I've started making my own sausage using a 1hp electric grinder and a LEM stuffer. I've got a copy of Rytek Kutas' book and have been doing my homework as much as possible. I've made some fresh pork and venison breakfast sausage but I really want to try my hand at making smoked link sausage.
I currently own a custom built wood fueled smoker thats a 55 gallon drum set vertically with dampers at the bottom for smoking fresh meats like brisket, etc. However, all of the recipes I have seen for smoking cured sausage say that you should not exceed 165 degrees when smoking sausage. Since temperature control on the wood fired unit is not very controllable, I need some other kind of smoker to make sausage with. I see lots of these small electric units that look like dorm fridges, but reading the comments, they seem to have trouble keeping smoke going at low temperatures. I've also seen these cold smoke generating units like the Smoke Daddy that can produce lots of cold smoke at low temps, but from what I understand you need SOME heat to get the sausage up to 152 degrees or so internally, so that doesn't help me much either... plus it looks like the Smoke Daddy is a PITA to get started and to keep clean.
Is there a way to easily convert my 55gal drum vertical wood smoker to electric or propane in such a way that I can precisely control the temp to produce smoke between 160-165 degrees? Would it be easier to buy a separate standalone propane or electric smoker for this? If so, which ones would be the best at making sufficient smoke at low temps like 165 degrees and that wouldn't need constant attention to keep at the right temp? As for fuel, I have access to LOTS of free mesquite and post oak on my own land (Im from central TX, we prefer to smoke with post oak and grill with mesquite), but making it into small chips would likely be a PITA, so something that can smoke well with larger chunks would be ideal.
Many thanks in advance