firebox depends on the chef and what types of shape and size they prefer for their perfect cooking.
To get the best-smoked taste, a clean wood fire is used. When the wood is burned in oxygen, a chemical reaction takes place. If the wood is burned correctly and gets a good amount of oxygen, it produces heat, water, and carbon dioxide as the combustion in the wood fire is always incomplete and produces different flavors. The great taste in the food depends on these flavors. If these flavors are clean, then the infused flavor will be unique when you see the thick smoke that originates from the wood with less oxygen. This type of smoke gives a bad flavor to the food.
A clean fire helps in producing the best taste in the food. A smokestack introduces fresh air in an offset smoker and reverses flow from the firebox. A smokestack is a tall vertical pipe attached to the top or side of the cooking area. The heat rises from the cooking chamber towards the smokestack. The heat will also create pressure inside the smokestack. Then flow out from the chimney. The size of the smokestack must be according to the internal volume of the offset smoker. If the size is too short, there will not be enough air. If it is tall, the gases inside the cooking area will cool down before moving out. To create the backpressure, it must be considered. In most horizontal offset smokers, the size must be 36 to 44 inches long, and it will work best for airflow and heat control.
The location of the smokestack works as the exhaust for the offset smoker. It will influence how the combustion of gases moves out from the firebox and flow throughout the cooking area. In a regular offset smoker, the smokestack is present opposite the firebox, and the exhaust points are located at the grate level. This creates a uniform flow of air across the cooking area. While in the reverse flow, the smokestack is attached to the same side of the firebox and mainly at the top of the cooking chamber. To minimize the heat resistance, the top position is selected. The air is already caused by reverse flow due to the baffle plates.
Vertical Offset Smoker Vs Reverse Flow
The offset smoker is like a regular offset smoker in a vertical offset, but it is built vertically. There are also different types of vertical offset smokers available in the market, charcoal vertical offset smokers, wood vertical offset smokers, electric, etc. Vertical offset smokers use both charcoal and wood as fuel. Fire is lighted in the firebox, which is attached to the side of the vertical cooking chamber. There are dampers present that helps to maintain the heat in the cooking area. While in reverse flow, the heat is maintained and flows out from the exhaust.
The heat in the vertical offset smoker flows upward directly through the cooking racks from the firebox. These racks can be two or more. There may be a space for an extra water pan. This water pan holds the water, which keeps the moisture in the cooking area, and the meat does not get dry. To enhance the smoky flavor, add more wood chips to the coal.
Working of Offset Smoker
As the working of the offset smoker is different in regular offset smokers than the reverse flow offset smoker and regular offset smokers work in the following way:
- Start lighting the fire with the coal and then add them into the firebox when they are correctly lighted.
- When the charcoal is lighted, heat the wooden logs that you want to place over the charcoal in the firebox. The logs will catch fire quickly. Make sure the logs are appropriately lighted, and then add the lighted logs to the firebox.
- Attach the probes of the temperature gauge with the grates and the food.
- Start heating the offset smoker once the desired temperature reaches, and then open the vents partially.
- Place the meat over the grates.
- Check the firebox after an hour and add more wood if required.
While comparing the facts of reverse flow vs offset smoker, there are many things you need to check and select the offset smoker according to your requirements. Many chefs select the reverse flow due to its great taste and slow cooking process, and others like to cook meat quickly. Offset smoker gives the texture and aroma with the frequent checking of heat and temperature. The selection of the offset smoker is genuinely based on the factors that are needed. It also depends on the type and size of the required food.