Christmas was a little different this year, or should I say Christmas dinner had a slight twist. This year we cooked the turkey in the smoker and what a difference it made.

Earlier in the year I had constructed a smoker in the garden which can be used as either a hot smoker or a cold smoker, which seems to confuse a number of people in the UK, where the concept of hot smoking is relatively unknown although that’s changing. If your reading this in the USA or any other country that has a tradition of Pit barbecue you will be familiar with the technique.

In the UK smoking food is really cold smoking, where you set light to a small pile of sawdust in an enclosed space to create a mass of smoke but without any heat, which is then used to “smoke” food, placed in the smoke. The most obvious example is Smoked Salmon. For Christmas presents this year I smoked Salmon, Bacon, and a variety of cheeses, all of which were well received and judged delicious.

Hot smoking in my case involves a charcoal fire inside the smoker which is a brick enclosure, which acts as an oven to slowly cook in this case a turkey. the charcoal creates the heat to which you then add wet wood chips on a regular basis to add smoke into the equation. Inside the smoker is a series of metal racks and the turkey goes onto one of these. However to stop it being grilled I have added a thick steel plate between the fire and the food, with a gap either end to let the heat round. I have also added a pan of water onto the steel plate which heats up adding steam and keeps the food moist. The picture shows how we started off. Once alight you shut the door which keeps the heat in a more importantly allows you to restrict the air flow, regulating the temperature.

image Had we cooked the turkey in a conventional oven it would have taken about 3 hours, this took 5, so its not a speedy process, and we did take care to check the internal temperature of the meat to ensure it was cooked. I am delighted to say the end result was a triumph, flavoursome and succulent, and I suspect will be a new Christmas tradition.

As always you learn a few things.  I was running short  of my home made charcoal and so switched to some commercial charcoal I had on standby, which didn’t create anywhere near the heat that mine does, I was very surprised by the difference. Fired up with enthusiasm I have now starting clearing the ground for a wood fired bread oven, so next year we will have choice.

Happy Christmas




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