The latest BBQ tool I just had to get my hands on is this A-Maze-N Smoker Tube. You won't believe what this thing says it can do! I saw the pictures on amazon and had to give it a try. The other versions of this look pretty flimsy, and but this version had good reviews and since this was made of stainless steel I figured it would be worth a shot.
The Smoker Tube is 12 inches long, and made of perforated stainless steel sheet. The tube looks like a re-purposed industrial part, and is very solid with good welds. It also has a 30 day guarantee, so you can bet I will be putting it through the works to test it out.
What is it for?
The smoker tube is designed to turn your regular BBQ into a smoker. It gives you a small contained space for BBQ pellets, and by design slowly burns them from one end to the other. This is advertised as a great way to cold smoke multiple items, and the brochure says it will produce smoke for up to 4 hours. The manual lists many items it can be used for, including steaks, chicken, peppers, cheeses, eggs, fish. That sounds like a challenge!
Safety Warnings: Don't drop it on your toe, or pick it up while it's hot, and you'll be fine...
BBQ Review Testing
The manual tells you to fill it with pellets and start it with a propane torch. I filled it with some cherry wood pellets for the first test, because they have a very noticeable flavor. The instructions say to give it a good blast for a minute or so to get a flame going, then you must leave it to burn with open flames for 10 minutes.
That is the perfect amount of time to chop up your selection of goodies to smoke.
So, I fired it up and headed off to the kitchen.
For the first test I combined a selection of the ideas from the manual. I grabbed a couple german sausages, some frozen bacon, some garlic, 2 sweet onion slices, pepperjack cheese, cheddar cheese, and a hard boiled egg. (The manual suggested it, so what the heck!)
The BBQ has an upper rack for bread that should work perfect for this test, so I lined up all the goodies over the smoker tube and grabbed this picture.
After about a half hour, I went out to check and rearrange the goodies. You can see below that the smoke only moved down about a half inch, so it does burn nice and slow.
After another half hour, The third check is showing some interesting progress. Putting the food directly over the smoking tube is giving it an uneven smoke, and starting to melt the cheese. I rearranged the cheese to a colder location, and moved the meats back over the smoke, and closed it up for another 30 min.
Disaster! Tasty, Tasty, disaster!
It turns out that dripping bacon grease right on smoldering coals results in Flames! Raising the temp enough to melt the cheese. Doh! I rescued the cheese (it was mighty tasty), and most of the bacon, everything else was just fine.
The meats were a little unevenly smoked, but still had some good flavor. The garlic and onion both absorbed just a bit of smokey goodness, enought to retain the smoke flavor after cooking. (worked great for breakfast the next day). The egg was a trick! I'm sure the writer put that in there as a gag, because it turned into rubber. My friends dog sure liked it though. And the cheese was great, besides the melting, the resulting piles of cheddar and pepperjack were pure smokey goodness...
Lessons learned: Don't put melty, greasy, or flammable things directly over the hot parts...
New test subjects: Pork steak, fresh bratwurst sausages, some braunshweiger (german balogna), more cheddar and pepperjack, some jalapenos, and a big tray of frijoles about halfway done. This time I placed the smoking tube under the grate, so there would be more room and to keep the heat farther from the food.
After an hour it was time for the first check, and a little rearrangement. The frijoles were picking up the smoke nicely, and the meats were getting some color. I moved the veges and cheeses to safer spots, and let it go for another hour. This is the 2 hour shot. I rearranged and stirred, and ogled the goods 2 more times, giving it a total of 3 hours smoking time.
As you can see the meats and cheeses picked up some nice color, and were not cooked\melted the second run. The garlic and jalapenos softened a bit and had a nice smokey smell\taste. The braunshweiger came out really tasty, and was chopped to bits to top a salad. I cooked up the pork loin and bratwurst later, and after cooking you could definitely still taste a little smoke. 3 hours was just about right for all these items.
The best part is the cheese. It came out absolutely fantastic. There was just enough melting to give it some character and get the oils out, and the outside layer is pure smokey goodness. After cooling for an hour in the fridge, the here is how the cold smoked cheese looks...
This tool works so well, I created a permanent home for it on the searing burner side of the BBQ. Using 2 bricks to elevate a second grill grate, I now have a smaller area to smoke in right next to the main grill. I tested it out by pre-smoking some dinner items, and it definitely added more flavor faster by smoking in a smaller area. This is good news for camping and picnics, the smoker tube will work perfectly in a small portable BBQ too!
BBQ Review Bonus test
Shredded Cheese, Pine Nuts, and BBQ Sauce
Since the smoker tube worked so well with I decided to give it the bonus test with some shredded cheeses, pine nuts, and BBQ sauce. The smaller area should mean I can do smaller runs, so I filled the tube halfway to try a 1.5 hour run this time. I lit the smoker tube and let it burn while prepping the test items, and it was ready right when I was. The shredded cheeses and nuts went into some small smoker safe cast iron pans, and filled a glass dipping cup with BBQ sauce. I threw in some more jalapenos for luck, and closed it up.
After 1.5 hours, this was the stunning result. A perfectly smoked pile of shredded Parmesan cheese, nicely toasted pine nuts, a little smoky BBQ sauce, and some jalapenos that will not survive the hour! The only thing that does not do well in 90 degree heat is shredded soft cheeses, the hard Parmesan cheese did not melt at all and you can see the smoke soaked right in.
The Smoker Tube is surprisingly easy to clean after use. There was about 1/4 cup of dust and pellets after it burned out, not too much of a mess at all. The only precaution I use is a small strip of tinfoil, to keep the ash off my burners, and to catch the occasional cheese meltdown.
Even if you cover it in bacon fat and melted cheese, it all peels right off the stainless steel! If you are careful picking it up (and do it very slowly), you can manage to do it without getting ashes everywhere. Just a quick waving over the lawn, and you are done! A quick tap in the garbage can works too.
BBQ Product Review: A-maze-N Smoker Tube
Review Conclusion: Highly Recommended!
Easy to Use and Great Results!
The A-maze-N Smoker Tube performed excellently with cheese, sausages, steaks, beans, nuts, and even a couple of vegetables. While it will not be not the ultimate tool for large items, it worked great with all the regular sized BBQ staples. The added smoke was a nice touch to get without having to fire up the smoker and spend the day tending it. For quick spur of the moment BBQ ideas, it is an excellent tool.
When selecting a smoker tube of your own keep in mind to get one that fits in your space with space to keep the food at least 3-6 inches away. There are 6 and 12 inch models, and a smaller maze version that looks too flimsy to try. I can only recommend the tube version, it has taken everything I dropped, dripped, and soaked it with. This item would be a great gift for the BBQ impaired, because it is almost too easy to use.
Go on now, go get one!
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