Having a bit of time on my hands, I decided to take up smoking. No, Mom, not cigarettes… food! I’m using a terracotta smoker, which (hopefully) will not make my picky German neighbors insane at the first whiff of charred mesquite.
I got the idea from Good Eats (Alton Brown), though now you can find dozens of pages explaining how to make a terracotta smoker, so I won’t go too much into detail. The basics: buy 2 flower pots, an electric burner, a heavy duty pie pan, and a round grill grate. Slap a thermometer on there and fill it with hardwood, and you’re smokin’! Here it is:
Smoking MUST be done outside. Preferably far from anyone’s house windows! If you do try this on an apartment balcony like me (disclaimer: I’m not responsible, blah blah blah, not recommended), read these
6 Tips for Balcony Smokers / Grills
- Tell your neighbors first so they don’t think someone’s places is on fire
- Promise your neighbors some of the finished product as payment for putting up with your smoke
- Don’t use too many wood chips, or any sawdust – they make massive amounts of smoke FAST
- Try chunks of wood and longer cooking times to minimize smoke output
- Keep your windows/door closed, otherwise your own apartment will smell like smoke
- Use a meat thermometer to measure the smoke temperature, as it’s more accurate in the narrow range where you want to be smoking (up to about 230F / 110C)
Below is my first attempt: smoked jalapeños and habaneros. Note the former are not chipotles, because I used green jalapeños; to make chipotles you need to find ripe red jal’s. Weighing in at 308 grams before smoking…
Here are the peppers mid-smoke. I smoked ’em for about 12 hours on low heat (70-80C).
And the final product: note they only weigh in at 28 grams! >90% weight loss…
I’ve made salsa and Texas-style BBQ sauce with these babies and they are deliciously smoky. Just one pepper adds huge flavor to a bowl of fresh salsa!