Looking to upgrade from the cheap Aldi jobby I got on clearance years ago.
I was never really happy with the way it used wood chips, so I added a smokai to the side that I used to generate the smoke for both hot and cold smoking which works a treat, and always struggled with holding temperature's steady so I put together a needle valve, gas solenoid and PID controller to regulate the gas into the burner which also works surprisingly accurately, usually able to hold within .5C to 1C.
Its been a good little unit for the whole $69 (nice) I paid for it on clearance years ago at Aldi Ringwood and churned out some great bacon, but I'm looking to upgrade for 2 reasons:
1. I need something bigger (mostly wider). I'm being asked by the family for bacon and smoked chicken more often, coolabah only has 2 racks which I know I can get more of, but they are still small. I've started doing smoked salmon sides and they don't fit
2. Something insulated that I can hot smoke in in cold weather. It may be my mistake but the last time I smoked in really cold weather a few of my chicken breasts went black from creosote (least I think that's what it is) and we're bitter, so I had to cut all those bits out. The coolabah drops temp dramatically with even a breeze so something that can resist that a bit more would be good.
I have a masterbuilt 1050 that I know I could use for this, but I'm looking to have something more dedicated for the cured meats stuff that I can also use as a cold smoke chamber that doesn't take up too much space, so I've been looking at vertical smokers, mostly the Hark Big Boss and the Louisiana Grills Series 4 at Costco.
I've only used gas in the cabinet and that's what I'm familiar with, and use lumberjack pellets in the smokai, but I have no experience with pellets grills/smokers.
What's best in this situation? Are pellets more expensive to run then gas? Which ones cook more evenly? What would you buy instead that maybe I've missed?