bbq, propane and propane products

About a year ago, I made the mistake and picked up Franklin's bbq book.  It was then I realized any bbq I had done was shit.  Franklin's bbq is from live fire and rapidly moving smoke rather than any configuration of smoldering wood in a closed system, the latter producing an acrid mess of a smoked meat product.  I kind of knew that was an extreme position, but was stopped in my tracks.

Adding to this reluctance to ever visit bbq again was the duration of a typical smoking session, i.e., 12h for a pork butt, ca. 18h for a brisket, too much time for a busy life.

Having thought about this for literally a year, I decided to take a shot with the most convenient rig I could imagine and just taste, again, the results of my own labor to see how horrible it was.  I rigged up an electric hotplate, nestled inside a kettle grill, not the best long term solution, but good for a single shot.

 I placed a 1350 W hotplate, a Corning PC101 I picked up at a thrift store, inside the kettle on medium high, cooking oak in the tray.

Then I placed a stainless cylinder, a type of kettle extender I picked up long ago, on the bottom, and placed a chuck roast (poor man's brisket) rubbed w paprika, salt, pepper and brown sugar and let it rip about 250F for about 7 hours.

Electric heating was trivial, no effort at all.

Here's the final product.  I pulled it off when it was a tad over 200F internal, wrapped it and tried some after an hour.  Crazy heavy bark, nice smoke inside, but surprisingly, not acrid at all.  Great smoke and not overpowering.

So, I'm not sure why I feared this option for so long, but suddenly I'm alive and in the bbq game again and the perfectionists can snub me.

My final problem is the electric thing.  That hotplate is going to self destruct if left in that hot chamber for too long.  So, I decided propane might be an option for me.  I decided to modify a kettle and place it atop my turkey cooker for future use.

 I trimmed out the bottom of a spare kettle I had on hand.  Then ...

I placed it atop the turkey cooker.

So, there, my turkey cooker/propane smoker.  Space in there for a cast iron pan holding the smoke wood, a rack for a drip tray and a big surface for meat and easy access to add more wood.

I decided to try some fish to give it a trial.  I cured a piece of salmon and tilapia with 1:1 brown sugar:salt for an hour, rinsed/dried it and smoked it at 200F (oak) for an hour until it was about 150F internal.  Killer!!

 salmon, quick cured and smoked

tilapia, quick cured and smoked

So there, the propane rig can hold 250 internal easy using about 100 grams propane per hour, it'll be an easy 18 hour brisket cook.  As far as the purists, I'm ready for bbq again, my crispy ends on the chuck roast were too good to live without.