You can take two large circular terra cotta flower pots and re-purpose them into a fantastic smoker in just a few minutes.
You can cook all kinds of thick slabs of meat as long as you have access to some electricity and basic materials. Follow the steps below and see how easy it is to get cooking.
What You Need
You will need two terra cotta pots, a circular barbecue grate or baking rack, a hot plate or single, portable burner and either a quality pie tin, cake pan or old pan without the handle to collect ash and drippings. You will also need some of your favorite wood chips that you use for smoking on the grill. Finally, you will need a thermometer that you can stick through one of the holes in the bottom of a planter.
Putting Everything Together
It’s important to remember that the diameter of the pots needs to match the size of the grill grate as well as be big enough to house the hot plate and collection pan. You will either have to remove the square housing around the hot plate or find one that is circular in shape as well. Use your imagination in order to modify it to fit as close to the bottom as possible.
All you need to do is insert the hot plate along the inside of one of the planters near the bottom. Run the power cord through the watering hole in the bottom of the planter. Place the pan inside the planter. There is no ideal spot for the pan, so you can use a larger or smaller one as your resources allow. Just make sure that it is not touching the burner plate. Try to place it at least a couple of inches above the burner to maximize the amount of heat that is able to radiate through the system later. You can also use a larger pan and place it a couple of inches beneath the grill plate as well.
Place a generous amount of your preferred wood chips into the pan along with a little bit of water. You should also consider soaking the wood chips overnight in water as well. Lay the grate in or on the top of the planter and turn on the hot plate. You are aiming for a temperature of between 210-230 degrees, but anything up to 250 will be okay in most circumstances. Make sure that the temperature is consistent before adding the meat and covering by inverting the second planter and placing it on top of the grill.
Stick the thermometer through the hole on top and let your meat cook away for between 7-14 hours depending on the type and thickness of your meat. Check as necessary, and feel free to expect to add some more water or fresh wood chips as the other ones dry out or burn away.
This is a great way to cook anything from roasts to turkeys and large or chunky fish. Just keep in mind that this project is just an example of how to make an improvised slow-cooker. You will also need to prepare your meat by marinating or placing it in a brine. This is especially true for pork and beef. You should also look for a nice recipe for a rub or sauce as well. The process of brining or marinading meat can take up to a full day, so make sure to plan accordingly.
One of the nice things about this trick is that you can place the cooker in the garage or shed and cook while it rains or is too cold outside. Just make sure that you don’t put the cooker anywhere where it can potentially ignite any flammable items. You also want to keep an eye on your burner/hot plate in order to ensure that the wiring isn’t overheating from being on for such a long period of time. Since terra cotta pots retain heat very well, you can unplug the burner for a few minutes and plug it back in and keep cooking.
Finally, the pots will get very hot on the outside, and you will get burned if you touch them with your bare hands. Make sure that you are wearing a good pair of gloves or using a thick towel to lift the top when you check and finish cooking the meat.
Remember that you will need to keep an eye on the meat periodically and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that the meat is not cooking too fast or slowly. Try this out for yourself, and see how this trick can help you to serve up some delicious smoked meat with minimal effort on your part.