Daddy Alsum found a charcoal water smoker for less than $20 when we were buying a couple things for home improvements. After he twisted my arm decently, we went home with our new cooking setup.
After curing it and preseasoning it, we fired up our smoker as we began a new adventure in homemade deep flavors. We used a good quality walnut oil to coat and cure the thing, and we chose cherrywood as our first flavor in wood chips. It smelt fantastic.
This wasn’t my first time smoking something, but previously I had done it on a stovetop or in the oven. Tea leaf-smoking with brown sugar is a personal favorite technique of mine. This whole charcoal smoker approach was all new to us.
Lark and Hart helped me measure out the wood chips we needed and to pour the apple cider vinegar on them to soak. I tried to get the smoker up to temp in time for when Daddy Alsum got home from work on the bus. I did not succeed. The charcoal we bought was not co-operating and from what we have been reading we’d be better off buying the natural lump kind rather than briquettes. We live and learn. Anyway, Daddy Alsum had much better skill with the fire-making and we got it ready to add those chips in no time.
I had already been brining the pork chops since the morning before Daddy left for work. I wanted to work as many subtle fruity flavors into the meal as possible so I included some dried juniper berries in the mix. To accompany the huge slabs of meat, we prepped rainbow carrots, butternut squash, green pepper, and heads of garlic.
Once the meat was safely cooked through, I served up the mammoth plateful. I took one of the heads of garlic and creamed the smoked cloves in my mortar and pestle before forming a glaze with those alongside half of a pomegranate, a splash of apple cider vinegar, water and brown sugar. (I saved the remaining cloves for future cooking by preserving them submerged in walnut oil. There was also leftover butternut squash which became part of a layered pasta casserole dish (recipe to follow).
We also cooked too much meat so I sliced one whole pork shoulder chop into strips and dehydrated it for 5 hours to make a little jerky… which the kids devoured.
The carrots got a little crunchy, and the bell pepper was perhaps a little too earthy to go with the fruity flavors, but otherwise it was an extremely successful first attempt.
We’ll be using our smoker again soon for the hors d’oeuvres we are bringing to Grandma and Grandpa Alsum’s Christmas eve family gathering. Smoked salmon.
What have you got planned for your special holiday dinners?
From mine to yours,