The Good One brand makes one of the best smokers I have ever cooked on, period. I am always surprised when speaking to someone who is really passionate about barbecue and they say, “Good One? What is that?” Then once i start to explain how they work I can see the person’s face light up since they just found out about one of the best quality pits on the market.
History of The Good One Smokers
Now I want to start by saying that I have owned a Good One smoker for quite a few years now and I am still blown away by how it performs. The Good One brand originated out of a small Kansas farm shop in 1988 by the Goodwin family. The design of these grills has evolved and improved quite a bit (they are currently offering the 3rd generation of the original version) over the years thanks to Chris Marks. Chris is an 8-time American Royal Grand Champion (The World Series of Barbecue) and the pitmaster of the world famous Three Little Pigs brand. So as you can imagine Chris knows a thing or two about good BBQ and was able to use that knowledge to design the Good One Gen. III cookers. He is also the face of The Good One brand and was the main force behind these improvements once they started being manufactured in Gallatin, Missouri (which is where they are still made today). These cookers are a spin-off of the traditional side firebox design that everyone has become accustomed to thinking of when speaking about barbecue smokers. So what’s the difference? Lets get down to it.
What Sets The Good One Smokers Apart
The Open Range (pictured above) is The Good One’s flagship model and is the perfect size for family backyard cooking. These cookers are designed to work best with high quality lump charcoal as their fuel source (Good One also makes their own lump). Also fist-sized wood chunks can be tossed on top of the lit lump to add that tasty BBQ-smoke flavor that every backyard pitmaster strives for when grilling and smoking. It also looks a bit different from other smokers you are used to seeing since the firebox/smoking chamber is a front-to-back configuration instead of a traditional offset’s left-to-right set up. This allows the cooker to have even temps for the largest dimension of the smoking chamber, which is left-to-right. There is also a large damper that goes the entire length of the opening between the firebox and the smoking chamber which allows the user to very accurately control the temperature when not only increasing temperature, but while decreasing as well. Many cookers struggle to go down in temperature if the fire gets too hot or out of control. Usually this is due to them being insulated or made out of ceramic. What makes The Good One different is that the airflow going in and out of the cooker never changes, but rather where the air in the cooker is directed. The ability to control increasing and decreasing temperatures is what separates TGO from the rest of the pack.
How a Good One Smoker Works
Now lets discuss getting these cookers started up. It doesn’t get much simpler than firing up a TGO. All you have to do is dump lump charcoal into the firebox, open all the intake/exhaust spinners, and use either lighter cubes or a torch to light a few spots of charcoal within the pile. Then crack a beer, wait 10-15 minutes, and spread a few extra pounds of fresh charcoal on the already lit coals. This entire process takes about 20 minutes. At this point you should have a pretty solid bed of lit charcoal going. This is going to help give you even temperature control throughout the cooking chamber. Now it is time to choke it down a bit and dial in your desired temperature. You do this by closing the firebox lid, the internal damper, and shutting down all your spinners. This then puts you at what I like to call “zero”. Doing this gives you greater control of your starting points and also allows you to adjust all your controls evenly and accurately. Next, open all the intake/exhaust spinners 2 full spins and set the internal damper handle (which is on the outside) to 11 o’clock. This start up procedure gets the smoker to 250 degrees 90% of the time. Now if you overshoot or undershoot your temp a bit it isn’t a big deal. Just by making minor adjustment to the internal damper you can easily make the cooker swing up or down in temp within minutes without disturbing the fire. This allows you to keep your pit under control and manageable. Lastly, once you are up to temp just throw two wood chunks into the firebox and let the blue smoke roll!
How to Grill on a Good One Smoker
Now that we have covered smoking lets move to the topic of grilling. Since the firebox comes with a removable grill grate you can either grill, smoker, or grill and smoke at the same time on these units. And you can do all this to perfection and still maintain different cooking environments accurately and simultaneously. If you are just grilling then it is as easy as putting unlit charcoal in the firebox, spreading a chimney starter of lit coal over top of the pile, and start grilling. If you want to grill and smoke at the same time all you have to do is open the firebox while smoking and throw your food on the removable grill grate. Just be sure to watch your smoker temperature on the lid thermometer of the smoking chamber since you are increasing the airflow to the firebox every time you open the lid. But remember, just close the internal damper a bit if the temperature spikes in the smoking chamber and you will be fine.
Well that pretty much covers the basic points of The Good One Smokers and their features. If you would like more information about them or have any specific questions that I did not cover above please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me directly. So if you find yourself in the market for a high quality, made in the USA charcoal cooker that can do a little bit of everything and do it well, then give The Good One brand a solid look. I am sure you will not be disappointed.
Now get grilling!