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Smoke-Day and My Current Smoking Setup

10.25.11

I’ve mentioned that on Pig Day I was slipping ham cuts and hocks into a big stock pot of prepped brine. Turns out that was a good idea. Just finished smoking those items, and they turned out really, really well. Heavily smoky, nice and salty with the classic pink-salt flavor and high-quality pork. Pretty much can’t go wrong there.

Turns out 27 hours for the sirloin tip wasn’t long enough – still some un-pink in the center. Also, 3 days for the hocks yielded the same issue. But I think I figured out my solution, and it’s not longer brine time. If I did that the extremities might get too salty – they were already borderline. I think the solution is injecting the meats with the brine. Need to buy me a new food toy. One that will scare many a guest away, perhaps.

I figured some info on my smoking setup would be useful for a variety of reasons. First, I’ve written about my old setup many times [a propane bbq put out of gas service and onto wood-fire], and I’ve been using something different for nearly a year already. Secondly, I’m addicted to accessibility when it comes to good food, and my current setup is built with reclaimed, largely free masonry and bits and pieces of my old propane bbq. This piecemeal freebie model is extremely effective, and addresses a key issue I had before with lack of secondary heat source – I mention it in the video below.


3 Responses

  1. Judy Z. says:

    It is fascinating to me that in spite of growing up on a farm in the fifties that I never knew how any of this was done prior to the last few years. Mind you I grew up with a wood stove in the kitchen. Maybe the fact that my dad developed an aversion to eating chicken after butchering chickens was a factor. We had beef from our animals but it ws strictlhy sent to the butcher. My Mom made great roast beef but steaks were cooked in a frying pan, all well done and then water added to the pan (they were a mite tough in retrospect.). My parents didn’t have a barbecue until after I left home. Our outdoor cooking was strictly camfires and hotdogs.
    My mouth waters looking at your hams if they compare even remotely with the ones Allan has made I am sure they are fantastic.
    So this would be classed as hot smoking as opposed to cold smoking, right? Does that mean smoke houses are cold smokers? (I’m thinking of the tall wooden buildings that I think of as smokers). Or could you build a tall building (or two barbecue lids on edge above your current set up and hang extra pieces of meat and have the same kind of results?

    If smoking was used to preserve meats in the days prior to power and freezers, how long were they able to keep that meat?
    It is all very interesting to me. I am so glad Allan and Lisa got me reading your blog.

  2. Judy Z. says:

    PS I really need to proof read better before I hit submit. My punctuation is terrible.

  3. Kevin says:

    Judy – yep, this was a hot smoke. Cold smoke is defined roughly as being smoked below 38C or so I think. In frosty conditions, my setup can cold-smoke. It’s not too hard to have one piece of coal generate smoke, and if it’s -10 to -20 it’s not too hard to keep the temp below the necessary safe ranges. Takes some fussing, but I enjoy fire-related fussing.

    Smoke houses can do either. I know somebody who has one for hot smoking fish. And yes, you could mod and tweak a setup a million different ways to smoke. I know somebody that used an old hot water tank as their smoke box.

    Re: length of preservation time, I’m going to say ‘it depends’. Depends on the salt, how much you dried it, etc. I can say that my smoked jerky can stay in a jar rather indefinitely without spoilage as it’s very dry, cured, and smoked. If your life depended on it, you indeed could keep meet shelf stable via drying and smoking.

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