Photos by MJ Klein
I love the outdoors, and I especially love cooking outdoors. Food just tastes better when cooked outdoors! Recently I’ve posted on some Dutch oven style cooking, my wood smoker in Thailand, and of course I’ve blogged on grilling here in Taiwan and Thailand too. Now, I’ve been indoors for 2 days and I’m already whining about it! I can handle wintertime and lots of snow, and that doesn’t stop me from cooking. But this awful typhoon rainy weather is depressing, so I’m going to blog more on one of my favorite topics:
Mmmmmmm….. Dutch ovens on the fire! I have these 2 (plus one more) with me in Taiwan. I do miss cooking with them as much as I used to back in New Hampshire. This shot was taken at my friend Kim’s home. I have friends in the US that like to hang out just for cooking!
This is my first gill invention before I designed my first large system. The ring keeps the fire from the center of the grill so you can put something like a whole chicken on the grill and have the heat indirect. But before I get into that, I have to clear up something about the definition of the word “BBQ.” If you are cooking directly over a fire, and the heat is high and the cooking is fast, you are absolutely not barbecuing. You are grilling. BBQ is a slow cooking process using indirect heat. I will show you examples of this later.
The ring in the above shot allows one to do real BBQ on a grill because it allows the heat to be indirect, on the outside of the cooking chamber. The ring can also be used to concentrate a small amount of charcoal or wood in the center for small batches of food.
This smoker (just like the one I had made in Thailand) has an offset fire box, which means that the firebox is below the level of the cooking chamber.
Here you can see what I mean. We are looking through the cooking chamber through the hole in the firebox and into the firebox on a lower level. The idea is that the hot smoke comes up from underneath the food, flows past the food and then out the smokestack.
There really isn’t any reason for me to post this photo at all. Except that I’m going crazy being indoors and this shot is of something I love to do outdoors! Well you can see in this photo that the smokestack protrudes into the cooking chamber, which ensures that the chamber is always filled with smoke/heat.
Once the fire starts to burn down you can add the food. Many people don’t realize that burning wood is poisonous (like a house fire, duh!) and cooking over burning wood can make you sick unless its charred over. In the case of the photo above, the logs are just about charred over. Only the ends are left to char and then the food can go on.
OK, the wood is charred over, the meat is on, the damper is down and the process begins. You want to keep the smoker close to 100C. Unlike grilling, cooler is better. Wintertime is the best season for real pit BBQ!
This shot was taken from my back door. People have told me that they can smell the smoked meat for miles around. I’ve made deals with local restaurant owners, trading a plate of my smoked pork ribs for their food! Properly adjusted, the smoke should have a bluish hue to it. When its running in the zone, I call it Barbecue Blue smoke.
Now, you thought I was joking about cooking outdoors in wintertime, didn’t you?
This is how I spent my winters in New Hampshire – out by the smoker and drinking Jack Daniel’s Hard Cola (no longer made I hear). Notice the needle on the thermometer, right where I want it to be, a cool 100C. The smoker runs so cool in wintertime and you never have to worry about it taking off and going out of control with a breeze.
The parting shot: Snow falling, charcoal fire burning, Chinese wok in the snow, used for vegetables cooked over the firebox, machete handle sticking up out of the snow (behind the wok) used for splitting wood, and the smoker going nicely.
Blogged with Flock