The bug and I spent the morning and most of the afternoon at the house out in Carlton assembling a Char-Griller barbecue smoker I picked up at Lowe's so it'll be ready to go the minute we close on Tuesday. The instruction manual insisted that you'd need two people to put the thing together, so it was a good thing I brought the bug along.
This new smoker looks a little cheesy, with its fake-redwood (or fake-cedar?) shelves and its unattractively scrawny legs and anemic wheels, but it seems to be made of better stuff than the one we had in Florida—it certainly went together more tightly. Most of the text on the box is in Spanish, and the words "al estilo Tejano" are repeated several times, which I think is a good sign. It's also bigger than the Florida model, with four heavy-duty cast-iron grid plates that could probably accomodate two slabs of ribs and a turkey, and maybe a small mess of chicken wings (the Super's specialty; stay tuned for that recipe). But the major improvement is the feature that allows you to lift the bed of coals to different heights, thus achieving various temperatures when you're straight grilling (as opposed to smoking). And the firebox on the side has a slide-out drawer that makes it easy to add coals or wood chunks during smoking, and to clean out the ashes when you're done. I had to leave the firebox unattached, though, because the directions started out by asking me to knock six holes in the side of the grill ("may require heavy hammering or the use of a drill with a 3/8-inch bit"), which I wasn't able to do without an actual hammer. It was also 98 degrees, and I was covered in sweat and the vegetable oil the whole grill was coated in, and did I mention there's this new kind of insect they have in Carlton?