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How to make a smoker

EDIT: It has been pointed out that this smoker idea was aired on a Good Eats titled "Q" that aired on 6/11/03." The difference beting that he was using a metal trashcan for the bottom. As usual I must bow my head to THE Alton Brown. He never ceases to amaze me. So the credit for the idea belongs to him. The suggestions are mine though. Thank you for those that pointed this out.

While not strictly food_porn, this makes pornalicious smoked food. The slow smoke kind that take hours to make and have a rich, deep, smokey flavor that melts in your mouth. The smoker produces meat that is so tender that it requires not cutting instrument, rather it yeilds to the fork with only the slightest urging.

I can't claim that this idea is original. I got it from farix_arkwright who got it from someone else who got it from yet someone else and so on down the line. And thus I am returning the favor and keeping the idea going. Alton brown made something like this from a cardbord box, but that was one time use and this is something that has lasted me for well over a year.

The home made smoker is not a replacement for a BBQ but rather a nice addition. Like any other slow cooker, it allows you to get impressive results with just a minimum amount of work. The one drawback is that the smoker, lives up to its name, producing copious amounts of billowy white smoke. And while this smoke is downright mouthwatering, it does tend to tear the eyes and scent the clothing (as well as the bedsheets if you happen to put it too close to your bedroom window).

I have always enjoyed smoked items, from fish, to meat and cheese. But I always thought smoking at home was out of my range. Mostly because it has always involved a scary amount of equipment and precious time that I generally have a shortage of. Not so with this smoker. It has become a welcome and cherished edition to my food preparation repertoir.


The smoker:


Its not much to look at but renders wonderful, flavorful meat. I have yet to try fish or chicken but I will get around to it. I also want to experiment with cheese but I will have to work on that one quite a bite.

Home Made Smoker

1 14 inch flower pot (clay NOT plastic)
1 16 inch flower pot (clay NOT plastic)
1 Replacement grill from a round kettle grill (12 inch) (I used Weber)
1 Replacement thermometer or oven thermometer (I used Weber)
1 Electric hot plate
1 old metal pie tin or other similar round metal container with no handles
Woodchips or sawdust (untreated)

Assemply:

Place the 16 inch pot right side up, a stand is helpfull but not mandatory. Place the electric hot plate on the bottom of the 16 inch top and thread the cord through the bottom hole. Nestle the pie tin on top of the heating element and place your pre-soaked woodchips into the pie tin.

Place your round grill as far down as it will go. It will rest naturally in the perfect spot. Flip the remaining 14 inch flower pot up side down and rest it inside the 14 inch as a cover. Place the thermometer in the top hole. This not only measures the temperature of the smoker but also helps to keep smoke from escaping.

To smoke an item,turn on your hot plate, place you prepared food onto the grill. For tri-tip you want to make sure you have a thin layer of fat on top and you want to place the tri-tip fat side up. It will take a bit of observation and practice to learn how high you have to turn up the hot plate. For me, a little higher than medium produces the desired heat for beef.

According to the USDA food should be smoked at a temperature no less than 250. I tried this with disasterous results. The temperature was simply t0o hot and produced food that was burned on the outside. So I have gone with Alton Brown's method. The temperature of the smoker needs to be the same as the desired temperature of the finished food. So for my tri-tip I keep the temperature around 190 degrees. And while well done beef is cooked at 160, I find that cooking to 180 or so, produces a more melting tender roast. For fish, Alton recomends 125. I believe that this will also work for cheese, though I might even have to lower it so as not to get a molten mess.

The smoking aspect takes approximately 4 hours. Give or take an hour or two depending on the weather and how thick of a cut of meat you are cooking. I generally turn the meat about 1/3 of the way into the cooking process. Then again at 2/3 and one more time about 1/2 an hour before it finishes.

