119: Adding a firebox!

Cooking with gas, low and slow, in a large, indirectly heated smoker, can accomplish much.  I've achieved a smoke ring too -- the small stacks and the heavy burner guard that makes the heat indirect while catching grease and burning it off fill the chamber with smoke.  But I'd like to use wood and charcoal.  Soon, I'll add this firebox, and then I can temporarily cap the near chimney, draw smoke across the cooking chamber, and try for some competition-quality BBQ!

October Update:
My auto mechanic, Tommy of Tommy's Auto Repair, is a genius -- he's a go-to guy for Subaru issues, and he's also an expert on Toyota, especially 4x4 trucks.  For work on any kind of car, he's efficient, honest as the day is long, and not overpriced.  We've been going to him for years.  

Turns out he's also a BBQ fan and built his own cooker.  And, he does fabrications and specialty work on ATV and other off-road vehicles used for racing.  Aware of what I was doing because he's one of my sources for advice, he offered to do my welding here, and he did a great job.  His son and protege in the shop, Chad, did much of it.

Instead of fabricating a box, I bought one at Lowes.  Not happy with the "Char-Broil" brand name, I asked Tommy and Chad to create a name plate and weld it over the logo.  I decided to call it "Big Jack," after my big father-in-law (Jack), who had the main cooker built for me, by an old, low-country SC farmer named, Hub," in the first place.

Last night, in the rain (had to move it under cover), I threw a chimney full of blazing hickory lumps and some hickory chunks into the firebox.  I put on the only meat I had thawed -- some skinless chicken thighs.  It maintained 150 for 90 minutes, and the smoke whistled out of the chimneys but also seeped from tiny places all around the cooking chamber, effectively flooding the grill area and strongly flavoring the chicken.  While I had to finish it off for 10 minutes in a cast iron skillet, I think two chimneys would easily reach and maintain 225-250.  For higher temperature cooks, I can always crank up the gas to supplement.  We're cooking!

Tommy and Chad, genius runs in the family
Next cook -- October 15 -- steaks and ribs, over hickory, with a little temperature maintenance help from a propane tank:

Flashing keeps my open venturi from blowing out on a gusty day.

I drilled and slid an oak log over the 3/4" pipe that cotter pins onto the side to serve as a handle that prevents me from leaning over the cooker during a flare-up or when igniting gas.

I built a table/cutting board out of oak.  It just slides into the open ends of the steel framework of the trailer, and it pulls out to travel in my truck.

The night before, we cold-smoked (150d) these steaks (generously supplied by Nathan Willard) on hickory and then seared them for 3 minutes on each side on the gas grill.  Yum!
Looking through the grill into the firebox, through its flue... This is what the meat sees!
Smoke ring!  and these were smmmmoooookkkky!
I tacked a knife magnet onto the cutting board shelf.
Better picture of the new handle...
Soaking some hickory...
Named the cooker after my FIL, "Big Jack."  He like to BBQ, and he had the cooker made for me by an old farmer named, "Hub."  I guess it's a HUB smoker.
Big Jack, smoking away.
Out-of-focus shot of my new firebox, with soaked chinks of hickory sitting on Kingsford Competition Charcoal.
Looking over the venturi and down the 48"-long burner.
Looking down 15" to the 1/4" thick steel heat baffle over the burner.  I cooked a 140lb pig for 17 hours at 225d using this, and it worked like a dream! 
Ribs!  About to start cooking.  See the smoke exiting the flu?  That parking lot smelled GREAT!

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

My photo
I use this blog to chronicle certain aspects of my life near the Smokies. I'm building a cabin. I kayak. Sometimes I bike.