Q:What is a smoker? Why do I want one?
Smokers are grills designed to cook meat “slow and low” with smoke rather than direct heat. The wood chips can impart a lovely woodsy flavor in the food – think applewood-smoked bacon. If grilling on a direct flame is the equivalent of sautéing on the stovetop, smoking is more like baking in the oven.
You don’t need to flip meat on a smoker since the temperature is more or less constant in all parts of the smoker grill. (That means you should keep the lid closed, of course. The more you open the lid, the less even the cook.)
First, you’ll soak the wood chips in water, which adds moisture that will keep your food nice and tender. Different wood species are suited for different cooking jobs. Oak chips, for example, are a classic pair with brisket while mesquite will team up well with beef and vegetables. Experimenting with the different combinations is definitely part of the art of smoking.