Backyard smoking


There has been an increase in interest in backyard smoking of meats with the availability of relatively inexpensive equipment which you are likely to find at Home Depot or, in my case, at my friendly (very) neighbourhood Home Hardware store: Quincaillerie Azores.

I love looking at the charcoal barbecues and smokers that this store carries. I haven't bought a smoker mainly because the one that I like the most is almost the size of a gas barbecue, and I was trying to reduce my footprint on my condo's terrace, but it doesn't stop me from looking. I don't really need a dedicated smoker unit, though, as with a bit of knowledge of the smoking process, I can accomplish a decent smoking on my inexpensive but well-designed charcoal bbq that has a 17" circular grill.

I described how I might smoke my sausage while cooking it in yesterday's blog posting but the basics are this: wood chips (mine are applewood) in a foil pack (the shiny thing in my photo) placed over hot coals with the lid on. If you don't have smoke coming out the vent holes in your lid, then your wood chips are not burning. Move them to the hottest coals.

When I put my sausage on the grill to smoke last night I had a 300° F reading on my thermometer. This is a bit hot as you don't want your meat cooking right away. The temperature will go down to about 275° F fairly soon with the lid on. Even at this temperature, you will have enough heat to cook your meat within 25 minutes or less. If I had the smoker from Quincaillerie Azores with the firebox on one end I could make my smoking much more effective by lengthening out the time before I finally cook the product.

If you are not so hungry and want to see how much pink (evidence of the nitrite in the wood smoke) that you can get into your product try this with your charcoal barbecue: Use much less charcoal than you would normally use for cooking (let's try 1/4 the amount that it takes to cover the bottom with coals). Prepare the coals so that they are hot enough to set your soaked wood chips smouldering (I use a bbq chimney to start my charcoal along with an electric element that is plugged in for the first 7 minutes and inserted in the chimney with the coals). Put the meat as far away from the coals as you can. At the end, you could introduce some hot coals if your sausage is not cooked through (internal temperature 160°F).

I would recommend that you smoke and cook enough sausage so that you can experience it cold the next day. Here is a plan for this: BBQ hamburgers, steak or chicken for supper. When this has finished cooking remove excess coals keeping enough to set your smoking wood chips smouldering, put the sausage on the grill and put the lid on (with the vent holes open both below and above). Go and eat supper. At the end of supper finish cooking the sausage, if it hasn't had enough heat to do so itself in your absence. Put in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch.

That's what I would do.