WSM v Weber Kettle

Charcoal cookers (such as Weber Kettles)
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NewtoQue
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WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by NewtoQue » Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:14 pm

Hi All, First post on here, i hope this hasnt been covered already...and sorry if my questions have obvious answers, this is all new to me...

I want to get into some smoking and roasting and have been looking at the WSM and also the Weber Kettles. I have seen other threads on this site that detail how you can use your kettle as a smoker, but i was wondering if you could do a roast in a WSM (without smoke) to get a final product that was the same as or similar to conventional use of a kettle? I understand that you cant grill on the WSM (unless you remove the middle section), but i am only interested in smoking and roasting.
If you can roast in the WSM, would there be a difference in the process compared to a kettle roast, and, would there be any limitations on what you could roast and the final product (e.g crackling etc)
Ive read that the weber kettle requires more regular attention when using it for low and slow - would the WSM require more attention than a kettle if you were using it for roasting, or would it be achieved by cooking at the same temps as you would normally smoke, but just leave the smoking wood out?


Davo
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Re: WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by Davo » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:04 am

Hi NewtoQue,

I have both a Kettle & WSM and I'm very happy to answer your question based on my experience with both.

Firstly whilst you can get close to roasting temps in a WSM without using the Water pan, it won't get anywhere hot enough for crackling...but a kettle would easy.

Unless you're smoking a lot of meat, a kettle will have enough space for what you want and use a lot less fuel.

A WSM will handle a lot of meat to feed at least 30 people or more in one load...a kettle would struggle in fact you might need 2 kettles or more to handle the same amount.

Organising the coals to give you creative results from a kettle, you can smoke for hours on one using the snake method for example. The Kettle will use less amount of coals per session than a WSM but won't cook quite as long.
The setting of temps using the air dampers, once mastered is better on a WSM and needs less monitoring.

The WSM relies on the heat going straight up but on saying that, you have 2 levels at which you can use the entire 2 grates to place food...something you can't really do in a kettle. WSM uses a water pan for a heat sink as well as keeping some moisture in the chamber, this helps keep temps stable but with smoke combined with steam makes the smoke enter the meat surface a bit deeper to give you that nice smoke ring. You can also use the WSM like an drum smoker by taking out the waterpan and allowing the juices from you foods to smoke themselves.

If you're just getting into it and there's not too many of you, my advice is to learn to use live fire in a Kettle first, if you then feel you want to step up if the kettle isn't enough, then a WSM or Pr-Q is your weapon.
Even by owning both cookers, I still feel that the Weber Kettle is one of the worlds most versatile BBQs you can buy, they've been around for 50 plus years and are still in very high demand. The WSM is not as versatile but will give you awesome smoking results, but not designed for high heat grilling or roasting.

In Summary, If I was you, I would buy a brand new Weber Kettle as apposed to used as you'll have new everything and a fantastic book to go with it, you get the charcoal baskets and all. They cost under $400 new, WSM about $700 now i think, and they will last many decades if you treat them right and even if you move up to a WSM or other type of smoker later on, the kettle will still be very useful to you even if you only use it as a charcoal lighting station for the chimney.

If you have a party, using both could feed up to 40-50 ppl.
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NewtoQue
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Re: WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by NewtoQue » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:32 am

Hi Davo,
Thanks for all of the info you have provided. Are there any cuts that you couldnt smoke in a kettle? I imagine you couldnt do brisket, as it would be too big so you could not avoid having dorect heat on at least part of the meat. Is this right? Are there others? I suppose the other limitation with smoking in the kettle would be the time it takes for certain cooks. Eg you wouldnt be able to do a smoke that went for 9- 12hrs or so and make it be ready for lunch, as you would be up most of the night checking and maintaining the temp, whereas with the WSM this isnt as much of an issue? What sort of meats/cooks would this apply to?

Have you ever tried a roast in the WSM by taking out the middle section to make it look more like a kettle and would bring the heat source closer to the meat to achieve higher temps?

NewtoQue
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Re: WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by NewtoQue » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:22 am

Hi again Davo,

Slightly off topic from my original question....I just noticed you are from Newcastle. Same with me! Can you recommend/suggest butchers around Newcastle to go to? Which ones are best to get the "American BBQ" style cuts like brisket etc (ive read that not all butchers in Australia will give you the american version/cut of brisket when you ask for brisket?).

Thanks!