The chips should be replenished when you can no longer see visible curls of smoke. If the chips are a mix of large and small peices I find that I don't have to change the chips at all during the cooking process. The small chips burn first and create the initial smoke while the bigger chunks take a long time to char and continue to smoke for quite a while. A full pie pan helps this along. I soak the peices of wood for at least 1 hour before smoking and ensure that it is wet then allow the smoker to heat up to about 200 empty and begin to smoke before I place the food in.

And here is the result:

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
angelsdemise
Aug. 12th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC)
That is awesome, I'm going to have to show it to my husband so he can make us one! It will even fit on our little apartment deck without problem!

kitarra
Aug. 13th, 2005 02:12 am (UTC)
It will be totally easy! You;ll be surprised.
angelsdemise
Aug. 13th, 2005 02:35 am (UTC)
I'm excited now!

I don't neccesarily plan on smoking fish, but man, smoked cheese and smoked chicken and smoked beef jerky totally make my mouth water... mmmmm.....
arrowrock
Aug. 13th, 2005 12:53 am (UTC)
Fantastic Idea
Thank you for sharing this with us! You're so nice!
kitarra
Aug. 13th, 2005 02:12 am (UTC)
Re: Fantastic Idea
You're welcome.
minxy_baby
Aug. 13th, 2005 01:05 am (UTC)
Oh wow!!

::drools over last pic::

I hung on your every word! Thanks for posting this. I too am going to have show this to my husband and see about crafting ones of these. I hope we don't have trouble finding all parts for it. :D
kitarra
Aug. 13th, 2005 02:13 am (UTC)
*grins* I am glad you enjoyed it. Let me know how it turns out.
breathbox
Aug. 13th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC)
im confused as to how big a hotplate is...is it a one burner hotplate? do you have a recommendation for a brand?

also:

Flip the remaining 14 inch flower pot up side down and rest it inside the 14 inch as a cover.

do you mean rest it inside the 16 inch?
kitarra
Aug. 13th, 2005 02:17 am (UTC)
The hit plate is a regular electric hot plate like you would see at a pot luck. I went to target and bought the cheapest one there. I think it might have been sunbeam.

And yes you invert the 14 inch inside of the 16 inch just like the picture so that it forms a little oven.
cocoajava
Aug. 13th, 2005 01:15 am (UTC)
YAY. This looks like something we can do - and our property is big enough that we can get the sucker far enough away from the house to let the smoke waft elsewhere, hopefully to the neighbors so we can drive them insane with delicious smells.

I'd love to see a pic of the inside, if possible? When it's not cooking something, and turned off. Just to make sure my mental image is correct? Cause I'm thinking of trying this out very soon.

Thanks! Amazing looking pics, too! Love your table and napkin holder, btw!
kitarra
Aug. 13th, 2005 02:22 am (UTC)
Oh yes. The smoke carries. And it smells delicious quite a bit down the block! It drives me nuts when it's cooking for hours.

I can try to get a pic of the inside but it's all black now so I am not sure how it will come out. After a while the smoke coats everything and mine is a little over a year old and quite well used.

However the hot plate sits on the very bottom, the cord moves down beneath the plate and through the bottom hole. The grill just rests where it can and the flower pot on top of it.

And yeah the table is gorgeous. I am totally in love with it.
emygination
Aug. 13th, 2005 01:47 am (UTC)
Actually, Alton Brown made something very similar to that (clay flowerpots and all), as well, in his "Q" episode where he made pulled pork. :) I just watched it on my Tivo a few days ago.
kitarra
Aug. 13th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC)
Thank you for pointing it out. I hadn't seen the episode and got the whole friend of a friend thing.
emygination
Aug. 13th, 2005 04:18 am (UTC)
The main (and only, as far as I can tell) difference between his and yours is that he uses, instead of a second flower pot on top, either a lid or a base -- not sure what it is exactly, but it's flatter and rounded and fits the bottom pot exactly -- you can sort of see what I'm talking about here down around Scene 14. :)
elizabeth8815
Jun. 5th, 2015 04:03 am (UTC)
Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your adventures and experiences.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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