As more and more people are beginning to take up barbecue grilling as a hobby, many have become interested in smoking meats. Smoking meats over low and slow fires, imparting the flesh with the rich warmth of smoke can be a tricky process to pull off using a conventional grill. Charcoal grills often get too hot and require you to change the charcoal throughout the process, which may last for several hours to over a day. Gas grills are also inconvenient to use since the propane tanks can run out and you have to figure out a way to place wood chips onto the burners without causing a mess. A more simple solution is to purchase a smoker, a device that is similar to a grill, but designed specifically for smoking. Smokers can be expensive and they’re only suited for smoking, making them impractical for most people who will only use the smoker occasionally. One option is to build your own smoker out of simple materials that you can find in any hardware store.
Smoking is an age old method of preserving food. Today, we don’t need to use smoking as a preservative because of refrigeration, but a lot of people still enjoy smoking because of the wonderful flavors that it produces. Smoking is a low and slow cooking process that takes place where the temperatures are below 225 degrees. In order to build your own smoker at home, you need a large metal enclosure like a trash can or large metal box, a hot plate, a disposable pie pan, a grill rack or wire baking racks, a drill, hammer, tin snips and some pliers. All of these products can be purchased at your local hardware store for under $50.
The hardest part about building your own BBQ smoker is drilling in a hole into the trash can or box to fit the electrical cord of your hot plate. To make this easier, select a trash can that is made out of thin aluminum, which is easy to drill through. Next, take a drill with a metal drilling bit attached to it and make a small hole in the side of the can approximately 2-3 inches above the bottom edge that is large enough to insert the tip of your tin snips. Once you can insert the point of your tin snips, cut a small hole into the can that is large enough to fit the plug through. Once you have a little flat cut out, you can use your pliers to pull the piece back. File down the edges of the metal flat or tape them with some electrical tape to prevent anyone or the electrical cord from being cut by the metal.
Next, insert the hot plate into the bottom of the can and thread the electrical cord through the hole that you just drilled. Place the pie pan on top of the hot plate and add a small amount of soaked wood chips.
Finally, place in the grill grate. If you’re using a round trash can, a standard 16 inch grill grate should fit in snug, giving you plenty of room at the top to add food. If your grill grate does not stay level, you can drill some holes into the trash can near the top and insert some screws to act as support rails for your grate. You may also find that it is handy to drill a couple of holes into the top of your lid, which will act like vents. Air will flow up and out of these holes, drawing the smoke into the meat.
Finally, place your meats onto the grill grate and turn the hot plate onto its lowest setting. Within about 15 to 20 minutes, you should notice some smoke beginning to be produced from the burning wood. Place the lid of the trash can onto the can and smoke according to your recipe.