New Little Chief

Discussion in 'Fish' started by bryce, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. bryce

    bryce Smoking Fanatic

    So I purchased a Little Chief this weekend specifically to smoke salmon with.

    I'm wondering, since the smoker will only reach a temp of 165 max, do I have to worry about bacteria or anything like that? In the past I've used a bigger smoker that got much hotter so getting the fish to 140 + wasn't a problem at all.

    I do brine (typically wet) so that should help at least put a little bit of a cure on it?


    Thank you!
    Bryce
     
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    SAVE THE BOX .... It can be used to insulate the smoker in the cooler months... It is ALWAYS a good idea to add cure #1 to fish when smoking....
    1 tsp. per 5#'s... Dry the fish to form a pellicle, on a wire rack in front of a fan.. You are good to go....

    Mine has been in use, for fish, for at least 30 years....

     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  3. bryce

    bryce Smoking Fanatic

    Box saved!

    This may sound silly, but I like the fact that I didn't have to use a cure to make smoked salmon in an attempt to avoid nitrites and nitrates. Basically I don't store any of it as we will have it eaten within 4 days from the finished smoke.

    DaveOmak, do you know if salt can act in the same manner as a cure?

    Your smoker looks great buddy! can't wait to use mine, haven't even unpacked it yet.

    Bryce
     
  4. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    To chime in with Dave.  Ensure it has been properly cured.  Consider purchasing a salimeter, around $15.00, and brine at 80% salinity @ 60°.  Many recipes do not meet this minimum requirement.

    The following is the one I use.   Mr T's "Smoked Salmon From Go to Show" w/Q-View

    Tom
     
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  6. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Unfortunately there appears to be a surfeit of advice on wet brining on here however I find dry brining works better for me and produces a better texture smoked fish. A mix of 1:1 salt to sugar (and maybe some fennel or dill) and leave to cure for 2-3 hours. I then usually cold smoke mine overnight but they are great hot smoked too. You don't need any Nitrite for the time periods you are talking about. Without freezing they are good for up to 10 days providing they are kept chilled.

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/140785/smoked-fish-fillets-salmon-cod-and-haddock-q-view

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/171886/comparison-of-salmon-curing-methods
     
  7. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Bryce,

    I also am a dry brine smoker when it comes to fish, mainly King Salmon.  4/1 ratio of  brown sugar over non iodized salt, etc.   Yes your little chief has a pretty small (250watt) element which will force you to smoke longer in order to get the IT temp up to 135-140*.  What I did to my two big chief's which you might consider later on is to install an adjustable 1000+ watt element in your little chief. It really helps on cool days etc.  I typically start out at around 125-130 for an hour, bump to 145-150 for another hour, then bump to 165+ for a 3rd hour+ until the IT is met.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  8. bryce

    bryce Smoking Fanatic

    Tom, thank you for your feedback. Never heard of a salimeter but i'll look that up today. Thanks for the tip.
    Dave, thank you for taking the time to post more information. I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about nitrites and will look through these. I've noticed "Nitrite and Nitrate" free foods are becoming more of a "thing" out there.
    Thanks Wade! I've always  wet brined but dry brining just seems and sounds easier overall. My concern with time is it looks like salmon smoked in the Little Chief could take in upwards of 8 hrs for 5 lbs....

    I appreciate your feedback!
    Thanks Cmayna. Excellent information - you've read my mind. I'll be installing a larger element soon but was hoping to get a smoke or two in before I did that. I have the box and might slip that over the top to increase the temp a bit. I know back in the day we used to just wet brine and then toss them into the Little Chief without any regard to safety! yikes!!

    Thanks,
    Bryce
     
  9. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Wet brine, dry brine or no brine.  Try them all and choose what works best for you. [​IMG]    I wet brine for the same reasons Wade dry brines not to mention it is more convenient for my purposes. LOL  

    Tom
     
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'll chime in even if I am late. I bought my first Little Chief Smoker 30 years age when I was working as a deckhand on my uncles charter boat. Ran hundreds of salmon through that thing until the burner ran out, then that was replaced like Craig mentioned above with a 1000 watt adjustable hot plate. I do the same 4:1 sugar to salt dry cure. Back in the day I would load the smoker in the morning turn it on and go fishing all day. Get home remove the fish, I'm all for safety but I don't use cure in my fish brine. Now I also use a stepped heat process starting at 120° for a couple hours then up to 140°, then up to 150°-180° or until I get to an IT of 145°. I use this method for all the fish I smoke.

    One more thing that box is good for is turning your Chief into a cold smoker. Nothing better than a slab of smoked fish and a hunk of smoked Tillamook Cheddar!
     
  11. bryce

    bryce Smoking Fanatic

    Awesome thanks Dirtsailor.... Definitely not to late. I'll roll with the stock element for now and then upgrade to the adjustable hot plate.

    Love the cold smoke box idea. Hell yeah smoked salmon and smoked cheese! Frickin great idea.

    Bryce
     
  12. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yeah what Case (dirtsailor2003) said, but Case, what flavor of Tillamook?    I like Smoked Mozzarella but looks like Tillamook doesn't make it, at least in loaf size.  Humph!
     
  13. bryce

    bryce Smoking Fanatic

    DS2003 - did you just rip out the stock element and element holders and then just place the hot place inside where the stock element was? Or, did you do a more custom job?

    Thanks,
    Bryce
     
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  15. bryce

    bryce Smoking Fanatic

    Looks like a pretty solid mod David. And to think I was hoping I could just throw a hot plate in there without cutting or drilling.. Lol

    I bet you can make excellent smoked food on there with such precise controls.

    For my first smoke in my little chief I'm going to go with the stock element and put the box over the top and see if I can get it up past 165f. If not I'll get more techy with the burner mods.

    Thanks
    Bryce
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  16. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You've got some great responses ! Congrats on the new smoker, them are real nice units... Thumbs Up Enjoy !
     
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    You have to take apart the table top hot plate... they have an over temp control that keeps from melting the bak-a-lite plastic housing and from melting the table you set them on.... It's a snap switch type control... you just bypass it so you can get the element hot enough to get the wood smoking.... the thermostat in the knob, then controls the temp just fine.... I put the "element on" light in the front to know when to turn the thermostat up or down.... A therm installed in the door, shows what temp is in the smoker.....
     
  18. bryce

    bryce Smoking Fanatic

    Many thanks Dave. Adding a therm to the door is a great idea. I'm certain I'll do that. Otherwise I have to string the maverick around and through and..... Kind of a pain.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  19. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/141492/modified-big-chief

    Above is a link to my post of modifying a chief.   Bryce, it's pretty straight forward once you rip into the project.  Just go to your local walmart,  BestBuy, Kmart and pick up a Proctor Silex 5th burner like this one, or something similar which has a 1000 + watt adjustable burner with a lamp.

    http://i5.walmartimages.com/dfw/dce07b8c-c0bc/k2-_d65b8e1e-6e15-4500-83df-fa49559376c1.v1.jpg

    or just send your chief to me and I'll be happy to fix it right up.

    For the chamber temp probe, I just drilled a hole on the side and installed a rubber grommet
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  20. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Bryce I sent you a PM but wanted to post the same info here for all to see. The Chief Smokers used to come with directions on how to cold smoke using the box. With the top loaders this is easy. With the front loaders if there aren't any vent holes (older versions had vents formed in the top) in the top you need to drill (4-6) 1/2" holes into the top. You could go 3/4". Use corks to plug them when hot smoking. Here's a few photos that show how this goes.

     
     

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