So, what's spongey's latest project been?

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SpongeBuell
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So, what's spongey's latest project been?

Post by SpongeBuell » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:27 am

Ok, so it hasn't been related to portablizing much... not at all, really. Heck, what I've been working on has been done long before electricity was even discovered, albeit in a different way. What is this, you ask? Meat smoking. All jokes aside, this is pretty damn good stuff. And, since your curiosity is just aching right now, I'll tell you what I did.

First of all, it all started with one of my new favorite TV shows, Good Eats. For those that haven't seen it before, watch it. It's from the food network, but easily available on youtube.

Speaking of smoking, here's me an another Benheck member, having a Cuban cigar after a couple beers while in Toronto. Hey, it's legal here, c'mon! Can you guess which one is me, and who I'm with?

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Now, on with the good stuff (btw, this member and I smoked a little salmon before the trip... it was good enough that he has been inspired to make his own smoker). It all started when I heard about an episode of Good Eats where the guy made a smoker. It took a while to figure out which episode I was supposed to look for, but I finally found it. Part 1 and Part 2. The smoker part starts at 8:30 into part 1, continuing right into part 2, though I'd recommend watching the whole thing (it's the best cooking show you'll ever watch. period.). For smoked salmon tips, I'd search youtube for that episode ("Where there's smoke, there's fish") along with another smoker build good for whole filets (albeit not as durable).

Basic parts needed:
16" Terra Cotta flower pot (14" will do if absolutely needed, but 16 is so much nicer to work with... I started with a 14" and later found a 16" pretty cheap... more room to work with)
16" Saucer to go on top (I am actually doing ok with a 14" saucer on a 16" pot... not sure how that worked)
Hotplate (hot enough to boil water, not some warming tray, with a round element)
Small weber grill (just the grill part that the meat goes on, not the whole thing... can be found at some hardware stores or your garage)
Small heavy duty pot (go to the thrift stores, you can get one for a few bucks)
Small grill to hold your drip pan (I got this mini charcoal grill thing at wal mart, took the handle off the grill part, and worked with that)
Disposable pie tin (that's what I'm using, but am looking into something more heavy-duty)

While smoking:
Food to be smoked (prepared as desired, that's a post for another time)
Woodchips (hickory is what I've used so far... a giant bag at Wal Mart is about $5 I think it was). Because no flames are involved, soaking is not necessary (not in my experience)
Standard grill brush
Channel locks (good to pull the top off the smoker through the hole, along with other things, while keeping the heat away from you)
Pliers (to pull out the grill when 2 hands are needed)
The pliers and channel locks can be interchangeable, but I'd suggest one of each.

Now, as for my smoker... I'll admit, I didn't take too many pictures of the hard part. And by that, I mean I took absolutely none at all. But it's not that hard if you're used to what's talked about here. Half the battle was getting the right wiring to use (Do NOT use standard household wiring within your smoker if you rewire it, it will not be able to take the heat within and simply short. Believe me, I've tried and ended up with an electrical fire).

Now, if you use a whole hotplate like in the episode, you should be fine. I did that for my first salmon filet, and it was fine. I even did some test runs to see how well the wood smoked, and that was fine as well. I, however, wanted to have control over the temperature of my smoker at any given moment. Unfortunately, with a whole hotplate, I'd have to disassemble the whole thing, then wait for the thing to cool down, before I could adjust the temperature. Not good.

To fix this, I got a new hotplate (well, my girlfriend... that's right, a Benhecker with a girlfriend :P... bought it for me for my birthday) and disassembled it. Put the heat element into the pot, figure out a stable way to mount it (preferably so that it does not sink down when the smoker is lifted... good luck with that) and wire it in (maybe not in that order). When you wire it, you must use high-temperature wiring inside the smoker. Not to advertise for other sites here, (it really can be hard to find, especially at a reasonable price) but I ordered the 10-gauge stuff here and snipped a few strands inside so it'd fit the connections on the hotplate. Because my mounting system completely blocked the hole on the bottom of the plate, I cut a hole for the wire on the bottom of the pot using a hole saw (a different kind of drill bit... be prepared to ruin it cutting through one of these, though, especially if it's not a masonry bit)

At this point, the bottom should look something like this:
Image
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Next, the basic assembly. This will be done often as you are smoking things, but you're done with the hard part (hopefully forever, if you did it right). Start by filling a pan of woodchips and putting it on the hotplate. You can choose how much to put in... I tend to put in more for a smokier taste and less refills needed. Those black marks in the pot? Aww, they're just drippings from previous smokings. All they do is make your smoker smell good when it's not in use.

