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Professor Barbecue to the Broadmoor 

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If everything goes as planned — $300 (plus tax and shipping) magically falling from the sky — I'll soon be christening my recently purchased home with five smoked chickens, three briskets and a canister of spent post-oak, all thanks to the sexiest piece of squat steel this side of a ribbed grain silo: the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker.

This baby's been on my wish list ever since I found out it was possible to sit at home and pour smoke over a fatty piece of meat until it melted into An Experience. But you don't necessarily need two nickel-plated, 18.5-inch-wide cooking grates; a water pan, embedded thermometer, and heat-resistant nylon handles; and a 10-year warranty, just to see the face of Barbecue Jesus. (Or, you know, that's what I tell myself anyway.) Often you can just turn to the experts for help on doing it with whatever you've got.

That's why we called up Steven Raichlen — he of public-television's Barbecue University, and host of the upcoming event of the same name, at the Broadmoor — to toss us some wisdom. And though our talk didn't touch too much on smoking, he did share product recommendations, tips for grilling at altitude and a pretty mean way to sear a T-bone, all of which are presented starting here.

I guess all that's left is for my hardware to come through. "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz ..."

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