Monday, November 2, 2009

I’ve started smoking again

And what a joy it is, though it has been trickier than before. Having only used Sabina (very hardwood coniferous, something to do with Juniper) up to this point I have had no problems with keeping the sawdust alight as it has such high oil content. But I have kind of given up on trying to find sabina dust as the wood yards keeps telling me they never have a pure supply, that it is always cut with pine or other unsuitable woods. Annoying, when they had sold me stuff before, but there you go.

So I had to find a supply of hardwood chipping/sawdust unmixed with any resinous woods. A carpinter friend of mine (not Jesus) made a deal with me. If he supplied me with the right stuff I would supply him with my finished product. Wicked. I go round to his workshop and there are 6 big black bin bags bulging bonza bonus beech. Nice.

I take the bags home and excitedly drag the smoker out of the bushes and set it up. I get some 400g salmon trout fillets and salt them for 45 mins by rubbing rock salt into them. Then I wash them and dry them. I pour the beech shavings into my paella smoke pan and light it. Goddam it if it don’t just flare up and burn. Entirely hopeless. I soak the salmon fillets an hour, fry them and eat them.

I tell the carpinter. The carpinter tells me he got some oak sawdust so I go over and pick it up. I try again, this time without any fillets or anything, just to see what will happen with the sawdust. I torch it and it smoulders. Excellent. Then it goes out. Crap.

Both the beech and the oak have low oil content so cannot keep themselves alight without help. I know now that if I am gonna have any luck then I am going to have to get some sort of heat under the chippings and this will have to be in a separate chamber to the item to be smoked or it will cook said item. Annoying cos before I just lit the sabina, stuck it in the bottom of the smoker and that was that

I got a 25 litre paint tin, cut a hole in the top and shoved a pipe in the hole feeding it then into the smoker several feet away. The tin fitted exactly over the paella pan. I put a gas ring under the pan and lit it. A minute or two later the the dust began to smoulder. Dig it. I put in a piece of Edam cheese. Smoked Edam c’est bon.

It worked well except it melted the pipe. Next move - chimney flue pipe. I found it easily enough but they only had stuff that was twice the diametre. What the fuck. It’ll be fine. This time I bought 7 pieces of Edam (the first was excellent). I fuelled up and lit it and then, as is my wont on experiements, left the house to do something else. I came back a while later to find a yellow red gooey mess where the cheese had once been. The dust had caught fire the same as the shaving because of the increased air flow.

By this point I was getting irritated but managed to remain cool and not break my tow by kicking the oil drum smoker. I crimped the end of the flue and tried again. This time with one piece of cheese and by remaining close by to see what happened. I smoked it for 2 hours and it worked tip top. Now I just gotta figure out how to slow it down even more so I can smoke overnight leaving it unmanned