Cardboard Box Smoker Advice?
June 30, 2005 9:55 AM   Subscribe

This weekend I intend to construct a Custom Corrugated Vapor Colloid Applicator to smoke some fish. Now I've seen Alton Brown do this on my DVD of the show a dozen times, but I'm still a bit iffy about 1) not burning the house down 2) creating something non-food poisonalicious and 3) getting it done in time for a BBQ on Sunday. Any MeFi homemade smoker veterans have any tips for a beginner?
posted by robocop is bleeding to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Never used a homebrew smoker like that, just full-sized outdoor charcoal ones. Personally I'd be REAL particular about that sawdust - not only do you not want the poisons in pressure treated wood but you don't want anything with paint, stains or lacquers on it either. Did the original episode have AB comment on if it HAD to be sawdust or if you could just use wood chips sold for smoking?
posted by phearlez at 10:04 AM on June 30, 2005


In the Q&A at the end of the episode on DVD, he pretty much says "If you are not 100% sure about your dust, use wood chips." So I'll use woodchips and soak them for a few hours before smoking. Could I smoke them in beer?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:07 AM on June 30, 2005


If you haven't already, search around on the Good Eats Fan Page forums. Lots of discussions there about smoking.

You can buy bags of different types of wood chips at most grocery stores or Home Depot if you don't have ready access to some. Like others have said, i would avoid using sawdust.

Also, you won't burn your house down if you use the smoker outside, which is what I hope you're planning on doing.
posted by bondcliff at 10:16 AM on June 30, 2005


You can absolutely soak the chips in anything you like, though I think with something like beer you'll get better results from marinading the meat.
posted by phearlez at 10:59 AM on June 30, 2005


I made a smoker out of a trash can, based on on Alton Brown's principles.

Self-linkage:
How to make a trash can smoker
How to smoke a turkey in a trash can

You can drop me an email if you have any questions.
posted by Argyle at 11:43 AM on June 30, 2005


I made a smoker out of a trash can, based on on Alton Brown's principles.

Self-linkage:
How to make a trash can smoker
How to smoke a turkey in a trash can

Those should show you everything you need to know.

You can drop me an email if you have any questions.
posted by Argyle at 11:45 AM on June 30, 2005


Also don't use coniferous wood. Very bad.

I used to work in a fish market that had a salmon smoker in the store (cough cough) and it was pretty simple, especially if you're hot smoking. You can get some cheapish sheets of any metal, mount racks in it. Create a vent a the top and put a tray with wood at the bottom. Extra points of you wrap the metal box with insulation on the outside (like an uninstalled diswasher).

PS Alton Brown is a dink and his show is super low in the production values. The intro is lame. But the concept and content is pretty neat.
posted by Napierzaza at 12:16 PM on June 30, 2005


One critical item missing from the diagram would be a drippins catcher. I would just place an old baking pan or foil pan below the food, but above the hot smoking action. Drippins on the chip pan WILL start a fire and give unpleasant tasting smoke to the meat. The fan is rediculous, convection will circulate the smoke well as long as you have the meat evenly spaced on the racks. As far as racks, you should be ok with oven racks, but fridge racks are often coated with things you don't want to use for cooking. An option inplace of racks would be spearing the meat [not fish] on rods, letting the meat hang, and inserting the ends of the rod in holes in the box for support. A better option than a hot plate would be a small electric frying pan with thermostat from a thrift store. You should definitey make a batch before the main event as it will take a bit to dial in the temps and time.

The cooking forum on Steelheader.net has lots of great recipes/info/pics for smoking fish, esp salmon.
posted by roboto at 12:20 PM on June 30, 2005


As an update, the cardboardbox smoker was a bust. For the amount I spent on fiddling and fixing, I could have just bought an electric smoker, which I have now done.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:39 AM on December 8, 2005 [1 favorite]


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