Before going too far, let's make some distinctions. When
discussing wood smokers, they are to be distinguished from gas grills, wood
burning grills or the more modern water smokers. Additionally, we would
distinguish them from meat cooked in a smokehouse. Smokehouses are quite often
large walk in rooms where meat is smoke cooked at low temperatures in a smoky
atmosphere for 24 hours or more. Real wood smokers use higher temperatures and
cook for shorter periods of time.
Wood smokers use as fuel wood or charcoal. Either is acceptable and each has
their own plusses and minuses. These smokers are most commonly used for cooking
larger pieces of meat. Examples would be briskets, pork shoulders & butts,
slabs of ribs, pork loins, whole chickens and turkeys. We should point out that
when outdoor cooking these types of meat are generally referred to as
"Smoking", what is actually being done is actually "Barbecuing".