Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Tale of the Pulled Pork

Yesterday, I posted this picture of the pulled pork from Sunday without really explaining where it came from.
Unwrapping the meat
The easy answer would be to say we bought it that way. But the truth is we made it in our smoker. (And I'm using "we" in the most general sense. Moral support counts right?)

See a few months ago, we were watching an episode of Good Eats on the Food Network, where Alton Brown makes a smoker out of a trash can. Once we bought the house, the boy knew one thing he wanted to do was make one himself. The fact that the Saints were going to be in the Superbowl, produced a perfect moment for it to happen.

Alton Brown's homemade smoker was pretty simple. In the bottom of the trash can (or terra cotta pots, which we used) you place a hot plate. On top of the hot place goes a pan filled with wood chips. You put a grate over that and smoke the meat for about 10 hours at 200 degrees. Not to hard right, and all the pieces you needed were readily accessible. Except not so much...

On Wednesday night we decided to test the set-up. (Again we is used in the general sense.) And while it was working in theory, we couldn't get the smoker anywhere near to 200 degrees. After listening to the hot plate automatically click off inside the smoker and doing some research we discover the problem.

It seems all readily available hot plates are made to be "safe." Meaning that as soon as they hit the temperature where water boils (around the 200 degrees we were going for), it would turn off to cool down and then turn back on. Yes, this would help to prevent a fire, but makes it almost impossible to use in a smoker. At the rate we were going we'd need 12 hours just to get the smoker up to 200 degrees, and then top that off with 12 hours of cooking time.

The solution we found was to return the "safe" hot plate, and buy a Coleman burner powered by propane. That could fit in the smoker, and get the temperature up and keep it up. Which means we now own a working smoker. Since I know you want to see it, here is the official smoker in action.
Smoking Pork
I would have loved to have showed you all a picture of the inside of the smoker as it was assembled. Except in order to have the meat ready for the game, we had to be up at 5 to get the meat to start cooking. And this half of the we? Well, I guess you could say in this case, my sleep was a little more important than pictures. I'm sure "we" will love hearing there's something more important to me than taking pictures!



  1. haha, sleep is definitely more important than pictures. It looks delicious though! And the terra cotta pots seem like a fun way to smoke meat. :)

  2. That's really cool, I honestly don't think I've ever seen a smoker like that.

  3. I was so happy to see that the Saints had won!! I was totally rooting for them :)

    One of my old coworkers was completely obsessed with BBQing and smokers... and pulled pork sounds so good!