Captain Cook
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Re: WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by Captain Cook » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:53 am

Hi NewtoQue, welcome to the forum.
As always, Davo is pretty spot on with his reply You can fiddle around a bit with the WSM and roast at a lower temp, however because of the diameter of it, if you take the water pan out you end up with direct heat from the fire which is not conjusive to roasting. The WSM is realy a dedicated smoker whilst the kettle is a smoker, roaster and grill. you can also do low and slow in the kettle. Therefor if you want on to do all then the best would be the humble kettle.

Captain

NewtoQue
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Re: WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by NewtoQue » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:58 pm

Hi Captain Cook,

Thanks for the welcome, and for your reply to my question. I can see now that the WSM alone wont be able to do everything that i am after.

Does the kettle limit the type of cuts that you can cook "low and slow" due to having to keep the meat away from the direct heat? What sort of things would i NOT be able to smoke in the kettle due to this, compared to the WSM?

Lovey
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Re: WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by Lovey » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:40 pm

You'd only be really limited to the physical size of the meat which will fit on the kettles grill, whilst still allowing for air flow around it. You can use al foil to shield the meat from direct heat.

Captain Cook
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Re: WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by Captain Cook » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:45 pm

NewtoQue wrote:Hi Captain Cook,

Thanks for the welcome, and for your reply to my question. I can see now that the WSM alone wont be able to do everything that i am after.

Does the kettle limit the type of cuts that you can cook "low and slow" due to having to keep the meat away from the direct heat? What sort of things would i NOT be able to smoke in the kettle due to this, compared to the WSM?
I cant think of anything that you cant smoke in a kettle. I have done a 6 Kg leg of pork in mine.

Davo
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Re: WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by Davo » Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:46 pm

NewtoQue wrote:Hi again Davo,

Slightly off topic from my original question....I just noticed you are from Newcastle. Same with me! Can you recommend/suggest butchers around Newcastle to go to? Which ones are best to get the "American BBQ" style cuts like brisket etc (ive read that not all butchers in Australia will give you the american version/cut of brisket when you ask for brisket?).

Thanks!
Hi Mate, yeah I was in Newcastle up untill late July when i reloacated back to Sydney thanks to Mr "I've screwed Newcastle now I may retire" Baird selling off Public Transport and the like.....but simply I mostly used the Coles Supermarket in Market town. I won't go over to the Gormet butcher the other side...yeah nice cuts but charges like a wounded bull.
Another place where I've found some good sized ribs is Harris Farm out at Glendale shopping centre, I've also found Tri-tip there as well as Cape Grim Beef from Tassie.
Singo's meats in Broadmeadow ain't too bad either, Has a good range of larger cuts.

As for the brisket on a kettle, yes you could do one providing it's not huge but will take some good planning on how to set fire up and placement on a section of grill space, for these type of cuts the WSM is great...however, a great alternative which will give you awesome results and are about the same price or cheaper than Brisket would be a full Chuck Roast. You've heard of chuck steak right, that has to be cooked low to make it tender, with the full roast however, like Brisket has loads of connective tissue, is more compact, and will give you awesome fall apart beef flavour and will go great on a kettle using the snake or minion method of the low n slow fire. AS Captain Cook said, there's pretty much nothing that can't be cooked on a kettle. WSM is a dedicated Smoker, it can BBQ but mostly smoke but a kettle can smoke, grill, roast & BBQ.

Hot Smoking is between 180-250F at the lid, BBQ is 250-320F at the lid, Roasting is about 350-420F at the lid & grilling is anything above that. I gave the at the lid temps coz that's where you'll get your info from usially with a temp metre at the top of the lid, theres usually a fair difference between grate temp & lid temp but because heat rises, lid temp is always higher than grate temp, usually about 12-30F diff but not enough to concern yourself about.

You see theres a big gap between temps for each type of cooking? well if your temp wavers between the numbers, it's usually no big deal.....say if your striving for 225F at the lid, then it shoots up to around 250...no big deal but if you want to be smoking, don't let it get beyond that by closing down the bottom vents to restrict air to the fire.

Cheers

Davo
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NewtoQue
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Re: WSM v Weber Kettle

Post by NewtoQue » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:01 pm

Thanks everyone for all the tips and comments. I feel more comfortable now that i wont be limiting the smoking side of things by going with a kettle.
Davo, that description of the diff temps helped me to understand not only the methods, but also the different results you can expect for each type of cook, very useful (to someone new like me anyway)!
Thanks again.


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