Trash? Recycle bin? I don’t think so. Old Smoker, I love you.

This post isn’t for you people who are already hip to the love of an old, well used smoker. But for those of you who may feel they need the new stuff, the bells and even a few whistles. As with many crafts, it’s about the person wielding the brush, not the brush itself.
Yeah well, before we left for Calistoga Jeffrey said a friend had given him an old smoker that someone had tossed out. It looked complete, but old, rusty and kinda funky. He sent me a picture and it looked serviceable. While I have used and owned a few of those bullet shaped smokers, I’d never actually used one with no visible air vents or access door to the fire.

The day arrived and I showed up with a load of pork chops and a pork roast, just to see what she could do. The darned thing weighed a ton for such a small rig, 16 gauge steel? The lid sits inside the main tube, pretty snug too. One rack sits up high, a charcoal pan lays below, had a 1″ hole in the bottom, at the center. Ash pan sits on the ground underneath. Sure there’s a little hole, about the size of a finger in the side, but not one adjustable air vent, who knew? I sure as hell didn’t.
A full load of mesquite charcoal, gray and all glowy was installed in to Ol’ Orangy. Remember, fire is a living, breathing being and needs to be tended to. Especially when your cooking in an unfamiliar pit. Get to know your fire, foo. And you know what? Fire is hot, and this one was no exception, brother. This little smoker was really putting out some serious heat. With the lid off it was a high-output furnace from gosh. With the lid on? A little bit slower.
Time to let the fire mellow, burn down so to speak. With the lid removed, the grate went on for a good cleaning (read here: burn the crap out of it). Time marches on. The charcoal had burned down and the lid went back on. Ya know, that little 1″ hole in the charcoal pan works really well. The wind whistled through, keeping the wood closest nice and hot. Then, from the center back to the outer edges, the charcoal burned nice and slow, perfection.
Maybe 15 minutes or so it’d cooled down and the meat went on.
Normally, one doesn’t want to open up the smoker frequently, just let the damned thing do its job. But I was unfamiliar with the rig and the meat wasn’t huge enough to just let it sit all afternoon. Peek, peek, peek! After all was cooked and plated, the fire I had decided to cook on was still a little too fresh for some low and slow action. But not a bad haul for the first run, not at all.
To sum it all up, this little torpedo does an excellent job, I’m really impressed with it. I would be proud to have one of these in my arsenal. While fire access isn’t the best, it’s really efficient and doesn’t need much reloading, unless you were doing a brisket er butt. Besides, the grate is really easy to remove hot, just make sure your leather gloves don’t have holes (don’t ask me how I know this). The only downside I could find in the design is where the ashes wind up, pretty much on the ground. Any decent gust will send them out and about, kinda like an old weber kettle.
The next time you see an old smoker laying by the side of the road, tucked under some weeds or at a garage sale, grab it! It could very well provide you with some juicy morsels and save you some cash.

13 thoughts on “Trash? Recycle bin? I don’t think so. Old Smoker, I love you.

  1. As you so eloquently stated… it’s the hands, not the brush.
    I’ve never had a lot of luck w the lil bullet smokers, but then again, they were all before I really learned *what* in the blazes I was sposed to be doin… so maybe now I might have some luck…. One never knows….
    Good lookin chops those…..

  2. Oh, I forgot to mention there’s bacon in there too!
    It also makes a GREAT grill, kinda an indirect thing. MmmMm, bacon.

  3. Bacon…. isn’t it odd that no other word in the english language says so many things so well as that one word….

  4. What?
    You all.
    Allatime finding and swapping meat burning devices.
    When we know a hole in the dirt with some rocks and a grill works purty good.
    You make me feel a little prouder of my bullet smoker.

  5. Reverandoctor Biggles,
    You must turn and step to the front door to deliver this sermon. The choir here all have a porch full of the cast off rigs you cannonize. You must preach to the world of elite and upwardly, whom discard these jewels once they are financialy liberated.
    Two weeks after they move up to a snooty neighborhood you will find any number of glorious things waiting at the end of their new drive. Waiting for the trashman. Wont be needing that perfectly good yard equipment, the new nieghbors have already had the ‘talk’ with him about appearances, a yard service has been hired. And after a few meet and greets at the new nieghbors houses, that nasty ol BBQ pit isnt going to cut it anymore.
    Now in your sermon, it was good to see you at least alluded to the fact that in this case, Justice is served in this life here on earth. They ate crappy BBQ with their old unit, They are still eating crappy BBQ with the new $4000 ceramic whirlygig radiation cook center.
    So the cast off rig goes to a worthy smokemaster, who smugly, and with great humbleness produces that “I’m gonna die happy eating this Killer BBQ”.
    Reverand, if its not too far from your ethical standard, plese tell the sinners we will take all of that defective prime rib off their hands too…….. And then quickly pass the collection plate. AMEN
    Choir Director

  6. Well, how timely. I finally get the new HQ set up out here in the Midwest and have a yard and thus space for my first smoker and then I check in with the master who has a bit o’ advice for outdoor amateurs like me. Neat-o. And I think I know where to find one of them old suckas…

  7. Honey, that little red smoker looks like it’s ready for blast-off!
    I’m sure there’s a Marin ordinance against such a combustible contraption but I admire yours enormously.

  8. “The next time you see an old smoker laying by the side of the road, tucked under some weeds or at a garage sale…”
    This is very funny to a UK dweller! I would dearly love it to happen but I think my chances are slim to say the least. Have you ever smoked meat on a BBQ? I have one of those.

  9. Helen,
    Depending on the BBQ grill, you can smoke pretty well.
    If it’s a charcoal grill, just keep the meat on one side, and the fire on the other, so it’s all indirect heat. If it’s a gas grill, take your wet wood chips or sawdust and make a pouch out of aluminum foil (or whatever you wacky Brits call it) poke a couple of holes in it to let the smoke get out, and put the all-yoo-mineum pouch over a burner set to low on one end of the grill. Put the meat on the other end, and keep the temp in the 200-225 range. When the pouch quits smokin, do another one. Keep it up until you’re done.
    In theory, you could smoke a large brisket this way, although I’ve never done it. I usually use that technique for just adding a little smoke flavor to whatever I’m grilling… and use my real smoker for, well, real smoking….
    Hope that helped.

  10. Cheers J. I will try it out. I have a charcoal BBQ so I won’t need the aluminium foil – which is what us wacky Brits call it – although we pronounce it differently 😉

  11. Hey Helen,
    What Jeff said and you can take a few bricks, wrap in foil and lay them down next to the fire. What you’re trying to do is deflect the direct heat of the fire. Deflected fire on one side, food on the other. Yeah!