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Getting ready for my first smoke in plywood smoker

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Well,I played around with a hotplate burner and with an electric frying pan..both are good,but the temps are easier to maintain and allow for better smoke with the hotplate...

I made a 6# batch of Italian flavoured dinner sausage. I finally got the recipe to where the wife said "Perfect! don't change anything".

We fried up a sampler, and it was awesome,great blend of spices and a nice mild flavour...

I figured what the heck, I was gonna make a farmer style sausage for the smoker's first run, but I opted to throw in some Prague#1 in the remaining 9# of meat mix. Got the rings all stuffed and tied and are sitting in the fridge overnight.

I seasoned up the smoker yesterday for about 5 hours with hickory...sure smells good I tell ya...

Here are some pics...........

The venison with onion croutons ground on top. I only do this to clean the grinder once I am all finsihed with it.
The fat is a beef and pork mix of trimmings from the local safeway butcher

Fat and meat, mixed and seasoned

The rings, tied and ready for an overnighter in the fridge and then on to the smoker.....

Smoker,she's all rarin' to go

post #2 of 33
Holly Plywood Batman!!!!!! That looks good. Ive seen a cardboard box used by Ole Alton Brown 1 time to do fish and a hotplate. Thats some good lookin wood work on yours.

I recently done my first sausage and had some texture issues. I did not use a large enough cutting disk. Yours looks real good. Did yu freeze the emat any before putting through your grinder???????????
post #3 of 33
Man you did a fine looking job on that smoker for the sausage. You are quite the craftsman for it look like you really do know what your doing. That just gave me an idea for my old GOSM I could just convert it to a sausage smoker and use a hotplate like you. Thanks for the little nodge
post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks fellas......
scpatterson, yes the meat was partially frozen. The fat was partially frozen as well...I'll have follow up pics tomorrow and let ya know how the texture turns out.

mballi301...here is a pic of the hotplate I use, it's a 1000W.
I lined the bottom with some 1/4" Aluminum checkerplate. It acts as a heatsink/fireguard just in case any sparks get away from the wood chunks.
I have a small diameter 8" deep cast iron pot that I use to put my chips in. It seems to work really well

post #5 of 33
Cool Smoker...PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

Sausage looks Great...PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #6 of 33
Are they done yet? icon_wink.gif
I'm looking forward to hearing how the box performed and of course how the sausage tastes. Good luck.
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
Should be done in about another 4 hours Dan
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
Well, all in all it wasn't too terribly bad...gotta work on my times and temps though.
The smoker was fine and seemed to work and hold temps really well.
I do need a remote thermometer.
The sausage turned out pretty good tastewise and smokewise,but was awfully wrinkly.
I think I may not have stuffed them tight enuff, or maybe cooked them too long due to grease running out, not excessivley, but noticeable...kinda of sweaty for lack of a better term
Total time in the smoker was 10hrs..does that seem right ?????

Here was my smoking recipe timeline I followed as a guidline.....I am open to suggestions in this department.....................

100-120 to dry for 1-2 hours
140 at 3-4 hours with smoke
165 with smoke until internal temp is at 152
Cold water bath and then habg to bloom
I did have the damper open and then slowly closed it to raise the temp. Just did it bit by bit

I am still fine tuning the smoker. I have a buddy that has a bandsaw mill and he has some 3/4 by 12 inch slabs that I am going to slab the sides and the top with..will resemble the front door, gives her that rustic look...LOL

post #9 of 33
That's a fine lookin' box you have there. Did you design that or did you find the plans somewhere?

That's my next adventure I think. Can't wait to hear about and see more pics from this!
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 
Just made a box out of 3/4 ply, screwed it all together, drew out the shape of the door and burner/draft door on the bottom, cut them out adding the hinges before they were completely cut out and just kinda went from there..I'm into it for about $50 so far
post #11 of 33
Did you use natural casings or natural color calogen casing?
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
I used natural...hog casings. It was all I had on hand when stuffing time came around
post #13 of 33
I like the smoker, it's nice!
What I am wondering is the plywood going to be a problem? The binders and glues to make some plywood are a health hazard.
Is there a temperature limit before the plywood becomes a problem?

Could you line the inside with metal to avoid plywood gas/fumes in the food?
I know it's been discussed here before but I can't find it. confused.gif
post #14 of 33
Congratulations on your smokers first run, The sausage looks great to me. the wrinkles maybe from under-stuffing, it also could be from the long smoke.
Your temps are about what I use for snack sticks. 10 hours in the smokehouse will pull alot of moisture out of the sausage.

You might try starting at 130° for a 1/2 hour or so to dry the surface of the casing then bump it up to 150° and start adding the smoke for a couple hours, then up to 165° to you get an internal of 152°
post #15 of 33
When you gave the sausage the cold bath, what temp did you bring it down to?
should be at least 120-110
post #16 of 33
Very cool! How is the diamond plate mounted? Is it screwed in?
post #17 of 33
Your time ranges were a little vague (1-2, 3-4). If your total smoke time was 10 hours, that means they were at 165 for 4-6 hours. That seems high to me for the size of casing that you were using. Are you sure that the smoker temp was only 165? Could it be as you closed your damper that heat built up near the top? Have your temp gauges been verified accurate? Also, looks like you could use a temp probe so you can monitor the sausage temp without opening your door. The quality of my sausage improved when I started using a probe and pulled at exactly 152 rather than having to guess on time or constantly open the door to check as the temp got close to 152. Just some things to think about.

Your smoker is really cool. Keep playing with it and I think you'll get the process down. There's a learning curve with every new smoker and a lot of times home made smokers need some tweaks.
post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
The checkerplate is just screwed in by a few sheetmetal screws.

As far as the heat goes, I am going to install another temp probe in the lower section of the door..that way I can see the temp range from top to botom.

A remote temp probe is next on the list for sure,I would lose atleast 30 degrees when checking the meat by opening the door,but it would rise back up to temp in uder 3 minutes

Cold bath brought down to 110...

I am aslo gonna do a finer grind on the meat mix and lessen the amount of fat used the next time, probbaly this weekend again as I have 10 pounds of moose burger and 5 pounds of elk...gonna liven up the spice mix some more too
post #19 of 33
Thread Starter 
How do these directions look? I got them from the Allied kenco site.
Rytek Kutas says never to exceed 160F in his book,that's the way I was leaning.......

Stages Temperatures

Dry Dry at 130° F until internal temp of sausage is around 100° F

Smoke Raise to 150° F and smoke until desired color and flavor is achieved - 1 to 4 hours

Cook Raise to 170° F and cook until the internal temp. reaches 140° F

Finish Raise to 185 and cook until internal temp. reaches 155° F. Remove, shower and let bloom. (Develop color).
post #20 of 33
Looks like it worked well. I'm sure there are things to learn as every smoker has it's "things". sausage looks good to me.
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