I had fun today flexing my ‘smoking meat’ muscles. Today was a cooler day, and the temperature never got out of the 40s. And I smoked 2 chickens, which was new for me. I was also determined to to be better at not letting the temperature rise over 300′, which is something I’ve struggled with in every other time I’ve smoked some cut of meat. But I love me some challenge, so I went for it.
I knew that I’d have the time today, Saturday, to smoke these chickens. I thought it was going to be in the 50s. Alas, it wasn’t!
When using wood, keeping the temperature steady is more of an art than a science. Getting the fire started is more art than science. Really, working with fire is more art than science! I’d been reading that you should smoke chickens at between 225′ and 250′, so I decided I would keep the temp below 300′. It wasn’t easy and took some experimenting to figure out how to control the temperature on my smoker. But I figured it out! I don’t know that this method will work when its warmer (it involves opening the fire box door for a minute or two, let cooler air flow through, and let the fire die down just a bit with prodding).
I seasoned the chickens and let them sit at room temp while I got the first started. And once they were one the smoker, I didn’t open it till they were well over 100′. I took both chickens to 165′.
I’ve got a bottom of the line smoker. And its my first one, and I’m all about improving things. So I’ve made some modifications. First, I extended the smoke stack. Its dryer duct secured with clips and duct tape. I added the thermometer at the meat level. The wood on top is warming up so it lights easier when I put it in the fire box.
And a thermometer for the meat. Its not necessary, but its fun! I was wishing this thermometer had 3 probes, but then The Professor asked what it would take for me to want 4 probes. Ah, he’s got insight. I will be content with 2 probes.
I like the smoker. I use the smoker. But its got a few short comings. First, the smoke stack is on the lid. The lid is the whole upper half, so every time I open it, the smoke stack goes back also. I’d like a full 4′ smoke stack, like Franklin recommends, but I’m nervous about it with the smoke stack being on the lid like this. Ah, well.
The air flow through the fire box can be an issue. The opening has the revolving disk on the inside, so it can close, but this opening is so small! I find I have to help things along regularly. I thought about drilling additional holes to allow for more air flow, but after breaking 2 drill bits, I decided it was too hard. I need welding tools…. maybe some day!
I use a piece of cardboard from the recycling to fan the fire to help it out as needed.
The chickens were good! They took 5 and 6 hours, but they tasted so very yummy. The legs and thighs were a bit greaser than usual, but the breast meat was also juicier than normal. Next time, I’m going to smoke them at 250′ to 300′, see if I can find a happier medium of enough time on the smoker, but without drying anything out.
Ah, there is such satisfaction is creating yummy food. And I love getting to increase my “smoking meat” skill.
How did you use your Saturday? And I promise more LEGO® in the next post!