A few weeks ago when I butchered the pig I set his belly in a dry cure mixture. Salt, sugar, pepper, garlic and lots of herbs from the garden – sage, thyme and parsley.
I had visions of curing my own bacon and then smoking it. Most of the reputable advice on the net advised against cold smoking because of the inherent danger of keeping the food in the danger zone for a long time. Most home smoking is of the hot-smoking method where the food is actually heated and cooked through by the end of the process. I want the meat to remain raw but to get the smokey flavour. I wasn’t worried about the danger because I understand the watch points and figured I could avoid it – especially considering the air temp outside is below freezing. No way could the cold smoke heat the at above 4 degrees C.
My friend Garth and I had daily discussions of what method to use and we settled on making a cold smoke generator with a paint can, some copper pipe and an aquarium pump to blow the cold air and create the draw. Garth handled the soldering and assembly. In the picture above he is subbing in for the pump by blowing into the tube.
It worked brilliantly! The next step was to figure out a smoking chamber. I opted to sacrifice an old cooler. I set the cured belly on a rack in the cooler, filled the can with apple wood chips, lit the chips through small holes punched in the bottom of the can and turned on the pump.
I supported the rack on mason jars so that the smoke could entirely surround the meat and propped the lid open with a chop stick so some smoke could escape.
Each can of wood chips seems to last about 1h30 or so and I intend to leave it in all day, reloading and relighting the can as needed.
I was eager to try the unsmoked product so I had something to compare it to once finished.
It was pretty delicious unsmoked so I can only imagine what it will taste like when it’s done.
And the serendipity? Yesterday I stumbled on some fitting graffiti when I was giving a friend a tour of the area 🙂 A little vulgar but it’s the thought that counts…