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The steel offset smoker is ubiquitous in Texas barbecue. Its torpedolike cooking chamber, with a tall smokestack on one end and a low-riding firebox on the other, is the symbol of Texas-style barbecue in and outside the state. The gentle, controlled cooking environment it offers by way of indirect heat has become the preferred method for smoking meat, and new pitmasters are nearly unanimous in their adoption of it. Some would even deem it required to produce “traditional” Texas barbecue. But this is a relatively new allegiance, even younger than our devotion to smoked brisket. How did we get from digging our pits in the ground with a shovel to building them with torches and welders?Barbecue in what is now the United States began as…
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