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Monday, January 21, 2008

Building a cold smoker (smokehouse)



My original smokehouse plan was to make something big enough to cold smoke two pigs worth of hams and bacon at a time. I only butcher pigs once or twice a year for curing,....but I cook several pigs a year on my cinderblock pit.
I wanted a smoke box that I could set right on my block pit, and run a pipe from a separate smoke/fire box to create the cold smoke. Use my cinderblock cooker for both hot smoking and cold.
As it turned out, I decided (after I built the box) to make the little smokehouse permanent.




The box is constructed from some untreated lumber I had on hand.





I purchased the smoke stack....it has a damper built in.
I made a rain cap for the stack using hanging iron straps and a regular old cake pan....it's attached with nuts and bolts. I painted the pan with rust resistant high heat paint. The top of the smoke stack is covered with screen, held on by a hose clamp. (to keep the bugs out)

I covered the top of the little smokehouse with metal.



Caulk around the bottom of the smoke stack.



For shelves and dowel holders, I drilled holes into a 2x4.....then cut the 2x4 down the middle.





These are attached with screws to the inside of the little house.



The dowels rest in the grooves.



I made another rod holder the same way and use it to hold racks.



The base of the smokehouse is made of cinderblocks.....I used the dry stack method. No mortar is used, the blocks are dry stacked, rebar is ran through every other hole and filled with quickcrete.
The remaining holes are filled with dirt and the whole thing is capped off using quickcrete.



A hole is left for the smoke pipe. This was made using 1" metal tubing frame and a metal plate in front. Cut a hole the size of your smokepipe.



One picture I did not get....the bottom of the smokehouse has a metal strip attached to protect it from direct contact with the quickcrete/block base.

When filling the cinder blocks with quickcrete....I ran 18" metal straps inside the corner cinderblocks before the quickcrete dried. I used these straps to tie down the smokehouse.



The fire or smoke box is a barrel cut down to about 1/4 in size. Three 3/4" nipples with caps are added for air flow.



One ball valve is also added for air flow.



The fire grate is expanded metal reinforced with 1" tubing to keep it from warping over time.



I did attach small "feet" made from the same 1" tubing to keep the grate above my air nipples and valve.



The stove pipe running from the base of the smokehouse to the smoke/fire box.



I added a damper/valve between my fire/smoke box and my stove pipe for extra smoke/heat control.



The fire/smoke box, getting a paint job with high temperature grill paint.



The fire/smoke box.



For weather protection the wood is covered with a weather proof clear coating.

The base is covered with two thin layers of mortar.


It's ready to go!




The finished house is 6'7"tall, 4 'wide and 3'deep.


Some cold smoked slab, rolled and canadian bacon. Spices, salts, olives, nuts, cheeses, honey, etc..












I'm am getting a lot of use out of the smokehouse... I love it. :)

Calf Fries (mountain oysters)

I Made up a batch of calf fries and catfish Sunday.
I won't go into detail about how the fries were cleaned, but they were home grown. lol
The catfish was caught this summer.







First the cleaned and peeled fries are sliced about 1/4 inch thick. It's best to slice them while partially frozen, they are easier to work with.

The larger fries get tenderized.



Then they are rolled in cracker crumbs.



Fried until golden and crisp.



Drained on paper towels. Lightly salted.



Served with coctail sauce....tartar sauce for the catfish.

They make a great snack served with an icy cold beer. :)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Camping in Texas

If you've ever camped in Texas in the heat of the summer, you can probably relate to this. :)

If I'm lucky enough to have access to electricity....I use a window AC on a stand, a little grey tape and a trash bag.





The AC even has a remote control.
Ahhhh :)




Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Spatchcocked Apple Smoked Turkey


By spatchcocking or butterflying the turkey, it smokes a little bit faster. This is my favorite way to do one especially during cold weather. Takes less time and comes out beautifully.

I marinade the whole turkey overnight in a mixture of...
2 Quarts of apple juice or cider
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of kosher salt
2 quarts of cold water.
Make sure salt and sugar are desolved before adding turkey.
Cover and keep chilled overnight.





After marinading, remove from brine, dry off with paper towels.

Remove back bone and breast bone to make the bird lay flat.



I season the bird with a mixture of butter, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, onion and garlic powder and seasoned salt.

Place seasoned butter under breast skin too.


Onto the smoker. I smoked this one at 325 degrees until I reached an internal temperature of 173. I used apple wood chips for flavor.

After removing from the smoker, cover with foil and let it rest at least 30 minutes.


The finished turkey came out so moist and tender. The skin was tasty too!




Making Crab Rangoon

I love crab rangoon, but live in an area where it is impossible to find. I have no choice but to make my own. :)




For this batch, I used leftover crab from king crab legs. Canned crab works just as well.
I shred or chop the crab into small pieces.


Use 8 oz. of cream cheese (room temperature)

1 clove of garlic, minced

A dash of steak sauce (optional)

Also, I like to add a dash of onion powder


Mix well.....


Place about 1 tsp of the mixture in the center of a wonton skin.

Use your finger or a brush to moisten the edges with beaten egg yolk.


Fold the wonton skin over the filling and press to seal.


After all wontons skins are filled, heat your oil to fry.


Fry a few at a time until lightly golden.


Remove with a slotted spoon....let them drain on paper towels.


Serve with your favorite sweet and sour sauce or duck sauce.

They make great party snacks. :)