A meat smoker imbues the beef, chicken, lamb, or pork it ensconces with the flavors carried by smoldering wood emissions. Different woods make for subtle differences in taste and flavor and much lore has sprung up over the perfect smoke fuel. Aficionados consider hickory and maple to be of premier advantage while also admitting that mesquite makes for a stunning flavoring. Since temperatures in a meat smoker reach about 210 to 220 degrees F for a prolonged period of time, it is crucial to use one that will permit for the proper admission of oxygen while not losing its properties in light of high heat. As you learn how to build a meat smoker following these steps, make sure to remember that safety as well as taste development are your primary goals.
Things You'll Need
- 2 Large terra cotta flower pots with hole in the bottoms
- Metal flower pot holder large enough to hold terra cotta flower pot
- Electric heat source able to generate temperatures of 210 to 220 °F
- 9” Round cake pan
- Wood chunks
- Round grill rack
- Meat hook and wire (optional)
- Food thermometer
- Aluminum foil
How to Build a Meat Smoker
Place one large terra cotta flower pot onto the metal flower pot holder. Make sure the holder is placed on a cement surface away from flammable materials and plants, and also well away from open windows or doors.
Thread the cable of the electric heat source through the hole in the bottom of the flower pot and place the heat source inside the pot so that it is nestled into the bottom portion.
Place the 9-inch round cake pan on top of the electric heating source. Your meat smoker will be powered for a prolonged period of time, and this is not a good occasion to use your best bake ware. Opt for an old cake pan or purchase a disposable heavy duty aluminum pan from your local grocery store.
Soak the wood chunks as indicated by the manufacturer and place the finished product into the cake pan. This is the source of the smoke the meat smoker you are building.
Position the grill rack inside the flower pot, so it is perched a good four or five inches above the cake pan. If you do not have a round grill rack or cannot find one small enough to fit inside the pot, simply place it over the top of the flower pot.
Grab the second terra cotta flower pot and place it upside down (the hole facing upwards) over the first one. If your grill rack fits snug inside the first flower pot, you should have a good seal between the two pots. On the other hand, if you used a grill rack that extends past the perimeter of the flower pot, simply use aluminum foil to seal off the resulting gap between the two flower pots. Another option is the use of a meat hook from which to hang a thicker cut of meat and suspend it over the wood chunks. You may fasten this hook to the hole of the upper pot with wire.
Place the food thermometer through the hole of the upended flower pot and secure it either with wire or aluminum foil. Having access to the readout is vital and you need to make sure you do not obstruct the view to the display with the foil.
Plug in and turn on your electric heat source, and let the wood chunks heat up until smoke is generated and the temperature inside the flower pots measures a good 210 to 220 degrees F.
Place the meat on the round grill rack and smoke it according to the recipe you are using, desired smokiness, weight, and of course also thickness. This process may take between eight and 14 hours.
Tips & Warnings
- If you are not certain that your electric heat source can actually reach 210 to 220 degrees, plug in the meat smoker you built prior to actually using it and see at which temperature it peaks. Adjust your cooking time from there.
- Do not open up the meat smoker frequently as this will let the precious smoke escape instead of penetrate your meat.
- Photo Credit Morguefile.com/J. P. Kollhøj
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