This is our new home smoker. We tested him out this week and were quite impressed. It only 'hot' smokes, so in effect it smokes and cooks the food as opposed to 'cold' smoking which basically cures the food. We decided on a hot smoker because cold smoking is a longer and more complicated process involving brining and maintaining an accurate temperature control. Apparently we can use this one for cold smoking too, but it invloves making a run off pipe in which to cool the smoke down, but I think we'll get to grips with the hot smoking first.
The smoker is made up of a bottom tray where you place the charcoal briquettes - it has to be briquettes - you can't use charcoal as it burns too quickly. Then on top of that there's a bowl to which you add water, plus any aromatics ie woody herbs such as rosemary or thyme. When you've got the briquettes going, you lay a foil pack of wood chippings of your choice. We used hickory.
For our first attempt we put on a small free range chicken, which we spatchcocked (which went on the level just above the water bowl) and a couple of rashers of pork belly and some sausages.
After the first hour and a half, it really didn't seem to be producing anything other than warm meat, so Mr AC put all of the meat on the top griddle and shifted the water bowl up which allowed more heat to circulate. Aha... success. I know we sound like a couple of numpties but the smoker came without any instructions. We had to phone the company we purchased it from and then rely on the website forum for advice. Yep, I don't know why either.
Anyway, the pork slices were very tasty and moist, if a little tough and the sausages tasted really good, a bit frankfurterish - very smokey. The meat doesn't look overally attractive but don't let that put you off.
As the smoker can double as a straight forward barbecue, we finished the chicken by giving it a bit of colour, directly over the coals. I must stress here that I have a food thermometer and used it to ensure all of the meat reached a safe temperature of at least 70 degrees C.