Flower Pot Ceramic Smoker

Josh Brusin

June 20 2005 - 11:10 AM

Grillout"Good Eats" is a great show. Alton Brown is kind of wacko but that’s what we need. A reason to try silly ideas at home (this guy… he did this on the t.v…). At least it was my excuse.

Ceramic smokers are neat ideas. They are pretty costly too… see Big Green Egg. But they are way better than the old flower-pot. They are insulated and regulated and can blast high heat. I would worry about the flower pot over 300º.

The idea is that instead of radiating heat out, (like metal smokers)
requiring way more fuel and drying out your food, the ceramic pot is
insulated and has barely any airflow locking in heat and moisture. The only
downside is the lack of huge plumes of neighbor-attracting smoke. But
since this will be on a condominium deck and the neighbors would likely be
pissed, in my case, this is another advantage.

I risked the inherent problems of smoking chicken at low temperatures
and threw a dozen chicken legs on as a test so that a misjudgement of cooking
time could err on the side of :30 instead of half a day with a roast. As it turns
out the food was ready on time.

Finding a lid that matched the pot was a trick because what you are
looking for is actually a low-slung second pot (with the drain hole).
Considering the non-traditional shape it ended up costing more at $13
than the huge ceramic bowl $9.99. The hot plate was $9.99 at Walgreens
and did not melt, burnout or nuthin. I did have to crank it contrary to
the Alton’s suggestion of "lowest setting" but it was chicken and I was
somewhat concerned. The top thermo was a meat thermo and that was
likely a mistake. It registered 170º-180º as max temp in the oven.
That’s too low for chicken. Considering you have to open the lid to add
chips there needs to be a way to run a constant 220º-260º. I did luck
out with a Charbroil grate that has a double ring that allows it to
rest halfway between the top grate and the drip pan.

First off I need to work on a dry rub. I tried a really salty texas BBQ
seasoning thing (see, I was focused on this oven thing) and that was no
good. The chicken was really juicy and really smokey. Big shocker. It
was so juicy that I would have thought it was deep-fried. The skin-on
factor seemed to potentially not matter. The advantage is it keeps the
outer layers from turning into jerky which happened on a piece where
the skin coverage was lacking.

I preheated at 12:30, had them on from 1:30 to 4:30 and gave them a quick grill (minute and
a half – tops) on the Weber while looking for a pan to bring them
inside on. Overall I used maybe 2 handfulls of thin hickory chips 1/2
soaked, 1/2 dry. The lid remained cool to touch which was great. I
bought a couple of copper doo-dads to lift a potentially hot lid off
but didn’t need them.

Since the chicken didn’t drip or lose moisture there was little mess
on the ceramic. A dump out and wash of the grate was all the cleaning
needed and by 6 o’clock I had the thing disassembled and in the back
seat of the car.

My car smells wonderful… and what does it smell like?

mmmm…smokey bbq.

**note I added banana leaves around the lid of the base to help keep in the smoke… adds a great flavor as well. My car smells like car again as well.


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