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My Outdoor Cooking Arrangement

My wife and I live on a bayou on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. There are fish, shrimp, and crabs in the bayou. There are also alligators, but the bulkhead is too high for them to crawl into the yard.

Because of our proximity to water, the house is on stilts, nine feet in the air. Underneath are his and her shops and open space equivalent to an eight-car garage. This provides ample space for outdoor cooking and relaxing.

I use a gas grill because it is convenient. It is ready to cook in 10 minutes, the heat can be changed while cooking, and there is less mess than with charcoal. The Weber Company has conducted blind taste tests demonstrating that people cannot tell a flavor difference between gas or charcoal cooked foods. Both gas and charcoal produce heat and carbon dioxide, but no flavor. For smoking, I use a charcoal fueled water, or vertical, smoker. The water pan adds moisture to help prevent drying the meat, especially when cooking lean cuts. I also prefer charcoal for burning wood chips to produce smoke flavoring. For smoke, I place the chips directly on top of the coals.

My cooking area arrangement consists of a grill, spare propane tank, water smoker, a waste basket, and a trash can in which I store my charcoal and wood chips. Note that the smoker sits on a wooden cart with wheels. Many smokers do not have wheels and I will address the cart at a later date.

If you are a serious grill and smoker cook, you may also find a nearby table and sink useful. Pictured is my movable sink with counter. I can roll it anywhere that can be reached by a garden hose. It also comes in handy when boiling shrimp, crabs, and crawfish and for shucking oysters or cleaning fish.

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