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Smoking Pot (With an IP Address)

January 20, 2007

[If the title confuses you, its a rip-off of twothird’s and Bbum’s, since this is a hybrid of their two setups.]

This afternoon I gave the homemade smoker v2.0 a run with something relatively quick: smoked chinook salmon. If you haven’t read my earlier entry, v2.0 is basically the gutting of the electric internals, and replacing it with charcoal and a Stoker system. It worked *remarkably* well!

If you’re not familiar with the Stoker, its a BBQ control unit that allows you to “stoke” the fire via a fan based on some fancy rules. When the thermocouple reports a temperature is too low, the Stoker fires up the fan for a brief duration to feed the fire and get the temperature back up– all without your intervention. The manufacturer makes various blower adapters for the majority of popular BBQs, but since I wanted to stick with my economy smoker (read: a 17″ terracotta pot from Home Depot), I had to come up with my own. It wasn’t the most straightforward coupling: the blower needs to remain upright so the built in damper closes when the fans not in operation, and I needed a way of blowing the air *up* through the pots drain hole.

Enter the circular saw, a section of 1×4 and a flat surface (a piece of 1/4″ plywood in this case). With a few simple cuts, I manufactured a box that mates fairly flush with the base of the pot. I then used a jigsaw to cut a hole for the blower on the side, and voila: air has only one way to go- through the base of the smoker, and directly into the coals.

The only other items needed are a 16″ grill which fits perfectly inside the pot, and a way to keep the coals together in a way that allows air to flow across them via the blower. In my case, this was a cast iron ring salvaged from a komodo grill and a heavily perforated pie pan (v3.0 will likely be using the charcoal “grill” from the bottom of the komodo instead of the pan. I was paranoid about coals falling all the way down and plugging the pots drain hole, but instead I will simply screen over the hole and use the grill, which won’t let ashes build up like the pan does.)

The trial run consisted of 20 briquettes, started via butane torch (yes, I need a chimney. My main grill is propane :-/). I set the Stoker to 230F, lidded it up, and watched the temperature climb to my target to 230F within minutes. Problem was it kept going *past* my target temp. From the looks of the smoke pouring out from the junction between the pot and lid, it seemed I needed a better seal in order to suffocate the fire. A strip of painters tape later, and the temp immediately started dropping. Phew. V3.0 will need a more convenient seal…

While the salmon was brining for 3 hours, I thought I’d let the smoker go and see just how long it’d last at 230F with just 20 briquettes. It ended up outlasting me- easily maintaining that temperature until I had to unlid it to get the salmon going- and it looked to have consumed only half the fuel. The terracotta pot insulates well enough that I may be able to do a whole Boston Butt with just a single load! Excellent.

Here’s the finished product, and a short video of the stoker in operation- forcing air/smoke through the system.


From → Cooking

  1. Sean O'Neill permalink


  2. Brilliant! The salmon looks delicious. πŸ™‚

  3. Cool, my gift made it to Make Blog πŸ˜‰

  4. Didn’t you recently take the manager training? What did they tell you about using the phrase, “smoking pot?” πŸ˜‰

  5. Jason DeFontes permalink

    Re the seal issue: you might try a gasket kit for the BGE:
    Though I’m sure you can find the material cheaper if you can figure out what it is.

    I’m really curious to see if you can pull off a long burn on this rig, as the prospect of an overnight pork
    shoulder or brisket is what’s got me looking at the BGE…

  6. Jason- thanks for the BGE gasket tip. I’ll post up the results of my next Boston Butt session in the coming weeks…

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