Image

After that, throw on the smaller grill for the drip pan, followed by the pan itself, followed by the main grill:

ImageImageImage

Once the meat is on the main grill (for these photos I took for this tut, I did not do any of that since it's just a photo shoot) put the top on

Image

Note the nice way that the channel locks grips the top, keeping your hand away from it

General tips:
Prop your smoker up a bit with wood, rocks, etc. Not doing so could cause you to make a mark on your deck or lawn.
Start with some "dry runs" to make sure it all works, before you actually involve meat
You usually want to have your hotplate set between medium and high. I wouldn't always keep it on high... my first test was on high the entire time (albeit with a different hotplate) and the wood caught on fire as soon as some air got in
Once you're used to the thing and comfortable with it, let it preheat while you prepare your meat. It takes a long time for the vessel to get warmed up, along with the pot, which is what makes the chips smolder and create smoke
When refilling the chips, have a place handy for the old ones. They are hot (treat them like live charcoal) and will be for a long time. A metal coffee can with some water inside, a fire pit, or a charcoal grill would all do.

Pic of my first salmon filet cooked with this (I would say that it's a picture of my first smoked meat, but that sounds so horribly wrong)

Good, eh?
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The smoker itself (as my friends named it, "smoking pot"). No smoke is seen here, but trust me, it will smoke eventually.
Image
Last edited by SpongeBuell on Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by wallydawg » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:41 am

MGC 09 preshow barbecue!
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Post by project_failure » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:03 am

Looks like fun. Cigars are nice if smoked casually. You and G-force seem to be havin a blast.
MGC 09 preshow barbecue!
We should barbecue at MGC.

On the topic of MGC, $120 saved toward the trip already!
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Post by Negative_Creep » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:36 am

I'd strongly consider giving that a go if I was a fan of smoked meat. Oh well.

Some really good work there :)

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Post by Sparkfist » Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:35 am

That thing looks like something you saw or would see on instructables.com. Clever I would have to say using a terracotta pot for a smoker. The only problem I can see is you can't put a full rack of ribs in there, but it's a minor problem.

Shame I couldn't join you guys up in Canada, but really it's not a big thing for me, Canada is 15 minutes away. Hopefully I'll see you guys at MGC, if not sooner.
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Post by Harshboy » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:15 am

I saw one of those on a show on Food Network a while back.

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Post by SpongeBuell » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:33 am

Sparkfist wrote:That thing looks like something you saw or would see on instructables.com. Clever I would have to say using a terracotta pot for a smoker. The only problem I can see is you can't put a full rack of ribs in there, but it's a minor problem.

Shame I couldn't join you guys up in Canada, but really it's not a big thing for me, Canada is 15 minutes away. Hopefully I'll see you guys at MGC, if not sooner.
I had thought about that... my solution: use another terra cotta pot on top, rather than a saucer, and smoke them vertically. Since the heat probably won't be too balanced, just be sure to rotate them every now and then. Problem solved :)
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Post by cowsgoquack101 » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:08 am

Is that Gabe?

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Post by HotDog-Cart » Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:44 pm

D: Don't rub it in!

D:

I had a chance to hang out with spongey and g-force on the same day xD

I could have been in that picture giving a giant thumbs up and a ":D" face.

xD

Spongey, any plans to come back down here sometime?

If so, bring some BH members, and I could see if I could wrangle up Kurt_ and Timmeh. :D
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Post by Bass Creator » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:32 pm

wtf benheck members have seen eatchother in real life maddness
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Post by SpongeBuell » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:46 pm

Bass Creator wrote:wtf benheck members have seen eatchother in real life maddness
Hell, we had about 10+ of us together during the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee last year. Damn good stuff :D
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Post by HotDog-Cart » Fri Jul 25, 2008 12:43 am

So sponge, any ideas if your gonna come back to Toronto?
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Post by gamemasterAS » Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:50 pm

SpongeBuell wrote:
Bass Creator wrote:wtf benheck members have seen eatchother in real life maddness
Hell, we had about 10+ of us together during the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee last year. Damn good stuff :D
Some time I will make it out to one of these. Also last night I cooked up steak for the first time and I must say they were good stuff.
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Post by ShockSlayer » Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:38 pm

When I can drive, I can come. And that looks good, but I dont have any meat.

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Post by demonofaj » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:16 am

Out of curiousity, can you put a hunk of meat on a bong and smoke it?

EDIT: Never mind, I'm an idiot :P
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