Friday, July 9, 2010

Smoking at Home

This is the coolest thing!

It all started with a 4H pig we bought two years ago. When our grass-fed half cow was ready to pick up from the butcher I realized I really needed to make some room in the sub-zero freezer which meant I needed to clear out two sides of pork and two pork shanks. I had been reading in my Charcuterie book for some time about preserving meats and knew I wanted to turn those sides into bacon but it seemed a bit overwhelming and I was having a difficult time figuring out the brine much less coming up with a smoker. I read this post on Life Through The Cracks and kind of drooled over it for a bit. Her smoker is fabulous! And her brine so simple. After a short stint of looking to buy a used smoker I came across a video by Alton Brown showing how to make a hot smoker using materials I already had! All I had to buy was a $10 hot plate! SOLD! I also discovered that Alton Brown is very well known? I had never heard of him.

Setting it up is all very basic. The finished product looks like this:
I started with a big terracotta pot and put it up on some feet I stole off of one of my planted pots. Then I ran the cord of the hot plate through the hole in the bottom and turned it on to high heat.
Then place a heavy pan directly on the element, fill with chips and a bit of water...
Place the grill, which sits right in the pot without any other support...
This pic is from the first smoking I did, see how clean the scrubbed pot is? This was the first smoke I ever saw coming from my new smoker! Very exciting stuff. Ahhh the little things...

This is a cut called side of pork from which bacon is made. Before smoking it was brined for 7 days in saltwater and then rinsed and marinated for another day and a half with maple syrup and blackstrap molasses.After placing the terracotta pot dome lid on top, the thermometer goes in the drain hole and the whole bit of magic starts.
After about 15 hours this is the color of the bacon:
I deemed it done and let it set back up in the fridge to make for easy slicing. The bacon is AMAZING. Amazing I tell you! I will never buy bacon again for I am HOOKED ON HOME SMOKE! Flavor it as you desire, it's fun to play with different flavors and make small batches.
I also brined and smoked the ham shanks (also known as hocks). One is simmering away in a pot of beans for dinner as I type.
On the Fourth I smoked a few Niman Ranch pork loins (which I brined overnight first) for about 4 hours and then finished them on the grill. They were (you already know what I'm going to say) AMAZING!

Just thought I'd share this new found love of mine. Everyone I have shown it to declares they are setting up their own as well! It's just so dang easy.

8 comments:

MAYBELLINE said...

Funny. I was listening to a local radio program with people calling in on how to construct a home smoker. This one was not suggested. Someone did give instructions on how to convert a cardboard box!

Marlyn said...

I'm drooling!

And making a smoker this week!

Ruralrose said...

thanks for the shout out, you did an great job, can't believe how good it tastes until you do it yourself - excellent tutorial - peace

My Ugly Garden said...

Now that's what I call bacon. Bacon is the only reason I haven't gone 100% vegetarian. Love the smoker, very clever. Glad it worked so well. We enjoy Alton Brown's show here. He goes into the science aspect of cooking and is great at finding low cost alternatives to expensive kitchen gadgets.

vrtlarica said...

This is the greatest thing I have seen in a long time!
I need to build one of those definitely. Thanks and now I’m going to see what Ruralrose wrote on that topic.

Shauna said...

Oooooh.. ahhhhhh.... Nate would think that totally ROCKS. I'll have to show him what Alton did. We are big Alton fans here! ;-)

Nice work!!!

Lindsay said...

I'm definitely going to show Jason your home-made smoker. Way cool! :)

And, hello, Alton Brown rocks! I like to quote him when I cook "by WEIGHT not Volume!" hehe. Love him! He brings out the science nerd in me.

Julia said...

Erin, this looks sooo amazing. I said it: AMAZING. Thanks for sharing the smoker tip, it's brilliant. I've got this bookmarked. That bacon looks stellar, and I know it is!